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10-03-2021, 05:11 AM - 1 Like   #1
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Please validate or critique my choice of film processing chemicals

Although I'll soon be all set for scanning lab-developed 135 and 120 film, I'm slowly preparing for the day where I'll try my hand at developing B&W film myself (hopefully before the year is out). As such, I've been looking at different chemicals with a view to achieving the look I think I want in the most economical manner.

Initially I'll be shooting Fomapan 200 Creative, but expect to try some of the Ilford films too. Since I don't expect to be shooting and developing large amounts of film (perhaps one or two films a month), I'd rather not store quantities of prepared chemicals for later (or re-) use. I'm therefore leaning towards one-shot diluted concentrate developers, and prefer the look of high-acutance over fine grain. I live in a soft water area, and would be using a Paterson Super System 4 tank or similar, with chemicals and water acclimatised to room temperature of around 21C / 70F. I'd like to keep the process as simple and foolproof as possible, and prefer the idea of liquid rather than powder chemicals for easier mixing.

From the research I've done thus far, this is what I've come up with:

Developer: Agfa Rodinal Compard R09 (or similar) @ 1+20 or possibly 1+50
Stop-bath: Soft tap water (six washes and dumps)
Fixer: Ilford Rapid Fixer @ 1+4
Wash: Soft tap water (six washes and dumps, Adox AdoFlo II wetting agent added on last wash)

... followed by squeegee before drying.

Again, I'm in a soft water area and have no problem with mineral deposits in appliances or on kitchen work surfaces. I've read that while distilled water is recommended for the final wash, soft water works OK, especially when a good wetting agent is added.

I'd greatly appreciate any critique and feedback on the above - things I may have mis-understood or missed, recommendations for better and/or more economical products or approach, etc.

Many thanks in advance


Last edited by BigMackCam; 10-03-2021 at 05:18 AM.
10-03-2021, 05:26 AM - 2 Likes   #2
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QuoteOriginally posted by BigMackCam Quote
Although I'll soon be all set for scanning lab-developed 135 and 120 film, I'm slowly preparing for the day where I'll try my hand at developing B&W film myself (hopefully before the year is out). As such, I've been looking at different chemicals with a view to achieving the look I think I want in the most economical manner.

Initially I'll be shooting Fomapan 200 Creative, but expect to try some of the Ilford films too. Since I don't expect to be shooting and developing large amounts of film (perhaps one or two films a month), I'd rather not store quantities of prepared chemicals for later (or re-) use. I'm therefore leaning towards one-shot diluted concentrate developers, and prefer the look of high-acutance over fine grain. I live in a soft water area, and would be using a Paterson Super System 4 tank or similar, with chemicals and water acclimatised to room temperature of around 21C / 70F. I'd like to keep the process as simple and foolproof as possible, and prefer the idea of liquid rather than powder chemicals for easier mixing.

From the research I've done thus far, this is what I've come up with:

Developer: Agfa Rodinal Compard R09 (or similar) @ 1+20 or possibly 1+50
Stop-bath: Soft tap water (six washes and dumps)
Fixer: Ilford Rapid Fixer @ 1+4
Wash: Soft tap water (six washes and dumps, Adox AdoFlo II wetting agent added on last wash)

... followed by squeegee before drying.

Again, I'm in a soft water area and have no problem with mineral deposits in appliances or on kitchen work surfaces. I've read that while distilled water is recommended for the final wash, soft water works OK, especially when a good wetting agent is added.

I'd greatly appreciate any critique and feedback on the above - things I may have mis-understood or missed, recommendations for better and/or more economical products or approach, etc.

Many thanks in advance
Here's a great resource:
Beginners Guide to Processing Film - Ilford Photo%

Water doesnt work well as a stop bath - takes too long. Use stop bath. A little Kodak Indicator stop bath goes a long long long way.

I've yet to find a good squeegee. Clean, wet fingers seem to work pretty well.
10-03-2021, 06:46 AM - 1 Like   #3
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Use a proper stop bath, costs pennies in use, lasts for ages in concentrate and stops development then and there for accurate timing. The development tank should be fine, but get a washing-up basin or similarly sized to put it in for a water bath to keep your development temperature stable. I washed my negatives in running cold water for a half hour; but don’t start that by pouring tap temperature water straight in. Ease the water temperature down gently especially in winter when your domestic cold supply will be properly cold, otherwise you get reticulation - the emulsion wrinkles like orange peel.

I developed hundreds of metres of FP4 back then in soft water and never used a squeegee, just hung the film vertically and let the wetting agent do the rest. Have fun!!
10-03-2021, 07:20 AM - 1 Like   #4
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QuoteOriginally posted by ProfessorBuzz Quote

Water doesnt work well as a stop bath - takes too long. Use stop bath..
As a data point, Pyro staining devlopers cannot use an acid stop bath and use water instead. And for other deveoplers I'd think by the second fill and drain of the tank the developer is so diluted it is insignificant towards developmenting the film more by time the fixer is added.


Last edited by tuco; 10-03-2021 at 07:28 AM.
10-03-2021, 09:11 AM   #5
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Has anyone tried to add a few drops of schnaps for the flavor?
10-03-2021, 10:51 AM   #6
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QuoteOriginally posted by tuco Quote
As a data point, Pyro staining devlopers cannot use an acid stop bath and use water instead. And for other deveoplers I'd think by the second fill and drain of the tank the developer is so diluted it is insignificant towards developmenting the film more by time the fixer is added.
Fair point, but Rodinal isn't a pyro developer iirc unless they changed the recipe completely from when I last used it.

QuoteOriginally posted by biz-engineer Quote
Has anyone tried to add a few drops of schnaps for the flavor?
No, can't say I have. Ansel Adams favoured brandy ... after 5pm.
10-03-2021, 11:01 AM - 1 Like   #7
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Oh man! I've just recently took the dive down developing my own B+W at home! I absolutely love it.

I shoot a lot and planned to reuse chemicals...

I purchased an 'Ilford Simplicity + Paterson Film Processing Kit' it came with:
- Super System 4 tank (two reels)
- Ilford Simplicity kit (developer, stopper, fixer, wet agent)
- 3 cylinders graduates
- cassette opener
- stir rod
- thermometer
- film drying clips

I also went out and bought some finer resolution cylinder graduates. I also bought a dark bag. And separate funnels.

That starter kit only comes with enough chemical to develop 2 rolls of 35mm or 1 roll of 120 (unless you reuse; but the small volume mix will get diluted quick).
Therefore, I bought a 500ML bottle of Ilford Ilfostop and a 500ML of Ilford Rapid Fixer.
I bought three 4L jugs. One to hold waste developer, one to hold premixed Stopper (1+19), and the one to hold premixed Fixer (1+4).

I plan to try different developers, but I've started with a Rodinal equivalent as well (Blazinal; 1+20 is common but always check the charts!)

Most developing charts actually recommend 20C, but in my experience B+W is very forgiving.

On the topic of developing charts -> I highly recommend using 'The Massive Developing Chart':
Massive Dev Chart Film Development, Film Developing Database
You can choose your film and developer and it will provide you with the info on how many minutes to develop for what ASA you shot at (sometimes even includes pushed/pulled info too).

My method:

- Load everything up in my dark bag, open the cassette, cut off the leader, load film into reel, cut off end film, load real into tank and lock light tight.
- Look up info on Massive Dev Chart, measure out developer (I usually aim for total 300ML for one 35mm roll; 1+20=21 so 300/21=14.3ML developer, add to large graduate and top up with 20C water to 300ML).
- Pour developer dilution into tank and agitate for ~15 seconds at the top of every minute until entire development time is complete. Pour waste developer into jug.
- Pour 300ML of premixed Stopper into tank, agitate for about 1 minute. Pour back into the Stopper premix.
- Pour 300ML of premixed Fixer into tank, agitate for ~15 seconds at the top of every minute for 4 minutes. Pour back into Fixer premix.
- Fill 2L jug with regular water, add a cap full of wetting agent, stir without creating bubbles. Pour into tank, rinse, repeat until 2L is empty.
- Drum roll as you open the tank to see if you got images!
- Squeegee off film, add weights, and hang to completely dry.

I'm still new to the process, but I believe I can get a good 30 rolls out of those premixed solutions.
I hope using seperate graduates and funnels helps reduce cross mixing and can prolong the solutions.
Take all the jugs to eco centre afterward for proper disposal.

I store my film in archival film sleeves and view them with a light board (tracing board) and a loupe.
I'm still yet to find a satisfactory scanning method. But I've been holding the negative on my light board and setting a tripod to take pictures of the negative with my K-3 III hahah.

Let me know if I can give any pointers!
All the best and good luck!

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10-03-2021, 11:14 AM - 2 Likes   #8
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QuoteOriginally posted by BigMackCam Quote
Stop-bath: Soft tap water (six washes and dumps)
Single water bath, agitate for one minute. Worked for me for over 500 rolls of film.

QuoteOriginally posted by BigMackCam Quote
... followed by squeegee before drying.
I stopped using a squeegee early on when grit on the squeegee scratched several films. Air dried after that, but don't overdo the wetting agent or you'll get drying spots.

Never used anything but tap water. And never worried about the hardness or softness of the water. Did most of my film processing in Montreal and Toronto; I think the former's water is a bit harder.

Last edited by cpk; 10-03-2021 at 11:19 AM.
10-03-2021, 11:21 AM - 1 Like   #9
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QuoteOriginally posted by cpk Quote
I stopped using a squeegee early on when grit on the squeegee scratched several films. Air dried after that, but don't overdo the wetting agent or you'll get drying spots.
Yeh I've scratched my negatives with my squeegee for sure.
I've noticed though that I only scratched negatives when I took more than one swipe at the negative.
If I only squeegeed the film once, then I never scratched them (rinse the squeegee after each use too).
It's really impressive to see the wetting agent work too though. With that wetting agent, areas that are still visible wet (even after using the squeegee), dry up nice and tidy.
10-03-2021, 11:33 AM - 2 Likes   #10
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QuoteOriginally posted by FozzFoster Quote
I'm still yet to find a satisfactory scanning method. But I've been holding the negative on my light board and setting a tripod to take pictures of the negative with my K-3 III hahah.
I scanned a whole bunch of my first foray into film using my K-3 iii last night. I 3D printed negative holders for 35mm and 120 film, cut out spots for them in a sheet of foam board, and then used gaffer tape to attach the foam board to my light board. Now that the K-3 iii can tether to a computer, this was super duper simple and I think I got to the point where I was scanning a 36-exposure roll of 35mm in under 5 minutes. A roll of 120 shot in the 645 takes literally 2 minutes. The thing I forgot to do when scanning last night was to use PixelShift, which Stephen Obermeier had literally just suggested the other day on Facebook. Doh! I suspect that I will eventually want to take multiple shots of each 645 negative and stitch or else use the 645D to shoot my 645 negatives, since 40MP is better than 26MP for 120 film. Lots of evidence says that the resolution on the K-3 iii is right at the sweet spot for 35mm.

I am not going to wade into the holy war over stop bath vs tap water. I read up on things and chose which one I would do.

I selected HC-110 for my developer and got a bunch of pipettes on Amazon to use for measuring it out into a beaker. Using it basically as one-shot in dilution B, but I did have two rolls of 35mm and a roll of 120 all to do last weekend, so I did do them all with one batch of dilution B without incident. (Had to do three runs as the 35mm were Foma 200 and Foma 400 and my tank isnít big enough to put in 120 and 35mm at the same time.) FYI, the data sheets for Foma 200/Arista EDU 200 say ďNRĒ for HC-110, but I went by the massive dev chart and had no issues.

For storing mixed up chemicals (Ilford Rapid Fixer for my B&W, but I also have a Rollei C-41 kit and will wind up with an E-6 kit before long, tooÖimmersion circulator for sous vide cooking makes the temperature-fussy color processes easy-peasy), I bought empty wine bladders (like those that box wine come in). Super easy to evacuate all the air from them and seal them up. My used fixer is being stored in a hydrogen peroxide bottle since itís super cheap and safe to just dump down the drain and leave you with a good bottle for not much money.

We have really hard water here, so for chemical mixing Iím starting with distilled water and then will fill those jugs with deionized water from a lab where I work. Rinsing I just use tap water, but then I do finish in a bath with photo flo. Decided against a squeegee based on what I read, but I do use clean hands without rough spots and run the film between my fingers before hanging to dry. This has done well with preventing streaking so far.

Only disaster Iíve run into was my first roll of 120ÖI took it out of the insert, was trying to snug it up a little bit since thatís what Iíd seen online, and I dropped it on the floor and it partially unspooled. Figured the whole roll was toast, but 10 of the 15 frames were fine!
10-03-2021, 11:34 AM - 1 Like   #11
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QuoteOriginally posted by BigMackCam Quote
all set for scanning
If you have an iPhone, here's a handy tip:
In Settings, go to Accessibility, and go to Accessibility Shortcut, turn on Classic Invert.
Triple click the home button.
Now take a regular picture of the negative (or just view the camera).
The images colours are inverted and you can view the film negative properly.
10-03-2021, 11:35 AM - 2 Likes   #12
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QuoteOriginally posted by FozzFoster Quote
Yeh I've scratched my negatives with my squeegee for sure.
I've noticed though that I only scratched negatives when I took more than one swipe at the negative.
If I only squeegeed the film once, then I never scratched them (rinse the squeegee after each use too).
It's really impressive to see the wetting agent work too though. With that wetting agent, areas that are still visible wet (even after using the squeegee), dry up nice and tidy.
Good points, but I never regretted giving up on the squeegee. A lot would also depend on how hard one squeezes the squeegee; I may have been too forceful when I used it.
10-03-2021, 11:48 AM - 1 Like   #13
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QuoteOriginally posted by mtkeller Quote
I 3D printed negative holders for 35mm and 120 film, cut out spots for them in a sheet of foam board, and then used gaffer tape to attach the foam board
:| How much do I have to pay you to print me a set and ship em to Edmonton?

QuoteOriginally posted by mtkeller Quote
was to use PixelShift
! What a great tip! I can't believe it! What a great time to use PS! Thank you!

QuoteOriginally posted by mtkeller Quote
Super easy to evacuate all the air from them and seal them up.
Brilliant! I've seen collapsible jugs for sale but this is a way better idea!

QuoteOriginally posted by mtkeller Quote
Decided against a squeegee
QuoteOriginally posted by cpk Quote
but I never regretted giving up on the squeegee
In my opinion, part of the enjoyment of film processing myself is using all the equipment - and that includes the squeegee
And it's also what all the professionals use (inside joke @PentaxLou )

---------- Post added 10-03-21 at 12:51 PM ----------

(yes I will hi-jack this thread to talk about squeegees)
https://www.mcbaincamera.com/productdetail.php?mcbain_id=5385350
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10-03-2021, 11:54 AM - 1 Like   #14
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QuoteOriginally posted by mtkeller Quote
Only disaster I’ve run into was my first roll of 120…I took it out of the insert, was trying to snug it up a little bit since that’s what I’d seen online, and I dropped it on the floor and it partially unspooled. Figured the whole roll was toast, but 10 of the 15 frames were fine!
Once you get a procedure going that works for you, stick to it.

My story: I am still using Nikor stainless steel tanks I bought about 65 years ago. The lids have a small cap which covers the light-tight opening into which one pours the chemistry. When loading the reels with film, once inserted into the tank, I would put the lid on, followed by the small cap and then turn on the lights. When I started development, I removed the small cap and poured in the developer. One day some years ago I decided that putting on the small cap in the dark and then removing it to pour in the developer didn't make sense as the opening in the lid was light-tight. So I didn't bother with the small cap.

With the lights on and the developer at hand ready to use, what did I do? Well, for years I had remove the small cap to pour in the developer. So I removed the small cap; but it wasn't the small cap, it was the lid and I was looking at four reels of high speed film. I quickly put the lid back on and proceeded to develop the film. It was all fogged, but the bottom roll hadn't fogged as badly as the others and I could tell I had lost some good photos. I now always put on the small cap while still in the dark.
10-03-2021, 11:54 AM - 2 Likes   #15
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QuoteOriginally posted by FozzFoster Quote
:| How much do I have to pay you to print me a set and ship em to Edmonton?
What about using one at the Edmonton Public Library? They seem to have maker spaces that you can use there. Thingiverse has a few options, but this is the one that I used.

---------- Post added 10-03-21 at 13:56 ----------

Oof, @cpk. Thatís rough. And it also tells me I need to keep putting the red rubber top onto my Jobo tank when loading film, since I can totally see myself doing something like removing the light-tight lid because Iíve got to remove something before pouring in the chemistry.
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