Kodak DK-50: what's it good for?

Discussion in 'Film and Processing' started by thomas_adams|1, Sep 30, 2007.

  1. Howdy!

    I find myself in an interesting situation: I've come into possession of a CASE
    of Kodak DK-50 (24 cans of the stuff)!!!

    There's not a whole lot on the Internet in terms of information on DK-50; even
    the Kodak website is sketchy. I'm assuming it's an obsolescent, if not
    obsolete, developer, and the Kodak folks haven't bothered to post much
    information. The Kodak website isn't doing too much for Old School these days.

    First off... is there a maximum shelf life on it? This case of developer is
    apparently military surplus from the late 1960s. The cans say that the powder
    is a binary mixture; one part is in a top of the can compartment, and the other
    is in a bottom of the can compartment. To me that says there hasn't been a
    whole lot of chemical reaction going on inside of the cans all these years.

    Anybody gotta Church Key handy? That's what the cans specify for opening the
    stuff up! ;o)

    Next... from the little info I've been able to find on the Net, it sounds like
    it's just the thing for the 4" x 5" Tri-X that my Speed Graphic spits out.
    Anybody got experience with Plus-X? How about HSI (in 35mm format)? Ditto TX400?

    Next... I see nothing about using DK-50 with paper. Is it useful there? If
    so, anyone out there have experience with it?

    On this one I'm REALLY reaching... but is it useful for my latest form of
    insanity... Minox 8x11???

    Thanks in advance for any info!
  2. I think it is a more "active" developer for sheet film when some quality can be sacraficed.

    I have some cans of DK50 and D76 from maybe 1970 (inherited). I`m going to try it out if I can get this digital monkey off my back for a while.
  3. jtk


    All you need now to achieve the long-forgotten state of photo-nirvana is a case of bulk rolls of frozen 2475, a Watson bulk loader, and a bunch of old Ilford casettes.
  4. It's a good deep tank developer for sheet film. Indeed, active, like HC-110, for short developing times.

    Uses Kodalk alkali, which doesn't generate any gases when it meets the stop bath. (There's formula for a Kodalk version of D-76 known as DK-76.)

    Used to be one of Kodak's preferred developers.

    Yes, I remember mixing up DK-50 just to develop 2475. Not because it really requires it, it's just that Kodak only gave times for DK-50 and D-19. I've since found that 2475 comes out just fine in Ilford DD-X, and I'm sure many other developers, you just need to determine your own times.

    The can is cute, there's a plastic divider making a little tub at one end.

    DK-50 was recently discontinued by Kodak, but there is stock out there, and Photographers' Formulary is making it.
  5. ..........but what are the starting point development times for popular B&W films from Fuji, Ilford and Kodak etc?
  6. 1-3 8 minutes
  7. Deep tank times range from 6 to 10 minutes, at least in the 1940's. Of course, this was when many films were given 17 minutes in D-76!

    Looking at my 1974 Kodak Darkroom Dataguide (the developing computer), they give some times for rollfilms and 35mm films in DK-50 1:1. Well, only for TX and TXP. Looks like the times would be about 10% shorter than HC-110 Dilution B. (That's fast!) The sheet film times are comprable to HC-110 Dilution A. (That's very fast!)

    I think 1:1 will be necessary for sane developing times.
  8. jtk


    The reason it was good for 2475 was that, when only rated at 800, rather than some big number, it had an incredibly looooooong tonal scale. You simply couldn't lose things in shadows. Lovely stuff. D19 was good too, for the same reason.
  9. It's not really old DK-50. The really OLD stuff came in a can where you took off the top with a "key" that takes off the band like a canned ham. You take out a cardboard "can" of part A and then the bottom is part "B". Punch open the carboard "hockey puck", dissolve it first and then put in the part "B". Great for old 4x5 or larger Tri-X from the 60's or later. We used it diluted 1:1 at the newspaper. Fantastic negatives that always printed on F-2 Medalist paper!

    Robert Johnson
  10. Let me give you a tip, Thomas. The developer is very fast because of all the carbonate in it. To slow it down, add a teaspoon (or two) of baking soda. Works every time. Also good for slowing down Dektol for film development.
  11. DK-50 is or was for large format film (grain is less of an issue), the old press guys used it because it was fast, make deadlines and such. Go to APUG, and spend a few hours or days searching for meaniful tidbits about it. I recently tried some DK-50 1:1 on 2 sheets of 4x5 HP5 rated at 250 for a new lens test outside. Very nice, now I see why lots of people liked that combo. I've no time to print anything at the moment. NOTE: There is no sodium carbonate in the formula, the accelerator is Balanced Alkali, Kodak used to call it Kodalk, it's sodium metaborate. The risk of carbonic gas bubbles/blisters forming during an acid stop is practically eliminated. This is the main reason the formula caught my eye. Anybody serious about BW, should at least get a copy of S Anchell's Darkroom Cookbook for more research.
  12. Thomas if you want to get rid of some of it let me know.

  13. One of my favorite developers. Try it with Ilford Panf+ 1:3 9 minutes.

  14. This is great stuff guys, thanks, I just found a can and can't wait to use it!

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