Best developer for FP4

Discussion in 'Black and White' started by karl_almquist|2, Jul 1, 2004.

  1. I am resurrecting my involvement in Black and White. I am starting
    with FP4 in 120 format processed with Infolsol S. I would apprciate
    comments and recomendations for alternative developers.
  2. A great film. I've been using it for about 15 years now in both 120 and 35mm. Those rich creamy whites and deep blacks are hard to beat.

    One of the best aspects of the film is that it responds well to many developers. I started with HC-110 dilution B ( still one of my favorite combinations ),wonderful in Rodinal 1:50 or 1:75 but I really like it in PMK especially on sunny days. Virtually grainless negatives and highlights that won't wash out.

    I will say that in my opinion you should pick one developer and play with it. Determine which film speed and development combinations are right for you. They say getting there is half the fun, enjoy!
  3. I second Richard's suggestion of HC-110. Paterson FX39 also works well with FP4.
  4. In contrasty light, WD2D+ and Thornton's Exactol Lux gave me the best results with FP4+ (rated at 80). When I'm not fighting blown highlights, I've had consistently good results with FG7 and good, old D76 1:1 (both at 100). I'm not accustomed to Ilfosol so I'm afraid I can't give a good comparison to what you're currently seeing in your negatives. It's really quite a forgiving film and should yield decent, printable negatives with most any reasonably suited developer. The results from the combos I've mentioned just seem very easy to print with minimal manipulation or headaches.
  5. FP4+ isn't very fussy. Wildly different developers will give nearly identical results *if the development times are adjusted to give the exact same contrast*. There isn't any magic formula, and even the grain differences will be fairly minor. Not zero, but not in the make-or-break image catagory. Only when you can point to something you don't like, will you be able to pick something that might improve it. More important with FP4+ is sufficient exposure. Most people do better rating it at about 64-80. Underexposed, it's uninspiring.
  6. Ilfosol-S is actually a pretty good developer for slow films like FP4+. It adds a little "bite" without grain when used conservatively. It's not a good choice for push processing and for use with most faster films like Tri-X and HP5+, tho'. Not enough speed enhancement for really good shadow detail with those films at their nominal speeds of ISO 400. And prolonged development can increase base fog.

    I'd suggest rating the film at EI 64-80, as others have suggested. I had trouble getting satisfactory midtones with FP4+ at 125. My best results were at EI 64 in ID-11 @ 1:1 for 9 minutes @ 68F. Great tonal range, contrast and fine grain. It doesn't have quite as much apparent sharpness as with Ilfosol-S but it's a matter of personal preference.

    Be sure to either use up the Ilfosol-S within six months or keep airspace in the bottle to a minimum. This developer tends to go dead after about six months when stored with too much airspace. But Ilford says the concentrate will last up to 24 months when properly stored with minimal airspace. The best method may be to transfer the concentrate to several small bottles, each containing just enough for a single session. That's how my batch of Tetenal Neofin Blue was delivered - in several small vials, each suitable for one or two tanks full (depending on dilution, number of rolls and format).

    Other good choices if you develop film only occasionally are Rodinal and HC-110. Both concentrates last seemingly forever without losing potency. And HC-110 is a very cooperative developer, suitable for a wide range of films and speeds. It's good for push processing too (tho' nowadays I use Microphen for pushing).

    For this very reason I'm considering narrowing my choice of developers to HC-110, Diafine and Microphen only. After two years of working with various developers, some familiar, some new to me - ID-11, Ilfosol-S, Rodinal, Neofin Blue, HC-110, Microphen, Diafine - I want to stick mostly with developers that aren't picky about sitting on the shelf and have plenty of flexibility. HC-110 can produce results indistinguishable from D-76/ID-11; Diafine is very economical and incredibly easy to use; Microphen is an excellent push processing developer and also tames TMX's quirks.
  7. My standard for FP4+ is to rate it at 80 and develop in Xtol 1:2.
  8. As mentioned earlier, FP4+ is not too fussy. While I'm not familiar with Ilfosol, I have used XTOL 1+3, D-76 (or the Ilford analog ID-11) 1+1 and Rodinal 1+50 with this film and it always turns out well. IMO Rodinal 1+50 works really well in 120 format, and a bit less so in 35mm only if you are planning 10x enlargements or better since you might have an issue with grain. The advise about generous exposure is correct. You won't do badly by exposing this film at around EI 64-80
  9. Outdoor, high contrast, Wimberly WD2D+ pyro. I Rate the FP4+ at 40ASA with this developer.
  10. FP4 is one of my favorites in this speed range. I like it best at EI 80 and D76 1+1 for 9 1/2 min.
  11. To suggest an intelligent alternative to your current film/developer combination, I'd have to know how your curent combo falls short for you. If it aint broke.......
  12. If it ain't broke ... keep messing with it. The first roll of FP4 I shoot over 20 years ago I
    rated at 200 and processed in Microphen diluted 1:3. This is still my favorite for FP4 but I
    have also used HC110 dilution B (ei 125 and 200)(very nice)), PMK (ei 64-80)
    (gorgeous creamy tones and fine grain) and Photographers formulary TFX-2 (ei
    160)(negatives look a little thin but may be okay). I also have Rodinal (I've been using this
    on APX 100) and WD2D+ in the cabinet to try someday. I haven't really gotten a
    technically bad negative from FP4 in over 20 years, any problems are usually the fault of
    the idiot behind the camera.
  13. Weasel urine always worked well for me! Actually, I can't think of a bad dev. for this film, especially in 120. You can soup this in a ppd dev. for fine grain or an acutance dev. like Rodinal or Acutol for a good, sharp neg. It depends on the look you're after.

    Try them all and see what you like. So many devs., so little time!
  14. We probably should mention FP4 in Perceptol (Metol) with an EI=100. It produces a nice, fine grain look. Incidentally, FP4 has some interesting characteristics when used with filters. Yellow filtration (K2, #8) will give nice skin tones. The Hoya K2 filter seems to give the best results.
  15. PMK produces a beautiful, rich stain with this film. I just developed some bulk FP4+ on Saturday (eight rolls). Aside from the difficulty providing the violent agitation required of PMK in an 8-roll tank, the film turned out gorgeously. I can't wait to print it. I used 11:00 at 21 degrees with violent agitation 2 seconds every 15, water stop, alkaline fix, no post-fix bath, 15 minute wash. Some film was shot at EI 100 and the rest at the rated ISO 125. There is no visible difference.
  16. I live in Florida where it's hard to keep ambient temp under control, and I'm scanning now as I don't have a darkroom.

    Diafine rocks for my purposes -- don't worry about temp, and develop any rolls side-by-side -- it's about as easy as it gets. I've been looking for a film to buy a few hundred feet of, and after last night's test of FP4 this is it. Here's a sample frame (35mm, of course):
  17. And here's a close-up. What's the max width on images, anyway?
  18. Derek, the maximum for images that are intended to be displayed within the context of the thread is 511 pixels wide. However it's necessary to enter some kind of character or merely hit the spacebar in the comments section; and the caption line must be used. Otherwise images 511 pixels and smaller will appear as links.

    Images larger than 511 pixels wide will default to links rather than appearing in context of the thread. Either way works well enough. Fewer images in the thread context keeps things from bogging down for those of us on dialup ISPs. We can pick and choose which linked images to view rather than be forced to wait for all of 'em to load.
  19. I've had very good results with Perceptol 1+1 15 min (standard Ilford recommendation). This allows some versatility as HP5 and PanF are all souped in this ration for 15 min. This allows mixed rolls in the same tank. I've tried Hp5 and Fp4 together with no problems.
  20. Fp4+ in Ilfosol S at 1+9 has always been my favorite combination. The only reason I've stopped using it is the aforementioned short life of the concentrate, and tha I seem to have been the only one in my city who used it. So when I had a break from photography, the remaining stock in the shop - expired.

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