Mixing my own liquid developer, extending shelf life

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Fatih Ayoglu

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While I dont know the exact effect of each chemical, what I know is, when I use Ilfird PQ universal developer (phenidone based) with very low dilution like 1:200 to have low gamma, the developed film becomes brownish which obviously changes the filter settings for RA4 prints. That's why I have started to use PQ with Ortho films to create masks for BW prints.
Muir SoftShot gives similarly low gamma masks but also the films are neutral color, grey.
 

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when I use Ilfird PQ universal developer (phenidone based) with very low dilution like 1:200 to have low gamma, the developed film becomes brownish

PQ is a phenidone-hydroquinone developer (hence the name). In developers with a sulfite level below 2g/liter, hydroquinone acts as a staining developer, depositing a brown dye image along with the developed silver image. It also tends to leave an overall brown stain, but this may not be very apparent. You could try adding sulfite to your dilute PQ universal (e.g. 5g/l) and see if you get more neutral negatives that way.
 
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What would be a suitable PQ concentrated fine grain developer formula that could be diluted 1+9 or 1+14 for one-shot use?
 

Lachlan Young

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What would be a suitable PQ concentrated fine grain developer formula that could be diluted 1+9 or 1+14 for one-shot use?

Ilfosol 3. At a certain point, highly concentrated developers and fine grain become increasingly incompatible without some innovative chemistry (see some of Ilford's 1990s patents for the problems with HC/ HC-110 type developers and the replacement components proposed).
 

Lachlan Young

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The low-contrast POTA developer contains 1.5 grams of phenidone. True, there is no ascorbate, but there is a huge amount of benzotriazole in this formula. But it's a really weird formula…

Once you know why the ingredients were added, it's easier to understand why they might not be optimal. It's not a regular contrast developer, but rather attempting to resolve a known problem with POTA and speed things up a lot.
 

Tom Kershaw

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Ilfosol 3. At a certain point, highly concentrated developers and fine grain become increasingly incompatible without some innovative chemistry (see some of Ilford's 1990s patents for the problems with HC/ HC-110 type developers and the replacement components proposed).

In terms of concentrated developers, do you have any experience of Rodinal Special / Studional / Hydrofen ? - this developer seems get attention and be well regarded, while also being recommended for faster films. I've had good results with Tetenal Ultrafin in the past for slow-medium films, but wasn't completely satisfied with it for HP5 / Delta 400 etc.
 

Lachlan Young

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In terms of concentrated developers, do you have any experience of Rodinal Special / Studional / Hydrofen ? - this developer seems get attention and be well regarded, while also being recommended for faster films. I've had good results with Tetenal Ultrafin in the past for slow-medium films, but wasn't completely satisfied with it for HP5 / Delta 400 etc.

Studional seems to have been (conceptually at least), Agfa's attempt at an HC-110 type of developer, but semi-aqueous and using Triethanolamine rather than a Diethanolamine adduct. Like Ilford, there will have been a lot of commercial pressure on Agfa to release an HC-110 equivalent - just as Refinal was Agfa's equivalent to Microphen.
What does seem to have been the case was that by the time Ilford was working on DD/DD-X, it was becoming increasingly clear that alkanolamine based, highly concentrated developers were simply not capable of producing the same fine-grain/ good sharpness balance as a traditional sulphite containing developer (without a lot of potentially costly chemical processes etc to resolve the alkanolamine problem) - and it's pretty obvious that Kodak travelled along near parallel lines to get to Xtol. Ilfosol 3 seems to have evolved off in a slightly different direction, but the carbonate buffer on a PQ developer will further maximise the sharpness inherent to an optimal PQ ratio, whereas a borate buffer will generally deliver finer grain. Either way, Ilfosol seems definitely finer grained than most of the HC/HC-110 etc processed films I've had through my hands - but I wouldn't necessarily recommend it if you routinely want to push your film till the steam comes out. The other couple of things I would say about Ilfosol are: grain can be a bit more visible under some circumstances - not because it is coarser, but because it is noticeably sharper (likely from stronger inhibition effects - same thing that will limit the ability to push film in it, but give easier to print highlights); and you need to be a bit more wary about temperature conversions - from recall, one of the strengths of borate buffered developers is that they have really good development time linearity across the range of temperatures most people use.
 
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Ilfosol 3. At a certain point, highly concentrated developers and fine grain become increasingly incompatible without some innovative chemistry (see some of Ilford's 1990s patents for the problems with HC/ HC-110 type developers and the replacement components proposed).

It was a suitable home brewed formula that I was asking for.
 

Tom Kershaw

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Studional seems to have been (conceptually at least), Agfa's attempt at an HC-110 type of developer, but semi-aqueous and using Triethanolamine rather than a Diethanolamine adduct. Like Ilford, there will have been a lot of commercial pressure on Agfa to release an HC-110 equivalent - just as Refinal was Agfa's equivalent to Microphen.

As you know Bellini are marketing 'Hydrofen' and 'Euro HC' developers, rather than suggesting the former as an alternative to HC-110.
 
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If you want to dilute and get fine grain, that would involve using the more soluble potassium sulfite rather than sodium sulfite.
This has a solubility of about 280 g/L which could only be diluted ~3-4x to make a fine grain developer.
Yes, I thought that the sulphite might be a problem. I'm sure there must be a suitable recipe though without resorting to Rodinal or TEA/DEA based formulas.
I know of someone who uses FX37 home-brew who uses it diluted as much as 1+9 and gets excellent results with surprisingly fine-grain, so it must be feasible.
 

Lachlan Young

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As you know Bellini are marketing 'Hydrofen' and 'Euro HC' developers, rather than suggesting the former as an alternative to HC-110.

Neither are as complex to make as the non-aqueous HC/HC-110 formula - and while the Agfa product was clearly aimed at the same segment as HC-110, it was not a fully equivalent replacement like HC was - each had a user base (fandom, more like), and


"surprisingly fine grain" from PQ without sulfite cannot be as fine grain as "fine grain" with sufite or the whole class of solvent developers would not exist.

The DD/ DD-X type developer that's disclosed in a few Ilford patents suggests that 300-500g/l of potassium sulphite is feasible, although the patent formula itself uses 548cm3 of 65% w/v potassium sulphite - and the action of sulphite upon the emulsion is something that most modern emulsions are designed to exploit. I do find it fascinating that the manufacturers who did far more double-blind customer research with actual prints (from a far wider range of candidate developer formulae than most could conceive of) to understand what customers would think of the various physical characteristics that could be engineered, generally found themselves preferring the visual signature of D-76 type, somewhat solvent developers - as opposed to those who want us to buy some sort of questionable concoction that isn't capable of equaling the edge sharpness of exstant developers... The DD/DD-X patent also possibly gives some clues as to how things got from there to Ilfosol 3 (carbonate buffered Microphen?) but that might be for another time.
 
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"surprisingly fine grain" from PQ without sulfite cannot be as fine grain as "fine grain" with sufite or the whole class of solvent developers would not exist.

Fine grained enough for practical purposes. The film used was 35mm Delta 100 which is very fine grained to begin with. The print on 12x16 paper was practically grainless.
 

Lachlan Young

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- constantly playing with developers does seem to be a strong interest amongst certain photographers.

Probably because it's easier to waste time and effort on that than on instigating basic process controls and getting on with actually making work.
 

Lachlan Young

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- and it would help if retailers didn't over-egg certain products to make them seem to have "magical" properties, at least to new users.

At a certain point it's like someone reviewing wine by eating the cork. And it certainly hasn't been helped by popular/ influential writers over the years with vested interests. At the end of the day, the retailers follow the writers/ influencers (by any reasonable measure, Ansel Adams was an influencer in the sense as it is currently understood) as they help sell far more product than trying to explain the linkages between chemical effects on microdensitometric characteristics and thus visual perception!
 

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I used glass marbles to displace the air in a large bottle and eventually discovered that the marbles make the bottle too heavy to conveniently use. I switched away from marbles, but I have not found a use for the marbles. I still have the marbles because I do not want others to say that I lost my marbles.

I used the marbles to take up a small air space, less than 25% of the volume. When the air space becomes larger it is time for a smaller bottle. Yes, I have loss some, but not all of my marbles.
 
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