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  1. #1

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    D76, Xtol, or Illford Developer?

    (I did a few searches through the forums and I couldn't find anything on this, so I thought I'd ask)
    I'm looking to see what developer to use based on this story and to quell my fears about 'getting it right the first time'. (the question is at the bottom of the post if you don't feel like reading my explanation and worries)

    Recently, I found an AMAZING deal on a lot of frozen, expired Illford HP5+ and Delta 3200 on my local craigslist (about 40 rolls or so, if you must know).
    I picked it up with the purpose of 'getting into' developing my own black and white film (something I've wanted to do, but just never acted upon).

    I've done lots of research (places like Chromogenic and DigitalTruth and places of that nature), and I've picked up a Patterson tank with two reels, a blackbag, tanks for holding chemicals, and pretty much everything I need to develop film but the chemicals. I won't be making a darkroom.

    I've found the 'normal develop-everything' d76 in stores around here, but the Chromogenic developing website I'll be using to develop film for the first time uses Illford developer, not to mention that I've got ONLY Illford film. (minus three rolls of Plus-X, Tri-X, and Neopan 1600 I was given for free). A few other friends I trust online recommend the Xtol.

    I also know that there are many, many more developers and chemicals than I ever hope to care about at this point in time. I'll also ONLY be developing and scanning and not printing.

    I don't want to get the normal "it's all up to experimentation and how you like things and everything is different" schpiel. I just want something that will make me happy for a good long time so I don't have to change/experiment and waste money and, when pressured for a gift idea for myself (or a similarly funny situation), I'll be able to point said plebeian to "THIS".

    Thats the other point. I want to 'get it right' the first time because I don't have infinite cash.

    My question is: Will I see a huge difference from choosing between Illford developer, D76 developer, or Xtol developer? Should I choose anything other than these three for my purpose?

    Help me 'get it right the first time'. I probably wont be changing the stuff I buy for a very long time, if ever.
    Toledo Camera Trader and photojournalist

  2. #2

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    My results:

    HP5+, esposed at ISO 250, Xtol 1:3. My time is 10 minutes. everyone is different. Find your personal developing time. A lovely combination. You will get as many answers as there are people responding. These threads are long and plentiful.
    Tmax 3200, E.I. 1600, Xtol 1:3, 19 1/2 minutes. Nice.
    Wayne
    Deep in the darkest heart of the East Texas Rain forest. Apprentice Analog Activist.
    ... And to paraphrase Yoda, there is no how, only do.
    Vaughn
    My Photos Online

  3. #3

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    ps: Personal experimentation is half the battle and half the fun. equipment varies. People vary. You have to tailor your methods to your way of doing things. Box speed and box time to start. Vary to taste. Kodak lists Ilford film in their directions.
    Wayne
    Deep in the darkest heart of the East Texas Rain forest. Apprentice Analog Activist.
    ... And to paraphrase Yoda, there is no how, only do.
    Vaughn
    My Photos Online

  4. #4
    David Brown's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by TheSohnly View Post
    I don't want to get the normal "it's all up to experimentation and how you like things and everything is different" schpiel.
    OK then, buy the D76 and follow the directions. Or, ID-11 if you must have Ilford.

  5. #5

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    Oct 2009
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    I think your expectation is unreasonable to "get it right" the first time. A bag of developer will cost you anywhere from 3 to 10 dollars. With amount of money you've spent on everything else, this is nothing. Also, your taste will change over time. I am actually not sure, if this is your first time, you can actually tell the difference between developers.

    I've been struggling with my process for a while now and this isn't even my first time. I am now questioning "what is RIGHT?"

    With that said, if you follow the instructions exactly, you can get a reasonably usable image that will print OK with every developer. No, there isn't a HUGE difference, but there is a difference. If you don't want to do a lot of experiment, my recommendation will be D-76. Every manufacturer has something that is basically a copy of D-76. It's been around forever and it is arguably the most popular one all over the world. It will develop just about everything. It's cheap. It's available in 1 liter bag.

    Good luck, and remember, this is a hobby. Enjoy the process as well as the finished product.

  6. #6
    MikeSeb's Avatar
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    tkamiya has given you the best advice.

    TMY plus D-76 is unbeatable. Stick with this combo until you know it like the back of your hand.

    Following Kodak's directions, you'll get in the ballpark in the first roll or two; change one variable at a time when you experiment with things like different EI's, dev times, etc, and keep good notes, and you'll have it fine-tuned pretty soon. If you really want to do beautiful, consistent work, this kind of experimentation is unavoidable. But you'll get something usable just by listening to the Great Yellow Father.

    If you're scanning (off topic here) you'll want a "thinner" negative than you would if optically printing.
    Michael Sebastian
    Website | Blog

  7. #7

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    One more thing: Both Ilford & Kodak have volumes of information on their web pages listing information for all of their products and the "other guy's stuff."

    Kodak developer and Ilford film or the reverse. If "good enough" is all you are after, box speed and maker's time & temp. will do fine. Getting dry clean blemish free negatives will be enough of a challenge for now. When you master that, move on to more esoteric trivia.
    Wayne
    Deep in the darkest heart of the East Texas Rain forest. Apprentice Analog Activist.
    ... And to paraphrase Yoda, there is no how, only do.
    Vaughn
    My Photos Online

  8. #8
    fotch's Avatar
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    You cannot go wrong with D76.
    Items for sale or trade at www.Camera35.com

  9. #9

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    May 2007
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    Try Ilford's DD-X. It's simple to use and gives good shadow and highlight separation with most films in most situations without having to change your ISO rating or change the dilution. If you are looking for a simple approach, this might be the one. Unfortunately it's a bit expensive.

  10. #10

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    Pick something that is easy to get whenever you need it.

    Don't fret. There are no bad films or developers on the market.
    Wayne
    Deep in the darkest heart of the East Texas Rain forest. Apprentice Analog Activist.
    ... And to paraphrase Yoda, there is no how, only do.
    Vaughn
    My Photos Online

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