What Black and white film do you think is easiest to develop ?

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BRAD
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#1
Hello All,

I'm about to order some black and white film with the intention of having a go at developing it my self, I would like to use an iIford film ( being British and that) but which one would you think is the easiest to develop at home ? I was going to just buy some Kentmere as it's cheap for a first go but I had some poor results from one processor yet great results from Ilfords own lab so I'm wondering if this film is a bit tricky.

Thanks all
 
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#2
Stick to the film/dev guides by Ilford for starters. It's a good baseline. You can fiddle about later :)
You'll find that emulsions and developers in inordinate combinations, give vastly different results.
Some may suit you, some may not.
Me, I like FP4 in Ilfsol.......... I also like Fomapan stand developed in Rodinal . Grain like golf balls. Go figure :)
 

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#3
I always develop in Ilfotec lc39 and I have found it works with every type of film very well. I always use the massive dev chart for my timing and that seems to work well. As for film, I haven't noticed any difference in difficulty of development, it's just the combination with the developer that can affect the end result.
 
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#4
I haven't had any films that are easier or harder to process, but there are a few that are trickier to scan because they curl up.

I'm a big fan of HC-110 as it lasts for ages and I've had great results, but if you want to stay with Ilford then I've tried Ilfosol 3 which was good as well.
 
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#5
I always used to use Ilfosol 3, and had excellent results from FP4+ (which by the way dries nicely flat for scanning). I'm currently using HC 110, and not quite getting to grips with it, although the FP4+ result was fine. I've no real experience of the other Ilford films; though I've probably devved a couple of Delta films, they don't thrill me quite like FP4+. And I've absolutely no idea why!

BTW I use a Rondinax tank, so more or less continuous agitation. No problems with grain on FP4.
 
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#7
Easiest to develop ??

They're all exactly the same aren't they

shoot box speed and develop using MDC, timings will change depending on the film but one is no more difficult to do than another.
If you're talking about reliable results, shoot ilford film and ilford dev, its as good as anything.

Stop mincing about and be prepared to fail, just do it, its like making tea, you're only good at that because you do it everyday and all the ingredients are on the worktop.

:)
 

StephenM

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#8
I've used at least a dozen different black and white films over the years, and none have been more difficult than another. The biggest variations I've found have been in the complexity of making up the developer; powders take longer as you have to dissolve things, and liquids just need diluting. Not really a big difference, but I'm lazy and impatient. I always follow the developer instructions for the film, whichever developer I use. My only variation from recommended settings is that I normally give slightly more exposure to FP4 Plus to get negatives I like.

Over the years, I've only extensively used 3 or 4 films (3 if you count PanF and PanF Plus as the same) and 2 developers (Unitol and Rodinal).

The biggest variable has been ease of loading onto Paterson spirals, down to damp on the spirals rather than the film. These days, I have enough spirals to mean that I don't need to wait for any to dry, as I can develop as many as I'd want to in a day.

Summing up - variables in ease of use haven't come from the film but from other unrelated sources. But all are easier and simpler than baking a cake (less washing up, faster, fewer processes).
 

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#10
No, it wasn't; if it had been, I'd still be using it. At least, I've searched and failed to find, so it might be available somewhere.

Edit to add: this was a contributory factor to my using Rodinal, as the formulae (sic) are available. Though I wouldn't choose it for 35mm, but I don't use much 35mm film now.
 
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#11
The tendency to curl, or otherwise, is the main variable that will make one film more difficult to process, both in terms of getting it on the spiral and then in scanning. I have found that the films from the larger manufacturers - ie Ilford, Kodak, and Fuji, are least likely to curl.

Some films may have less tolerance for under exposure or over exposure; in this case the development process itself is not any more difficult but the percentage of useable results may be lower. I used to develop a lot of TMax 100, which some people say is difficult to expose correctly. I didn't find that much of a problem, but I disliked the pink stain on the negatives.

Some films are more prone to scratching than others. I found this to be a problem with Foma 100.

I am now concentrating on Ilford FP4+. I like the results and I will also stick my neck out and say that it is the second-cheapest mono film that is commonly available. Foma 100 is usually the cheapest, and it is capable of good results, but prone to scratching, has terrible reciprocity characteristics, and is more grainy than FP4+.

I've used a few different developers and haven't found much difference in the results. I'm now using Kodak HC110 which appears expensive to buy (about £25 plus postage) but each film requires so little of the developer that I could develop 256 films with a bottle so that's only about 10p per film. It lasts ages.
 
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#12
Thanks everyone for the info, it really is appreciated. I think I'll go for Ilfords FP4. I just need now to work out if I can fit a very small dark room into my already full of junk from all my other hobbies workshop !
 
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#13
There's a couple of options open to you.
For just developing film, you can use a changing bag and day light tank, such as the ubiquitous Paterson System4. Once loaded, as the name says, you can do the rest in the light. Then you can scan the negatives, or even use your dslr to photograph them. Scanning is IMHO better.
If you want to go down the darkrooom route for printing, your darkroom, as well as being light-tight, should be as dust-free as possible. The latter may be an issue for you in your workshop.
I don't do a lot of wet printing, so I make do with the just adequate method of a board over the bath :)
 
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#14
Thanks everyone for the info, it really is appreciated. I think I'll go for Ilfords FP4. I just need now to work out if I can fit a very small dark room into my already full of junk from all my other hobbies workshop !
This 4 pack of trial films (Ilford & Foma) seems not bad for £21.81 (or best offer) delivered, as they are each 36 exposure when some trial packs are only 24.
https://www.ebay.co.uk/itm/Black-Wh...740173?hash=item591d4dff0d:g:NI0AAOSwrQ5cRdMv
 
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#15
Thanks everyone for the info, it really is appreciated. I think I'll go for Ilfords FP4. I just need now to work out if I can fit a very small dark room into my already full of junk from all my other hobbies workshop !
Yes, unless enlarging you don't need a darkroom. I started developing before I even had a changing bag (only need it for 4x5), and I've never had to feed film onto a spiral in one: I use a Rondinax daylight tank. Keep the leader out, clip it onto the strap, pop the film in, lid on, wind-in, press lever to cut film off, finish winding in. Add chemicals etc, job done. (OK there are a few little twirly bits that make it just a little more complicated, but it is VERY simple.)
 
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#16
The Rondinax daylight tank sounds like a good thing Chris, I have a Patterson tank which I picked up from somewhere and have tried with a light damaged film to wind it on the spiral, I would say its less than 1/2 of the time it works and that's without trying to do it in the dark. That said as I've never seen a working one I'm not sure this one is right.At the moment I have no method for scanning the film other than a really cheap slide type scanner and had thought about going down the route of wet printing first with known good negatives. The dark room within the workshop would have been nothing but a home built small shed type room within my workshop (by workshop I really mean junk area ! ) I've only really in the past used XP2 to any degree which I really did like but that rally was for ease and cost of finding someone to develop it.
 

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#17
If the Paterson spiral only works half the time, either you're loading it incorrectly or there's something wrong with it. In my experience, a dry spiral always loads easily. I'd be checking to make sure it's really clean. This applies to both the current white spirals, and the clear ones that were used with the older Major II tanks. As a matter of interest, which Paterson tank is it?
 

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#19
The Major II is the older design - I bought mine (new) in the 1950s. One tip used to be the use the tip (pun intended) of a soft pencil to lubricate the grooves of the spiral, but personally I'd be worried about carbon particles spotting the film.

Have you got the spacing of the two halves correctly adjusted? The grooves on the black rod that hold the clips can wear with age, and the two halves might be moving apart, particularly if you have any tendency to pull them apart as you load. Some of my older spirals show this wear, but I've used the more recent tanks for years. Damaged grooves (the one the film goes in) is something I've not seen on a Paterson spiral, but have encountered on an even older Johnson's one.

The two advantages of the Major II over the later Paterson tanks are the transparent spiral (so you can make the reversal exposure when processing E3/E4 films without taking the film off the spiral - later processes fog the film chemically, and obviate the need for waving photoflood lights around, a "pleasure" I had in the 1960s) and the smaller quantity of chemicals needed for a film. The later tanks and spirals were faster to load, faster to fill and faster to empty - all big points.
 
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#20
I've just had a real good look whilst winding a film onto the spiral and I found that as you get part way into the film the plastic above one of the ball bearings is broke and it starts to lift meaning the ball bearing no longer grips ! At least I know why now.
 
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#21
I'd offer to look and see if I could send you another spiral, but honestly you'd be better off with the more modern design.
 
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#22
Thanks anyway Stephen,I've already had a look on eBay and they can be found quite cheaply anyway.I just need to work out which way to go with regard wet printing or scanning.
 
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#23
I recommend a Super System 4 model in preference to the older System 4 type. These are simpler to make light tight in a changing bag and don't leak when inverted during agitation.
 
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#24
I have one of the Patterson Major II spirals, which I now only use for the very occasional developing of 127 film, as it's the only spiral I have which adjusts to 127. I find the tank is very slow to load and empty because of the size of the hole in the lid and it's also difficult to prise off the little plastic cap which covers that hole. So all in all a later model will make life much easier.
 
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#25
Of the few I have, I find the Photax leaks least. It takes Paterson spirals too. But it is a little more fiddly to close in a changing bag than either the System 4 or Super System4.
 
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#26
Hi, I have started developing my own film last year (medium format only) so I thought I might contribute another data point, from a total beginner perspective. My findings are limited to medium format processing.

I do not have experience with Ilford film, and I'm sure they make great stuff. I only have experience with Kodak TriX and Foma film. Between the two I would strongly recommend Foma film and Foma chemistry. I found the Kodak film to be very thick and *extremely* curly out of the camera. I found it almost impossible to load correctly in my tank without any glitches. The Foma film is much thinner and flexible and loads without any problems.

As regards chemistry: I would advise to choose one brand and a couple of different developers (for different sensitivities) and stick to them for a long time to get to know them inside out. I personally chose to go for Foma chemistry: I use their Fomadon R09 (Rodinal) for Foma 100 and 200, and their Fomadon LQN (liquid concentrate) and Excel (Xtol powder clone to make 1L of solution) for Foma 400. Where I live Foma chemistry is incredibly cheap, and I get consistent results that I like and am able control.

Also, if you are into MF, I would recommend an AP tank over a Paterson. or at least an AP spiral over a Paterson one. I found the AP spirals much easier to load 120 film on than the Paterson ones, due to the larger flaps. YMMV.

Hello All,

I'm about to order some black and white film with the intention of having a go at developing it my self, I would like to use an iIford film ( being British and that) but which one would you think is the easiest to develop at home ? I was going to just buy some Kentmere as it's cheap for a first go but I had some poor results from one processor yet great results from Ilfords own lab so I'm wondering if this film is a bit tricky.

Thanks all
 
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