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05-22-2012, 03:09 PM   #1
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Help for a B&W film newbie

Hi all,

I've recently acquired a few 35mm film cameras and I've run a few films through them (colour & B&W). The problem is that here in Spain, developing black & white film is extremely expensive, and it's primarily B&W I'm interested in. I wasn't planning on home development until I realised what it would cost me to get it done in a lab.

So, I'm looking into a basic setup for developing it myself, I'll then get the negatives scanned or printed elsewhere. I've been looking into what I need and I won't list it all. I do have some questions though.

I will be using Ilford HP5+ initially, simply as I got a good deal on a few rolls. Later I'm sure I will experiment with others. As regards the chemicals, my plan is to get hold of the following, all of which I believe I can get from a local supplier:

Paterson developing tank with two 35mm spirals.
Ilford ID-11 / Perceptol
Ilford Ilfostop
Ilford rapid fixer
Ilfotol wetting agent

Does that sound ok for a beginner?

1. Development is supposed to be done at 20C. I live in Madrid, where the summer days will hit 40 (or more) and the nights will drop to 32. So, maintaining things at 20 will be difficult in the very near future. Will I be able to accurately calculate the development times for temperatures that are several degrees above what's recommended?

2. I've read that developing chemicals go off quickly, but I haven't been able to determine how quickly. Should I worry about this? Is powdered developer better? My current plan is to use Ilford ID-11 and I won't be doing a huge amount of developing. Will the high summer temperatures of where I live make the chemicals even more short-lived?

3. The ID-11 is apparently not recommended for pushing films, something which I might want to do in the near future. I think I can also get Perceptol. Which is better?

4. One link I found recommends a water pre-soak for a minute before developing, but I haven't seen it mentioned elsewhere. Opinions?

Many thanks for any help or advice you can offer.

05-22-2012, 03:40 PM   #2
Zav
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If you don't want to process yourself, try the Ilford XP2. It can be processed by your local lab in color chemistry.
05-22-2012, 03:44 PM   #3
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Glad you said that Zav lol... I was about to say there was a B+W that was C46 compatible but I couldnt remember the name lol
05-22-2012, 03:55 PM   #4
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I'm petty much a beginner, too....shot my first rolls maybe a year ago, and I have been doing all my own B/W developing with Rodinal (R09). The results are great. Not sure if it's available in your country, but you should find out. It doesn't go bad, it's cheap, and you really have to try hard to screw it up it seems. Temperature seems not to even matter, within reason. Check out my film blog in my sig....pretty much any black and white on that site was done in R09.

All I need to get B/W negs that I'm happy with is R09, some fixer, and a tank and reels. I use tap water. No stop bath. I was using a wetting agent for a while, but I no longer do after noticing that when I didn't use it, I no longer had lots of dust to remove from my scans. I plan to try some other developers, but R09 just works for me, every time. I even did some color film with it recently!

I personally prefer the metal tanks with Hewes reels. The tanks don't leak, and Hewes reels are reeally easy to load. I tried plastic ones first, but they seemed to deteriorate and the film started hanging up in them, so I got metal, and I'm very glad I did.

05-22-2012, 07:33 PM   #5
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Hi Jonathan, you mentioned the very warm temperatures outside, but what is the ambient temperature inside the house, what is the ambient temperature of the water? If the water is cool enough, which it probably isn't, you could have a running water bath to keep things constant. If you do this, be advised that plastic tanks don't change temperature as quickly as stainless steel. Keeping it at 68F/20C is going to be a challenge. I would use a sink or tub filled with the correct temperature and use that as a water bath. The best way to find out is to do a dry run without film and measure the temperature before and after and see how much it has drifted. You might be surprised how consistent it can be. In Mexico Edward Weston developed film (large format) in a rubber raincoat when he had to, so anything is possible.
Instead of considering whether your setup is OK for a beginner, consider it instead as your beginning design set. It will change and grow as your skills and needs do, or you may not need to change anything, you have a good match now. You will not know what different developers will do until you try them, which is part of the fun, but don't let it get out of hand, when you find a developer you like that gives consistent results, stick with it for a while to explore.
The Ilford chemicals are very good, although you don't have to use rapid fixer; do use one that has a hardner though. Unless, as a previous poster mentioned, dust is more of an issue with it, I would use a wetting agent because it helps reduce surface tension and allows water to sheet off and reduce spots since it will dry quickly in the heat -a little bit goes a long way, don't overdo the amount. Any stop bath can be used since they are all basically acetic acid. Heat will shorten the life of chemistry, as you noted, but again, how hot is it in your house? The one that goes off the fastest will be developer, you will have little trouble with the rest. If you don't mix or buy a large amount, it will be much more likely get used up before going bad. Liquid is always easier to mix, but powder isn't that much more trouble, so I would base it on results rather than powder/liquid. IDll is hard to beat for general developing, Rodinal is one of those developers that some love, some don't. It's not a compensating developer which is part of the look it gives with sharply defined grain.
Pushing film is not an across the board thing with film, you don't get something for nothing, it doesn't affect it evenly across the curve, it tends to push the highlights up, but different films have differing characteristics. In the classic Zone System film is exposed for the shadows and developed for highlights. The concept is to not lose the shadows and also not block up the highlights, which can get tricky with pushing.

I wish you the best of luck and hope you will let us know how things worked out.
05-23-2012, 07:41 AM   #6
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A developer option for people that have warmer tap water is to use Diafine two-bath developer. It uses one development time for nearly all films for a development temperature range of 70-85F ( = 21-30C).

Wash and fixer temperatures need only be with 5 or so. To control the development temperature outside that range, put water in a beverage cooler to the height of the development tank and cool it down with ice or heat it up with warmer water. Place the development tank in the water bath between agitation cycles. It will hold the temperature long enough to get through the development cycle.

Last edited by tuco; 05-23-2012 at 08:27 AM.
05-23-2012, 08:02 AM   #7
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At the site of Ilford www.ilfordphoto.com you will find alot of answers to your questions. They have lot of pdf files with information about developing and printing

05-28-2012, 09:45 PM   #8
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QuoteOriginally posted by Jonathan Mac Quote
1. Development is supposed to be done at 20C. I live in Madrid, where the summer days will hit 40 (or more) and the nights will drop to 32. So, maintaining things at 20 will be difficult in the very near future. Will I be able to accurately calculate the development times for temperatures that are several degrees above what's recommended?
My answer to this is to temper a bucket of water to 20C before starting developing. Use it to mix up your developer then for water rinses. I keep a 2L jug in the fridge to be able to lower the temp. Having a largish amount means it will take longer to be effected by the ambient temp. I measure the developer temp before pouring it in, then near the end of the development time (I admit I do this a bit 'seat of the pants') usually 2mins from the end of the time. This lets me check the developer hasn't got hotter, and if it has, to stop development a littler earlier. If it's gone up less than 1C then I'll probably do nothing, but any higher and I'll stop development earlier. As mentioned above, if you have wild temps use a water bath to sit the tank in in between agitations. If you need to develop at different temps, Ilford have a chart to work out the required times at different temps.

QuoteQuote:
2. I've read that developing chemicals go off quickly, but I haven't been able to determine how quickly. Should I worry about this? Is powdered developer better? My current plan is to use Ilford ID-11 and I won't be doing a huge amount of developing. Will the high summer temperatures of where I live make the chemicals even more short-lived?
Once mixed, powdered developers will start to deterioate, however unmixed they tend to have good shelf life. Handy if you don't have a local supplier and need to order several at once. Some liquid developers have good shelf life, others terrible. The recommendation for Rodinal equivalents is probably a good one if they have similar qualities to Rodinal, which keeps for ages. A common recommendation for when mixing up a powder into 'stock' is to store it in little bottles topped right up (little or no air).

QuoteQuote:
4. One link I found recommends a water pre-soak for a minute before developing, but I haven't seen it mentioned elsewhere. Opinions?
Ilford specifically recommend not using a pre soak with their films. Read up on the theory.
05-29-2012, 01:35 AM   #9
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Thanks for the advice everyone. In the end I went for Ilfosol-3 as a developer as I hadn't realised that I would have to mix the whole lot of ID-11 in one go, which would be a real pain to have sitting around. The guy in the shop told me that once opened, the Ilfosol would last a month and a half, tops. I bought a collapsible bottle to move it to once it's opened, but I'll need to find some marbles to top it up with too or it will go off well before I've used it all. I might move all the developing kit to my in-laws in Segovia, where it can be kept considerably cooler than in Madrid. I imagine that will help but it'll mean I only have access every two weeks and have to make a mess of their bathroom instead on my own . Why isn't developer available in smaller amounts for people who won't use it in large volumes???

The Paterson tank I got comes with two reels and holds, I believe, 600ml of liquid. If I'm only developing one film, do I still need to fill the tank, or should I use only 300ml?
05-29-2012, 08:15 AM   #10
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QuoteOriginally posted by Jonathan Mac Quote
...
Why isn't developer available in smaller amounts for people who won't use it in large volumes???
There are a few one-shot, long-life developers. You may want to get some experience with what you have before trying them. You can also inject an inert gas to help stop oxidization while storing your developer. Check wine supply stores for a kit.

QuoteOriginally posted by Jonathan Mac Quote
The Paterson tank I got comes with two reels and holds, I believe, 600ml of liquid. If I'm only developing one film, do I still need to fill the tank, or should I use only 300ml?
I haven't use your developer but some have a minimum amount that needs to be mixed for a single roll. Check the data sheet for the developer. It should also give capacity and shelf life information too.
05-29-2012, 11:33 PM   #11
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QuoteOriginally posted by Jonathan Mac Quote
I bought a collapsible bottle to move it to once it's opened, but I'll need to find some marbles to top it up with too or it will go off well before I've used it all.
What size bottle of developer did you buy? The collapsible bottles I have used (for mixed print chemicals) were 1lt but I gave up on them as they always sucked in air over time.

QuoteQuote:
Why isn't developer available in smaller amounts for people who won't use it in large volumes???
you can buy 250ml bottles of some developers. Ilfosol used to be one of them. I stopped using this due to how quickly it goes off once opened. I use to find LC29 was a lot better in that regard.

QuoteQuote:
The Paterson tank I got comes with two reels and holds, I believe, 600ml of liquid. If I'm only developing one film, do I still need to fill the tank, or should I use only 300ml?
I only use 300ml. Some people suggest to put the unused reel in as well to make sure the one with film doesn't move up the centre column while inverting the tank during agitation. I've never had that problem and my Paterson tank is 30odd years old. I also like to keep the other reel dry in case I want to do another film straight after the 1st.
05-30-2012, 12:31 AM   #12
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The Ilfosol-3 is in a 500ml bottle. I bought a 1L collapsible bottle but even when fully collapsed it still holds - guess how much - 650ml. So it's completely useless. LC29 costs four times what Ilfosol costs, so I'd be just as well throwing it out when it goes off as trying to maintain good storage conditions for LC29. There are other developers I can get without spending too much, so I might try them when the Ilfosol's done.
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