Quote Originally Posted by StoneNYC View Post
Sorry I had miss-typed, I meant Microdol with D3200...

Also, ok so then what exactly is "sharpness" I know being that I have done this for 18 years I should know but it's still confusing you would think finer grain would inherently give a sharper look, this is NOT true, so I would prefer my images look sharper (can i say crisper?) to finer grain since no one is looking at the grain on a wall.

Of all the ilford and Kodak films I've developed I found Pan F+ to be the sharpest/fine grain looking images and I developed it all in Ilfsol 3 because that's all I have since that's what B&H stocks on the shelves and I seem to like liquid over powers (all the color developing I have done was with powders).

But I'm ready to buy more developers and I just don't want to get stuck with something I don't like but I realize using Ilfsol 3 only is limiting and it's supposed to be best for low ASA films only. But should I even use it? No one ever talks about it, but it's ilfords newest developer I THINK so maybe it's better but no one has tried it?


The Noteworthy Ones - Mamiya: 7 II, RZ67 Pro II / Canon: 1V, AE-1 / Kodak: No 1 Pocket Autographic, No 1A Pocket Autographic

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Stone, to a large degree yes fine grain and sharpness (you could call it crispness) are at opposite ends when balancing a developer's characteristics. It gets a little more complicated with more dilute developers where edge effects come into play, but don't worry about that. Just know that generally the finer grain a developer is formulated to produce, the less sharp the edges of the grain will be.

Most general purpose solvent developers like D76/ID11, DDX, XTOL, TMax RS, Ilfosol etc etc are designed to give a good balance of both fine grain and good sharpness, without going too far in either direction. Developers like Rodinal, FX2, Beutler, and Pyro favour sharpness over fine grain. Developers like Microdol/Perceptol favour fine grain over sharpness.

The differences become a little less clear if you alter dilutions, agitation etc. Generally the more you dilute a solvent developer the sharper it will get, with the tradeoff of higher graininess.

What I would say is that from a grain or sharpness perspective you won't have a whole lot to gain or lose by switching from Ilfosol to DDX or TMax. What DDX or TMax RS offer is somewhat higher speed, at least with tabular grained films.

How you use the developer is important and gives you some flexibility with respect to graininess and sharpness. And of course you can also control contrast (and film speed to some extent). So it is more about how you practice using the film/developer combination than switching developers. Many of the differences between similar types of developers are quite small. So I would not consider yourself limited in any way with Ilfosol. I have not used it myself but I'm sure it can do whatever you need it to do.

If you want to learn a little more about the general types of developers, films and how they work together consider buying a copy of The Film Developing Cookbook. It's a pretty good compilation of information from good sources, and is easy to follow. This might help you decide whether you should stick with what you are using or perhaps go in a different direction.