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Developer & film suggestions for b&w
Old 08-20-2006, 06:01 PM   #1 (permalink)
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Hey y'all,

Just trying to think ahead before school starts, I'm looking for suggestions for good general black & white film developers that will give me a decent mix of everything (acutance, grain, etc) and films (slow, normal, and high speed). Since school will be keeping me good and busy, I'm also thinking ease of use here, namely a liquid developer as opposed to powder.

I'm thinking of testing HC-110 with a few films, HP5 being one of them, then a fast grainy film, and a slow fine-grained film. One combo I've been using is Rodinal with Fuji Acros. Anybody ever try Acros with HC-110? If you guys got any other suggestions for developers and film combos, I'd love to hear 'em!

Thanks,

Sam
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Re: Developer & film suggestions for b&w
Old 08-20-2006, 06:50 PM   #2 (permalink)
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I try to use Rodinal whenever I can. I am having a hard time finding it though.
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Re: Developer & film suggestions for b&w
Old 08-20-2006, 06:59 PM   #3 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Wrlss911Pro
I try to use Rodinal whenever I can. I am having a hard time finding it though.
Me too... I did see a bunch of fresh bottles on eBay a while back, but I'm not sure if they're still there at this point or not.
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Re: Developer & film suggestions for b&w
Old 08-20-2006, 10:59 PM   #4 (permalink)
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I've used XTOL ever since it came out. I know you wanted a liquid, but you can mix XTOL @ room temperature. It keeps for 12 months in a full container and 2 months in a partially filled container. I keep it bottled at full strength, but use it diluted 1:1. My experience is that it exhibits both higher accutance and finer grain than HC-110 (or any other developer I've ever used). Rodinal always exhibited high accutance, but it killed you on the grain. But that's the nature of the beast, it causes silver halide to clump a bit instead of slide around in the emulsion.

The only thing about XTOL I've noticed that might be considered a negative over HC-110 is that I need to down-rate my film by 2/3 of a stop for shadow detail. I pretty much shot all films at their rated speed with HC-110.

For film, I've been a TMAX guy for a looong time. I've tried both the Fuji Neopan and Ilford Delta families and wasn't compelled to switch. Comparing hi-speed films, I didn't like the Delta 3200 at all. When I tested it, it rated about ISO 800. I wasn't impressed with it's 3200 performance at all. But you can get it in medium format. TMax 3200 tested (for me) at 1600 and is very usable everywhere from ISO 400 to 3200.

With 100 and 400 ISO films, I found Fuji and Kodak films to be very similar. The Ilford Delta films exhibitied just a bit more grain and were about 1/3 stop slower.

But unless you're going to lock yourself away for two weeks, shoot the exact same subject under the exact same conditions with Fuji, Kodak, and Ilford films; process them in a half-dozen different developers; and keep all the results straight you'll have a hard time telling one same-rated film from another.

Here some links you may find helpful:

Kodak Developer comparisons:
http://www.kodak.com/global/en/profe...electing.jhtml

Paul Butzi has written several excellent articles on B&W films and developers. You can find them here:
http://www.butzi.net/articles/articles.htm

-Chip
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Re: Developer & film suggestions for b&w
Old 08-21-2006, 07:58 AM   #5 (permalink)
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I read about six months ago that Rodinal is no longer being manufactured, so I don't think I'd select it as my developer. (Although when I did a lot of b/w about thirty years ago, I did use Rodinal almost exclusively - loved it.)

The liquid/powder convenience issue isn't as much of a factor as you might think, because typically you make up the powder into, e.g., a gallon of liquid, then use that. Depending on the developer, the concentrated solution can last several months. Some liquids are diluted to a working solution, which is discarded after each use. I believe D-76 concentrated liquid (i.e., as made from powder) lasts several months, and is used 1:3 for developing, discarding after use. Bit grainier than Rodinal, but decent. Not terribly fussy in use, widely available. Get yourself "squeezable" bottles, from which you can exclude air, for storage of the developer. Generally storing in the refrigerator will preserve chemicals longer, but (a) LABEL CAREFULLY and keep children from accidently drinking; and (b) some developers can't be cooled without some components coming out of solution, could spoil developer.

I suggest you get a copy of Minor White's "Zone System Manual" and follow his advice about standardizing your own combination of film, exposure, developer, development process to give the best results for you. Fair amount of effort, but well worth it, IMO. If you can't find a copy, let me know and I'll write up a brief explanation.

I used HC-110 for a while, but my recollection is that I had some trouble being as reproducible as I'd like - which I attributed to the difficulty I had in reproducibly diluting it since I was making up small volumes - like a cup for a single roll, or some such stupidity. Might have been my "use copy film in highly dilute developer" phase. (Gives incredibly small grain, high resolution - at a speed of about ASA 1 or so. Not real practical.)

You might want to check out the old Kodak Darkroom guide as well.

As for films, excepting that High-Contrast Copy craze, I pretty much used only the old Tri-X emulsion. Not much help. Sorry.

Take care.
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Re: Developer & film suggestions for b&w
Old 08-21-2006, 06:00 PM   #6 (permalink)
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Hey Chip and John,

Thanks a bunch for the info and advice. I guess one thing I was also concerned with is space in my apartment. It's a fairly small studio place, and I was thinking maybe a liquid or one-shot developer would be nice, but hey, if I gotta mix it up from a powder, then I gotta. It certainly won't stop me from developing my own film (color film I don't mind handing over to a lab, but black & white I'd much rather do myself).

Chip--

XTOL sounds nice (mixing at room temp is good), and I checked out the Kodak Developer comparison. Looks like XTOL wins! I checked out Paul Butzi's article comparing TMAX and Acros, and since they're so similar, and since I've been using Acros for a while now already, I'll probably end up testing that with XTOL and see what happens.

John--

I still have a soft spot for D-76. It's the first developer I ever used. Chip's got me curious about XTOL now though, so I think I'm gonna give that a try and see what happens.

Thanks for the suggestion on Minor White's book. I found it on Amazon for cheap, so I'm gonna add it to my collection of Zone System books (four of 'em so far, that I can remember). I'm completely fascinated by the Zone System. And I think I might actually have Kodak's Darkroom book somewhere... with me there's no tellin'.

Thanks for your help guys! Once I'm able to test some things out I'll post back here how things go.

Sam
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