Film development questions

Discussion in 'Classic Manual Cameras' started by rajmohanfotograf, Apr 26, 2017.

  1. Raj, lots of good advice above. You may want to check the Ilford primer too; of course it mentions a lot of Ilford chemicals, but the procedure description is excellent for a novice IMHO. Good luck!
  2. I've dealt with Freestyle for a while and they are always great.

    As you said, everyone has their favorite developers. I like D76. It does require mixing, and should be mixed at above room temperature. I usually dump a pouch into a 1 gallon Datatainer bottle(you'll probably end up with a bunch of them also-they're not often mentioned but you'll find them in almost every darkroom) then half fill it with hot water and shake vigorously to dissolve as much as possible. I keep adding hot water and shaking until the container is full. I generally do this a day or so before I want to use it. Chemicals sitting in plastic jugs on my bathroom floor come out of the bottle at almost exactly 20ยบC, which it just so happens is a "standard" temperature for a lot of developing times.

    D76 is a fairly forgiving developer. You typically either use it straight or dilute it 1:1-the latter tends to increase grain but decrease contrast. I use it both ways, but the difference isn't dramatic either way(aside from the developing times). D76 is a solvating developer, which means that it tends to give relatively fine grain at the expense of sharpness. Overall, I find it just to be a good all around choice-as I said it's forgiving and will give good results with a wide variety of films.

    Kodak lists the shelf life of a full bottle of "stock" solution at 6 months, and 2 months for a half-full bottle. Realistically, mine are usually somewhere between those values. Keep some glass marbles handy and squeeze the air out of the container, and you can push storage times closer to the 6 month mark. Realistically, though, at the rate I develop(usually a couple of rolls a week, although sometimes I'll go a couple of weeks without doing any) I find that I finish a bottle before it goes bad.

    Kodak doesn't list a lifetime for diluted solutions, but does advise that they be prepared immediately before use-I take that to mean a couple of hours at best.

    The powder does have an expiration date printed on the packet, but it is hermetically sealed. I have used it a year or two past the expiration date and have not seen any difference from in-date powder. One of the things I like is that I can buy a couple of packets at a time and they take up very little room on the shelf.
    bertliang and raghu_kuvempunagar like this.
  3. How is it going Rajmohan? Hope you are able to get started and evolve a process that works for you.
  4. For what it's worth, I only took the leap 2 years ago, so I can't claim any expertise (and won't). To get started, I got a starter kit with one of the online stores (I'm in the EU, think stores such as Maco Direct, they all offer a package like it). The overall price for such a starter kit is quite compelling compared to getting everything seperately, so it's worth considering those.

    The one I got included development tank (Patterson), graduated cilinders, timer, thermometer, a bottle of Rodinal, fixer and wash, for a price close to what the Patterson tank would have costed alone. While Rodinal sure won't suit all and not all films, it is really easy developer to handle. I added a changing bag and ilfostop to this kit. To get started, I had some old, expired, very cheap rolls of film to get the hang of loading up the film on the reel. Having done it a number of times in daylight to get the tactile feel sure did help a lot, and it's one of those things that gets a lot easier with practise.

    The first time you see your own images come off the reel is magical. I loved it, and actually it's still a nice moment each time.

    FWIW, nowadays, I mostly use HC110, since it doesn't expire easily and works well with films I happen to like. My volumes often aren't high or consistent enough to deal with powder-based developers as I end up throwing away a fair bit.
    bertliang likes this.
  5. My apologies, everyone for not responding since my last post a few weeks ago - swamped with work and other commitments.

    Thank you to everyone (Rick, JDM, Bill, Mike. Glen, Julio, Ben, Raghu and Wouter), who added comments and information since my last post. All of this is very helpful information (which I have carefully stored) for when I do manage to extricate myself from my work responsibilities and am able to start developing.
    Thanks again for all your generous and helpful advice!


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