Most Versatile Developer for Use With Ilford HP5 Plus Film

Discussion in 'Black and White' started by bruce_mattes, Jun 25, 2008.

  1. I want to stick with a single film for the first year of MF photography & have chosen Ilford HP5 Plus as the film
    I will be using..

    What single developer (if there is one) will work with HP5 Plus at the rated ISO of 400, as well as being
    suitable if I decide after gaining some experience to push the film to 800, 1600, or 3200?..

    Thanks, Bruce
  2. Very sensible. It took me years to finally settle down and try to do my best work with fewer materials.

    It's hard to beat ID-11. Proven for decades as a versatile, reliable standard developer. Not sexy but it works!

    Not a great choice for pushing tho'. In my experience 800 is the limit for really good results. If you want one developer for all purpose use with HP5+ that will deliver excellent results at 400 and also when pushing the heck outta the film, try Microphen. If I could have only one developer, that'd be it. Besides being excellent for pushing, it's a great standard developer for normally exposed TMX and Pan F+, wringing full speed out of those slower films.

    If you prefer a liquid concentrate, especially if you develop only occasionally, consider HC110. Results are very similar to ID-11, and pushes slightly better.
  3. ID-11 or D-76 HC-110 third. D-76 and ID-11 are almost the same. As for pushing it All 3 will work but as Lex said HC-110 would be the best.
  4. IMHO, when shooting HP5+ @ 400, the absolute BEST developer to use is HC-110, Dil B. These days, when I shoot B&W film, this is pretty much the only combo I use. But again, I typically shoot HP5+ @ 400.

    However, as Lex noted, there are better film options than HP5+ when shooting beyond 800. If you want that kind of versatility in a single film, I would suggest Tri-X. That would match up nicely with an equally versatile developer in XTOL and its various dilutions... although I know Lex isn't a big fan of XTOL.

  5. Eh, I had one bad experience with Xtol. Not opposed to the stuff, just never found a reason to try it again since I'm satisfied with other developers.
  6. I use Xtol, usually 1:1, occasionally at stock strength or 1:3. I mix it up with distilled water, pour it into one of those 5-liter bottles that Kodak used to (maybe still does) sell for their color chemistry, and go. It's usually gone in a few months, but if there's a wee bit left in the bottle and it's been six months or so since I mixed it, I just toss it---the stuff isn't that expensive. I usually get an EI of 500 with HP5+ when using Kodak's recommended times. I wouldn't push it much past 1600---use TMZ or Delta 3200 for higher speeds, if you want any shadow detail. And use Microphen or TMax developer for pushing, although M'phen is getting harder to find in the stores.
  7. just to repeate what's been said...

    but I'm a huge XTOL/HP5 user.

    XTOL, 1:1. from 200, all the way to 1600. It's the most stable developer i've found for hp5.
  8. As noted by many, HC-110 is a good versatile developer in a long lasting liquid form that has a useful exposure
    v. density curve that minimizes blocked up
    highlights, plus it can be manipulated in several ways including by using it at high dilution (F, G & H) and with
    semi-stand agitation during development to cut down contrast. Look up the recommendations for HP-5+ and
    HC-110 at but also see for some
    background info.

    HP5+ HC-110 H 3200 38 --- --- 20C Note- Semi-stand development: agitate constantly for first
    minute, then once every 5-10 minutes.

    The Massive Dev Chart
  9. I like Microphen with HP5+. It isn't the finest grain developer for this film but the grain you do get is nice and sharp. If you need to push the film it's very good for that. I agree that other films, like Tri-X, are better for pushing. I think I even prefer Kodak TMZ at 1600 to any 400 film pushed to that speed. Tri-X is very nice at 1250 in Diafine, UFG and Acufine.
  10. I've spent much of the past nine months processing film for a photographer who has just completed shooting a major documentary project, using FP4 and HP5 exclusively. (Check out his blog of this project at BoonvilleUSA.) After testing a number of options, we settled on HC-110 for basically all the film. The FP4 was shot almost exclusively at EI 80, but the HP5 was exposed anywhere from 160 up to 3200. With some variation in dilutions and techniques, I got good negatives with the HP5/HC-110 combination at all speeds from 160 to 1600. At 3200, it looked better in Microphen- but all other speeds gave good negatives with HC-110. This was 120 and 4x5 film, but I'm sure it would work equally well with other formats.
  11. wow... y'all got me wanting to try some hc-110 w/ hp5!
  12. Although I really liked HP5 more than TXP when I was shooting 35mm I've found the reverse to be true in med. format. Don't get me wrong, HP5 is a perfectly capable film, but I like the tri-x films better in 120. The 400TX is great, and the 320TX Pro is even better - and made to be shot anywhere from 50 to 1600 with decent results.

    My developer of choice has been Edwal FG7 (I started using it because I read about Ansel Adams using it). It comes in a very convenient liquid concentrate which you mix 1:15, and it produces results that are similar to Rodinal, but with finer grain.

    The trick is really to pick a film, pick a developer and get really really comfortable with them - 90% of the image is skill.
  13. hp5+ pushed to 1600 in hc-110 looks fantastic.
  14. For a combination of easy mixing, nice results I am much more happy now that I switched from D-76 mixing dry powder batches that go bad, to neat and simple as I need it HC-110 liquid concentrate.
  15. DD-X would also do a good job.
  16. Another vote for Ilford DD-X.
  17. For HP5+ at its rated speed I use either ID-11 or Unitol 1:14. I've never pushed it over 800 but I used Diafine when I pushed it.
  18. Bruce,
    According to the fact sheet on the Ilford website, Ilfotec DD-X is the way to go. They recommend it (as far as liquid
    developers) for "best overall image quality" from box speed all the way up to 3200. And, as Lex said, for powder
    developers they recommend ID-11 up to 800 and Microphen beyond that. The info is here -

  19. WOW!

    Lots of answers..Thanks to everyone..I was kinda leaning towards Kodak HC-110..I'll have to give the Ilfotec DD-X
    a good look before making up my mind..The liquid concentrates seem to be the way to go when starting out as a

  20. Adox ATM49:
  21. You can't go wrong- HP5 is a great film, and very versatile. With some practice, just about any developer will give you
    good negatives with it. Have fun, and let us know what you choose, why, and how you like it.
  22. Haven't seen anyone mention D-23. You can homebrew this dev very easily as there are only two ingredients, or buy it Photo Formulary. Seeing as there are only two ingredients, you can add what you wish to it; more dev agent, more alkaline, more sulfite, etc. You could also remove amounts. I know, it technically won't be D-23 anymore, but what's in a name and besides, the OP did ask for versatility! :)
  23. Since it is grainy and not terribly sharp, I suggest Microphen or UFG. Works darned well with both.

  24. You'll think I'm crazy, but I have come to like PMK. HP5 Plus negatives I have made recently have been printable with fine grain, box speed, on VC paper with or without printing filters, on graded paper when a lot of contrast is desired, and with "alternative printing methods that require negatives that have high contrast to blue or UV light.

    I have a personal formula that provides a single solution developer with the character of PMK. Take 50 grams of pyrogallol, 2.5 grams of p-aminophenol base and 4 grams of ascorbic acid and dissolve them in triethanolamine (TEA) to make 500 ml. Heat the TEA to about 150 F to reduce viscosity while you're dissolving the ingredients. Use it diluted 1 part of stock with 50 parts of water. HP5 Plus develops to normal contrast in 13 minutes at 70 F or 8 minutes at 80 F. These are the same times given in "The Book of Pyro" by Gordon Hutchings. Times given for other films work as well. That's a very fine book to have even if you can't stand the thought of pyro.

    I give Gordon Hutchings my thanks for his seminal ideas and hope he forgives me for my perversion of PMK.

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