Film Developers that keep well
Someone asked about paper developers that keep well, so how about film developers.
Here is the scenario, the photographer shoots a couple of rolls of film a month, and wants to process them at home, is looking for a developer that will keep well Developer must work well with the Ilford traditional grain films (PanF+, FP4+, HP5+) and be economical. We are looking for a developer where a 1L working solution lasts months, although stock solutions and concentrates that keep well and are to be used one shot are also okay. It's a pain in the donkey to get to the photo shop, so sealed bottles and powder packets that will last a long time unopened are preferred.
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Rodinal's concentrate (it is used one shot) last for years, with some people using decades old solutions with no problems. No working strength developer lasts more than 6 months in a sealed jug. Some concentrates last a year or more, but Rodinal lasts near forever in its concentrate form.
06 Dec 2008
The two developers that come to mind are Ilford ID-11 (or Kodak D76). The other developer is Kodak HC110.
I have stored D76 for months as a stock solution in bottles with little "head space". It can be diluted 1:1 for one-shot use. The bottle of HC110 concentrate I have is more than a year old and is still "going strong". HC110 can be diluted in many ways (check APUG threads for more information) for one-shot use.
Both of these developers are great with the films you list. Hope this helps.
Rodinal will, I think, outlive the Sun
HC110 has a very long shelf life too.
As for homebrew developers, PC-TEA seems to last a long time. Like Rodinal, it gets darker with age, but works just the same as when it was originally bottled.
PMK has very good keeping qualities. As long as you don’t contaminate one of the solutions it will supposedly keep for years.
Pyrocat mixed in glycol is another developer that also keeps quite well. My last batch is well over a year.
Last edited by Uhner; 12-07-2008 at 03:57 AM. Click to view previous post history.
Reason: forgot pyrocat
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Pyrocat HD without Glycol keeps very well, I'm still using the last litre of a batch I made up 18 months ago,
Originally Posted by Uhner
With Glycol it should last considerably longer.
Ian, your previous posts on this matter has convinced me that the keeping qualities of Pyrocat HD mixed in water is good enough for me. Next time I will not bother to mix it in Glycol.
I'm not aware of a w/s dev that last longer than one day, at best. That's why we have stock solutions; dilute just before use.
Rodinal may very well be the champ in this area. I recently finished a partially open bottle from 1968, still good, too.
HC-110, and the pyro's are also long-lasting stock solutions.
Rodinal is definitely very good. Five plus years, probably longer, as a concentrate.
PMK is very long-lived. My stock solution lasted about seven years and there was no sign of degradation. You can buy it pre-mixed or mix it yourself from scratch. My second batch is from scratch; my first was pre-mixed.
I'm not aware of any particularly long-lived working solution. D-76/ID-11 will last about six months in stock solution in a full container, and you can use it undiluted, but I prefer to use it diluted 1:1 and the keeping time of it in diluted form is only a day or two.
Jim MacKenzie - Regina, Saskatchewan, Canada
A bunch of Nikons; Feds, Zorkis and a Kiev; Pentax 67-II (inherited from my deceased father-in-law); Bronica SQ-A; and a nice Shen Hao 4x5 field camera with 3 decent lenses that needs to be taken outside more. Oh, and as of mid-2012, one of those bodies we don't talk about here.
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I have not used D76 extensively. I know that it is capable of doing a more than satisfactory job. My understanding is that as D76 ages it tends to increase its PH and this makes it a more active developer.
I have had, as others here have also reported, very long shelf life with both Rodinal, HC110 and Pyrocat HD. Rodinal, for all I know, may still be good from the original batch that is, I believe a 100 years old.
If one mixes a developer from scratch and keeps the developing agent in water seperate from the alkaline agents...such as sodium carbonate...and mixes the two ingredients immediately prior to being used the life of the developer can be greatly extended.
Another means to increase the life span of a developer to to exclude or greatly limiting the exposure to oxygen. There are at least two ways of doing this: Filling the empty space in the developer container with an inert gas...such as nitrogen. Using marbles to bring the volume of the remaining developer to the top of the bottle.
Claire (Ms Anne Thrope is in the darkroom)