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Which developer

This is a discussion on Which developer within the General photography forums, part of the Photography & Fine art photography category; This is probably directed toward Mbrager , Marko or anyone else with black and white film processing experience. Just wondering ...

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    Runmonty's Avatar
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    Default Which developer

    This is probably directed toward Mbrager , Marko or anyone else with black and white film processing experience.

    Just wondering if anyone may be able to help with some advice or suggestions.

    Contrary to what I said on a previous post on this forum, I am starting to do a bit more film photography. As I suggested at the time, I am drawn to the process but previously haven't been patient enough to do it justice. I am trying to change that and have few rolls of film in various vintage cameras that I have had lying around.

    I am also planning to start processing my own film soon and am hoping someone may be able to guide me in chemical selection. At this stage I intend a hybrid approach I will scanning the negatives for further processing rather than darkroom printing.

    Reviewing the web, everyone has an opinion as to what is an ideal developer. It seems that no-one seems to fussed about which the stop bath/ fixer or wetting agent to use. Is this reasonable?

    The main part of the question relates to any suggestions for a developer to use. I intend using a Patterson tank. I would be looking for something somewhat universal and not specific to one film type. I have heard that Ilford Ilfosol 3 may be suitable and not too expensive? It is included in a starter kit provided by Ilford. Or should I change developer depending upon film being used? Does it really matter? Any other thoughts or suggestions ?

    The 3 films I currently have in the cameras are Ilford FP4 125, Kodak Tri-X 400 and Ilford Delta 400.

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    Ah, the bug has bitten you. It does take some thought and preparation (and a lot of time) to be able to manage all the necessary steps, even if you are only developing the film and scanning. Once you've done it a few times it gets easier. Happy to help you if you want to ask about anything.
    With regards to chemistry, at first I mixed up 5 litres of Kodak XTOL, which comes as a powder, thinking I'd have lots of developer for all the film I was going to shoot. Then I realized that I'll never use all of it and that it tends to deteriorate after it is stored for a while. All the chemicals have downloadable Technical Information sheets available which are useful to understanding how to use them. (I'm pretty sure you've read these already)
    Then I bought a litre bottle of Ilford DD-X, which is liquid. It just needs to be mixed with distilled water at the time of developing. Much more convenient and easier to store then the XTOL. Of course I wanted to try all the available developers, but that isn't possible unless one is shooting and developing film constantly. I have tried Perceptol and ID-11, as well, which also come as a powder, so needs to be stored in bottles once mixed. I tried reusing developer, keeping track of how many films I developed with each, and adding time to the developing, but it's much more convenient to use DD-X liquid and throw it out without reusing.
    The differences I found were negligible. Perceptol is meant for lower ISO films and DD-X is meant for higher ISO films or push exposures. Ilfosol 3 according to the Technical Information sheet is a general purpose developer for most films. I would say it should suit you just fine for your first efforts, and will certainly develop the rolls you have already exposed. I did experiment with developing at higher temperatures than 20C for shorter developing times, but found I actually preferred the longer time at 20C.
    I don't think there is much difference between Kodak products and Ilford products, but Ilford products are more available here at The Camera Store. I also found that some Kodak film tends to curl after drying, so is harder to seat properly in the scanner film holders I use. I've been sticking to Ilford films lately, which lie flat when dry. I use Kodak Indicator Stop Bath after the developing is finished. Then Ilford Rapid Fixer which also comes in liquid and mixes 1+4 so I can keep it in a large jug. Ilford Wash Aid is recommended to save rinse water and is also stored in a gallon jug.
    I always use distilled water to ensure purity as much as possible, although I do a final rinse in tap water after the Wash Aid and then use Photo Flo to help keep the film clean while it is drying.
    I discovered an app called Massive Dev which is very convenient for keeping track of various combinations of film and developers and exposures. It's both a database and a timer, so while you are in the midst of developing you can use the timer with one touch to go on to the next step, and it also times the turning of the Patterson tank as recommended. Pretty accurate, although I've found occasional discrepancies with the film or developer Technical Sheet. Usually I just halve the difference and hope for the best.
    Hope this helps. Love to see your results.
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    That is excellent information MB. I really appreciate it.

    The information about powder vs liquids is something I hadn't thought about but makes sense. I had seen those developing apps in youtube videos. They appear to make life a lot easier.

    It will be a month or so before you see any results. (the Patterson tank and a few accessories are on Santa's list)
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    Personally..... I mostly found that the over/under development of developing fluid when needed (usually to balance out a contrast zone) was much more important than which particular product was being used...especially for normal development.
    The printing of that negative can be printed in so many ways that the effect of the developer fluid on the final image - man you need a good eye. Just develop as per instructions to start
    Film grain choice on the other hand - connected to different ISO's show differences you can see with your eye.
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    Thanks Marko,

    Looks like I need not get too fussed about the brand of developer then. I just need to ensure I do it right. Can't blame the tools huh?

    Yeah I remember the good ol' days of selecting film for colour, contrast and grain etc. I used to prefer fine grain transparency film (Kodachrome normally). These days I am looking for something quite different, and am trying a few different at B/W negative films to see which I prefer.

    Thanks again guys . This helps a lot
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