Dektol in a hurry: A trial of express film processing

Little People

A
Little People

  • 0
  • 0
  • 151
Marseille-9.jpg

A
Marseille-9.jpg

  • 1
  • 2
  • 118
Marseille-16.jpg

A
Marseille-16.jpg

  • 0
  • 1
  • 66
Marseille-6.jpg

A
Marseille-6.jpg

  • 0
  • 0
  • 75
Marseille-5.jpg

A
Marseille-5.jpg

  • 0
  • 0
  • 80

Recent Classifieds

Forum statistics

Threads
180,569
Messages
2,492,349
Members
95,105
Latest member
rmurthy2
Recent bookmarks
0

halfaman

Subscriber
Joined
Sep 22, 2012
Messages
902
Location
Bilbao
Shooter
Multi Format
Read many times that Dektol was used decades ago as express film developer for press photography but I found just a couple of real examples on an internet search. The recipe is quite simple: Tri-X in Dektol stock solution at 20-25º C/68-77º F for 1 minute with continous or semi-continous agitation. So I decided to try this process to check if it really works delivering any usable negatives.

I choose HP5+ as film because I don't have any Tri-X at hand and I loaded it into my Nikon FM2n. I decided to expose it to ISO 800 after checking the very few results I can find on internet, with Tri-X highlights seem very dense to me so push it one stop could be a good idea (or not).

To make things even more interesting, my Dektol bag belongs to the "chocolate" edition. Kodak Alaris said the product is ok and it works as usual, but looks really nasty. Keeping the faith in the big "K" I continued the experiment but filtering it before use. It took 10 minutes to pass 250ml through a paper filter for coffee. This is a really thick stuff!

dektol.jpg




I did a prewashing of 1 minute with tap water followed by Dekot at around 23º C/73.4º F, agitation was one inversion every 15 seconds. Rest of the steps as usual. My expectation was getting a piece of transparent acetate, honestly, so imagine my face when I saw this after washing.

Tira-revelada.jpg




Well, it worked! Now a few scans with a Nikon Super Coolscan 8000 Ed and Vuescan at 4000 dpi dowscaled in PS to web size. Click on the image to follow the link to a bigger image (1500 pixels the widest dimension).













My impressions:
Base fog is clearly higher to the naked eye compared to other negatives developed in D76 but nothing to worry about. Contrast is on the high side but with acceptable range of midtones, taking into account that many of the photographed scenes were already medium-high to high contrast. Grain is present as expected for this developer and film but nothing intrusive and it is even pleasant for my taste. In general the result is quiet nice and negatives are more than usable.

I don't know what would happen exposed to box sensitivity, the answer will remain for another trial.
 
Last edited:

Don Heisz

Member
Joined
Jan 24, 2021
Messages
2,651
Location
Ontario
Shooter
35mm RF
Pretty good results for film developed in molasses. 😁

I'm not surprised by the increase in density and contrast, even at iso800. I've used Dektol 1:3 for 2-5 minutes to develop film at box speed. It works, but the tonality isn't always what you want. The carbonate in dektol makes it more aggressive, so you can easily get highlights blown. There is also way more hydroquinine in dektol than in d76. However, it can be good for developing mystery film.
 

momus

Subscriber
Joined
Jun 14, 2009
Messages
5,110
Location
Lower Earth
Shooter
Medium Format
HP5 is a bit of grainy film to begin with, so considering that, the negs look very good. Especially since this was your first time and you haven't had time to dial it in. Tri-X may give different results, I think that film could be developed in hot water and give good results!

Congratulation on having the courage to use of that dark, murky developer. I tossed mine and just buy the old stuff on eBay now, it's always OK.

Now let's see a darkroom print from your Dektol negs. Scanning accentuates grain, and often makes it a little weird. A print will look totally different, some or most of that grain may not be visible in the print.
 

NB23

Member
Joined
Jul 26, 2009
Messages
4,234
Shooter
35mm
Any paper dev is the same.

Bill Burke once said that the basic rule of thumb was one minute of development per dilution ratio and it sounds correct.

For example 1+1 = 1 minute and 1+5 = 5 minutes

For ilford multigrade developer, a stock solution is made (1+9), and you then dilute the stock solution for developing film according to your target time.

1+5 would mean 1 part of the stock for 5 parts water and you have your 5 minutes development solution.

Of course, these are starting points and fine tuning to your own Lab ebvironment is the remaining step.
 

Donald Qualls

Subscriber
Joined
Jan 19, 2005
Messages
10,097
Location
North Carolina
Shooter
Multi Format
I like this. Any idea on reuse capacity of the Dektol stock? One roll in 250 ml can't be getting anywhere close to exhausting the developer...
 

MattKing

Moderator
Moderator
Joined
Apr 24, 2005
Messages
40,473
Location
Delta, BC, Canada
Shooter
Multi Format
Now you have to experiment with the related newspaper darkroom trick - printing negatives while they are still wet! :smile:
 

Anon Ymous

Member
Joined
Feb 7, 2008
Messages
3,033
Location
Greece
Shooter
35mm
I've tried D72 (dektol) in the past with 400TX. It was something like 1+6 dilution for 6' at 20°C, agitation every 30". The contrast was a bit on the high side, but not too bad. Grain was quite pronounced. It was an interesting experiment, but there are definitely better developers out there. On the other hand, if you fancy the look...
 

pentaxuser

Subscriber
Joined
May 9, 2005
Messages
16,630
Location
Daventry, No
Shooter
35mm
Now you have to experiment with the related newspaper darkroom trick - printing negatives while they are still wet! :smile:

Yes with brbo asking the cigar chomping newspaper editor for 2 more minutes and the latter saying " I'll give you one or don't come back tomorrow" in a high contrast scene with intense desktop lights shining into worried faces, nearly black shadows everywhere else and not a drop of the milk of human kindness to be had anywhere in the building .😧

pentaxuser
 

Donald Qualls

Subscriber
Joined
Jan 19, 2005
Messages
10,097
Location
North Carolina
Shooter
Multi Format
Apparently that printer hadn't learned the Scotty trick (which he taught to Geordi when they met): Always tell 'em it'll take three times as long as you think it will. Then, when it takes only twice as long, you're a hero.
 

Paul Howell

Subscriber
Joined
Dec 23, 2004
Messages
7,369
Location
Scottsdale Az
Shooter
Multi Format
Now you have to experiment with the related newspaper darkroom trick - printing negatives while they are still wet! :smile:
I've done that, while freelancing at the Sacramento Union, the staff Photographer was out with a really bad case of the flu, I was called in to shoot last minuet story, a news conference with Jerry Brown who was the new governor at the time. I don't recall what the news conference was about, I blasted though a roll of 36 with my Nikon F and motor drive, then drove like a bat out hell back the paper. I used TriX rated at 1200, developed in "hot soup" as it was called, Dektol, 1:4 at 90 degrees, (not sure about the dilution) 30 second stop at 90, rapid fix at 90 and short wash 1 minute at 90. Then photo flow, printed with a D2, glass negative carrier. The contrast was horrible as was the grain. The Union had a print processor that was used for many prints, used a special Kodak paper, once I had the print the editor approved the wet print was sent to production. I then rewashed the negatives and dried for archival storage.
 
OP
OP
halfaman

halfaman

Subscriber
Joined
Sep 22, 2012
Messages
902
Location
Bilbao
Shooter
Multi Format
Thanks a lot for all your comments.


Any paper dev is the same.

Bill Burke once said that the basic rule of thumb was one minute of development per dilution ratio and it sounds correct.

For example 1+1 = 1 minute

Maybe this would be my next trial. Exposed to ISO 400, or 200 or both. HP5+ again, Tri-X is too expensive right now in Europe.


Now you have to experiment with the related newspaper darkroom trick - printing negatives while they are still wet! :smile:

I was thinking that with PE Superfix and a final rinse in isopropanol or ethanol you could have a negative dry and ready to print in no time.


I've tried D72 (dektol) in the past with 400TX. It was something like 1+6 dilution for 6' at 20°C, agitation every 30". The contrast was a bit on the high side, but not too bad. Grain was quite pronounced. It was an interesting experiment, but there are definitely better developers out there. On the other hand, if you fancy the look...

For 6 minutes or so I don't need any Dektol/D72, D76 stock does a pretty good work in 7 minutes. The point here was to verify that it is really possible to have a film fully developed in just 60 seconds with undiluted Dektol, and I can tell it is no lie.
 

Anon Ymous

Member
Joined
Feb 7, 2008
Messages
3,033
Location
Greece
Shooter
35mm
@halfaman Yes, 6' development time isn't express development, my experiment was about what the results would look like. I suspect a shorter development time would give reasonable contrast, but pronounced grain is probably unavoidable. Perhaps you could try a 1' development time with a more dilute developer, like 1+1.
 

Donald Qualls

Subscriber
Joined
Jan 19, 2005
Messages
10,097
Location
North Carolina
Shooter
Multi Format
It just occurred to me, if you could get even development this would be a terrific way to process sheet film in trays. No shuffling in the developer (and inducing scratches), handle them one sheet at a time: in, agitate, stop, fix (can be as little as a minute even with conventional rapid fixer) and let the sheets stack up in a water holding bath before proper washing. Get through two Grafmatics in half an hour (dev + stop + fix).
 

Vaughn

Subscriber
Joined
Dec 13, 2006
Messages
9,159
Location
Humboldt Co.
Shooter
Large Format
Here is a 4x10 image (from a carbon print) -- negative was developed in Dektol.

Golden Gate Bridge Girders
From top of Fort Point, 2012
FP4+, exposed at ISO 100, f/16 @ 1/15 second in high wind
SBR -- my Pentax Spot meter gave me reading from 9 to 12...a low contrast scene for me
Developed in Dektol, straight, 10 minutes. 72F

In Zone System geek language; I put the darkest area I could measure at this distance in Zone III (knowing there were smaller areas of lower value that my meter could not pick up.. With normal development, my highlights would fall in Zone VI -- so I developed the shit out of it.

A carbon print -- a process requiring high contrast negatives (DR 2.8, plus or minus) for the way I work.

I prefer using Ilford Universal PQ Developer (I believe Dektol was originally a 'universal' developer). Working from the bottle, it is easy to mix various dilutions from paper strength (1:9) to film strength (1:19) for matching my scene's brightness range with the film and the printing process.
 

Attachments

  • Hutchins_Girders_GG_Bridge4x10.jpg
    Hutchins_Girders_GG_Bridge4x10.jpg
    165.8 KB · Views: 45
Last edited:
Joined
Jan 26, 2010
Messages
1,279
Location
South America
Shooter
Multi Format
Once I tried Dektol as film developer for grain enhancing: not totally bad, but it produced less grain than I imagined, so I settled in Microphen 1+3 with 3g. of Sodium Carbonate, better looking grain, better speed, and better tone than those of Dektol.
 
Joined
Jan 26, 2010
Messages
1,279
Location
South America
Shooter
Multi Format
Here is a 4x10 image (from a carbon print) -- negative was developed in Dektol.

Golden Gate Bridge Girders
From top of Fort Point, 2012
FP4+, exposed at ISO 100, f/16 @ 1/15 second in high wind
SBR -- my Pentax Spot meter gave me reading from 9 to 12...a low contrast scene for me
Developed in Dektol, straight, 10 minutes. 72F

In Zone System geek language; I put the darkest area I could measure at this distance in Zone III (knowing there were smaller areas of lower value that my meter could not pick up.. With normal development, my highlights would fall in Zone VI -- so I developed the shit out of it.

A carbon print -- a process requiring high contrast negatives (DR 2.8, plus or minus) for the way I work.

I prefer using Ilford Universal PQ Developer (I believe Dektol was originally a 'universal' developer). Working from the bottle, it is easy to mix various dilutions from paper strength (1:9) to film strength (1:19) for matching my scene's brightness range with the film and the printing process.

It's only a small digital image, but tone looks great and very controlled.
 

snusmumriken

Member
Joined
Jul 22, 2021
Messages
631
Location
Salisbury, UK
Shooter
35mm
This is fun and interesting, but is there any reason to do it these days?

In my teens I tried various tricks that I understood press photographers used to get their images 'home' quickly via teleprinter. The most entertaining was drying prints (on single-weight paper) by dipping them in methylated spirit and setting fire to them. It actually worked fairly well.
 

Vaughn

Subscriber
Joined
Dec 13, 2006
Messages
9,159
Location
Humboldt Co.
Shooter
Large Format
Thanks. The negative prints quite easily (as usual no burning/dodging, and the straight-forward contrast control I normally work with). What is fun is those rivets in the sun are visually high-lighted by their shadows, and also texturally on the print surface.
Interestingly enough, the neg also scanned easily without much PS work, and made a nice 3 foot by 7 foot inkjet print. (easily = quickly done by someone else!!)
 

cmacd123

Subscriber
Joined
May 24, 2007
Messages
3,248
Location
Stittsville, Ontario
Shooter
35mm
many years ago, Kodak made a developer called Versatol. it came as a liquid and one could dilute it one way for paper, and with more parts water for film. I probably only used it a couple of times for film. (verichrome pan or even Dynapan in those days.) so the more dilute for film idea is proably on the right track.
 

Don Heisz

Member
Joined
Jan 24, 2021
Messages
2,651
Location
Ontario
Shooter
35mm RF
The most entertaining was drying prints (on single-weight paper) by dipping them in methylated spirit and setting fire to them. It actually worked fairly well.

Might help smooth out the grain a bit, too - by melting the sharper edges.
 

faberryman

Subscriber
Joined
Jun 4, 2016
Messages
4,831
Location
Wherever
Shooter
Multi Format
Photographers are a funny lot. Some photographers like to develop their film in a minute; others like to develop their film overnight.
 
Photrio.com contains affiliate links to products. We may receive a commission for purchases made through these links.
To read our full affiliate disclosure statement please click Here.

PHOTRIO PARTNERS EQUALLY FUNDING OUR COMMUNITY:



Ilford ADOX Freestyle Photographic Stearman Press Weldon Color Lab
Top Bottom