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04-15-2009, 04:08 PM   #1
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Advice for the Chemically Impaired?

I'm about to stick my head into the darkroom finally and start processing my own B&W film. I've got my equipment all lined up and have been practicing spiraling film onto tank reels, but I'm on the fence about which way to go with the chemicals.

I know lots of people swear by D-76 and that's the direction I was heading but one of my concerns (not really a concern just a matter of convenience really) is storage and expense. I can buy D-76 bags in 1 liter or 1 gallon sizes. The 1 liter bags are more convenient for me but double the cost down the road. I'd rather mix up small batches as needed to make toddler proofing a little easier. Also, I don't expect to be processing more than a roll (maybe two) per week so shelf life is another concern.

So I started looking at HC-110 as an alternative. It's a little more expensive, but I can keep a small bottle of concentrate out of harms way a lot easier than large jugs and I suspect the concentrate will keep much much longer than a gallon of D-76. The propaganda for HC-110 says it produces similar grain/results to D-76 but with shorter developing times.

So my questions (finally)... How close to D-76 is HC-110 in real world practice? And are there any other gotchas I should be aware of using one or the other?

Initially I'll be working with Neopan and TMax as I have 5 rolls that will be shot by the end of the month, but will be working with Tri-X and HP5 as well down the road.

Thanks in advance!

04-15-2009, 05:04 PM   #2
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As far as shelf life goes, air is the enemy. Look into evac containers, they fold down to minimize the head space. I wish I could find one for 500ml.
04-15-2009, 06:07 PM   #3
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I typically use DDx -- it is liquid, so there's no mixing (powders re just as dangerous to have around as liquids) and it has decent shelf life. At the rate you will use it, you would be fine. A little more pricy than d-76, but it's a small bottle & I keep my chemicals on a top shelf in a closet inside a plastic storage bin.
04-15-2009, 06:52 PM   #4
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I love HC:110. The concentrate will keep, quite literally, for decades. It can be hard to mix small quantities unless you equip yourself properly.
Figure out how much concentrate you need for a tank mix and use a syringe (with needle attached) to draw out the required amount.
Fill and empty the syringe a few times with the tank developer to ensure you've rinsed the syringe and needle clean and then rinse it and let it dry, ready for the next time.
I file or grind the sharp off the needle to make it safer to handle.

You can also measure how much powder is in the D-76 bag and then spoon out the necessary amount to make up a tank mix. You want to stir the powder to ensure it is well mixed, so it would probably be easier to break down a package into individual tank mixes and then just mix as you need.

04-15-2009, 07:04 PM   #5
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Edwal FG7 (another liquid developer) is still available and always worked well for me.

Steve
04-15-2009, 11:59 PM   #6
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Thanks for all the input and suggestions. For the time being at least I want to stick with Kodak chems simply because they're readily accesssible everywhere, including here in town.

And I figure if HC-110 is good enough for Wheatfield it's just fine for me.

Great tip on the syringe too, Wheatfield. Certainly sounds easier than fuzting with funnels and small graduates. I may go with pipettes though if I can find them large enough to be feasible.
04-16-2009, 05:38 AM   #7
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QuoteOriginally posted by Venturi Quote

Great tip on the syringe too, Wheatfield. Certainly sounds easier than fuzting with funnels and small graduates. I may go with pipettes though if I can find them large enough to be feasible.
The problem with pipettes is that HC:110 is a very thick syrup, it resists flowing easily. This is why I settled on a syringe for transfering the concentrate.
04-16-2009, 06:28 AM   #8
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If storage is your concern HC110,AM76, Rodinal are the way to go. Clayton had one too, and there is always the home made PC-TEA.
Liquid concentrates that will last for a long time.

04-16-2009, 09:08 AM   #9
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QuoteOriginally posted by Wheatfield Quote
The problem with pipettes is that HC:110 is a very thick syrup, it resists flowing easily. This is why I settled on a syringe for transfering the concentrate.
Ahhh, okay. Now the syringe makes total sense. Pretty impossible to accurately pour for small batches.
04-16-2009, 11:26 AM   #10
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One thing I have to say is, I've seen some really nice results from DD-X: I keep meaning to give it a whirl, myself.

You've got plenty of choices, so perhaps do a bit of googling around about what people get with the films you use or are interested in, in various developers: see what look you might like to aim for.
04-21-2009, 02:24 AM   #11
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I can highly recommend steve anschells book the darkroom cookbook (3rd edition is vastly updated!!!). Realise also that you can use different developers for different films and get lots of different results. Rodinal is great for slow films up to ISO125, and I also use two stage developers, as well as D76 1:1 and T-max dev @1+7 for more tonal scale.

Start shooting by adjusting your iso to 1/3- 1 stop below suggested ISO. Develop normally for the manufacturers ISO. Enjoy!!
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