Paper Developer Exhaustion During Use?
So I'm jumping into printing myself at home, I got an enlarger and trays/chemicals for processing are on the way. I just had a question about if there is a rule of thumb when processing exposed paper in chemicals and about how many pieces I can develop with the same tray of developer. Is this the kind of thing where the first piece will be developed the best, and you will need to extend time for any additional pieces, or will it hold up through a small session (about 4-5 8x10 pieces). Just curious about how to gauge my chemistry for this. Any information is helpful, thanks!
You'll probably get about 20 8X10s through a litre of normal working strength print developer. Prints are normally developed to completion (at your stage of the game, anyway!), so just follow the manufacturors instructions! If your prints start to take more than about 2 minutes to fully debelop, or you notice the blacks aren't quite black enough, it's time to mix some more!
Fixer is more of a problem, as there's no visible changes unless the print is insufficiently fixed. You won't know this for days or even months (by which time it's too late!).
I think the best advice is to follow the instructions on the box (although you can usually go a bit longer as manufacturors obviously do not have an interest in you getting as much out of a chemical as possible!).
Experiment, but most importantly - enjoy yourself. There are few pleasures equal to that of seeing your first 'good' print coming up in the dev tray in the dim, red light!
Most of the suppliers of chemistry will give capacity information for their developers. They will generally be expressed in terms of how many 8x10 sheets can be developed in one liter of working strength developer before it should be discarded. In the case of Ilford, they include that information on their website here (see page 3):
Note that the capacity information usually is associated with the developer, not the paper.
Kodak's website has similar information as well. Here is a link to the information on the developer I use most, Kodak Polymax T:
There are also techniques for evaluating developer exhaustion based on how long it takes for an image to begin to appear. .
In addition, some developers can be usefully replenished as one uses them.
I just use the manufacturer's capacity guidelines and then discard when they are reached. Others here use and prefer the other two techniques, and will most likely chime in shortly.
Welcome to the fun!
With an 11X14 tray 2/3 full of developer, I can print all afternoon and it seems OK. Papers are fully developed, so you can leave the paper in the tray as long as need be. It works best to use a tray a size larger than the paper - it makes it a lot easier to insert the paper and to get a hold of it with the tongs.
Great answers all around! I've been trolling Ilford and Kodak's website all day reading up on various developers, it's going to be an interesting time playing with this enlarger.
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The amount of paper (square metres or feet) you can develop in a specified volume of developer, is usually written on the developer package or on some papers that come with it. Anyway, as you see the picture appear during developing you probably are able to adjust the developing time as you develop, so even if the developing time increases during developer exhaustion, there is nothing to worry about, as you can adjust the process in real time. Compared to developing negatives, it's a piece of cake.
Hypo Chek can help you test for fixer exhaustion - a more insidious danger than developer getting tired.
Last edited by CBG; 07-08-2009 at 02:36 PM. Click to view previous post history.
If your volume of prints is low, a few 8x10s or their
Originally Posted by brianmichel
equivalence your chemistry will go farther if you use
it at a greater dilution than usual; for example,
Dektol at 1:3 or even 1:5.
With a working solution volume of one liter you'll have
enough chemistry present for those few prints. Print
quality will not suffer. Extend times a minute or so
in each of the solutions. I know ahead the number
of prints I will make and prepare the chemistry
accordingly. Dump when done. No used any
thing aging away on the shelf. Dan
Papers aren't fully developed, they will continue to develop after the recommended time and gain density particularly in the highlights and mid tones.
Originally Posted by bsdunek
Well, it they are still developing then they aren't fully developed. I always learned to leave them in the developer until all action is complete. Now it could be that they will slowly gain density for a long time after I can't see any change. Maybe just a definition.
Originally Posted by Ian Grant