Best Developer for Acros and Neopan

Discussion in 'B&W: Film, Paper, Chemistry' started by capitaltpt, Feb 12, 2009.

  1. capitaltpt

    capitaltpt Member

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    Hello,

    I'm just getting started in to B&W film photography and will be processing and printing my own film. At present I'm decided on mostly shooting Fuji Acros 100 and Neopan 400, though I may get to shooting some Neopan 1600 or Ilford 3200 later on.

    I need to be very economical starting out here and can only stock 1 developer. I am wondering which might be best for the films I will be shooting with. I've looked a lot at Illford DD-X and Agfa Rodinal and have heard strong arguments for both. I'm looking for something to give me the best sharpness with the least amount of grain and will be printing up to 11x16. If it matters, I'll be using Fomacitro Stop Bath and Ilford Rapid Fixer.

    Thank you in advance for your suggestions!

    Bryan
     
  2. trexx

    trexx Member

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    I cannot imagine only one developer. I do really like rodinol, but it has a very special look and one you do not always want. D23 (Microdol-x) may be my favorite all round developer, I am sure there are Ilford equivalents. I also like Xtol, PC_TEA, Pyrocat-HD( and MC), PMK, Diaxactol. But for all of these I generally know when I shoot the picture what I'll be souping it in.

    But if I could only have one developer, HC-110. It is what I take with me when I travel and want to develop on the road. Keeps well can be used in many different concentrations. No storage needed for stock chemistry. I like the way Acros comes out in HC-110.

    TR
     
  3. chriscrawfordphoto

    chriscrawfordphoto Member

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    Rodinal in excellent for Acros, it is all I use for that film. It is very sharp and the grain is still very fine since Acros has such fine grain to begin with.

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    These are both Acros in Rodinal 1+50. Acros is a great film for everything, even very low light, because it has no reciprocity failure to speak of even for exposures of several minutes.

    I have not used the 400 speed Neopan since I was in high school, over 15 yrs ago, so I can't make a good recommendation there. I used Rodinal and the tonality was beautiful but it was grainy. I'd probably try D-76 or ID-11 to start, those work great for Tri-X and HP-5.
     
  4. Bill Harrison

    Bill Harrison Subscriber

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    At the top of this page it says "It's called grain, it's supposed to be there". Don't be afraid. Try Neopan 1600, in Rodinal, It's called art. There are risks. Not losses.
     
  5. PhotoJim

    PhotoJim Member

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    "Best sharpness" and "least amount of grain" don't go together, alas. What makes your image sharp, developer-wise, makes your grain sharp, too. Developer can't tell the difference between them. Indeed, your image is formed by exposed grains, so the two are really inseparable.

    Ilfotec DD-X is a very expensive developer (although very good), so if economy is your aim, it is not what I would recommend.

    The best values are in developers that are shipped dry. Kodak XTOL is perhaps the best. Kodak D-76 and Ilford ID-11 are interchangeable developers that are excellent, easy to use and very economical. With all of them, using the developer undiluted provides finest grain (but lowest sharpness). Diluting 1:1 gives higher sharpness with slightly more grain. You can also dilute D-76 and ID-11 1:3 for maximum economy and maximum sharpness, but maximum grain. The differences are fairly subtle, however.

    Kodak HC-110 is also quite economical, and available as a concentrate. Using an oral syringe you can mix working solution directly from concentrate and keep the concentrate in your darkroom for several years.

    There are other developers that might fit your situation well, but as a relative newbie at this, your choices are best made from the developers I've listed.

    (Rodinal is good, and it's cheap, and it lasts forever, by the way, but it's a grainy developer. It's not good, in my opinion, with fast films. To me, it's a great second developer to have, but a poor first one. I tend only to use it on slow films.)
     
  6. david b

    david b Member

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    You might consider xtol 1+1.

    Check the massive dev chart and you will see that Acros rated at 100 is 9.5 minutes and Neopan rated at 400 is 9.75 minutes.

    You could easily average that out and develop them both at the same time.
     
  7. pentaxuser

    pentaxuser Subscriber

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    In terms of cost of developers, it would help if I knew where you live. Ilford prices may be quite different in the U.S. compared to continental Europe and the U.K. However DDX is a very versatile developer and is very good for high speed films especially Ilford D3200. While ID11 is cheaper for a 1 litre pack, it will only do 4 films, at stock solution, even in an 250ml Jobo tank which probably uses the least amount of dev. 1 litre of DDX in the same tank will do 20 films and won't in the U.K. cost anything like as much as 5 x 1 litre packs of ID11. There is a 5L pack of ID11 which, if you can get hold of, may be as cheap as a 1 litre container of DDX but in my experience DDX produces a less grainy neg than ID11.

    You must decide based on your circumstances but all I am saying is that going for ID11 or the Kodak equivalent may not be as much of a "no brainer" as it first appears.

    pentaxuser
    pentaxuser
     
  8. MVNelson

    MVNelson Member

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    pyrocat-hd last forever on the shelf, easy to mixed and cheap as one shot developer. It is very versatile. With acros and neopan 400 you get remarkable acutance (perceived sharpness) , great highlight separation, unobtrusive grain and good film speed. That said xtol 1+1 is really nice too. Good luck.
     
  9. 2F/2F

    2F/2F Member

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    First of all, you can't really go wrong with any black and white developer. The effort spent dialing things in to "perfection" will matter more than which exact developer you use.

    I would consider a syrup like Ilford Ilfotec HC, Kodak HC-110, or Agfa Rodinal.

    There are things like D-76 (or Ilford ID-11, which is effectively identical) as well.

    I find the syrups to be the most convenient and the most consistent.

    "Under the microscope", HC-110 is not sharper than D-76, but it does cause less grain, according to Kodak (if I remember their little chart correctly).

    In any case, I can't tell the difference between the two in terms of "image quality", though the contrast is slightly different. I slightly prefer what HC does to the midtones and highlights with conventional-grained films and low-contrast films like Tri-X, HP5, and Delta 3200. These faster (thus inherently low-contrast) films can look a bit flat sometimes in D-76, and the HC gives them a tiny kick in my experience. For the films that can tend to blow the highlights (non-random grain pattern films like Delta, T-max, the T-grained Fuji emulsions, and slow films like Pan F or Efke 25 and 50), I will just use a higher dilution of HC and do a semi stand developing run (where I used to use D-76 1:1 or 1:3). In almost any application, you probably won't be able to tell the difference in image quality between any of the standard b/w developers such as D-76 and HC. Therefore, I would pick the one that is the most convenient, versatile, and consistent: Ilfotec HC or Kodak HC-110. These developers are totally consistent due to their high concentration and keeping ability, and almost infinitely versatile. Same for Rodinal, but it has a much different look.

    IMHO, you also want something that has been around for a long time, and will continue to be around for a long time.
     
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  10. OP
    OP
    capitaltpt

    capitaltpt Member

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    Thank you for all the responses! To answer some questions, I do live in the US. Not having shot film yet (I'm a young digital guy) I can only make a guess as to what I'll shoot with most, but I'm thinking as far as black and white, I'll usually be shooting outside in daylight, probably candids mostly, so I'm thinking I'll probably be using the 35mm Acros more than anything with the occassional roll of Neopan 400 for lowerlight situations. Even with all of that, I don't see myself shooting more than half a dozen or so rolls per month. I know picking only one developer is not ideal, but I'm on a budget (most of my money went towards a Nikon D300 and good glass).

    In looking at the Freestyle website I have found DD-X, Rodinal, and HC-110 all within a couple dollars of each other in quantities I'm most likely to get the most use-to-storage life ratio out of.

    Of the three, which would you pick for doing mostly Acros with some Neopan 400? Oh, and to correct my earlier misuse of terminology, I'm looking for sharpest picture with the FINEST grain (not least amount.....sorry about that :smile: )
     
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  11. sanking

    sanking Member

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    I developed Pyrocat-HD so you may accuse me of bias. However, Acros in Pyrocat-HD with minimal agitation gives some of the best looking MF negatives I have ever seen. Tmax-100 in Pyrocat-HD is no slouch either, and Delta 100 is great also, but Acros is my favorite. I shoot with Acros in 120 with a Mamiya 7, on a tripod whenever possible, and the results compare favorably to 4X5.

    Sandy King



     
  12. 2F/2F

    2F/2F Member

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    I would start out by shooting at least a ten-pack of Tri-X if you really are just beginning. You may fall in love, and you may not. However, on a strictly technical level, it is a good reference point for all the other films that you will go on to try, since it has such an even color response (the bad-form way to say "spectral sensitivity") compared to most films. It is a very versatile, classic-looking, and UNIQUE-looking film (unique due to the way it renders shade, foliage, and skies ever so slightly lighter than most b/w films). Don't be afraid of shooting a lot. Bracket exposures a lot. Try different compositions for every subject. At the very least try a vertical and a horizontal of every subject. Experiment. It is one of the great advantages of using 35mm! You have 36 pix to try for not all that much money and effort.

    Tri-X is sold for about half the normal price, labeled as Arista Premium 400 for only $2 a roll.
     
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  13. clayne

    clayne Member

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    Kodak XTOL or D-76. They're both fine grain enough that it won't matter. Use for the purpose. If you pushed, XTOL, or if you want the look of D-76, which is quite nice, D-76. Use Rodinal, use D-96.

    There is no *best*.

    I too tire of these grain discussions, grain is rarely an issue.
     
  14. Bill Harrison

    Bill Harrison Subscriber

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    Freestyle also sells repackaged Arcos and Neopan 400 as Legacy pro ... $2.70/ 36exp. They also sell 100 ft cans if you get around to "rolling your own". Good luck... a lot of good advice to try.
     
  15. Thomas Bertilsson

    Thomas Bertilsson Member

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    Acros is such good film, as is Neopan 400. I've used both, and honestly, they look great in any developer I've tried them with.
    Neopan 400 in Pyrocat is YUMMY! Very fine grain for ISO 400, amazing brilliance in the highlights. Rodinal was my favorite with Acros, I haven't tried it in Pyrocat that I can remember, but that's another stunning combination. Razor sharp.
    That said, you can get amazing results with D76, ID11, HC-110, DD-X - none of the developers are bad, but you will need to spend some time with either of them to get the most of your shooting/metering style and the developer/film combination. It sounds silly, but things like water pH can affect how your negatives look. Pick one of the developers that's convenient to you, and run with it for a hundred rolls. Take notes. Change one thing at a time until you have something that prints/scans the way you want it to. It's the only way.

    - Thomas
     
  16. Anon Ymous

    Anon Ymous Member

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    Actually, picking one developer and sticking with it is ideal for your case. Any developer with give an image with any film. Some will do a good job, some better, some worse. Even the definition of good or bad is highly subjective. It can easily become a "best cup of tea" argument. Once you have developed 2 or 3 rolls of the same film in the same developer, you will notice that there can be differences. Ideally, you should limit yourself to 1-2 films only. Developing your films is fun, but getting the best result requires some testing and fine tuning. You are the one who has to do it; nobody else really knows what exactly you're after. There are some variables that affect the image that you'll get. Limiting these makes the learning process easier and saves you from severe head scratching :D

    So, to summarise, pick any of the aforementioned developers and ideally 1-2 films to use. Develop films and keep notes of your process. When you want to deviate from that, change only one variable at any time and see what changes. Change 2 variables and you're lost! Consistency is important. In any case, feel free to ask questions. You're likely to need some more advice.
     
  17. P C Headland

    P C Headland Subscriber

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    Doing a limited amount of developing, and having just one developer, I'd be sticking to either HC-110 or Rodinal. Both last for ever in concentrate form, and you only need to mix what is immediately required.

    Either will work well.

    I've found Rodinal and Acros to be a lovely combination; for Neopan 400, I find setting the meter on 250 gives me the nicest results. Surprisingly enough, Rodinal with Neopan 1600 is another great combination. I just wish they made Neopan 1600 in 120!
     
  18. Mick Fagan

    Mick Fagan Subscriber

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    Generally I use one developer for all of my films, D76 either straight, or at 1+1 dilution, very occasionally 1+3.

    For every 1 liter kit at 1+1 dilution, you will have 2 litres of working solution.

    The films I use mostly are:- Neopan 400, Neopan 1600, Acros, lford FP4+, Ilford HP5+ and of late, Lucky 100.

    Neopan 400 and Neopan 1600 are designed for equal developing times and dilutions, at least that is what Fuji says. Within reason this is true, but for best results the slight differences do make a difference.

    What this means is that you can use two different speed films and one developer with two films at the same time. If your budget and time is tight, this would be a reasonably efficient system.

    I find with Neopan 400 to rate it at either 320 or 250 for best shadow results gives me very workable negatives. I also suggest you may have quite good results with Neopan 1600 at 800 and develop both films as though they were rated at 400 or 1600.

    Mick.
     
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  19. philipp.leser

    philipp.leser Member

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    I develop Acros and Neopan 400 in Diafine and love the results! The economy of Diafine is hard to match.

    Regards,
    Philipp
     
  20. SamWeiss

    SamWeiss Member

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    I've used both Acros and "Presto" (the name for the new Neopan 400, though in the US it is just called Neopan 400 while in Japan the new name is used.) As mentioned above, you can get Fujifilm b&w from Freestyle for only $2.70 per roll under the "Arista Legacy Pro" name, while the Kodak films are available (to the best knowledge on the net) as the "Arista Premium" trade-name at 70 cents cheaper.

    For me, using D76 for both Fujifilm emulsions works fine, 1:1 for Acros and straight for Presto (when pushing.) FWIW, I prefer the Presto to other 400 speed film, and find it a shame that Fujifilm had not promoted it more in the US. Fujifilm is known for their slidefilm, but IMO their b&w film is mighty fine.

    Even though I realize that different developers may get somewhat different look from films, my main concern with photography is usually not so finely tuned to those differences. Normally, given subject and lighting, and then metering errors and then interpreting the negatives in a print and all that entails... not to mention the content of the actual image... I've not found it worth worrying about differences in developers. Not to say you won't someday want to really dive into the technical depths of developer chemistry, but for now it might not be the payoff that would please you the most. Simply getting experience in the process, and the developing of your skills in the basic craft, will be more than enough to keep you occupied for awhile.
     
  21. Mahler_one

    Mahler_one Member

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    Thomas: I don't think one should underestimate the importance and implications of your post as well as several of the subsequent interesting posts. I have, at times, really wondered about the rapturous praise heaped upon one developer or another. I have also wondered if prints made from negatives developed in one developer and made to the same density on the same paper, etc., etc. would look any different then prints made from another developer and printed to the same parameters. While I am still reviewing the writings from many photographers ( and certainly I do NOT have the experience or expertise to cary out such tests myself ), it has become increasingly apparent that impartial and blinded evaluations of such prints will often show little to no differences. Before starting to throw darts at me, note that I am NOT saying that making prints from negatives from certain developers is not easier then making prints from negatives pulled from other developers, and that there might be very subtle differences that MIGHT be apparent if one is directed to look at one leaf, or one small reflection in a given print.. All I am saying is that Tom's points have implications that should be understood;namely, that if one learns to use what one film can accomplish with one developer, then it is entirely possible that prints made with that combination will be exactly the same in every way to prints of the same scene made with a different combination. To extract the last bit of difference between developers ( in the prints ) appears to take a consderable amount of experience and expertise. I hope that I haven't been misunderstood as being critical of those who find that one combination of film and developer pleases them and makes great prints. The point is that equally great prints can be made of the same scene with a different film and a different developer, and the prints might not be very different.

    Ed
     
  22. tbm

    tbm Member

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    A very economical way to develope Acros 100 is to use Microdol-X diluted 1+3 at 74 degrees for 18 minutes. I have been using this method for years and I always get grain-free, extremely sharp, tone-full negatives and prints with this.