b/w chemistry for the occasional roll of film

Discussion in 'Black and White' started by paulwhiting, Nov 4, 2012.

  1. I've pretty much gone over to the Dark Side (digital!) but I still like to shoot and process an occasional roll of b/w film, scan it, and then go digital. When I was shooting film more intensively, shooting a roll or two of film a week, keeping chemicals fresh was not a problem.
    But now, I find my chemistry expires before it's used up... can anyone suggest a way around this?
    For developer, I've used plenty of D-76 in my day but now I think I'd be better off with HC-110. It has a much longer shelf life in the original concentration and I can mix up a dilution such as B as a one shot as the need calls.
    But what about fixer? I've been using Photo Formulary TF-4 but its shelf life of the working solution is only 6 months. And a liter of the stock solution makes 4 liters working solution, way more than I'll use at my current rate of b/w film shooting.
    Any suggestions? TIA!
  2. I'm in the same boat as you. I take a roll or three a month. After lots of reading here in the forum I decided to go with HC-110 as you mention and I always just mix it as a one shot developer. Easy, clean, simple to mix. I'm finding that it works great for me. The only downside to it as a developer is that it is pretty potent (even at dilution B) so that the developing times for some films can be very short and certain options of pushing or pulling may not be an option using HC-110. If you have a favorite film that you will be using then you may want to check that first.
    I mix my other chemicals just enough to fill the tank and so even though they may expire before they are completely used up I'm not wasting much. The advertised shelf life for these chemicals is not too bad and so if I mix small quantities it seems that I'll be able to get pretty good use for the $. Others with more experience can probably chime in more about shelf life.
    All the best.
  3. How about Diafine? Mix it once and use it forever. 3 minutes in solution A, 3 minutes in Solution B and you're done. Temperature (almost) does not matter. I live in AZ and the"cold" water during the summer months is too warm for most developers but using Diafine I can develop all year long. My batch of Diafine is now two years old and it still works as on day one.
  4. Quick responses right away! Thanks, folks.
    There do seem to be some good solutions (pun alert) for developer... but what about fixer?
  5. Cleeo,
    That is a beautifully developed and scanned image! I am going to start my own development in December and I wonder how long it would take me to get the results you have obtained!
  6. Starvy,
    It is indeed a fine print... I got so wrapped up in my issue that I neglected to compliment Cleeo.
    Cleeo, can you tell us more about it, what film, what format, what scanner, etc?
  7. I don't claim any long running experience with Fixer. I'm using Kodafix. I've mixed enough for my tank once and done a number of rolls over the last month and change with no appreciable lengthening of the fix times. I believe that the base solution will last quite a while if left unmixed and it is pretty easy to just mix what is needed.
    If it lasts only a year I'll get some good economy out of my chemistry. I bought the following from B&H
    Developer: HC-110 ($12.49)
    Stop: Illfostop ($6.50)
    Fix: Kodafix ($6.95)
    Wash: Sprint Fixer Remover ($8.87)
    Wetting: Photo Flo ($7.99)
    Total: $42.80
    If I only averaged 1 roll per week and at the end of the year had to throw all of the rest of the chemicals away it would only cost me $0.82 per roll. (Way cheaper than sending it out and much less fun) If I don't end up having to throw anything away and I get the advertised use out the chemicals the price goes down to about $0.29 per roll. Plunking down $43 / year on chemicals is well worth the risk of not getting maximum use. Beyond that I know there are many here that would not waste money on stop bath or fixer remover. (I'm just playing it safe at first)
    Again, because I don't have much time under my belt all of this is just stupid and I'm sure some kind soul will point that out to me. :)
  8. Thanks guys... The photo was taken using Illford Delta 400 rated at 320. I believe the process was as follows.
    HC-110 Dilution B for 7.5 minutes, agitate for 10 seconds (inversion) every minute
    Illfostop for ~30 seconds
    Kodafix for 11 minutes
    1 minute rinse with slowly running water
    3 minutes in the fixer remover
    10 minute rinse in slowly running water
    2 minutes in distilled water with Photo Flo
    I scanned it using an Optek 7600i with Silver Fast scanning software
    Photoshop CS5.1
    Desaturate - Silver Fast seems to scan B&W a bit green
    Levels adjustments
    Burned in the lower face and beard and the top of the bed roll
    That is about it...

    Thanks again
  9. Kodafix is sure easy to deal with, and you can mix as big or as small a working jug as you want.
  10. Another developer you might consider is Rodinal. Lasts for a very long time, works better with traditional films.
    If your times are too short with dilution B with HC110, you might want to try the unofficial dilution H, see Covington's Page. Dilution H is half the amount of developer with twice the developing time.
  11. Using HC110? read http://www.covingtoninnovations.com/hc110/
    I use dilution H regularly.
    Expiration dates: the date that the manufacturer will guarantee the product to preform to specifications to, after that date one may notice a drop in performance not an instant die off.
    Fixer: mix fresh then put a strip of your unprocessed film in the fixer and time from moment of insertion until the film clears completely. Fix for 2 to 3 times this time. When the clear test time is twice what it was when fresh discard it.
    When pouring fixer back into the storage bottle run it through a coffee filter or similar. Reused fixer will redeposit silver back onto the next batch of film resulting in white spots in the positive made from those negatives. The severity will depend on the number of reuses.
  12. Any liquid concentrate that can be mixed as needed would work. There are many others besides HC-110 and Rodinal. I've also used Ilfosol-S, which was fine with slow films - a good compromise between fine grain and good acutance with ISO 100 and slower films.
    An alternative would be Diafine, but it's not an all purpose developer suitable for all films. It's excellent with some films, not great with others. It can be recycled and reused for at least a year. It tends to be a low to moderate contrast developer and, contrary to what the name might apply, is not a fine grain developer. I like it for Tri-X, FP4+, HP5+ and Delta 3200. It produces odd looking negatives with T-Max 100 and 400 (for my taste - some like it).
    Rapid fixer can be premixed and used for up to a year. The manufacturers usually suggest six months but it'll go longer depending on use. Be careful to keep the silver sludge at the bottom. If you also make optical enlargements it's best to mix separate batches for film and paper to avoid paper fibers contaminating the negatives.
  13. Rodinal. I have used Rodinal for thirty years now and one of the reasons for this is that it keeps pretty much indefinitely. I had a part-used bottle sitting at the back of the cupboard in the dakroom for 4 years and it still worked perfectly. As for working strength fixer, I find that if I keep it in a cool(ish) room (i.e. on the north side of the house) it keeps for 12 months at least.
  14. I see dilution H suggested regularly for HC-110. Double the time of dilution B will not give equivalent results. Compensating effect may lead to "dull highlights". I suggest you stay with dilution B.
  15. As for fixer, Photographers' Formulary offers several "Archival Fixers" that require no stop bath. These are marketed for paper fixing, but work just fine with film (instructions on the label).
    The fixer has no hardener in it, but I've never had a problem.
  16. +1 for Rodinal for developer longevity. I posed the question about Rodinal longevity about two years ago.
    http://www.photo.net/black-and-white-photo-film-processing-forum/00YGF4 The consensus was a bottle of Rodinal will last longer the all of us.
    I also use Ilfotec DD-X as a one shot developer. I find the concentrate keeps quite well even after it is opened.
    For fix I use Ilford Rapid Fix. The concentrate keeps quite well. Even the working solution mixed 1 + 4 for film keeps well.
  17. Are B&W chemicals really expensive enough to worry about the cost?
    I know everybody's situation is different and I was a poor struggling student myself once upon a time and had to save my pennies for every roll of film and piece of photo gear.
    But I just checked B&H, and D-76 is $6 a gallon and Kodak Rapid Fixer is $12. Stop-bath, hypo clearing agent and photoflo are all optional. (Running water will do the job of stop bath, washing for 20 minutes instead of five takes care of hypo clearing agent and a rubber squeegee does the job of Photoflo). But even if you choose to use the extra chemicls they last forever, so developer and fixer and the two chemicals that have to be replaced frequently.
    At $18 for a gallon of developer and fixer, that's a little over $1 a roll even if you use them one-shot. Reuse them or dilute the developer 1:1 and you get even more rolls per gallon. They will easily last three months and can be kept for six months (I have floating lids in my storage tanks, which helps).
    Those prices don't include shipping, and can be little higher if you buy at your local camera store.
    But a set of chemicals is cheaper than sending a single roll out for developing and printing (two or three rolls if you're sending film to the drug store).
  18. (Running water will do the job of stop bath, washing for 20 minutes instead of five takes care of hypo clearing agent and a rubber squeegee does the job of Photoflo).​
    I fill and dump the tank 2 to 3 times, running water is a waste of water. Water does not kill developer like stop bath does. Water further dilutes the developer slowing down the development process. A stop bath of any type can be eliminated in film processing but the fixer will not last as long. A stop bath is required for paper as development times are short and you want the development to stop instantly.
    As for a 20 minute wash versus a 5 minute wash is a waste of water.
    http://www.ilfordphoto.com/Webfiles/200629163442455.pdf , page 11 alternative method known as the Ilford Archival wash is a far superior washing method to running water.
    Anything run over the film other than liquids is asking for or greatly increasing the risk of scratches which is fine if all you want is snapshots or like to spend hours retouching or editing.
    I see dilution H suggested regularly for HC-110. Double the time of dilution B will not give equivalent results. Compensating effect may lead to "dull highlights". I suggest you stay with dilution B.​
    Covington's instructions say to use at least 6ml concentrate per roll of 35mm 36 exposure film. If a small tank is used and the 1:63 dilution is used to calculate the amount of concentrate then an insufficient amount of developer is used resulting in under developed negatives. Same is true if you use a larger mixing container then pour only part into the tank. I find that a 10% to 15% increase in development time is necessary for my situation and equipment.
    Published times and dilutions are starting points for any film/developer/camera/leaf/focal plane shutter combination. One must test to find the optimal time/dilution for their equipment/taste.
  19. With stainless steel tanks I find that they fill and empty fast enough that I can be consistent even in HC110 developing times are as short as 5'. YMMV of course. I use this developer for Tri-X, Plus-X, Fuji Neopan 400, and Fuji Acros.
  20. Lots of good comments here, thanks everybody. It's been a great thread, it even made the home page "most active" list for a while!

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