Best developer for HP5+

Discussion in 'Film and Processing' started by sajid_saiyed, May 18, 2022.

  1. Hi,
    I am planning to start developing some Ilord HP5+ films soon and deciding on which developer to buy.

    I am deciding between Cinestill DF96 (for convenience) vs Ifosol-3 vs D-76
    But I am open to any suggestions that will give me nice contrasty images.
  2. You will get a number of different opinions but Kodak HC110 at Dilution E gives me pleasing results. Base time is 6.5 minutes agitation 20 up front and 3 every 30 seconds there after. BTW Dilution E is 1/47 and to be honest I find it easier to round up to 1/50. Another plus for HC110 is it is very economical to use. PS I should explain that if 6.5 minutes sounds short I expose the film @ ISO 200-250. Box speed might need a bit more time.
    Last edited: May 18, 2022
  3. AJG


    I would avoid monobaths if you care about quality at all. HC 110 has been my main film developer for decades and has worked well for HP 5 and Tri-X. It keeps very well as a concentrate, and separate developer and fixer are well worth the extra effort for the increase in consistency and quality of results. You should still use a hypo clearing agent (PermaWash, for example) and a wetting agent to insure proper washing and drying of your film regardless of whether you use a monobath or separate developer/fixer.
  4. HC-110 sounds like what I need :D
    I have been reading about its shelf life. Is it true that even after opening it and start using, this thing has years of shelf life? It would be awesome if thats true.
  5. Oh I forgot to ask, What fixer do you use? Would Kodak Professional Kodafix Fixer work with HC-110?
  6. HC-110 is a favorite developer for those with older film.
    It is believed to give less fog than others, with film that might
    be 10, 20, or 30 years past date.

    My old favorite developer, since my grandfather told me about it
    over 50 years ago, is Diafine. It has an extremely long life, pretty
    much until you run out. A little gets used up for each roll, often a
    little more that is spilled each time.

    But I also like HC-110.

    More recently, I also use TMax developer, especially with TMax film.
    The highest push times for TMax-3200 and Delta 3200 are with
    TMax developer.

    The rated capacity for HC-110 dilution B is one roll of 135-36
    in 240ml, conveniently about the required amount.
    For dilution E, it should be about 360ml, but with a slight
    time increase, or not, it should be fine with 240ml.

    For TMax diluted normally, it is a few rolls for 240ml, which I
    have been known to do if I have them at about the same time.

    I find Diafine, HC-110, and TMax all fine for Ilford films,
    including HP-5+, somewhat depending on my
    mood at the time.
  7. AJG


    Yes. Any commercial fixer should be fine with HC 110. As for shelf life of the concentrate, the bottle I am using now has been open for at least two years since I don't shoot that much B&W film at this point. Results are still excellent.
  8. If the film is old, expect some fog. If new, just have at it and enjoy!
  9. I used to use Ilford rapid fixer, but a few times it decided to silver plate the inside of the bottle.
    As well as I know it, it does that when the pH gets too high, and one is supposed to
    be able to adjust it before that happens.

    I now have Kodak rapid fixer, in which I don't put in Part B, the hardener.
    The Ilford rapid fixer doesn't have hardener, and it seems it is not needed for
    modern films.
  10. Thanks everyone. This all is great information.
    Based on your feedback this is what my plan looks like, let me know what you think :)

    Film: Ilford HP5+
    Developer: HC-110 (dilution E 1:47)
    Fixer: Ilford Rapid Fixer (dilution 1:4)
    Wetting agent: Kodak Photoflow

    (Not planning to use stop bath and use water rinsing for stop, is that advisable or a bad idea)
  11. If you give enough water rinse to get most of the developer out, I suppose it is fine.
    Diafine does not recommend an acid stop bath, and it might be that I don't rinse long enough.
    I suspect that the problems I have had with rapid fixer are due to the pH going too high,
    from developer carried over. Especially as Diafine part B is very alkaline.
    HC-110 is, I suspect, less alkaline.

    If you aren't worried about your fixer, then it is probably fine.
    The developer will be active for slightly longer, but that is probably fine.
  12. Back to your original question of 'best' developer for HP5plus; that's purely a matter of personal preference.
    Convenience versus quality
    Grain versus definition
    Film speed versus grain
    Those are the major trade-offs and I suspect most people go for a compromise. HC-110 is as good as anything in that respect, whereas a developer like Diafine (for example) will control grain better, but lose you some film speed. Other developers will maximise film speed at the expense of more grain and base fog.

    Horses for courses. What's your preference, or definition of 'best'? Because there really is no absolute winner.

    "Nice contrasty images"? In that case just extend the development time by 10% over what's recommended, with any developer. Development time controls contrast much more easily than the developer formulation.
    Last edited: May 20, 2022
  13. I strongly recommend a proper stop bath. It became a "thing" some time back not to use it, but if you use an acid fix it's kind of dumb not to. OTOH, I switched to alkaline fixer from Photographer's Formulary back when I was doing film, and that shouldn't (I think) be used with an acid stop bath.
  14. HC-110 is just super convenient - I love it for HP5+ (and any B&W film actually).
    It last long (also the new formular) and works well, simple one-shot and inexpensive.
    If you want to emphasise contrast and don't mind grain, a Rodinal variant may be worth trying and has many of the same cost/benefit/shelf life properties of HC-110.
    Any fixer will work with either.
    I never use stop bath. 3 replacements of water in the tank and move on to fixer.
    It may reduce the reusability of the fixer by 15-20% but IMO is worth it over including an extra chemical in the equation.
  15. I learned about Diafine from my grandfather about 50 years ago, when I was about 10.

    I didn't understand film speed so well, or why Diafine magically (it seemed) increased the speed.

    In any case, the official Diafine recommendation for HP5+ is EI 800.
    Many films now have the recommended EI only slightly higher than the ISO value.
    For PanF+ it is 80, compared to the ISO 50.

    In any case, Diafine gives results similar to stand development, but much faster.
    Also, not having to keep close track of time and temperature makes it much more fun to use.
  16. I agree, contrast is subjective. So I am going to try one of the roll with 10% added time and see how that goes. Thanks for that tip :)

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