Paper developer with long shelf life

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BlueWind

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Hello
Can you recommend a B&W paper developer with long shelf life ? I usually like to print for two or three consecutive days, with intervals of several weeks.
Which developer would you recommend ?
The developer will be kept in dark air-tight bottles at room temperature.
Thank you
Joao
 

koraks

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The developer will be kept in dark air-tight bottles at room temperature.

That makes all the difference.
I've been using ID62 and ID78 for a few years now because I prefer homebrew paper developers. I replenish 'by the seat of the pants' and keep the working stock and concentrates in glass bottles. I've had them sit around for weeks, unused, ready to go on the next session. I generally replenish at the end of each session so that the working strength bottle is entirely full with no air on top.
 

Rudeofus

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Yes, that's the best way to go IMHO: work with stock solution or even a concentrated version of it. I use self mixed D-72 (aka Dektol) as stock solution, with weekly print sessions interrupted by lith or color development sessions. I mix 2 liters at once, and use it over the course of 3-6 months. It rarely fails after that time (have seen it, but only after many, many more months). I mostly have to replenish, when carryover reduced the 2 liters to less than 1 liter.

Background: Concentrated aqueous solutions dissolve a lot less Oxygen than diluted ones or pure water, therefore you get much less oxidation in stock solution. Another factor may be Carbon Dioxide: a stock soluion has much stronger buffering, therefore equal amounts of dissolved Carbon Dioxide will affect pH much less.
 

koraks

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Background: Concentrated aqueous solutions dissolve a lot less Oxygen than diluted ones or pure water, therefore you get much less oxidation in stock solution.

Additionally, most paper developer concentrates will have a high load of sulfite, which will effectively scavenge any oxygen. The more dilute working stock will also have less sulfite, so it'll die faster as the sulfite is sacrificed.
 

Anon Ymous

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Back when I had a darkroom, I used to reuse my print developer for many sessions, spanning even months. Every once in a while I'd replenish a bit, but not regularly. The developers I used were Ilford Multigrade and Agfa Neutol WA and both got fairly dark, although I stored them in almost full plastic bottles, with a bit of butane sprayed before capped. I never had a case of dead print developer.

Two things that you may notice with old, reused developer:

The image may take a bit more to emerge. That's not a problem and you can simply develop a bit longer. Developing 6-7 times the time it takes for the image to emerge is a reasonable rule of thumb.

The image may get warmer, depending on the developer and paper. It could get a bit of olive green hue. Some may find it objectionable, so fresher developer is the obvious solution, but light selenium toning in rather weak toner usually gets rid of it.
 

Anon Ymous

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Keep in mind that as this happens, dmax also decreases. This, also, may be objectionable for some. Or, I'd say, it's an artistic choice one can exploit!

I suspect it could, but haven't noticed a serious decrease in Dmax, blacks were still convincingly dark. Of course, I never had a reflection densitometer to measure it. On the other hand, I used to print on Ilford RC pearl and Fomabrom Variant 312, which has a satin surface. None of them have the very deep blacks of a glossy surface.
 

Roger Cole

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LPD. Available as both a more economical powder to mix to a concentrate that’s then further diluted to working solution or a (more expensive but more convenient) liquid that’s twice the concentration of the stock mixed from powder so diluted twice as much. Results are identical.

I’ve kept working strength developer in sealed bottles with the air squeezed out for many months (over a year once!) with no discernible change. I’ve tried others but keep coming back to it. It’s been my favorite for decades and the phenidone doesn’t leave a blue-black mess everywhere it touches like the metol in Dektol/D72. Once I tried LPD (in the late 70s I believe) I developed - pardon the pun - a hatred of Dektol I’ve had ever since.
 

Ian Grant

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That makes all the difference.
I've been using ID62 and ID78 for a few years now because I prefer homebrew paper developers. I replenish 'by the seat of the pants' and keep the working stock and concentrates in glass bottles. I've had them sit around for weeks, unused, ready to go on the next session. I generally replenish at the end of each session so that the working strength bottle is entirely full with no air on top.

I have some ID-78 that's 2 years old and still works fine, I mix the concentrated version I posted in the Resources section. Normally it gets used long before that.

Ian
 

bdial

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Liquidol, lasts a long time, it’s available from Photographer’s Formulary
Ansco 130 also keeps well, also available from the Formulary
 

Rick A

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I use LPD, even mixed to working dilutions lasts a very long time. Sometimes it's months between printing sessions for me and it still works as it should. I have a batch that is over three years old and still works. I mixed it before I dismantled my old DR, then moved, and then took over a year and a half before I had the new DR up and running, and now a year later is still active.
 

momus

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Liquidol, lasts a long time, it’s available from Photographer’s Formulary

That's what I use. Before that I used Dektol. The Dektol worked fine, I never replenished it, just kept track of how many prints I had developed, and everything in the darkroom always had a date on it. The neat thing about Dektol is when it gets near exhaustion, you get nice warm prints. That could be considered a feature, but the first time it happened it was quite a surprise. But that was when I was first learning to print in a darkroom. Every session produced surprises.
 

paulbarden

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You can always buy a bag of Dektol and measure out 1/4 of it at a time, to make a quart when needed. Its not the recommended practice, of course, but it does work.
 

Valerie

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Ethol LPD. I also keep working solution and continue to reuse.
 
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The longest lasting print developer is the one that sits on your shelf in dry powder form and gets mixed just before use and discarded after the session.

I mix ID-62, D-72, ID-78 and a few others on the spot; just enough for the current printing session. If I plan on printing for a few days, I'll mix up a few liters of stock and then dilute that for the daily sessions. I'm I'm just printing for a day (or two), I'll just mix a working solution.

I discard my print developer working solution after one or two sessions, depending on throughput. It gets stored in a bottle between sessions.

The dry chemicals are always there and never go bad. I've got phenidone, Metol and hydroquinone that are at least 20 years old, they work fine. I need to buy sulfite, carbonate, bromide and BTA more often.

Best,

Doremus
 

john_s

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Shelf life of stock solutions can be improved by mixing up a more concentrated solution. I make up ID-78 at 3x normal strength, making one simple substitution: I use potassium carbonate instead of sodium carbonate (equimolar quantity of course). I would use potassium sulphite if it were available. Ian Grant has an alternative approach to a similarly concentrated version, using sodium hydroxide to replace some of the carbonate.
 

Rich Ullsmith

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I ran an experiment on this with dektol, 1 liter in a tray covered with plastic wrap between sessions. The experiment went for four sessions over two weeks, end of each session printed a wedge at the same fstop and intensity. Because I was basically doing this anyway, just not the wedge. Well it was a waste of time. I saw no difference on day 1 vs. day 13 or 14. What I learned is, dektol developer is pretty hard to wear out. This was a 1+2 mix.
 

snusmumriken

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I imagine a lot of us have that pattern of darkroom use!

I used to buy paper developer concentrate in 1 litre bottles, and drop in glass marbles to keep them neck-full as I progressively removed liquid. Nevertheless, there were occasions when I found the contents had turned brown with oxidation, and I had to abandon my planned darkroom day. But as already suggested above, you don't necessarily need to abandon the developer you prefer in favour of a Long Life formula.

Following excellent ideas from members of the FADU forum, I now buy paper developer (Ilford Multigrade Developer in my case) in a 5 litre container, which works out much cheaper than buying 5 x 1 litre bottles. On opening, I split it into 4 x 1 litre brown glass bottles, and the remainder into 1 x 500ml bottle and 5 x 100ml bottles. Ilford Multigrade Developer is used 1+9, so each of these 100ml bottles makes 1 litre of working solution, which is what I use for 16 x 12 paper. Each bottle is topped with a brief squirt of butane lighter gas. I bought the bottles from a laboratory glassware supplier, via eBay. When I have used all 5 small bottles, I break down the 500ml bottle, and when that's gone, I split down the next 1 litre bottle. This system has worked amazingly well for me.

If I want to keep working strength developer from one day to the next, I pour it into a glass bottle and give it a squirt of butane. Again, that works well, although generally I prefer to make up a fresh solution if the break is longer than a day or two.
 

AZD

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Another vote for LPD. Going on 2 years with the same batch and I see no changes from new.

I keep the stock solution in the basement where it’s cool and dark.
 
OP
OP

BlueWind

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Thank you for all the valuable input.
I will evaluate now the cost and local availability of the several options.
Best regards
Joao
 

NB23

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They’re all good. Simply top it off with the amount you’ve lost before each session.

Last year I printed more than 10,000 prints with toped off dektol that slowly became polymax and then multigrade, 200-500ml of working dilution at a time, depending on how much I’ve carried over into the stop bath during the prior session.
 
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