What developer for medium format negs

Discussion in 'B&W: Film, Paper, Chemistry' started by Excalibur2, Mar 8, 2009.

  1. Excalibur2

    Excalibur2 Member

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    Well I'm way out of touch for developing B/W negs after about 15 years, and used to use Johnson's Unitol for convenience with FP4...everytime I used it, used to put marbles in the bottle to keep the air out and it lasted for ages.

    Well you can't seem to get Unitol anymore and can't find an equivalent, so if I'm say using FP4, not a 3 films a week type of guy and not pushing the film and using Medium format so grain is less of a problem, and want excellent developer keeping properties that is not expensive:-
    What do you guys think of my suggestion to buy Ilford ID-2 to make 5L, split the powder roughly in 5 to use 1L at a time......or has anyone more exciting suggestions that you can buy now in the UK, as I can't believe ID-2 is "the" ultimate developer of all time, for all types of film and photo subjects, otherwise other developers wouldn't exist (if you are not pushing film).
     
  2. MikeSeb

    MikeSeb Member

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    Ahh, the persistent myth of The Ideal Developer. Kinda like Sasquatch: many claim to have seen him, no hard evidence is ever produced; we get by without him just fine (to stretch a metaphor.)

    Looking up the formula for ID-2, it appears to be a metol-hydroquinone developer not dissimilar to D76 or ID-11. I'm not specifically familiar with ID-2; but assuming it behaves similiarly, any one of them would an excellent all-around developer. That said, either Ilford or Kodak would recommend NOT dividing the powder. First, once the pouch seal is broached, air and its load of moisture begin to do their wicked work on the powder. Plus, you can't be sure that the ingredients are homogeneously-enough distributed throughout the pouch to assure that each batch would be the same as the others. In short, it's a bad idea and a false economy, given how cheap the stuff is.

    After trying nearly every developer under the sun over the last four years, I'm coming back around to simple and versatile. I'm going to settle on one or two developers that are cheap and/or have long shelf lives. If you want to use ID-2 or ID-11/D76, buy it in smaller pouches so that you have little waste, and keep it tightly sealed in full small bottles containing one session's worth of developer. (For ID-11 that's probably about 200-250mL per roll, used once and discarded whether straight or at 1+1.) Any of the powder developers stored this way should be good for 6 months. Even better, buy the cheap ingredients and a simple scale and mix it yourself from dirt-cheap bulk chemicals. Brain-dead easy, and works out to pennies per roll that way. This is what I'm going to do when my current batch of D76 runs out.

    You might also consider HC-110 or T-max developers. The former is cheap, CHEAP! and lasts forever on the shelf. I've never really been fond of it, but others here rave about it. T-max is more to my liking and has a relatively long shelf life, but is pricey.

    So to sum up, ID11/D76 or one of the concentrate-liquid developers will produce good results with nearly any film, and don't need to cost an arm and a leg.
     
  3. jim appleyard

    jim appleyard Member
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    What Mike said about splitting up the dev.

    If you're going to be doing only a few rolls/week, I would recommend a liquid dev like Rodinal, HC-110, Ilfotech, Pyrocat HD, PMK, etc., etc. These devs will last for ages are very economical.
     
  4. Ian Grant

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    I suspect you mean ID-11 not ID-2 :D

    ID-2 is not a fine grain developer, it was still available in liquid form from Ilford in the early 60's but I never saw it. ID-67 is the PQ version of ID-2.

    ID-1/D76 is the basic standard MQ fine grain developer and works well with all films. However more modern developers like Kodak Xtol, Ilford DDX or as Mike suggests Kodak HC-110 and the Ilford equivalent Ilfotec HC/LC might be better options.

    Ian
     
  5. Anscojohn

    Anscojohn Subscriber

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    D23 with DK-25R replenisher.
     
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    Excalibur2

    Excalibur2 Member

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    ***Even better, buy the cheap ingredients and a simple scale and mix it yourself from dirt-cheap bulk chemicals. Brain-dead easy, and works out to pennies per roll that way. This is what I'm going to do when my current batch of D76 runs out.***

    Thanks that is a great suggestion, but I only have those spring scales for weighing light parcels.

    ***You might also consider HC-110 or T-max developers***

    Can you mix the quantity you need for one film, as IIRC my developing tanks are either 500 or 600ml? Also once the bottle is opened do you have to top up with marbles or transfer to smaller bottles, to keep the air out?
     
  7. Ian Grant

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    HC-110 or Ilfotec HC/LC are made up just prior to use. The stock solutions last exceptionally well even in a part filled bottle. The HC standsd fof High Concentration, the LC is the smaller amateur Low Concentration version, once made uo they are the same.

    Ian
     
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    Excalibur2

    Excalibur2 Member

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    Well I might do a few rolls one week, then maybe not for a month or two as I have two good medium format cameras gathering dust that I would like to use, but also taking plenty of colour film with my 35mm cameras.

    I've heard of Rodinal, so maybe a short list would be Rodinal, HC-110 and T max, otherwise it get's very confusing.
     
  9. rternbach

    rternbach Member

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    Any additional suggestions if you are scanning black and white negatives?
     
  10. Chazzy

    Chazzy Member

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    Developer is cheap (some more than others), so there's really no reason to be overly concerned about wasting it. It would be better to choose a developer because it has a look that you like, and then buy the smallest package of it at a time if you are not going to be a heavy user. Don't sweat throwing away a little stock solution after several months. That's my advice, anyway.
     
  11. fschifano

    fschifano Member

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    Rodinal is good for some things, but as a general purpose developer I find it somewhat lacking. No matter how I've tried with this developer, I often can't get a decent negative at a films ISO rating box speed with it. HC-110 is good. It's cheap, the concentrate lasts practically forever, and it delivers good image quality, and get's you closer full emulsion speed. My main gripe with it is that for the published dilution ratios, development times can be pretty short, often around the 5 minute mark. That's too quick for me because a small timing error becomes a large percentage of the total development time. It can be controlled by reducing temperature or increasing dilution, but you're often on your own to figure out the proper development time. D-76 or ID-11 (they are identical in action) are almost ideal. There's plenty of published information for just about every B&W film ever made. D-76, in the US, is cheap. Powder to make 1 gallon of stock solution will cost you a whole $6 or so. Stored properly, that stock solution can last 6 months or more. What's not to like?
     
  12. edtbjon

    edtbjon Member

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    Strike out the Rodinal from the short list. Scanners and grain doesn't go to well together. Also, if you only intend to scan, take some 10% or so off your developing time.
    (My personal shortlist of developers is Pyrocat HD and Rodinal, but I print in silver.)

    //Björn
     
  13. JustDave

    JustDave Member

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    Yes. I'd buy the TMAX 25.6 ounce developer concentrate bottle that makes a gallon of developer and just pour enough to make a solution for one roll at a time (1 to 4 ratio: 50ml conc. plus 200ml water for 250ml of working). I then squeeze the air out. Some folks add marbles and others top off the concentrate bottle with some sort of inert gas. Of course, that's if you use it as one shot; which gets the best results with the TMAX films in my experience for this developer.

    BTW, I wish Kodak did everything in Metric. This jazz of having some things sold in US and others sold in Metric - It's a pain, and sometimes confusing going back and forth. I guess there's a marketing reason and a manufacturing reason - packaging machines were built that way and it's not worth changing.
     
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  15. JBrunner

    JBrunner Moderator Staff Member Moderator
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    You can mix HC110 from concentrate directly from the bottle as a one shot developer with "normal" developing times. There is an article on the site in my signature link that concerns doing just that. The caveat is while the idea is sound for you the exact information probably isn't as there is a "US" version of HC110 and a "European" version. If you are subject to the Euro version, you would need to do a little homework to accomplish the same end.

    What you do have in HC110 is a very good, very reliable, very economical, and very flexible developer that keeps near forever in its original bottle with no special care.
     
  16. sanking

    sanking Member

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    For scanning MF negatives I would highly recommend TMAX-100 or Fuji Acros in Pyrocat-HD. These films are very fine grained to begin with, and the stain will minimize grain. You should easily get print up to 24X30" in size from these combinations with very fine grain.

    However, grain and scanning is a very complicated issue that can not be discussed on APUG. You might try the hybrid forum for this.

    Sandy King



     
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    Excalibur2

    Excalibur2 Member

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    Thank you all, it looks like by popular vote......Tmax or HC110 for medium format negs esp if scanning.
    Interesting point about scanning as I've just bought a cheap s/h scanner that will do 35mm esp to go back over all my B/W negs that I never printed, and some scans had terrible grain. My first thought was that after many years some B/W negs get grainy as they age because maybe they weren't fixed properly? or?
    Well I know some darkroom guys will throw their hands up in horror, but it's an easy life scanning negs esp most colour negs and if I get the right combo of film and developer, scanning in b/w shouldn't be too difficult.
     
  18. 2F/2F

    2F/2F Member

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    For the first question, I would get a syrupy concentrated developer. They keep forever, are very consistent (because of the fact that they keep forever), are very convenient, and are pretty much infinitely versatile due to the enormous range of dilutions ("official" and otherwise). Ilfotec HC, HC-110, Rodinal, etc.

    For the second part, I have been warned against mixing partial batches from bagged chemistry, as equal distribution of all the components cannot be expected. Doing this, you will no doubt get a developer that works, but it will not be as consistent as it could be.

    FWIW, I have settled on Ilford HC for everything except special grainy/contrasty effects or extremely flat low light shooting (which I like to call "no-light shooting"), for which I will use some D-19 every now and then. HC leaves absolutely nothing to be desired; at least not by myself. D-76/ID-11, which I used to use, is just as good image wise (it is a tiny bit sharper and a tiny bit more grainy according to Kodak, but this is perhaps noticeable only under a microscope), and is actually cheaper (assuming 100% usage), but was less convenient and less consistent for me. Also, I generally prefer the tonality I get from HC. The curve shape is a little bit different than what I got from D-76. (Unlike the grain and sharpness, this is something you *can* see, though it is definitely subtle.) But the main issue is that I can really get the same exact totally predictable results every single time from HC, due to its keeping properties.
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Mar 8, 2009
  19. rternbach

    rternbach Member

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    I have a little bit of background in medium format film photography and I'm starting to read about what's involved in developing my own film. So, thank you Sandy and Bjorn for your replies re: developing for scanning and thanks to all for this thread. I will post future questions about hybridized methods on the appropriate forum. I hope they will know as much about developing b/w film there--so many questions, so little time. (Aculux? Acutol?D76?Rodinal?).
     
  20. Anscojohn

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    Based upon my impressions from APUG's Gallery, the best-appearing scans come from negs souped in D76.
     
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    Excalibur2

    Excalibur2 Member

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    Well yes, once I know what developer to use....I don't know if in the US you have ever heard of Unitol from a British company, but I used to get excellent results from it and just wished some one made it now.

    "'Good Photography' magazine for November 1961 carried an announcement that Johnsons of Hendon had filled their one-millionth bottle of Unitol. This meant enough developer had been manufactured to process 16.5 million films in 10 years."
     
  22. Photo Engineer

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    I hate to say this, but if Unitol was that good, where is it now? It should still be out there being grabbed up by us all! And yet, good advice, Xtol, HC110 and D-76 or analogs keep on plugging along.

    PE
     
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    Excalibur2

    Excalibur2 Member

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    erm so that would be back to the beginning of the thread with ID-II which is similar?

    The latest short list so far is:- Ilfotec HC, HC-110 and T-max for medium format negs and scanning.
     
  24. 2F/2F

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    I have no idea what Unitol was, but your question doesn't make sense to me. Plenty of stuff far better than "good" is now gone; photographic and otherwise.
     
  25. k_jupiter

    k_jupiter Member

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    If you have access to Rodinal, use it. That and FP4+ is a very nice combination, especially in 120 film. Very nice graduation of tone. Rodinal will keep just about forever in dark spaces and when you dilute it 1+50, the concentrate has to.

    The other two developers? HC110 I never liked for small formats although it works well on 4x5 and I never had any use for the T-Max after the first demo pack someone gave me many years ago.


    I think Rodinal will take care of the majority of your developing needs.

    KISS.

    tim in san jose
     
  26. OP
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    Excalibur2

    Excalibur2 Member

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    ***I think Rodinal will take care of the majority of your developing needs.**

    Well some one said it not the best when scanning negs?
     
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