Problems with Diafine

Discussion in 'Black and White' started by tomscott, Oct 28, 2009.

  1. This is the second batch of film I have tried to process with Diafine 2 part developer and have ended up with the same kind of results; Murky backgrounds, streaks. I have used D76 in the past and not had any of these problems. I use part A for 4 min, inversion agitation for first 5 seconds of each min, same with part B. Water for stop bath about 1 minute. And fix for 5 minutes with Kodak Kodafix. The first batch of film was Arista Edu 100 in 4x5 and this is Fuji Neopan Acros 100 in 120. Anyone have any ideas as to what the problem might me?
  2. Second Shot:
  3. Streaks could be agitation related; Diafine is kind of sensitive to agitation issues.
    The murkiness is a characteristic of Diafine, which, as a compensating developer, reduces contrast.
    What EI did you use? Shadows seem blocked up in your shots.
    My own experience with Diafine has been mixed. For me the sweet spot has been Tri-X rated at 800-1000 in extremely contrasty scenes, like the beach, sunny snow or night photography.
    Diafine is not, to my thinking, a good general purpose developer. But it's interesting, so I usually keep some around.
  4. I am fairly new to this so, I am not certain what Exposure Index is all about, I shoot at box speed if that is what you mean. As for agitation, the first batch of 4x5 I used 10 seconds at the start of each minute, with this batch I lowered it to 5 seconds, or 3 inversions and couldn't really tell any difference in results. I think I'm going back to D-76.
  5. It is likely caused by the fact you're not using stop bath. With only 4 minutes, a bath of water could easily continue the development. You should use stop bath for that short of development, or skip the water bath and go right to fixer. Alternatively, you could use a more dilute solution.
  6. A water stop bath is not the cause of the problems. Diafine develops to completion, i.e. no more development takes place after about 3 minutes of bath B (which is where the development occurs).
    Whenever i have used Diafine, I have followed exactly what the directions state on the tin - one gentle inversion at the start of each minute. EIs for common films are suggested on the tin too. For Acros, EI 200 is a good starting point, but I've no idea for the Arista (check on the massive development chart). I usually develop for 5 mins + 5 mins. I've not experienced any problems with uneven development.
  7. Diafine typically adds speed to most films. For Arista 100 I usually shoot at ISO 200, up to ISO400 and the negs come out great in Diafine. You do NOT need a stop bath (other than water) - so that is certainly not your problem. I develop 3 min each for A & B and never had any streaking issues. Diafine is so forgiving, I really can't imagine what caused your problem - maybe it is the agitation.
  8. Like I said, I am fairly new to this but, if EI were the problem, wouldn't my film just be either under or over developed instead of unevenly developed? Or does the lighter areas develop more slowly than darker areas? The directions on the box that the two tins came in does recommend EI 200* at 5min + 5min with an asterisk for Acros 100 35mm film but there is nothing to tell you what the asterisk means and it does not mention MF film. It also says to agitate for the first 5 seconds of each minute. Do you really think that could still be the problem? Should I try stand processing or, no agitation at all? Also my negatives come out very dark, these were shot in bright afternoon sunshine at f/16 and 1/125 sec although this is the first roll I have shot with this camera so, I can't verify the accuracy of shutter speeds.
  9. First of all, a stop bath is specifically NOT recommended when Diafine is used as the developer. It is important to wash the developer out before fixing though, and that takes two or three changes of clean water. If you follow the package directions to the letter, you won't have a problem.
  10. Frank, again the package states "4. Drain and rinse in plain water for about 30 seconds. The use of acid stop-bath is Not recommended."
    I did not use an acid stop-bath, I used water. Are you saying this means a continuous rinse for 30 seconds? As in 30 seconds under running water? I just filled with water, agitated 3 or 4 inversions, let it stand for about 45 seconds then dumped and fixed.
  11. Here is a sample of the Arista EDU shot with Speed Graphic with very similar results. This was developed at 3min for A and B, water stop bath, and Kodak Kodafix for 5 minutes. Also on a clear sunny day.
  12. My take on things. No stop bath is needed for the above mentioned reasons. Also, you don't really need to agitate the first bath very much. Not much development is done in that stage - the emulsion is just absorbing the bath. You do need agitation in the second stage, not too much, but not too little. I used to do 5 seconds at first, 5 seconds at 2ish mins, and 5 seconds with a minute to go (out of 5ish). This worked fine most of the time, but sometimes I'd get a bit of bromide drag from under agitation if I had a big bright continuous tone in the image (like skies).
    That being said, I have no idea what your issue is. I do water for 30 seconds as a stop, with continuous agitation. You aren't doing that in the light are you?
  13. No, not doing it in the light, using paterson tank and I never open it till after the fixer (usually not even till after the final rinse with wetting agent.
  14. Very unusual, Tom. My best guess is you're getting too much turbulence with inversion agitation using the Paterson tank/reel kit.
    I've written this before several times over the years and, again, it's just my theory, but...
    I suspect the square-section reel guides and high flanges with plastic reels contribute to some of the odd results we occasionally see complaints about here. Unlike the round wire used in stainless reels, the design of the plastic reels may be causing excessive turbulence with inversion agitation. However, in my experiments comparing my own plastic and stainless tanks/reels, I've been unable to reproduce the type of severe uneven development some folks have experienced.
    Without actually watching you develop the film I can't say whether your inversion agitation technique is too vigorous or not vigorous enough. Unfortunately, agitation is too often described in some online discussion forums in terms that would lead to misinterpretation: "shaking", etc.
    "...I shoot at box speed..."​
    Also, Tri-X should be exposed at around 1000-1600 for development in Diafine. It will indeed produce the murky results you're seeing. I've seen this in my own tests.
    The best way to determine a personal EI for Diafine is to bracket. This goes contrary to the conventional wisdom about best b&w film practice, but with Diafine and similar developers, it works. Using identical exposure conditions - same subject, same lighting, etc. - run off a series of frames ranging from two stops below to two or three stops above the rated ISO, as well as right at the box speed. Repeat this with scenes in flat, contrasty and average lighting.
    For me, that test led me to use 1200-1250 for Tri-X (depends on how the ISO setting is calibrated on the meter); right at the rated speed of 50 for Pan F+; anywhere from 1600-3200 for Delta 3200; up to 250 with FP4+; and 500 with TMY... which I wouldn't repeat anyway because the tonality was just too odd with TMX and TMY, not at all to my liking, tho' some folks report satisfactory results.
    Incidentally, Diafine is not a good all purpose developer. It's an unusual developer that stamps its own unique look on most films. If you happen to like that effect, it's good. But for conventional looking negatives you're probably better off with a standard developer like D-76 or ID-11. It's roughly the difference between a typical William Mortensen look and a typical Ansel Adams look.
  15. I am beginning to agree with you about D-76. I haven't had any problems with it. Someone recommended Diafine because of the large amounts of chemical used to develop 4x5 negs and the fact that Diafine could be used over and over where most other developers are one shot (making the Diafine more cost effective). As far as agitation goes I don't really "shake" the tank, I basically just gently turn it over and back in my hand, 5 seconds I get 3 inversions, where for 10 seconds I get about 5 inversions. So far I have ruined one role of 120 film and 6 sheets of 4x5 and while the film is fairly cheap, I'm still a little concerned about ruining any more film. In both cases I traveled a few miles to take the shots and that adds time and fuel expense to the whole process (which of course is fine, if you get something useable). Also the camera used for the MF shots was a Zeiss Ikon Nettar 515/2 which limits the latitude of exposure settings somewhat, especially given my limited experience.
  16. If I repeat something already discussed here, pardon me in advance, but...
    A very careful agitation technique is essential with Diafine Part B. Not so much so with Part A. As an extreme example, I once tested Diafine by using continuous agitation with Part A and no agitation with Part B. It came out fine. This was using a two-reel plastic tank/reel kit.
    The theory is that Part B needs to interact evenly with the Part A that has soaked into the emulsion. Aggressive agitation with Part B may result in uneven development. Just my personal opinion, but 3 inversions in 5 seconds or 5 inversions in 10 seconds is a little too aggressive for Part B. I would aim for no more than 3 inversions in 10 seconds - very slow and gentle.
    On the other hand, if you're using large format film you might as well get the full benefit of being able to control contrast through exposure and development. Diafine is not intended for this use, since adjusting development has little or no effect on contrast. If I was still shooting large format (which I haven't since my school days), I'd use the Zone System and an appropriate developer to adjust for contrast as desired on a sheet by sheet basis.
    Diafine is a convenient developer for roll film with specific goals, but probably isn't the best choice for what you're wanting to accomplish. In this case, it's tough to beat D-76/ID-11 or any other proven conventional developer. And if you use these as stock solution and recycle the soup (following the manufacturer's schedule), it will still be very economical.
  17. I have used diafine with 35mm and 120, but not large format. When I use part b my agitation simply consists of tipping the tank to about 45 degrees one way then another and then sitting it back down firmly. I have had good luck with it, again rating tri-x at 1250-1600.
  18. Thanks Lex, I think I will stick to the D-76. I honestly didn't know that D76 could be reused. I have even seen the D-76 replenisher at Freestyle but assumed it was for solution that was getting old or had been on the shelf for too long. At any rate, from what I gather you think that I am agitating to aggressively? Now the question is what to do with this Diafine. I quess I could just dump it and use the bottles for something that works for me. I wonder what kind of shelf life it has.
  19. Keep the Diafine around. It lasts at least a couple years. Play with it with Tri-X. You may find you like it for some applications.
    And pay attention to Lex. He's the resident Diafine expert.
  20. "And pay attention to Lex. He's the resident Diafine expert."​
    Nah, just another enthusiast. I learned about it from other folks here years ago and just pass along what little I've learned.
    Do keep that batch of Diafine, Tom. You might like it for 35mm or 120 Tri-X at around 1200-1600 for snapshots and candids. Great stuff for contrasty lighting. One of the few combinations of film/developer that will work about as well on the same roll with some frames exposed in bright sunlight and others indoors or at night at a concert, night club or other venue.
  21. Damn, I've got a roll of Tri-X in my Konica Auto S2 as we speak but, it only meters up to ISO400.
  22. Stephen Schaub at has some excellent info on Diafine with Acros and Tri-x, and if you search that site, you will also find a video on the proper agitation technique.
    I tried it and had no problems with streaking. If I remember correctly, I added time to both part A and part B, and may even have used a presoak, though it's not recommended. (Sorry -- my notes are on a computer that's down at the moment.) I was very careful to agitate just the way he shows in the video.
    I only used it with Tri-X. Stephen's site has all the info, and it's also a helpful site for film users / hybrid artists. Here's a link to the Diafine jump-off page:
  23. p.s. I also used Diafine to process a roll of Kodachrome -- 24 years after it was exposed. The results were amazing. I did have to rub off the film backing while it was wet though. I barely expected to find an image, let alone one with so much detail and tone.
  24. Thanks for that website Dan, I've saved it to favorites. I haven't tried Tri-X before, I tried a roll of T-Max a few months ago when I was out in Wyoming and really liked it. This roll of Tri-X that I've got in the Konica came out of a Pentax K1000 that I picked up at a church yard sale and sold on Ebay so, I have no idea how old it is.
  25. You didn't contaminate solution A with any of solution B did you? ... Just a thought.
  26. I'd have to say the tank + agitation + film are the likely cause. I've used Diafine for years but usually only for Tri-X in contrasty light and in my 40 year old Nikkor SS tanks and reels. For most other B&W films I like HC-110 as a one shot because the concentrate keeps well.
  27. You didn't contaminate solution A with any of solution B did you? ... Just a thought.​
    No, I don't see how I could have, it would more likely be the other way around. When I mixed the chemical, I poured each gallon into seperate quart containers, when I use part A I dump it directly back into the quart bottle then pour in part B. I try to keep kind of an assembly line type thing going so as to not mix anything up.
    I am pretty sure that there is a consensus that I probably agitated too aggresively and, after a few people explained there agitation process, I am inclined to agree. Thanks for the thought though, you just never know.
  28. AS Lex mentioned, don't agitate at all in solution B, it simply washes out the developer that has been soaked into the emulsion! Very gently lower it into the activator (soln. B).
    It woauld be like using "water bath" development, it destroys the very technique you need.
  29. As I remember it when I learned from my grandfather 40 years ago, the agitation is to keep bubbles off the film, or at least move them around. It takes very little to do that.
    I have never had any problems with Diafine that I believed were due to development.
    -- glen
  30. This is a really old thread - but did I the OP use a film dryer??? Those marks look like baked-in photo flo. (I had this issue,

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