D76 was the first developer I used. I mixed it from raw chemicals as in those days it was easy to buy them and it cost less than buying the Kodak product. I was an impecunious schoolboy of 11 years, who had recently swapped a rear derailleur mechanism for an Eastman Kodak Auto Graflex Junior single lens reflex camera with a 120 film back adapted to fit. D76 and later on HC110 were part of the journey that, with some interruptions has been going on ever since. It was only when the Zone system was learnt that, stimulated by the acquisition of a Kodak Model B whole plate field camera, more thought and scrutiny went into the development process. D76 and the more convenient and long lasting HC110 were okay for the Zone System when processing single sheets of film at a time. Easy adjustments could be made to suit the subjects and the exposures. After returning to film a few years ago, using rolls of film with several exposures and several subjects on each roll, the limitations of D76 and HC110 became apparent. My best friend suggested I try a compensating developer and recommended DiXactol. This proved to be quite wonderful at preserving highlights and maintaining a nice spread of tones. DiXactol is expensive, but I really wanted to continue with the compensating developer regime and so tried the quite economical 510-PYRO. This proved to be about the best developer I'd ever used. The results are a delight, especially when the contrast range of a subject is extreme. I still use 510-PYRO for roll film but now have added the incredibly low cost OBSIDIAN AQUA to the arsenal, this has proved to be very useful with sheet film, although it is also a compensating developer and perfectly good for roll film, especially if fine grain and extra sharpness is required. I still prefer the tonal range that 510-PYRO can deliver so now the developing of each film is subject to a decision process. Fifty three years ago there was no decision to make. It was going to be D76 and that was that.


RR