# D-76 dilution 1+1 vs 1+3

Discussion in 'Black and White' started by albert_smith_brown, Nov 3, 2009.

1. ### albert_smith_brown

I would like to know what is the difference betweeb D-76 dilution 1+1 vs 1+3.
Which is sharper, better tones, contrast ect?
I understand that 1+1 developes sharper than stock dilution, was wondering if D-76 gets more diluted, will I get sharper negatives from 1+3?
Thank you!

2. ### h._p.

I use ID11, which is pretty much the same thing, and ran a couple of tests earlier this year for my own amusement. I didn't noticed that big a difference in quality between the two dilutions so I've decided to stick with 1:1, as processing time is more important to me than cost, and give 8 minutes at 20C for FP4.

3. ### jpo3136b

It's a stop's worth of difference in strength.
When you expose the film to developer, you are exposing it to chemical energy; just as you exposed it to light energy when you tripped the shutter. If the times (and everything else but dilution) are equal, then think of it like this: working solution, 1+1, and 1+3 will have: 100%, 50% and 25% power.
See how the members of the set of 100%, 50% and 25% each have half the value of the number before it? Just like half of f/4's light will be f/5.6; half of f/5.6's light will be f/8; and half of f/8's light energy let in through the lens will be f/11.
When diluting the solutions, you are cutting the immediate intensity that the developer has as it contacts the film. This is partly why, as you dilute more, you may see an increase in times to make up for the dilution. There's more to this, but that's roughly how this goes.
It's possible to make a solution so dilute that you just don't have enough to get anything done. I find, for example, that when the stock developer volumes drop below 25mL to 500mL, then (unless it's been designed as a concentrated commercially available developer) you will probably see a radical increase in failure regardless of time elapsed. A lot of that depends on what's in that 25mL of developer, and I wouldn't want to bicker over it; but, point is, that no matter what kind of developer you use, there's a point in there where the solution can be so dilute as to be too weak to get anything done.
Sometimes developer dilutions are favorable to working solutions because the developer is so strong that you can overdo it at times above five minutes. [I find times below five minutes usually increase the likelihood of failure; film needs some time to let things sink in and work.] So, the dilute versions can be easier to control.
In my area, it's often warmer than the 20C that's so commonly listed; I'll use 24C water. That temperature increase makes things more active; in some cases, it could cut down processing time below five minutes; so, in such conditions, a 1+1 developer dilution can actually work out much better; that is, imagine the developer time, at working solution, came out to be 4 minutes; but the 1+1 time was above five minutes; and the 1+3 time was somewhere between 7 to 10 minutes. Because film needs a certain minimum time to soak, the 1+3 choice is looking more handsome.
Also, consider now a :30 error for pours; 30 seconds against a total immersion time of 4 minutes is a fatter proportion than 30 seconds against 10 minutes; so, there, too, dilution can help reduce the influence of development errors related to tracking time.
As for "is it sharper" and so on, that's debatable; it's dependent upon a bunch of stuff on that film; which kind of film; which kind of developer; and so on. I think we can imagine situations where somebody could fail or succeed by picking the "wrong" combo; also, too, notice what's better has a subjective component to it. So, sometimes you have to get in there, experiment a little, and figure out what you like to pick.
All in all, I find that the developer dilution ratios are like f/stop on a lens. Picking the right one for what you want is just a part of using your judgement for how you want to expose the film to chemical energy.

4. ### bruce_watson|1

Will you get sharper negatives? Maybe. Will you be able to see the difference? Probably not. Almost certainly not if you are making enlargements less than say 12x. Sharpness is controlled by many things, developer dilution is way down on that list.
The primary reason to dilute developers is to control development times.

5. ### marike1

I've been wondering this question myself, as I am currently working with D76 and a variety of films. Don't know what films you're using, but both the Ilford Delta 100 and Pan F+ datasheets claim that for maximum sharpness, 1+3 dilution with ID-11 (D-76) should be used.
I've been getting good results with D76 1:1 so the extended development time for 1:3 has kind of kept me from trying D76 1:3. I am curious, so I will most certainly make a test at 1:3.

6. ### kelly_flanigan|1

Beware folks that the best dilution for sharpness is often a differnent one for max resolution!

7. ### don_wallace|4

John, something bothers me about what you said. I use HC-110 regularly at different dilutions in order to keep the development time above 5 minutes in my Jobo. What is important is the amount of developer per unit area of film. I use the same amount of developer per sheet of film, regardless of the dilution. Unless the dilution is extreme (for specific purposes), I get the same results, whether it is 1:31, 1:47, etc.
If the amount of developer per unit area of film was below a minimum, or if the dilution was extreme, I could see the results being different.
Am I missing something in what you said?

8. ### lex_jenkins

The solvent action of developers like D-76 and ID-11 at 1+3 is very well documented and clearly explained around the web and in many books.
In actual practice, I see a difference only with faster films that are grainy or underexposed. The grain appears somewhat more obvious with 1+3 dilution. Apparent "sharpness" (a rather vague term - which Kelly alluded to) seems satisfactory at 1+1 so that's what I use.
Dilution appears to have little or no effect on the solvent action of HC-110 and so far I've seen no conclusive evidence or explanations showing that more dilute solutions of HC-110 will increase apparent "sharpness". There are occasional claims of compensating effect with very dilute solutions, especially with intermittent water baths, but that's a different topic.

9. ### albert_smith_brown

Thanks for the response guys.
I will be developing Fuji Acros (5x4 sheet film). I used D-76 stock and 1:1 before and I like the results from 1:1 to stock, the negs are sharper.
John, I was enlightened by your 'chemical energy'. Thank you!
I am thinking of developing in D-76 70ml:210 water. Does this solution have enough energy to develope 15 sheets of 5x4?

10. ### leicaglow

Albert, if you're using about 2000ml of it, it should. Also, you may find that a more dilute solution with a longer developing time will give you a bit more tonal range, though there are better developers with which to achieve the effect with. D-76 is pretty high energy.

11. ### albert_smith_brown

Michael, Thank you.
Yes, I will be developing in a total of 2800ml and I guess that it can manage to get me 15 sheets of 5x4. The time to develope in 1:3 is 20C 17 minutes, which is too long. I am considering to develope in 24C 11:45min or 27C 9min. Was wondering if I soup in 27C will it get grainy? Should I stick to 11:45min? Or soup it at 25C 10:50min ?

12. ### leicaglow

Albert, Acros is amazingly resilient to temp and duration, compared to most other films. I personally don't like to rush the film, and would keep it as close to 20C if you can. So the answer would be the shortest time you can tolerate.

13. ### jpo3136b

Don, I have never used HC-110; I'm sure there are exceptions to what I wrote; I was trying to show the analogy between stops of light and proportional dilutions of developers, as a guideline.
Once I began thinking of exposing the film to chemical energy as being similar to exposing it to light energy, then I could see the reason why behind things like time and temperature during development. I feel it's analogous to the reciprocity laws in camera exposures.
With this line of thinking, I regard the final photo as being the result of about five exposures: camera, negative, enlarger, print, and final viewing (the basic reflection or projection of the print on the wall, for example).
Stacked in line like that, I find it's easy to explain and organize the thoughts; this helps me with visualization. Once I started thinking about it this way, it was a lot easier for me to imagine the final print before I made the picture.

14. ### jpo3136b

When I was a beginner, I thought of film photography (the only photography there was back then) as two exposures: one of the negative, the other of the print. But now, I think of it as five. When I think of it as a set of five exposures, by incorporating the concept of exposure to chemical energy, then the decisions about filtration and other selections or editing make more sense.
Like, the camera filtrations and edits will be based on what you see; the negative edits (like developer choices) will be based on what you want to do to the whole frame or roll; the printing edits will be based on how light or dark and what contrast range you want; the bath edits for the paper will be based on what overall refinements you will want to that paper (you can burn it or make it softer or adjust contrast with developer); and the final viewing will contribute to how light or dark you make things back in step 3 (the printing), with the idea being that a framed print under glass would look a shade darker (loss of some light by the glass, local illumination, and so on).
So, using that method, I felt that the dilutions were similar to f/stop choices during in-camera exposure. Not anything revolutionary there; but, once I thought of it that way, the ideas were easier to group, remember and understand. Using that method of thinking, I have better understood some of the editing choices like developer intensity. It contributes to visualization; because the whole process becomes easier to imagine as I'm facing the scene to be photographed. Before I hit on this, visualization was much more sketchy; very rough composition choices. Afterwards, I had more success of turning the print the way I wanted.
Sorry for straying. J.

15. ### doc_w

John,
I do see your reasoning and I am not refuting it but, especially after Lex's post, I am more curious than ever about this. Also, I am in the process of switching from HC-110 to D-76. Given what Lex said about solvent action, I think I should know a little more before I go ahead.
Lex, as we agree, HC-110 dilutions have little effect on outcome, but you say that this is not the case with D-76. I initially used HC-110 because I was able to develop film only sporadically and HC-110 will keep forever. The only problem I found was developing in a Jobo with HC-110. I was getting times shorter than 5 minutes - not recommended in a rotary processor - and thus had to go to higher dilutions. This also meant developing less film because the tank can only handle so much liquid before it stresses the motor.
If higher dilutions of D-76 do not produce the same results, then I may have to stick with HC-110 or find another solution. Argh. Here we go round the mulberry bush again. Can you either explain the effects of higher dilutions or direct me to some good reading on this? For the record, I use mainly FP4 in 4x5, 5x7 and 8x10. I only use the Jobo CPE-2 for 4x5. I develop the larger formats in a hand-rolled Expert Drum and volume is less of a problem there.

16. ### doc_w

Albert, as I said, I have not yet jumped into D-76 but because I am thinking of it, issues like capacity are on my mind. The Kodak spec sheet on D76 says that 1 litre of D-76 undiluted will develop four sheets of 8x10. That is 1 litre for 320 sq. in. Fifteen sheets of 4x5 is 300 sq. in., so it seems to me that 2800 ml is more than enough!
http://www.kodak.com/global/en/professional/support/techPubs/j78/j78.pdf

17. ### jpo3136b

Don, when I look at the charts for liquid concentrates like HC-110, and I think there is another one by Ilford; there will be those dilution ratios which I find "funky,"; something like 1:278 or whatever. I have no good ideas on how to handle those.
But with many of the older style powder developers, you can go 100%, 50% or 25%, of the manufacturer's original working solution recommendations and not hit up against that limit for not having enough developer to do the negative. That 25mL bit I mentioned, that would be like, less than 10% of the solution Kodak would recommend for a roll of film.
As far as the references go, really the only way I could point you would be to The Negative and some development time charts. They're probably the same references you've been looking at all along.
If you accept the concept of reciprocity in film development, then you can see how time and intensity of developer are interchangeable. The thing with it is that it won't be absolutely 100% perfect; there will be a minimum limit and a maximum limit to what the film can actually endure, because it's a tangible object. But, within that range of what it can react to, you should be able to adjust and balance all of the same aspects you have been probably balancing all along: time, temperature, and dilution.
Time is similar to shutter speed. Temperature of the solution is similar to film speed (sensitivity). Dilution (and other aspects of developer composition) are similar to f/stop. [The other aspects, like is it a high-contrast or soft developer, share some of the characteristics of filtering the light through the lens; like applying a hard or mild filter of any color.]
If you can accept those ideas, then some of the lab stuff in The Negative (by Adams, you know this book, I bet) makes more sense. A large portion of that book was an accounting of how he would tinker with developer against an emulsion to perform these kinds of edits. Near as I can tell, these types of ideas about reciprocity in chemical solutions as analogous to reciprocity in light energy are accepted as a matter of course among a lot of photographers; but, now that you mention it, I have not seen anyone come right on out and tell it simplified and straight.
My gut feeling about Adams' books were that some of the really simple assumptions, like five exposures and exposure to chemical energy's balancing, were just never stated; that is, some people get confused when they read his book because some of those simple parts end up missing.
Like, N times, N+1 times, N-1 times for developer on a film; analogous to changing up a shutter speed with a static aperture. Developer composition? Analogous to lens filtration. Developer intensity (dilutions)? Analogous to f/stops. Temperature, like film speed.
One of the other assumptions was that in a hack photograph, like our most beginner of expectations, is that we're going to make a black and white of what we see, so that it looks like what we see. Start using five layers of editing decisions, in the five exposures, and control over exclusion becomes much stronger.
Part of the trouble with that is, when we began, it could be hard to just get an image to begin with. In one way or another, there were so many filters or edits in there that what we got was black or blank. Once we can get things lined up to where we can get some kind of, any kind of, image on there; then, we can build up enough experience to "get it" with the editing controls in the process. The editing decisions, not involving light, were there all along, but often not stated, because the Day One beginner will have trouble just "getting it" with the first layer of reciprocity decisions, the in-camera exposure.
Thing was, for me, that no one really told me outright that all of this was there. I kind of had to realize it, read and re-read the books and charts until I kind of got it. Once I got it, I can cut the silver with basic black, white and three grays pretty much as I want.
Hey, higher dilutions of D-76 will not produce the same results as D-76 at working solution. They will produce results analogous to reductions in aperture during in-camera exposure. I am sorry, but I do not know about what to recommend about that Jobo. I don't have advanced equipment.

18. ### jpo3136b

If we told somebody on their first day with the camera that they were going to record reflected light using five layers of counterbalancing and balancing decisions about photosensitive particles and energy, their brain would explode.
The five layers of exposure are the missing piece between basic reciprocity of in-camera exposure (that age-old class on film speed, shutter speed and aperture) and all of this tech bulletin stuff we've been reading all along.
The way to get something "more sharper" than D-76 is to look at the recipe for D-76, and then find a "fine grain" developer; something that will have a higher proportion of Metol. The thing about the Metol is that it will favor colder water. My guess would be to test strip D-23, which has only Metol and sodium sulfite, and then tinker from there. The recipe for D-23 is in The Negative and available online all over the place.

19. ### jpo3136b

I suggest you use something with lots of Metol because that goes back to the "developer component" characteristics on editing a negative, as above. We know that Metol will make the silver into subtle shades of gray; this supports its sharpness; hydroquinone will pack more power, but will be more of a pass or fail reaction; hydroQ does better with black or clear and some grays; it'll work fast, and favor warmer water. Not 100% true, but a trend.
So, if the HC-110 isn't cutting it; and the D-76 looks promising but is not sharp enough, than what you need is something built like D-76, but has more metol or less hydroquinone. That would be my guess.

20. ### james_gallagher|2

D-76 contains sodium sulfite, a solvent which gave the appearance of fine grain, but at the expense of sharpness. Tri-x developed in straight D-76 has a "smooth" appearance, at the expense of sharpness. Photographers began using D-76 diluted 1:1 to dilute this solvent effect, hense the increased sharpness at the expense of slightly more "graininess". I think slightly better shadow detail is gained with the 1:1 dilution. In my experience, nothing is gained with a 1:3 dilution.

21. ### leicaglow

With this line of thinking, I regard the final photo as being the result of about five exposures: camera, negative, enlarger, print, and final viewing (the basic reflection or projection of the print on the wall, for example).​
John, that's very profound. I like it.
Albert, this post is getting very long, and I don't know that I've said this before, but the problem with D-76 and HC-110, for me, is they are so active that they don't exhaust very easily, and if they do, they crash and the curve is not very gradual. Which, if we're throwing new developers into the mix, is why I really like Rodinal for Acros because I have so much control over the tonal range with dilution and time. FWIW.

23. ### riton_mhilli

Hi
I'm using hc110 1+100 adding 30 gr of commomn salt.Works well.Grain very satisfactory

24. ### pics

In my experience D-76 at 1+3 in conjunction with reduced agitation techniques is useful at controlling high contrast scenes and enhancing acutance or "Visible sharpness" of the final print. Grain is more prominent but with large format it shouldnt be an issue. Overall resolution is reduced, as mentioned by some of the posters above, but IMO resolution is the most over-rated aspect of an appealing photograph and LF will give plenty of resolution no matter what film/developing technique you use. The book "Edge of Darkness" by Barry Thornton does an excellent job of explaining the real world effects of developing technique on the final print.
35mm FP4+ in D-76 (1+3) Print scan
http://www.photo.net/photo/4322572

25. ### david j.lee

the advantage for my while using id-11 at 1+3 is that i can process fp4+ and hp5+ at the same time in my jobo cpe-2....

26. ### kelly_flanigan|1

I will go out on a limb and say that for many folks; straight , 1:1 and 1:3 D-76 look about the same. (as far as the negatives go).

Thus sometimes folks use a more diluted brew to:

(1)save money;

(2) or where the processing times are too short because of a warm darkroom.!

With the Nikkor 4x5 stainless tank here; it has a long fill time. Thus many times I uses a more diluted brew so the fill and dump time is not a huge portion of the total development time.
***ie dilution varies development time alot and is more suble as to grain and sharpeness!

27. ### jay_de_fehr

A developer's response to dilution depends on several factors, including, but not limited to: developing agent/agents, their ratio to one another, alkali type, buffering, and concentration, restrainer type and concentration, developing capacity, film being developed, and even the type of scenes photographed. There might be a developer for which John's theories hold true, but I caution against applying them too broadly or confidently to any developer.
Developer capacity is the first value you should know in order to calculate viable dilutions of any developer. These minimum volumes of stock solution are published by manufacturers, and going off the top my head (perilous at best), it seems D-76 is around 200ml, hc110 is 30ml, and Rodinal is 25ml. I could be wrong about any or all of those, but I think I'm close. The minimum volume of 510-Pyro concentrate required to develop 1 36 exp roll/ 8x10 sht is 1ml (that one I know).
I don't think many people would see much difference in prints made from negatives developed in D-76 1+1, 1+2, or 1+3, unless something goes pear-shaped due to developer exhaustion, or some miscalculation, and the only reason to use a dilute developer for rotary processing that makes sense to me, is to extend development time. Developers like D-76 and Xtol that are used full strength for short-normal development times can be inconvenient for rotary processing if one depends on dilution to extend development time. A 35mm JOBO drum requires 140ml of solution, which is below the minimum volume of stock D-76 required for development capacity. The minimum stock (200ml) diluted 1+1 makes 400ml of developing solution, which is more than the tank will hold (300ml). A more concentrated developer is more convenient for rotary processing with small solution volumes.