The Best Developer
I know I'm getting into some rough territory here as there are developers that fit the needs best of certain films and situations. However, I just wanted to ask the question to everyone - what is the best developer in your opinion? I hesitate to use the word "best", I think more of what I'm trying to say is "well rounded." I ask because I'm a student and the two developers that we have in the lab are D-76 and HC-110 dil B. Are these the most well rounded since it's the two that are supplied in our lab? I might be interested in buying and mixing my own developer just to experiment and therefore wanted everyones opinion. I've heard great things about Rodinal. Any thoughts or suggestions greatly appreciated! Thanks.
All things considered, I would name those exact two as my "all-around-best" developers. I would put HC-110 ahead of D-76, though, as I prefer its ease of use and shelf life, not to mention its slight difference in tonality. I would just pick one of those two and go to town for a while. Once things are under control for you, maybe try some Rodinal and some PMK and learn what it is good for. Oh yeah, D-23 is a great one too, though I have only started using it recently. It and HC-110 make are a great, simple two-developer "arsenal." They are both capable enough of being general-purpose developers, yet each has its own – roughly opposite – slight bit of character.
Last edited by 2F/2F; 03-15-2011 at 02:35 AM. Click to view previous post history.
"Truth and love are my law and worship. Form and conscience are my manifestation and guide. Nature and peace are my shelter and companions. Order is my attitude. Beauty and perfection are my attack."
- Rob Tyner (1944 - 1991)
How much developing are you going to be doing? Are you going to be developing large format negatives? Your answers may lead someone to suggest using a developer in a workflow that involves replenishment. If so, XTol has a lot going for it.
My circumstances make HC-110 the best choice for me.
“Photography is a complex and fluid medium, and its many factors are not applied in simple sequence. Rather, the process may be likened to the art of the juggler in keeping many balls in the air at one time!”
Ansel Adams, from the introduction to The Negative - The New Ansel Adams Photography Series / Book 2
A very well known website of B&W photography here in Italy speak in a very well way about Rodinal and its combination with Agfa APX100 (now Rollei Retro).
Very good results are obtainable also with Ilford HP5.
Agfa APX give more results on highlights "closing" a bit shadows, HP5 is a better compromize between darks and highlights.
I am using APX 100 and Rodinal and have not so much experiences with others; I presume those choices are good combinations cause I read many technical articles talking about.
i have 2 best developers ...
one is caffenol c ( spiked with some ansco 130 print developer )
and the other is ... ansco 130
aside from those 2 developers ...
sprint film developer is tops, its hard to beat it ..
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I'd also suggest that you consider whether you want to go once through or replenished / reused. I suspect that the school darkroom D76 is meant to be reused and replenished (because of the volume of developing) rather than used once through 1+1. I prefer my D76 to be fresh, so I use 1+1 and run through a gallon in about 1-3 weeks. I also use Rodinal once through (and it works better for that) but it is not what I would consider an all-around developer.
D76 is dirt common and works with everything.
I have never had good results with HC-110, but that might be me picking up bad habits from years of Rodinal abuse. (I've tried dilution B once, but mostly tried much less concentrated dilutions. The negatives were no great shakes because of light leaks, and I never tried it again).
I keep three developers on my shelf. First up, good old tried and true D-76. My second choice used for nearly all my LF is Pyrocat-HD. Third on my list is Rodinal. I've had this bottle for several years, still works very well. D-76 doesn't have nearthe shelf life of the other two, but works perfectly every time I reach for it. I've been working out of the same bottles of Pyro for over a year(nearly out)a little fussy, but once you have it dialed in for a film you wont use anything else.
I have tried Rodinal, D-76, and HC-110 and I like all of them.
There is no such thing as the best developer, but...
PC-TEA is a good close: Price: cheaper than tap water; Quality: good allrounder, good in almost every aspect; Low toxicity; Excellent shelf life; Easy to make; Times close to D-76 1:1 @ 1:50;
although there are millions of developers and it´s combinations, start trying, and post the results :-)
The developer that is available, and you know the best, is the best.
D76, HC-110, Rodinal, etc - these developers have been good enough for some of the legendary masterful printers out there. There is absolutely nothing wrong with HC-110 or D76; they are as good as any other developers out there. The difference lies in mastering the use of them. You will find that the limitations of the outcome of your print seldom lies in your materials, but rather in how we use them.
As a student you are far better off just picking one of those developers, and use it to your heart's content. They are all good. The rest is nearly academic. As interesting as it may seem, the changes you see due to alterations in your technique far outweigh the differences you see between different developers.
"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