One Film/Dev/Fixer Combo for a “Guerilla” Bathroom Darkroom

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dpneal

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Hi everyone,

I’m not going to have access to my regular darkroom this summer, and so I’d like to do my B&W developing (but not printing) at home as easily, cleanly, safely, and with as little odor as possible.

I’d also like to spend this time focusing on one developer and film combination. I’ve been a bit all over the place in my one year of experience in B&W printing and processing – I’ve tried a lot of film offerings from the major brands, and have also tried a couple of developers. Beyond the obvious difference between the amount of grain in fast and slow films, my B&W eye isn’t keen enough to appreciate the differences in grain structure, acutance, etc. that get bandied about so freely in forums. I believe that they’re there – I just can’t see ‘em. Maybe it’s my imprecise processing.

After surfing through the message archives, I think that I need to focus on precision with one chemical/film combination. This is my magic bullet – time and practice.

Now on to specifics …

Here’s my background:

I do a lot of outdoor portraiture for friends and family with my Minolta Autocord (6x6 TLR). I hate hand-holding my Autocord, so I’m fine using a slower film on my tripod. Economy is an issue. I have a brick of Arista.EDU 100 in my freezer right now, and at $1.29/roll its price is certainly appealing. I haven’t printed any of my negs from the seven-or-so rolls of this that I’ve developed in Rodinal 1:25, but, like I said, pretty much everything 100 speed looks the same to me.

I also shoot 35mm (currently a Yashica Electro 35 GSN 40mm f/1.7 $10 rangefinder), but will be moving to a modern SLR in a month or two. I’ve been shooting a lot of HP5+ in 35mm, and don’t really have any strong opinions about it (other than that I get purple-tinted film base with HP5+ more than any of the other films I’ve shot).

For my bathroom processing, I’d like to use Diafine as a developer. Since it’s not very time/temperature dependent, I figure that even I will be able to obtain some development precision. I want to use a water stop bath and an odorless fixer. TF-4 sounds appealing because it’s odor-free, sounds like it’ll work very fast, and because it doesn’t require a hypo bath – I’d like to be able to just wash, photoflo, and go after fixing.

And now my actual question …

Bearing in mind economy, bathroom-processing, and my desire to hone my process on one type of film and one type of developer per format, what film combinations should I use with Diafine as a developer and TF-4 as a fixer in 35mm and in 120?

I’m thinking:
120: Arista.EDU 100 rated at 200.
35: Kodak Tri-X rated at 1250 or HP5+ rated at 800.

Thanks for wading through my ramblings, and I appreciate in advance any suggestions!
 

David A. Goldfarb

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TF-4 has something of an ammonia odor, so it's not "odor free," but I find it not as bad as traditional acid fixers. You could also try something like F-6, or look and see if one of the suppliers like Photographer's Formulary offers an odor free fixer.

Any of the films you mention should be fine in Diafine. I like Tri-X, but others like HP-5.

To get rid of the purple film base, fix about 6 minutes in TF-4 and wash for 20 minutes, or with an acid fixer use Permawash, and that removes the dye.
 

Les McLean

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I would go for TriX, IMO it's the most versitile film available, I've rated it from 200 ISO to 1600 ISO with the necessary adjustment to development and have been very happy with the results. Fotospeed, a UK company, do an odourless fixer and I know that you will get it in the US from Luminos or Adorama and I think I've seen it in B&H in New York.
 

matt miller

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I would also suggest Tri-x. It looks beautiful in Diafine and has lots of speed. In my experience, 1250 is pushing it for good shadow detail. I prefer to rate it at 800. It will be quite grainy in enlargements from 35mm.
 

Fintan

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TriX is very forgiving, I know a guy that develops his in hotels while on his holidays. Its also a beautiful film and like Les says very versatile.
 

mark

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My 2 cents worth is delta 100 and ilfosol S. I do all of my processing in the bathroom and this combination is real easy to deal with.

I do not like TriX because of the grain. I think it is ugly. I assume you are enlarging these when you get back to the darkroom. Delta 100 is very fine grained and I have had no trouble enlarging 35mm to 11x14 and the grain is barely noticeable.
 

bmac

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If I were in your position I'd do the following.

Arista Professional 400 for both formats
Rodinal (takes up little space, makes pretty negs)
water stop
Arista odorless fix
 

David A. Goldfarb

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If you want to go guerilla style, there is something to be said for one film for all formats, since you could develop them all in one batch. Diafine is a reusable/replenishable developer, as well, so it's always ready. That is one of the things I like about Acufine.
 

Tom Duffy

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Sounds like a good plan. I'd only offer two observations.

XTOL is about the most benign film developer available. you might want to consider that for the bathroom.

Make sure you make a few test prints with whatever film/developer combination you pick to be sure you're getting the results you want. Particularly with a new combination, the negs may look good but you won't know until you print.
Tom
 

moose10101

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Since you're already comfortable with Rodinal, I thought you'd stick with that for the medium format work (I get great results from my Autocord using APX100 and Rodinal). However, you may not be as happy with the grain size with Rodinal + 35mm Tri-X. Diafine seems like an interesting compromise if you're set on stocking just one developer, especially if you have temperature control problems.

But a 125ml bottle of Rodinal doesn't take up much space, and lasts forever :~)
 

Fintan

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I do not like TriX because of the grain. I think it is ugly

I enlarge Tri-x 6x6 negs up to 30x30inches and xpan negatives [35mm] up to 30x11 inches, very nice grain. Developed in xtol
 
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