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  1. #11
    Pragmatist's Avatar
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    No magic bullets here...

    Based upon my own experience, Mr. Cardwell's general advice is a great course. I have often looked at the final prints of other photogs, and lamented that the overall "pop" was better than mine. In the main, the description for their process included exotic treatments of the negative (odd dilutions of some pyro derivative or rodinal, etcetera; stand development, tube processing, et al) and more variations with expensive papers, developers, and processing techniques.

    And then there were the ones using old stables like D76 stock, Polymax at #2, and plain old Dektol. And surprise of surprises, there was the POP and DEPTH!!! What were they doing that I was not? Certainly there was some sort of magic bullet they had! The magic bullet I discovered is understanding through experience with a specific process. Rating the ISO of a film for maximum effectiveness. Using a film and developer combination to achieve a negative that is not too thin or dense. Finding the optimal dilutions, agitation times, and temperatures. Understanding the characteristics of paper with developer enhancers built in. Dry down compensation, the list goes on. And learning a particular combination before moving on to another variable.

    Thirty-five years ago I cut my teeth on Pan-X and Microdol. For slow speed films, Microdol is a developer than hardly gets any press anymore. Yet it was not until recently dealing with TMax films that the discovery was made that at stock solution, I needed to adjust my exposure ISO downward.... You may find that the older silver grain films provide greater latitude for "error" and experimentation. Now, I am fully exploring the characteristics of a couple different films, Ilford papers, and understanding what D76 and Dektol can or cannot do. Having done this for a year now, the exploration can go to Rodinal and different paper developers. It was important that I knew how to manipulate one successfully in order to achieve a quality and consistent result. Now I have both a process and knowledge that can be expanded on and compared. Hit and miss through a lot of different processes does not form a base build any understandings on.

    It's always better (IMHO) to pick simpler and more common grain films, forgiving papers, and well documented, pleasant to use developers and go from that point. There is no magic bullet. Well, unless we are talking about camera or darkroom equipment and its a "got to have it". There's always eBay for getting them, and getting rid of them when the knowledge dawns that they are not a replacement for consistency and knowledge. Just a thought...
    Patrick

    something witty and profound needs to be inserted here...

  2. #12
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    I agree with the sentement that there are many, many options that will give great results. D76 and ID11 are probably my recommendations because most films react well with them. Also, they are economical and easy to deal with. I think having a small number of films that you use and standardizing your practice, including figuring out the correct ISO and developing time for your needs, is more important than whichever particular developer or film you choose.

    Remember, the most important thing is to have fun!

  3. #13

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    HI, thanks for the continuing feedback. I am learning a lot. I think I will stick with either ID11, D76 or DDX for the time being (probably ID11 on account of cost) and take it from there. In terms of films I think I will mainly use FP4+ at the slow end (and occasionally Delta 100) and HP5+ & Tri-X at the faster end.... consistently!

  4. #14

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    So much to comment upon! First, I agree that D-76/ID-11 is a good general-purpose developer. There are lots of other possibilities that would work as well (HC-110, Rodinal, XTOL, FX-39, and so on), but it's best to just pick one (preferably something fairly common, so you can get help if you run into problems) and stick with it for a while. Once you learn enough about your standard films (sticking to just two or three to start with will help you learn a lot faster), you can begin experimenting with other films or with other developers to see what they do. Trying to experiment with everything at once will leave you with no good idea of what's going on. Plus which it'll get frustrating -- you'll discover that some rolls are underdeveloped and others are overdeveloped, ruining shots that might have been very good.

    Quote Originally Posted by antielectrons
    how do I get the stock solution back up to working temperature when stored?
    Working temperature for B&W is typically in the 20-24 degrees C (68-75 degrees F) range, so temperature control needs are pretty modest. As Andy K said, a water bath should do the trick pretty quickly.

    Quote Originally Posted by antielectrons
    I presume that the powder stuff will have to be added to water to create a stock first, other than that they are both then diluted to working strength/temperature....?
    Correct. Some developers can be used at stock strength, but most are diluted, even when they can be used at stock strength. Most can be used at different dilutions to subtly alter their working characteristics.

    Quote Originally Posted by antielectrons
    Hi, I had a look at the price of DDX... seems to be 29€ a litre over here in Spain compared to 2.70€ for D76, or 4€ for ID11. How come the big difference in price? I like the sound of DDX, but the price?
    Developers do vary a lot in price. Be sure to consider dilution, though. Here in the US, B&H sells DD-X for $12.95 for 1 liter, which B&H says should be diluted 1+4. Assuming 250ml per roll, that works out to 20 rolls, or $0.65/roll. By comparison, 1 liter of ID-11 from B&H costs $4.79, but a more typical dilution for ID-11 is 1+1, so that liter will only process 8 rolls, for a cost of $0.60/roll. Thus, what looks like a huge price difference is actually pretty small. Given the prices you report, the difference for you would be bigger, but still not quite as big as you might initially think.

    Quote Originally Posted by antielectrons
    At 500ml a shot in my Paterons developing tank I think I will need to get the larger size however.
    500ml sounds like a lot of fluid for a single roll -- or are you quoting a two-roll capacity? My stainless steel tank requires about 250ml per roll. I've also got a plastic AP tank that takes 325ml for a single roll or something like 550ml for two rolls. When developing one roll in a two-roll tank, you don't need to fill the tank all the way, although you should use a clip or an empty reel to ensure that the reel you use for film stays at the bottom of the tank.

    if I buy a 5L packs of ID11 say, does it contain 5x1L packs or will I need to mix the entire 5L at once? What is the shelf life of stock solution?
    I'm not familiar with ID-11 specifically (although I have bought and used D-76), but I expect you'd get a single packet to make 5 liters. (Actually, I think I heard that ID-11 ships in two packets that you mix together, but it's the same end result -- you mix it all together at once.) D-76/ID-11 typically lasts six months or so if properly stored. I've seen reports of it lasting at least twice as long as that, but to be safe, I'd count on six months. Be sure you store it in tightly sealed bottles, preferably made of glass, filled to the top. Split your 5 liters across several bottles, such as ten 500ml bottles, to minimize exposure to air. Some people use bottles sized for the precise amount they use when developing film, such as 125ml when using a 1+1 dilution and a 250ml developing tank. This practice ensures that there's never a significant amount of air in the bottle with the developer.

  5. #15
    Pragmatist's Avatar
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    Just remember that at both the slow and "fast" ends of the film scale you are dealing with radically different emulsion formulations. The FP4 & Tri-X Pro are traditional single layer grain films; Delta 100 is a two layer & HP5 is somehow "improved" conventional. My recommendation stands, pick a pair and grow comfortable with them. Then, a comparison can be made when experimenting with a different technology. The same goes for papers. RC or FB. I was shocked when moving from FB to RC in the development differences. Good Luck!!!
    Patrick

    something witty and profound needs to be inserted here...

  6. #16

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    SRS5694, thanks for taking time to go through my posts and provide answers. I really appreciate it. :-)

    500ml sounds like a lot of fluid for a single roll -- or are you quoting a two-roll capacity? My stainless steel tank requires about 250ml per roll. I've also got a plastic AP tank that takes 325ml for a single roll or something like 550ml for two rolls.
    Its for 120 Roll film - on the bottom of my Paterson Universal tank it has amounts that each film uses: 35mm - 290ml, 120/220 - 500ml.

  7. #17

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    Quote Originally Posted by Pragmatist
    Just remember that at both the slow and "fast" ends of the film scale you are dealing with radically different emulsion formulations. The FP4 & Tri-X Pro are traditional single layer grain films; Delta 100 is a two layer & HP5 is somehow "improved" conventional. My recommendation stands, pick a pair and grow comfortable with them. Then, a comparison can be made when experimenting with a different technology. The same goes for papers. RC or FB. I was shocked when moving from FB to RC in the development differences. Good Luck!!!
    I think I need to do some reading about different films and their properties. From you post I read that the FP4/Tri-X would be a good combination... perhaps I will stick with them and have a look at Delta 100/HP5 later on. Thanks for the heads up. I appreciate it.

  8. #18

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    B&H sells DD-X for $12.95 for 1 litre
    Perhaps the price list I looked at contained a typo. I will look and see if it is cheaper from other suppliers.... By the way, I read on the Ilford site that DD-X was developed for Delta 3200 films and that "With some fast films such as DELTA3200,DELTA400 and HP5 Plus a it gives an effective speed enhancement".... perhaps it is one to try when using HP5+ then.

  9. #19

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    Quote Originally Posted by antielectrons
    Quote Originally Posted by srs5694
    500ml sounds like a lot of fluid for a single roll
    Its for 120 Roll film - on the bottom of my Paterson Universal tank it has amounts that each film uses: 35mm - 290ml, 120/220 - 500ml.
    Oops. I apologize for my 35mm-centric comment.

    I read on the Ilford site that DD-X was developed for Delta 3200 films and that "With some fast films such as DELTA3200,DELTA400 and HP5 Plus a it gives an effective speed enhancement".... perhaps it is one to try when using HP5+ then.
    I can't comment on that combination specifically, but I do feel compelled to caution against too much experimentation when you're starting out. If you don't get a good handle on what your materials can do, you won't be able to take best advantage of them. The more combinations you try, the harder it'll be to figure it all out. For instance, 3 films and 3 film developers equals nine combinations, which is quite a lot. Add 2 papers and 2 paper developers to that and you're up to 36 combinations. That's way too much to keep straight in your head, even if you shoot enough film to get several multiples of 9 rolls in a short period of time. OTOH, 2 films, 1 film developer, 2 papers, and 1 paper developer equals 4 possible combinations, which is much more manageable.

  10. #20

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    SRS, HI, yes. I agree, the stuff about Detla 3200, etc. as a quote from the Ilford site. I have more or less settled on FP4+ and Tri-X 400, one film developer (most likely ID11) and one paper developer (Ilford Multigrade). I was going to stick to MG RC for paper and maybee some MG FB when I am settled in again (I remember really liking FB papers when I last had a darkroom).

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