Selecting a New Developer

Discussion in 'B&W: Film, Paper, Chemistry' started by ragnar58, Feb 28, 2009.

  1. ragnar58

    ragnar58 Member

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    I’ve been using XTOL exclusively for a while and started to look around for something different for a change. I like the offerings from Photographers' Formulary but I have a problem. If you were to randomly select one developer and read the description, you would think: “This is the one for me!” That is until you read the description of another developer. The more descriptions that you read the more undecided you become. Outside of the user’s sites like this, there isn’t much to assist in these decisions.

    Do others feel that Photographers' Formulary (or possibly this site) should create a comparison chart to show the features of the various developers? The axis could display speed, sharpness, and grain features. Of course, this is a relative comparison and would be subject to users opinions. I guess that D-76 would be the basis for the comparison but as more developers are plotted, there would be enough information for direct comparison.

    I have seen charts like these in older photo magazines (although currently out of date) and thought these charts would be helpful if they were maintained for a wider range of materials. This site has enough people that have used multiple developers to establish some helpful charts.

    I thought that this was an interesting example of this issue: http://www.inficad.com/~gstewart/comparemain.htm
     
  2. rootberry

    rootberry Member

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    I originally picked pyrocat- HD because I was doing AZO contacts. After AZO died, and I added a mf camera- I kept using it because it's shelf life is amazingly long. Pcat is also great for semi stand/stand development and very easy to mix. I am a dullard, so easy always gives me more consistent results.
     
  3. dpurdy

    dpurdy Member

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    Any idea what the difference is you are looking for? Or perhaps you just want to see some sort of difference from what you are used to. You might try out a developer that is very compensating and gives much more detail in the dark tones. Or go the other way and try pushing your film and getting very high contrast look. I would say to try out the Rodinal and use it very dilute and maybe try out doing a really long process with almost no agitation. Or perhaps try out a pyro developer.
    Dennis
     
  4. MikeSeb

    MikeSeb Member

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    Do you feel that in some way Xtol is deficient? In what way? Answering that question will help direct you to something else.

    Or do you simply feel restless, and in need of experimentation? In this case, Dennis is right on.
     
  5. jim appleyard

    jim appleyard Member

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    Grab a copy of Anchell's "Darkroom Cookbook". Devs are broken down into families; general purpose, fine-grain, accutance, pushing, etc. There are differences in devs between families, but not so much WITHIN a family. You won't see a big difference, perhaps none, when comparing X-Tol with D-76, but you would see a difference when crossing to a different family; comparing D-76 with Rodinal.
     
  6. PhotoJim

    PhotoJim Member

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    I second Jim's recommendation and even modify it slightly to tell you to read Anchell's Film Development Cookbook, which gives you even more specific information about choosing film developers.

    This is the book that inspired me to try pyrogallol-based developers, and PMK has now become one of my darkroom staples.
     
  7. craigclu

    craigclu Subscriber

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    Consider one of the PyroCat variants.... It will give you a different experience than non-staining soups, the negatives scan more easily and they print with more ease than most developers. The separation of midtones makes people shots almost print themselves and they show a sort of dimension or 3D glow effect because of it. EI tends to run at about 1/2 box speed as a general rule with my equipment and techniques, so be mindful of that in your decisions.
     
  8. OP
    OP
    ragnar58

    ragnar58 Member

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    Thanks for the replies but I think that the original intent of the posting has been mistaken. I wasn’t really looking for recommendations for developers. I had already selected two for trials. I wanted to propose an alternative source for developer information. The necessary research on the web can take quite a while and I thought that it would be convenient to having a central location for this information. Selecting a developer is a compromise between features and I was hoping to see if anyone thought it would be a help to the darkroom folks. Where I work , we are often asked to score some issue using various methods of ranking and these are published later.

    I was thinking of something like a simple scale for each of several features:
    LESS (REDUCES) to MORE or (INCREASES)
    -5 -4 -3 -2 -1 0 +1 +2 +3 +4 +5

    With enough information a person could quickly see that a certain developer gives a desired increase in speed but has a much higher graininess cost than they are willing to pay. Or, the features are good but the shelf life would expire long before the stock was used.

    I guess that the biggest problem would be that someone would have to keep the records and maintain the postings for the average scores for a number of developers.
     
  9. PhotoJim

    PhotoJim Member

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    I think I understood you. The point I meant to make was that a reader could read the Film Development Cookbook and know what a given developer would do by understanding its constituent ingredients.
     
  10. dancqu

    dancqu Member

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    Species, genus, family, order, and on up towards
    larger groupings. The specific placement of any one
    developer will depend upon the criteria for placement.

    Grouped within a family for example might be fine grain
    one-shot concentrates. Long shelf life may be a genus
    within that family of fine grain one-shot developer.

    So a biological hierarchy of developers can be built
    but the criteria must established. An example; my film
    developer is species D-23, variety, very dilute one-shot.
    The genus is two component, the family, metol only
    developing agent. The order might be easy home
    brew developers.

    Other criteria might be considered, toxicity, odor, stain,
    speed of development, etc. If interested in generating
    a method for "selecting" a developer, first some
    criteria must be chosen. Dan
     
  11. eclarke

    eclarke Member

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    Nothing is ironclad with this stuff. My next door neighbor and I have the same water supply, same water filtration and the same equipment. Our results with the same film developers and films are different...Evan Clarke