Fine grain developers
Perceptol is hard to find these days on the shelves. Adox and Moersch are coming up with equivalent developers but I'm still considering to try out some other developers. I've been attached to Perceptol since the first time I developed Pan F in it, fine grain, pleasant tonal range, and the 1+3 dilution made it economical.
However, I would appreciate your advice on the other devopers out there:
What fine grain developers would you recommend and why?
Apart from these high sulfite developers like perceptol,microdol-X etc. another choice are the Phenylendiamine based fine grain developers, the most common know here in Europe is Calbe A 49. Works very nice with films like Forte 400 (the old type which was bloody grainy, have not tested the new one), gives full speed. Can be used as stock or one-shot diluted 1:1 or 1:2, I used 1:2 30 mins on Tmax 3200 (inside techno club). I have no experience with it on slow films, as I rarely use something below 100 ASA and Efke 25 gets exposed at 100 and developed in speed-increasing developers.
Colour? We can always use an airbrush later...
Specially looking at fine grain:
CG-512 (or the equivalent Rollei low speed)
With both developers you will loose a least the E.I. of one f-stop.
On the other hand the impression of the sharpness is less with these kind of developers but more sharp than with the Perceptol. A lot of things depends also on the subject.
D-23 is a metol-sulfite developer much like Perceptol that is very easy to mix yourself. You can find the formula here, among other places--
If you mix your own, you can make any quantity you want so that you always have fresh solution, you can tweak the formula for your own film and preferences, and you won't be as dependent on the whims of the manufacturers. D-23 is also popular for divided development, if you wanted to try that.
you all prob think I am boring, but if you try Pan-F in Paterson Aculux 2 you wont find the grain. I cant with Delta 100 either. Great tonality, super fine grain, cheap as chips and ready made in a bottle. Very economical at £6.99 for 1litre to be diluted 1+9 or 1+14.
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The major contributor to grain is the film itself. With Tri-X or HP5 fine grain developers will make a difference. With a film like Pan F+ you are unlikely to see much grain with reasonable development in most developers.. For a fine grained film I much prefer a developer like Pyrocat HD which will emphasise sharpnes rather than a high sulfite developer which will soften them detail acutance.. Once you buy the ingredients from a firm such as Techcheminc you will have enough developer for a long time and this is the most flexible and trouble free developer I have found in over years of photographic pursuits. Pyrocat HD is just wonderful.
The problem is that most "fine grain" developers (like d-23) make the edges of the grain soft and eroded and the image will not appear as sharp as it could. This is OK for 35mm some format films but it is counterproductive for MF and larger formats. XTOL is a Vitamin C based developer and will give more accutance with fine grain. It will still not be as sharp as a good pyro developer. PMK seemed to me like the sharpest with the largest grain and Pyrocat was a good tweener. Good sharpness and small grain - masked with stain. A good choice.
My photos are always without all that distracting color ...
You could try good old D-76 or ID-11 diluted 1+3. Can't go too wrong there, good sharpness, fine grain, easy to get etc, etc.
I thought that Rodinol was the answer for fine grain films like Pan-F as it is quite sharp but increases the grain. With Tri-X and HP5 the grain can be objectionable, but with a film like Pan-F that shouldn't be a problem.
If you have been getting the results you like with Perceptol, then Microdol-X could be a good choice for you. It looks to be the Kodak equivalent to Perceptol if you use recommended usage directions and development times as a guide; just as D-76 is a virtual clone for ID-11. At 1+3 dilution for Microdol, and quite possibly with Perceptol as well, you are pretty much losing the fine grain effect and trading it for full emulsion speed and more acutance. Since Pan-F+ is already extremely fine grained, I doubt that you really need to use a fine grain developer anyway. As for myself, I have paired this film with D-76 1+1, XTOL 1+3, and even Rodinal 1+50 (for 120 roll film) and have had good results with all of them. The best of the bunch for me has been with dilute XTOL. Under the best of circumstances PanF+ has a very steep contrast curve and the dilute XTOL can help tame that a bit.