Straight developer vs. dilluted

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ImageMakers

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Does anyone notice/recommend developing film with straight developer, for a shorter time, as opposed to dilluted for a longer time? Is there much difference in tonality/contrast?

Thanks,
Jim
 

Ian Grant

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ImageMakers said:
Does anyone notice/recommend developing film with straight developer, for a shorter time, as opposed to dilluted for a longer time? Is there much difference in tonality/contrast?

Thanks,
Jim

There is a third option worth looking into: Replenishment.

Back in the days when I had a specialist photographic business we always used deep tanks of ID-11 which we repenished, later switching to Adox Borax MQ (actually then the same developer used for ASA testing). Once the developer solution has ripened you get the benefits of both worlds, the tonal qualities associated with ID-11/D76 at 1+3 with shorter development times and great economy. Using ID-11/D76 at 1+3 for 5"x4" and larger film sizes is uneconomic

This practice was the norm in commercial studios and was actually how the developers (D76/ID-11 etc) were designed to be used, particularly as they started life for motion picture work where consistency was important.

On a smaller scale I now use a 2.5 litre working solution of Xtol, which I replenish according to use with fresh Xtol. You can do the same for any of the Film Developer formulae where data is published for replenishment.

One last advantage is speed of use as the developer as well as stop bath and fixer can be stored close to their working temperature which allow for far faster set up for film processing.
 

fhovie

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The decision is actually more involved for most developers. Higher dilutions create grain and accutance, lower dilutions create smoother grain, smoother tones and less aparent sharpness. For smaller formats the effect is greater. The ultimate is an 8x10 neg with a lot of grain. It looks razor sharp but without aparent grain because the contact print has no enlargement of the grain. I like to match the film with the developer. TRI-X has very defined point like grain. When developed in a high solvent developer, the grain still looks sharp and the image is crisp. FP4 has a mottled looking grain and needs the extra accutance of a developer that is more dilute. This is considering metol type developers in general - d-76 d-23 microdol etc. All of this is of course very generalized rule of thumb. Staining developers, vitamin C developers and 2 bath developers tend to follow different rules (and thumbs)

Another thing in favor of dilute is they are usually one shot - one shot is usually more consistant.
 

Ole

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Ian Grant said:
There is a third option worth looking into: Replenishment.
...

There is a fourth option too: Two-bath developers.

These consist of one fairly strong solution of developing agent with a little sulfite, and a fairly strong solution of alkali alone. But since the negative is soaked first in one then the other, the concentrations are changing all the time. One of the great advantages of this is that it's almost impossible to overdevelop, and you have to be very quick to underdevelop. At the same time the decay of the developer in the emulsion gives a compensating effect, giving better shadow detail without losing highlight detail.
 

Ian Grant

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fhovie said:
The decision is actually more involved for most developers. Higher dilutions create grain and accutance, lower dilutions create smoother grain, smoother tones and less aparent sharpness. For smaller formats the effect is greater. The ultimate is an 8x10 neg with a lot of grain. It looks razor sharp but without aparent grain because the contact print has no enlargement of the grain.
Actually replenishment does give the best of both worlds, smooth fine grain, excellent tonality and better edge sharpness. The increase in sharpness is partially due to the presence of iodide which builds up in the ripened developer.

Metol, MQ, PQ. VitC-Q (Xtol) developers can all be replenished.
 

Donald Qualls

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The main problems with replenishment, however, are that for developers that are not self-replenishing it can be annoying to find the replenisher (you can buy HC-110 at literally hundreds of larger camera stores, but just try finding the replenisher for it!), and unless you develop a lot of film, the developer will still fail due to oxidation in storage because it doesn't get used and replenished often enough to stay ahead of the deterioration of the developing agent(s).

For most amateurs, one-shot developing with dilute developers is the most economic method that gives excellent consistency of results, with two-bath developers in a close second place. And it *is* possible to develop large sheet films economically with dilute developers using any of several methods of minimizing the required amount of liquid (Jobo and such rotary processes, or BTZS type tubes with minimal developer). These methods all require continuous agitation, however, which limits the compensating and speed increasing effect of high dilutions. For my use, I don't think it's excessive to use 8 ounces of HC-110 Dilution G (which contains about 2 ml of syrup) for a 4x5; that much developer has almost enough capacity for three such sheets, but the convenience and consistency of one-shot make it worth using the larger amount of liquid. If it were a big deal, I could easily modify my tube system with cores that would reduce the liquid requirement to 3 ounces, just the minimum for that amount of film. I could just as easily make a tube system that would develop an 8x10 in 12 ounces of liquid (though it might require a bit more adaptation of materials to make the core just the right size).
 

Ole

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This is also the advantage of good two-bath systems - in the last few days I've developed six 5x7" sheetfilms and 4 9x12cm glass plates in a total of 600ml of solution - over a period of three days. The developer is still fine, although a bit reduced in volume. So the only thing which has to be replaced is bath B, which in this case is 6 g of sodium hydroxide. As long as there is enough A to cover the film it is fine - and consistent.
 

Ian Grant

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Donald Qualls said:
The main problems with replenishment, however, are that for developers that are not self-replenishing it can be annoying to find the replenisher (you can buy HC-110 at literally hundreds of larger camera stores, but just try finding the replenisher for it!), and unless you develop a lot of film, the developer will still fail due to oxidation in storage because it doesn't get used and replenished often enough to stay ahead of the deterioration of the developing agent(s).

For most amateurs, one-shot developing with dilute developers is the most economic method that gives excellent consistency of results, with two-bath developers in a close second place.
Your right Donald, I have the luxury of being a photochemist anyway and mixing many of my solutions is second nature. However I switched from Rodinal after about 15 years to Xtol, 3 or 4 years ago - which is replenished by fresh stock solution. not a special replenisher. I have to say that my B&W film useage is not what it ued to be, but there's enough bursts of 10-20 120 roll films, plus my 5"x4" work to keep up the replenishment and ensure no drop off from oxidation. Also as I store in full sealed bottles rather than use a deep tank, I get excellent shelf life and no deterioration at all.

As I'm only talking about a working volume of 2.5 litres, my Jobo tank takes 2 spirals of 6 5"x4" negs which needs 2 litres so replenishment will ensure consistency even when I'm not so active.

I learnt these ways of working while at school (school in the UK is not college or university) aged about 15, using FP3 and HP3 in Microphen. Only to discover that was exactly how commercial photographic studios operated their darkrooms, some 6 years later.

Think sensible working stock volume to ensure good replenishment, and it does work for amateurs with smaller film usage. Personally I'd class my usage in that bracket as I use Pyrocat HD for my LF work and Xtol for MF and the very occasional 35mm.
 

BarrieB

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I use Kodak D 76 @ 1 + 1 , ONE SHOT, always with my Tri-X 120 Roll and 4 X 5 sheets. In cold weather I can easily arrive at the correct temp. quickly.
Cheers Barrie B.
 

titrisol

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Diluting developers has the effect of decreasing the sulfite amount (usually) so the solvency is decreased, the grain and accutance increased and IMHO the tonal scales are longer.

The only exception in grain size by dilution I believe is the good ol'Rodinal.
1+50 or 1+100 tend to give finer grain and longer tonal scales than 1+25

I learned to use DDX as a one-session developer, a 1+4 solution can develop up to 7 35mm/36 rolls
 
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