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12-02-2015, 06:27 PM   #1
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Suggest a 3rd b&w film developer to me

I've been developing film for about 8 months now - I started with DD-X and had some great luck with it. I then bought some Rodinal and have loved it with Rollei 80s and RPX 25, and had some luck with other films with it. I find the discussions on developers get esoteric, but I think I'm ready to try a 3rd developer, something that will play nice will give nice smooth results. I really love rodinal for slower films, but I think it would be fun to have a 3rd dev to try, I was wondering what you guys and gals think I should try next!

12-02-2015, 06:30 PM   #2
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HC-110, particularly if you are shooting with RR 80s.


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12-02-2015, 07:33 PM   #3
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Finding the right developer all depends on what films you are shooting and where are your expectations on speed, grain, contrast or tonality, and price. DD-X is a wonderful developer, but I've found it works best with Ilford Delta, whereas ID-11 is my favorite with HP5, FP4 and even Pan-F. Years ago I switched from D76 to Xtol for Tri-X, and for Tmax films, Tmax developer is a must.

What are your shooting? Do you employ the Zone System, or do you just want a balanced negative to print?
12-02-2015, 07:47 PM   #4
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Back n the 1960s in college our standard for available light work was Tri-X exposed at 1000 or 1200 and processed in Acufine. That was the normal EI for the film in Acufine. When shooting often you reuse the qt of developer, adding enough Acufine replenisher to keep the volume the same. That was usually about 1/2 oz per roll of film, so the quart did a lot of film. I really liked the results, and found that Acufine is still available. I'd recommend trying it.

12-02-2015, 08:07 PM   #5
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Some may scream but for Tri-X rated @ nominal ISO (ASA) 400, I often used ancient, venerable D-76. The grain pattern was "classic" and came to be regarded as the signature appearance of a Tri-X image, and desirable. It is certainly as time tested a developer as there is and worth at least a one-shot experiment.
12-02-2015, 08:27 PM   #6
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I've not dev'd my own stuff for 20 years. Would really like to start again but we don't have the space for the additional clutter (though it's very possible I'll break down and just do it as the winter-crazies set in). We'll be moving the next year or so and I'd like to setup a space.
Anyhow - most of what I shoot for B&W has been HP5+ and my lab down the street uses XTOL. I love the results. Very very much.
12-02-2015, 08:33 PM   #7
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if you really want to get experimental try a staining developer like PyrocatHD, it is less sensitive to variations in agitation, doesn't have the mottling issues of PMK, and PyrocatHD has lower toxicity than standard PMK. With the increased density in the highlights caused by the stain, it is really useful for reigning in the contrast on high key images. with a few tweaks to the formulation Pyrocat HD can be made to produce high acutance*

QuoteOriginally posted by WPRESTO Quote
It is certainly as time tested a developer as there is and worth at least a one-shot experiment.
I agree, D76 has stood the test of time. And every film photographer should have used it at least once in their lifetime.

*though not as high as stock FX-2

Last edited by Digitalis; 12-02-2015 at 09:03 PM.
12-02-2015, 08:36 PM   #8
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Good point, dev choice really depend on your film! I shoot a lot of Rollei 80s, some TMAX 400 (which I really like with DD-X), and what ever random 400 ISO films I can get my hands on. I really like RPX 25 as well, I'd love try some Rollei low speed dev with it some day. I like pan f and hp5 as well but haven't bought any in a while.

---------- Post added 12-02-15 at 10:38 PM ----------

QuoteOriginally posted by Digitalis Quote
I agree, D76 has stood the test of time. And every film photographer should have used it at least once in their lifetime.
Interesting, that's a good vote for D76, thanks!

12-02-2015, 08:44 PM   #9
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QuoteOriginally posted by Digitalis Quote
if you really want to get experimental try a staining developer like PyrocatHD
Sending him straight down the pyro tunnels, eh? (I've wanted to give that stuff a try. Love what I've seen from it.)
12-02-2015, 08:50 PM   #10
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QuoteOriginally posted by Alex645 Quote
Finding the right developer all depends on what films you are shooting and where are your expectations on speed, grain, contrast or tonality, and price. DD-X is a wonderful developer, but I've found it works best with Ilford Delta, whereas ID-11 is my favorite with HP5, FP4 and even Pan-F. Years ago I switched from D76 to Xtol for Tri-X, and for Tmax films, Tmax developer is a must.

What are your shooting? Do you employ the Zone System, or do you just want a balanced negative to print?
No zone system yet. I love technical things so I'm sure I'll learn it some day.
12-02-2015, 08:54 PM   #11
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QuoteOriginally posted by chickentender Quote
Sending him straight down the pyro tunnels, eh?
Staining Pyro developers are what I exclusively use for 4X5, 5X7, 8X10 format. Their compatibility with desensitizing agents like pinacryptol yellow allow for development by inspection, which gives a ton of control. Also the added density in the highlights gives more control over the contrast of the negative allowing for greater control over tonal gradation than what is ordinarily possible when I produce pure platinum prints.

I have used PyroHD for smaller 35mm negatives and it gives a smoother result than stock D76. Fuji Neopan 100 and T-Max 100 look amazing when developed by PyrocatHD.

Last edited by Digitalis; 12-02-2015 at 09:05 PM.
12-02-2015, 09:16 PM   #12
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Contrary to what most photographers want, I'm after grain when I shoot film. I'll shoot Kodak Tmax 3200 or Ilford Delta outdoors at IOS 3200. I have found Rodinal gives the sharpest grain. This probably applies to finer grain films as well. Another plus for Rodinal, it seems to keep forever.
12-02-2015, 09:40 PM   #13
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anyone for coffee?

seriously I'd like to know how cafenol works, do the negs. come out good for scanning to produce sharp images? I know, there is more I need to know, I'll get there
12-02-2015, 10:06 PM   #14
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Xtol is the most versatile developer ( even works with tech pan type films ) and is a vitamin C based developer so it is environmentally friendly. It is easy to work with which is why commercial labs might use it. I like the shadow detail. The annoying thing is that it currently only available in packaging to make 5 liters.
12-02-2015, 10:41 PM   #15
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QuoteOriginally posted by WPRESTO Quote
Some may scream but for Tri-X rated @ nominal ISO (ASA) 400, I often used ancient, venerable D-76. The grain pattern was "classic" and came to be regarded as the signature appearance of a Tri-X image, and desirable. It is certainly as time tested a developer as there is and worth at least a one-shot experiment.
There is a ton to be said about a film (Tri-X) put to market in 1954, improved in 1960, and tweaked again in 2007 is still around (with D-76) in 2015. And although Kodak 'improved' Tri-X over the years, it speaks volumes that when a majority of Eastman Kodak's products have been phased out, that Tri-X remains. Although my students still use Tri-X, as a product of my own photo education, I have that same aesthetic response to Ilford HP5+ with either D-76 or for the last 15 years, Xtol.
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