ONE cheap, easy developer for Tri-X

Discussion in 'B&W: Film, Paper, Chemistry' started by BetterSense, Feb 4, 2009.

  1. BetterSense

    BetterSense Member

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    I'm about to get some reels and a tank and start shooting B&W. I don't have very much money or resources and definitely no experience. My 'darkroom' is a very small apartment bathroom and I have one little basket that I keep everything in. I use Dektol only because it lasts forever...I keep the working solution in peanut butter jars and use it till it is deep brown before I throw it out. Convenience and price are of paramount importance. For money and WAF reasons I really need to keep things simple. And I really don't want to have to switch variables mid-stream.

    I have decided on Tri-X because it is cheap in the form of Arista Premium 400, seems classic, and is fairly fast. I hear about different developers having different grain, tonality and other characteristics, and I don't really have a preference, because I have no experience. I just don't want super wacky results or anything either though. What I want is something cheap cheap, with a stock solution that lasts forever, maybe that can be mixed one-shot so I don't have to keep working solution, can be used at room temperature, and maybe even can be stand developed.

    Any ideas?
     
  2. David A. Goldfarb

    David A. Goldfarb Moderator Staff Member Moderator

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    Kodak D-76 or Ilford ID-11. Kodak Xtol would also be a good basic choice, if it's available in small packages again.
     
  3. Anscojohn

    Anscojohn Subscriber

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    Replenished D23. Mix up a gallon; keep in quart bottles. A quart of D23 replenished with DK-25R will soup about 25 36 exposure rolls. The other quarts can be used to make 1:1 or 1:3 one shots. You can even use DK25R as a solution A in a Beutler's clone.
     
  4. df cardwell

    df cardwell Subscriber

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    D-23 is functionally the same as D-76, but has to be made from scratch.
    D-76, though, is easy to buy anywhere. ID-11 is the Ilford equivalent.

    D-76, diluted 1+1, and used once, is as standard, reliable, and GOOD as it gets.

    D-76, Dektol, TriX. Sounds like you could have a long career with that set up !
     
  5. JBrunner

    JBrunner Moderator Staff Member Moderator

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    Also HC-110 mixed strait up from concentrate and used one shot. Economical, and basically never goes bad. Same goes for Rodinal, if you like the look.
     
  6. dphill

    dphill Member

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    Try Diafine.
    Lasts for years (as long as you don't pour solution "B" into solution "A".
    Useful over a vast range of temps.
    Very consistent results.

    Dan
     
  7. dancqu

    dancqu Member

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    I don't use the stuff but HC-110 may be your ticket. Rodinal
    is another but will generate more grain in your negatives.
    Both are liquids which last and last. BTW either of the
    two do well as print developers if some sodium
    carbonate, washing soda, is added. Dan
     
  8. Colin Corneau

    Colin Corneau Subscriber

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    Classic film, classic developer(s) - D-76 1:1 or HC-110.

    Always available, cheap and gives terrific results.
     
  9. jim appleyard

    jim appleyard Member

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  10. 2F/2F

    2F/2F Member

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    No developer is really expensive unless you waste it, so I would not worry too much about it. I find syrupy concentrates to be the most convenient and economical, as waste is basically nonexistent, even if you go long periods between developing sessions. Ilford HC, Kodak HC-110, or Agfa Rodinal are all syrups.

    To really pinch pennies, get the raw chemicals listed in the formulas, and make your own D-76 or whatever else you want.
     
  11. PHOTOTONE

    PHOTOTONE Member

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    Uh, I thought D-23 was more like Microdol-X? No Hydroquinone. D-76 is D-76 and can be easily mixed up from scratch from component dry chemicals using the formula for D-76, or you can purchase it ready mixed as a dry powder that you dissolve in water. The formula for basic D-76 is in the public domain, it is not a trade secret.
     
  12. df cardwell

    df cardwell Subscriber

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    For the OP's question, there STILL can't be anything better than D-76.
    Tear the package open, stir, and there you are. Best still it makes superb results,
    and (especially 1+1) is dead easy to use. Small timing or temperature errors that are unforgivable in HC-110 are no big deal in D-76. And for somebody getting started, why in the world would you want to have to deal with the issues of scratch mixing developers ? Let's get some prints rolling out of that darkroom !



    AS for D-76 & D-23

    D-76 was born in 1927, as a developer for movie film.
    It was found to have some neato characteristics that made it good for everything.

    Throughout the mid '30s, Crabtree(EKC) and Lowe (Edwal) patented almost every reasonable developing formula in sight, seemingly overlapping each others work.

    When the need for a better developer than D-76 for large scale replenishment lines became critical in, umm, 1940, Kodak came up with the elegant variation of metol-sulfite, that did what D-76 did, but suited the job, better. D-23.

    D-23 and D-76 are functionally the same... in a replenished, deep tank, system. They are merely almost identical otherwise, diluting makes them so.

    Dipping into their fine grain research, they could make D-25 (adding bisulfite to slow the development, and let the sulfite work as a solvent), and then they got to Microdol by adding Sodium Chloride (both Lowe, of Edwal, and Crabtree and Henn, EKC, had worked with similar salts, to reduce fogging in fine grain developers).

    So, D-76 and D-23, and Microdol-X are all VERY similar. FG-7 uses the same mechanisms, but different ingredients.

    "No Hydroquinone" At the pH D-76 is mixed, and usually used, the pH is too low for the H-Q to function. Haist's variation, with no H-Q, is the simplest expression of D-76. The problem with D-76 is the pH rises after it has been sitting around for a while (look up: borax D-76 pH) and becomes a different developer altogether.

    That's why D-23 was developed for a replenished tank developer, and that is (one of the reasons) one shot users of D-76 use 1+1: to get around the pH rise. Troop (and PE, and IAN, and GAINER, et al) covers this more completely than I have, I hope I got the gist of it.
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Feb 4, 2009
  13. OP
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    BetterSense

    BetterSense Member

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    Sounds like my kind of developer.

    I'm generally not a fan of grain. I like that HC-110 is liquid concentrate though; that sounds appealing to me.

    I forgot to mention that I will sometimes want to push the film, to the extent that that is possible. I really like fast film, because due to wrist injury my hands shake a lot.
     
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  15. Jim Edmond

    Jim Edmond Member

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    Sounds like a job for Diafine. Most folks rate Tri-X at 1250, and the result is surprisingly little grain. The 2 solutions are used repeatedly and last a long time. I have some that's 4 years old that I used just yesterday.

    If you search the forum, you'll find plenty of information on it's (easy) use.
     
  16. PHOTOTONE

    PHOTOTONE Member

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    In 45 years of using Tri-x from 35mm to 11x14 sizes, I have NEVER rated it at 1250...but I have never used Diafine.
     
  17. John Shriver

    John Shriver Member

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    To me, you're describing HC-110, mixed from syrup. To measure the syrup, you just need a dosing syringe, readily available at any drug store. Cheap per roll, and the syrup lasts and lasts.

    D-76 or ID-11 are also cheap, but only by the gallon bag, and only if you use it all up before it goes bad. It does keep quite well in 8 or 16 ounce brown glass bottles, absolutely full.

    Rodinal is also cheap and long lived, but it's hard to get full ISO 400 speed with it.
     
  18. GraemeMitchell

    GraemeMitchell Member

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    I agree on d-76 1+1.

    Rodinal and HC-110 are great, but d-76 is easier to get a handle on and just as capable.
     
  19. Jim Edmond

    Jim Edmond Member

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    I meant with respect to exposing it for using Diafine.
     
  20. 2F/2F

    2F/2F Member

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    How is this?
     
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  21. Alexander Ghaffari

    Alexander Ghaffari Member

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    HC-110. I think it is easier than D-76, not that either is hard.

    And yes, there are expensive developers...like Rollei ATP DC...I consider around $10 per roll of 120 format film in developer costs to be quite expensive. I would love to be in a position where I could call that cheap, but I am currently not there.
     
  22. Alexander Ghaffari

    Alexander Ghaffari Member

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    ...
     
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  23. GraemeMitchell

    GraemeMitchell Member

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    I assume you mean, how is it easier not how is it just as capable?

    Imo, D-76 is much less sensitive to small temp/time difference and, moreover, less subtle agitation. HC-110 isn't difficult, just that D-76 1+1 is extremely easy. I found the main difference is in how the contrast and highlights build in hc-110.

    This is with TX.

    Again, just what I've found.

    I use rodinal and hc-110 exclusively now, but began on d-76 1+1 and would recommend it to someone new to developing who wants to get cracking.
     
  24. Alexander Ghaffari

    Alexander Ghaffari Member

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    Yeah, but with D-76, you have to mix it up ahead of time (like the previous evening), while with HC-110, you mix it up right before you develop. With HC-110, you do not need to heat up water, or mix up powers (that are fun to inhale), or get disappointed as a mixed up solution that you only used once, but that was like 5 months ago, went bad (because you mix HC-110 as a one shot as you go developer).
     
  25. GraemeMitchell

    GraemeMitchell Member

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    Oh, and Rodinal I think is easy, but it's such an unique developer in terms of grain and tonality and such a versatile developer in what you can do with it regards to agitation and dilution, that it can be overwhelming for someone just starting out. + You can only get it via freestyle as far as I know.

    Where as d-76, just follow Kodak's directions and it'll work.
     
  26. Colin Corneau

    Colin Corneau Subscriber

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    Rodinal is available in stores...I got it waaaaaaaay out in Winnipeg. (At Photo Central, a store that believes in analog, BTW)

    It's a great developer but it seems it's better for slower finer grain films rather than faster ones like Tri-X.