D76 is good, nothing bad to say about that. I used it for 20 years with nice results, then tried xtol and found it a tiny bit nicer for me, even though I need distilled water to make the stock.
It is also good to have a compensating developer. I have read dilute hc-110 can be used for that but I have not tried it. I use PMK, other people use pyrocat-HD or something else pyro. I have also used Caffenol-C with good effect, but it's not really for TMY2 and I haven't got the extra ingredient yet to make it into the variant suitable for higher speed film. These developers are like HDR (done tastefully) for film allowing you to print a wide range of lights and darks with really nice tones.
I just use Xtol. I've tried three others, but the differences are quite minimal when compared to the other variables in photography (camera, negative size, drunkenness and mirth) so I've stopped thinking about it.
The best overall developer is probably HC-110 as it can be used with all films. This contrasts with Rodinal which is not suitable with fast films. D-76b as a one shot is good but replenished D-76 has variable activity depending on age and usage.
A rock pile ceases to be a rock pile the moment a single man contemplates it, bearing within him the image of a cathedral.
~Antoine de Saint-Exupery
The worst thing you can do is go into a mode where instead of making photographs you are testing materials. Just stick to one economical developer such as PC-TEA (I don't recommend HC-110 and Rodinal as they lose speed vs. others, especially Rodinal) and a couple of films, spend your time focusing on making better photographs.
Thanks for the advice about just sticking to one and working on technique.
Originally Posted by Thomas Bertilsson
Thanks to everyone else for the great replies. I'm glad to hear that I'm not missing out on anything spectacular by using D-76 or HC-110. Prior to this semester I had only used D-76 but recently used some HC-110 to push a roll of Legacy Pro 100 to 400 and I liked the results I got from it. Maybe I'll start using that instead of D-76. I know I should be focused on making better images rather than experimenting with new developers but we usually have some time in between projects and I'm interested in using a different developer just for the heck of it.
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I do this all the time too, but with a different developer. Doesn't matter which one. The point is, you can over-expose, under-expose, over-develop, or under-develop, whatever you want, and your changes in those parameters will change how your prints look. By doing this you really learn to be the master of your materials. You control the outcome; materials don't, they just exist with a certain array of qualities, but it is your brain and your human hands that put it all together.
Originally Posted by aaronmichael
No! You're not allowed to have fun! Just kidding, of course. Doing little excursions or experiments is good fun, and I encourage it. But they will tell you very little until you learn how to fully exploit one type of developer first. When your technique is good, you will learn how to get what you want from almost any developer / film combination.
Originally Posted by aaronmichael
Don't forget that what you're trying to accomplish is to make negatives that suit your paper and paper developer combination. Once you accomplish that you can start tweaking, and you will actually understand what happens in the process as you change parameters. That is real freedom.
"Often moments come looking for us". - Robert Frank
"Make good art!" - Neil Gaiman
"...the heart and mind are the true lens of the camera". - Yousuf Karsh
I tried most all when I was young D-76,D-23, dk-50, ID-11, HC-110,accufine, Diafine, Dektol, Bromophen, etc. to various degrees of success.
Since the early 1990's PMK pyro for film, acid Amidol for paper.
There is no such thing as taking too much time, because your soul is in that picture. -Ruth Bernhard
The *worst* thing you can do is probably buy a Chevy Vega without a warranty. :-)
Originally Posted by bwrules
I never really found HC-110 to be a speed-losing developer---as far as I can think it typically pretty much gives box speed, doesn't it? Maybe a fractional loss; e.g., a lot of people seem to prefer TX at 320 rather than 400 in it.
Just stick to one economical developer such as PC-TEA (I don't recommend HC-110 and Rodinal as they lose speed vs. others, especially Rodinal) and a couple of films, spend your time focusing on making better photographs.
I dunno---I agree with the "don't get sucked into the gear rather than the images" philosophy, but let's give some credit to the fact that tinkering is part of the fun for many of us. I use more developers than I really need, mostly for that reason.
PC-TEA is a good all-rounder, for those who don't mind moderate grain or the overhead of mixing their own (and it's about as easy as "mix your own" gets). The results are widely felt to be similar to Xtol (the developing agents in PC-TEA 1+50 are identical, and the pH at least close, to Xtol 1+2, if I remember aright), though personally I find it *so* much easier to work with a one-shot from syrup.
But I do think it's a mistake to chase "the best" developer rather than a "good enough" developer. They all turn activated halides into metallic silver, after all, which ultimately is the name of the game, right?
San Diego, CA, USA
The lady of the house has to be a pretty swell sort of person to put up with the annoyance of a photographer.
-The Little Technical Library, _Developing, Printing, And Enlarging_
Pyro in trays - the relative hassle is nothing compared to the results gained in UV based processes (or the hassle of most of those processes themselves)
Cleared the bowel problem, working on the consonants...
Going against convention I'd only recommend HC110 if you're low volume users for it's convenience, it give a slight loss of film speed and worse grain than D76 (ID-11) and other Kodak developers, that's experience and Kodak's own data..
Best all round developer is a toss up but Xtol's is by far the best Kodak film developer by a long way, and well worth using replenished for it's convenience, economy and consistency.
Pyrocat HD is the other developer I'd recommend, it's like Rodinal on steroids, good film speed, very fine grain, superb sharpness and very economic.
Rodinal is gives exceptionally fine grain with T-grain (and similar) emulsions, it's superb with Agfa APX100 & Tmax 100 even with 35mm films, not so good with older style faster films like Tri-X.