Developer recommendatons...

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Tom
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#1
I'm coming to the end of my bottle of Ilford DD-X (my first bottle of developer as I'm fairly new to film). i'm looking for a grain reducing developer (as I shoot 35mm and mostly people) that works well with Kentmere and is fairly good value - a lot of the grain reducing developers seem to be quite low dilutions like 1:1, which makes me think you'll be replacing them all the time. Would you recommend a powder version instead??

Any ideas welcome!

Cheers,
Tom
 
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#2
You may get as many recommendations as there are replies, but I've picked my developers based on the number of films I intend to develop and how long I expect the developer to last before it expires. This year that has meant using an old (unopened) pack of Xtol for the first time at stock strength, with replenishment (also a first) by fresh at a rate of about 70ml per 120 film. This works out to be economical as I'm not discarding the full amount as I would be if used 1+1. It has worked perfectly for me since made up in February this year, and it is always available for use.

I have never shot any Kentmere film, but it doesn't have a reputation for very fine grain and that may be an area where you can improve/reduce grain without trying all sorts of developers? Traditional films like FP4+ and HP5+ have a strong following, although perhaps not so much HP5+ in 35mm for people shots. Delta is a more modern type of film than the other 2, and is claimed to have finer grain than even Pan F+, while not being so touchy about processing. Someone else will be along shortly with other ideas for you. ;)
 
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Tom Pinchenzo
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#3
Hi Peter, thanks for your reply. I’ve chosen Kentmere because it’s cheap! Pretty happy with the results of the ISO 100 - seems to have finer grain than HP5, which I shot until I realised there were much cheaper options! I guess that’s because it’s a slower film? But I’m absolutely not a film stock connoisseur! I’m wondering whether to try a powdered version as I understand they’re a bit cheaper and last longer?
 
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#4
Hi Tom

Not sure which powder you are thinking of trying, but they will certainly keep for long enough before they are made up. Some of them don't last so long once you've made them up, so you might want to check their data sheets for that info.

The liquid one with a big following is Kodak HC110 as it lasts for ages, but it was £30 odd a litre last time I looked. It is used highly diluted, so that reduces the cost per film, but that would be a choice for you to make.
 

Asha

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#5
HC-110

Don't go down the syringe measiring method as it is like syrop.
Instead is use a spoon like i do, a coofee spoon at 3ml or teaspoon at 5ml

Measurements of the spoon quantity can easily be confirmed using water and a measuring vile

Be sure to stir thouroughly before adding to film and of xourse to ensure all the develop has come off the spoon into the solution.
 
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#6
I find a basic plastic syringe picks it up easily. I did get a fancy glass one that relied on the fit between the glass bits for a seal rather than having the rubber plunger bit, and that struggled - I guess the hole was a smaller diameter, and it just couldn't draw it up.

I decant into a small bottle that the syringe can reach into and top up as needed. It's easy to hold the bottle and syringe with one hand and draw up the plunger with the other while reading the scale. Once I've got the dev into the beaker and added the water, I pull some water in and out of the syringe a couple of times to rinse the residue out (then take it apart and dump it into another beaker in the sink for proper washing later).

The nice thing about HC-110 aside from the shelf life is the ability to play with dilutions and adjust the time proportionally. If you use half as much syrup, you double the time, etc (with a caveat of not using less than 6ml lest it become exhausted too soon). I use it at 1+49 and roughly 50% more time (compared to the common 1+31). That works out at 6ml for a roll of 35mm and, at £30 for 1000ml, the cost per roll is about 18p.
 
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#7
I've tried quite a few developers and settled on Rodinal because of price, shelf life, but most importantly - results. My 400 film is Double-X and it looks good in Rodinal. HP5 though - looks terrible, as does Tri-X. If I were shooting those films I'd have to find another developer. I do have an unopened bottle of Ilfosol that I bought to try out on HP5 but I haven't bought any 35mm HP5 yet so...

That said, HP5 & Tri-X at 120 in Rodinal are lovely - even up to 1600. I'm almost certain that the weakest link in my 35mm workflow is digitising and if I'm honest, the developer choice is really not what I need to worry about. When* we move house and when* I get a print darkroom that may change.

I did XTOL once and never did it again. Huge pain (for me) to mix up and store. Results were good, but it didn't add anything positive to my hobby. I kept looking at the storage container thinking "not long left" and "what if my good photos go into a soup that's duff?" It's a psychological thing :)

I think it's important to find a good developer/film combination and stick to it. I know that if I'm shooting 35mm, then it's Double-X. If I shoot anything else, then I don't care about grain (TMAX3200, and the Washi F & Z films). The majority of my "serious" photography is medium format and I have yet to find a film that doesn't give me great results in 1+25 Rodinal. Pan F, Delta 100 and Acros look amazing and so do HP5 and Tri-X.

*When = If
 

Asha

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#8
I find a basic plastic syringe picks it up easily. I did get a fancy glass one that relied on the fit between the glass bits for a seal rather than having the rubber plunger bit, and that struggled - I guess the hole was a smaller diameter, and it just couldn't draw it up.

I decant into a small bottle that the syringe can reach into and top up as needed. It's easy to hold the bottle and syringe with one hand and draw up the plunger with the other while reading the scale. Once I've got the dev into the beaker and added the water, I pull some water in and out of the syringe a couple of times to rinse the residue out (then take it apart and dump it into another beaker in the sink for proper washing later).
I'll be honest that I'm a bit slap dashy ( does such words exist lol) but not unlike temperature, I've never experienced any blatantly obvious issues by being out by a degree , milliliter or secod or so.

You are abviously much more dedicated and precise which I give you credit for ( and was clearly evident with the work you did on the Marion!) but for me the "method" I have in place gives the results I want and more importantly that I am happy with.
 

Asha

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#9
. I'm almost certain that the weakest link in my 35mm workflow is digitising and if I'm honest, the developer choice is really not what I need to worry about. When* we move house and when* I get a print darkroom that may change
Well said!

There are many other variables to consider other than just developer and I agree whole heartedly about digitising being the weakest link especially with small formats.....Larger, in particular LF seem to brush up OK, nonetheless I have ( as you may have picked up on from other threads, have chosen to return to darkroom practices but alongside digitising by scanner.
Both options offer different results and two different process to enjoy ( or not as the case may be!)
Not unlike playing around with chems, times, temperatures and of course films, although having done lots of that I have pretty much settled on a couple of brands of film and for the moment the one brand of developer.
 
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Tom Pinchenzo
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#10
Hi Tom

Not sure which powder you are thinking of trying, but they will certainly keep for long enough before they are made up.
I’m thinking of D-76. It says that one pack makes up 1L of working solution. Would you then need to dilute that solution further before using it?
 
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#11
I've only used D76 1+1, but I think you can use it as stock by extending the time for development. You'll need 300ml for a 35mm film, so that would get you 6 films from 1 litre at 1+1. I don't know the current price of D76, but it might be getting towards £1 per film?

EDIT: I've just had a quick search, and it looks like Sharif Photographic may be the best price for D76, particularly the larger 3.8 litre pack.
https://www.sharifphotographic.co.uk/1462-kodak
 
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#12
D76 and Iford's ID11 are the same formula of metol developer. ID11 is now cheaper following Kodak's troubles. It's my favourite developer; don't buy the 1 litre, get the 5 litre if you are going to use it regularly, as it's cheaper by volume. Have some old 2 pint milk bottles to keep it in once you have mixed it in a bucket.
 
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#13
Id11 or D76 for me, I always found it worked fine. And Microphen for when I wanted to push a film like HP5 or tri-x to 1600.
 
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#14
A fascinating, if bewildering, read for me as I’m thinking about diving back into film processing (b&w, 35mm and 120) for the first time in 50 years. I’m mainly digital but still get satisfaction from using film cameras occasionally. I’ve yet to settle on a film (currently use Fomapan 200) so I need something fairly universal, at least to start with. Oh, and there’s the small matter of tanks, bottles, tun dishes, changing bag, etc etc...
 
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#15
A fascinating, if bewildering, read for me as I’m thinking about diving back into film processing (b&w, 35mm and 120) for the first time in 50 years. I’m mainly digital but still get satisfaction from using film cameras occasionally. I’ve yet to settle on a film (currently use Fomapan 200) so I need something fairly universal, at least to start with. Oh, and there’s the small matter of tanks, bottles, tun dishes, changing bag, etc etc...
At the risk of derailing the OPs thread I picked up some spare tanks for a film course I ran at college recently and I can pop one in the post for you if you like (FoC). Its an old Jobo tank and it has a plastic reel with no ball bearings (I prefer these for 120 film) and it's a bit squeaky, but it's light tight and it'll do 1x35mm or 1x120. If you're interested, let me know and I'll do a Classified to keep it all above board.
 
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#16
At the risk of derailing the OPs thread I picked up some spare tanks for a film course I ran at college recently and I can pop one in the post for you if you like (FoC). Its an old Jobo tank and it has a plastic reel with no ball bearings (I prefer these for 120 film) and it's a bit squeaky, but it's light tight and it'll do 1x35mm or 1x120. If you're interested, let me know and I'll do a Classified to keep it all above board.
That sounds brilliant, thank you. I will of course recompense postage costs.
 
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Tom Pinchenzo
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#17
Sorry for the silly question, but what’s stock vs 1+1, the latter obviously being 1 part dev to 1 part water. How does this work with powder developer??
 
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#18
Sorry for the silly question, but what’s stock vs 1+1, the latter obviously being 1 part dev to 1 part water. How does this work with powder developer??
For clarity's sake, I don't believe there is such a thing as a developer you can use as a powder. You have to add water to powder developer to make up the stock liquid you will be using. For a 1 litre pack, this means you make up 1 litre of developer solution. Stock means full strength, so a 1 litre pack makes up to 1 litre full strength developer, the 3.8l pack of D76 makes 3.8l of stock, etc.

If you check out the Massive Dev Chart at the link, you'll see times for Kentmere films in D76
https://www.digitaltruth.com/devchart.php?Film=%Kentmere%&Developer=%D-76%&mdc=Search&TempUnits=C&TimeUnits=D

You'll see that there are times for Stock, 1+1 and 1+3, and it takes some experimenting to find which combination suits your photography and gives you the results you want, but Kodak's own D76 info doesn't talk about 1+3 at all. https://imaging.kodakalaris.com/sites/uat/files/wysiwyg/pro/chemistry/j78.pdf

DEVELOPMENT TIMES
The development times in the following tables are starting-point recommendation; for critical applications, run tests to determine the best development time. If your films are consistently too low in contrast, increase the development time slightly (10 to 15percent); if they are too contrasty, decrease the development time slightly (10 to 15percent).If you use DeveloperD-76 diluted 1:1, dilute it just before you use it, and discard it after processing the batch of film. Before using the diluted developer, make certain that there are no air bubbles in the solution. If air is coming out of the solution and forming bubbles, let the solution stand until the bubbles dissipate.
 
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Tom Pinchenzo
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#19
For clarity's sake, I don't believe there is such a thing as a developer you can use as a powder. You have to add water to powder developer to make up the stock liquid you will be using. For a 1 litre pack, this means you make up 1 litre of developer solution. Stock means full strength, so a 1 litre pack makes up to 1 litre full strength developer, the 3.8l pack of D76 makes 3.8l of stock, etc.

If you check out the Massive Dev Chart at the link, you'll see times for Kentmere films in D76
https://www.digitaltruth.com/devchart.php?Film=%Kentmere%&Developer=%D-76%&mdc=Search&TempUnits=C&TimeUnits=D

You'll see that there are times for Stock, 1+1 and 1+3, and it takes some experimenting to find which combination suits your photography and gives you the results you want, but Kodak's own D76 info doesn't talk about 1+3 at all. https://imaging.kodakalaris.com/sites/uat/files/wysiwyg/pro/chemistry/j78.pdf
I see - that makes sense.
 
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Tom Pinchenzo
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#20
My 400 film is Double-X and it looks good in Rodinal. HP5 though - looks terrible, as does Tri-X...

That said, HP5 & Tri-X at 120 in Rodinal are lovely - even up to 1600.

*When = If
Hi Ian,

I’ve just entered the world of medium format (Bronica ETRSI) with HP5 and thinking again about developers so looking through this old thread. I’m interested as to why HP5 looks bad in Rodinal in 35mm but good in 120. Is it just because grain isn’t such an issue in medium format? Surly chemically they’re identical.
 
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#21
Is it just because grain isn’t such an issue in medium format?
For me - yes. I have a 4k screen and in LR that's a big [physical] image. With high res scans of 35mm [Epson v550] everything looks crap. I have yet to try HP5 or Tri-X in Rodinal and scanned via the Plustek though.

Scanning 120 to present on the same screen means less of an enlargement thus less enlargement of the grain. It looks physically better simply because it's a bigger thing.

I'm considering a switch to HC-110 once this batch of Rodinal runs out, but I'd like to try some HP5 in 35mm and scanned on the Plustek before that.

More film to buy.... :)
 
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Tom Pinchenzo
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#22
For me - yes. I have a 4k screen and in LR that's a big [physical] image. With high res scans of 35mm [Epson v550] everything looks crap. I have yet to try HP5 or Tri-X in Rodinal and scanned via the Plustek though.

Scanning 120 to present on the same screen means less of an enlargement thus less enlargement of the grain. It looks physically better simply because it's a bigger thing.

I'm considering a switch to HC-110 once this batch of Rodinal runs out, but I'd like to try some HP5 in 35mm and scanned on the Plustek before that.

More film to buy.... :)
Why are you considering HC110? Lots of people on this thread certainly rate it! I’m drawn to anything that’s inexpensive and stores well.
 
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#23
Why are you considering HC110? Lots of people on this thread certainly rate it! I’m drawn to anything that’s inexpensive and stores well.
Just for a change really. I'm comfortable with the results I get from Rodinal, and want to see if HC-110 is any different.
 

ChrisR

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#24
...I’m interested as to why HP5 looks bad in Rodinal in 35mm but good in 120. Is it just because grain isn’t such an issue in medium format? Surly chemically they’re identical.
With the same developer the grain is the same size but smaller in proportion to the image... which is what Ian said, another way round!

A virtue of HC 110 apparently is that it keeps for a very long time. I've read on here that the old (Agfa?) Rodinal used to have superlative keeping, but the newer versions tend to fail suddenly.

I've not used Rodinal, but I did switch from Ilfosol 3 to HC 110. Can't say I notice any improvement in the outcomes. IIRC @simon ess is a bit of a genius with his HC 110, or his scanning technique, or something, have a look at some of his shots.
 
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#25
I've used HC110 for about 2.5 years. The first bottle lasted 2 years - that is to say I used it all up rather than it getting exhausted - it was still fine after 2 years. As a precaution, I decanted the 1 litre bottle into 4 250ml brown glass bottles and opened them one at a time. It may appear expensive at about £30 a bottle but it can be used at very high dilution so it works out one of the cheaper developers.

Rodinal also has a reputation for lasting a very long time, but I must have been unlucky as I had two bottles which went bad long before being used up.

Finally, most developers produce fairly similar results with most films. There's a great reference by Richard Pickup at https://www.richardpickup.com/pebbl...ww.richardpickup.com/pebble-project-galleries - but I can't see much difference between the results from the different developers.
 

StephenM

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#27
Rodinal's formula did change through its long life, and the final version used by Agfa wasn't published (although an older version has been). The first replacements after Agfa ceased production did have short shelf lives, but the version from Adox (I think it is - see the Ag site) states that it follows the final Agfa formulation, so should last as long. I'm still using the Agfa version of Rodinal...
 
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#28
Rodinal's formula did change through its long life, and the final version used by Agfa wasn't published (although an older version has been). The first replacements after Agfa ceased production did have short shelf lives, but the version from Adox (I think it is - see the Ag site) states that it follows the final Agfa formulation, so should last as long. I'm still using the Agfa version of Rodinal...
I've been unfaithful to my ancient deep brown Rodinal this past few years, although I did use it successfully for stand development on 2006 Konica IR film a couple of months ago, so it's still working. I hope HC110 lasts as well, as I bought a bottle a year or so ago and have only used it a couple of times. :thinking:
 
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#30
I've always used Kodak D-76 3.8L powder packs and mixed up when I need it. I've had very consistent results from it which is why I stuck with it. Seems to last a very long time if stored in a cool dark place in fully filled glass bottles. I've not had any issues with the powder ageing either. I've been using some powder packs that are over 10 years past the expiry date. I might have to try the ID-11 5L powder route when my supply of D-76 replenishers is exhausted as it looks like they are now discontinued.
 

RaglanSurf

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#31
I've always used Kodak D-76 3.8L powder packs and mixed up when I need it. I've had very consistent results from it which is why I stuck with it. Seems to last a very long time if stored in a cool dark place in fully filled glass bottles. I've not had any issues with the powder ageing either. I've been using some powder packs that are over 10 years past the expiry date. I might have to try the ID-11 5L powder route when my supply of D-76 replenishers is exhausted as it looks like they are now discontinued.
Is there any problem not mixing up a whole pack?
 
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#32
Is there any problem not mixing up a whole pack?
I just realised the way I worded it made it sound like I mix up a pack in bits. I do mix up a whole pack, then bottle it to the brim then seal them before they cool. This minimises the air contained in the bottle which stops it oxidising quickly. An untouched bottle seems to last at least 2 years. I don't think it's necessarily wise pushing it that far but the telltale sign D-76 has gone off is a yellow tint.
 

RaglanSurf

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#34
I just realised the way I worded it made it sound like I mix up a pack in bits. I do mix up a whole pack, then bottle it to the brim then seal them before they cool. This minimises the air contained in the bottle which stops it oxidising quickly. An untouched bottle seems to last at least 2 years. I don't think it's necessarily wise pushing it that far but the telltale sign D-76 has gone off is a yellow tint.
Thanks, Kyle, really useful.
 
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#35
Nice spreadsheet! How long does HC-110 last? Looks like it’s pretty good value.
The undiluted concentrate is widely considered to last for several years (5, 6, or more).

It can also be used at different dilutions with a proportionate adjustment in developing time, with a caveat of not using less than 6ml. I use it at 1+49 and increase the Dil B time by about 50%. At 1+49, 300ml of solution uses 6ml of concentrate. For 35mm, that works out to about 166 rolls per litre.

One thing to watch out for is that there are (or were) two versions. The 1L bottle is full strength, and there is (or was) a 500ml bottle that was slightly diluted. When I first looked into it a few years ago, I think I came to the conclusion that the larger, more concentrated one worked out cheaper. The catalogue number (Kodak's part number) for the full strength stuff is 501 0541.

Loads of info here...

http://www.covingtoninnovations.com/hc110/
 
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#36
@Tom Pinchenzo I have some out of date packs of D76 if you want to try one?
It went out of date in 2016 but it's been stored well. It's the smaller 109g pack.

Free to you if you want it, just pm me.
 
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