Substitute for Ilford developers for B&W reversal

Discussion in 'Black and White' started by discpad, Feb 8, 2004.

  1. Hi gang!

    I'm going to attempt the Ilford B&W reversal process listed in their online documentation.

    However, When I went to B&H, they didn't have the Bromophen or PQ Universal
    Developer called for in their recipe.

    Any suggestions for Kodak &/or Agfa replacements? For what it's worth, I'll be trying this
    with TMax 100 in both 35mm and 4x5.

    Dan Schwartz
    Cherry Hill, NJ
    Visit my home page at
  2. Hi Dan, Not tried it myself but have you seen This Link here on PN?
  3. I've used Rodinal and T-Max developer with TMax 100. Either seems to work just fine. I
    also just used the same developer to develop the reversed image. It's been awhile but I
    think I started with iso 100 and the regular negative times and got something viewable.
  4. Yes, I read the thread; and I also searched PN... Hence my question.

    It look's like it'll be Rodinal for the process...

  5. Hi Dan, over the past couple of weeks I've re-caught the B&W slide bug and modified a procedure from the following site

    to get B&W slides from T-Max. This page is a reproduction of an article from Photo Techniques. The process is the same as Ilford's, basically. The first developer, which is the most crucial step, is made from D-76 with potassium bromide (to control fog) sodium thiosulfate (silver halide solvent) and sodium carbonate (raises activity and gives it a bit of a kick) added. IMO this makes it more like a paper developer with thiosulfate added, which is pretty much what Ilford calls for (Bromophen and PQ Universal are paper developers). I didn't have any D-76 around, so I used HC-110B and added 4g potassium bromide, 16g thiosulfate and ten teaspoons of sodium carbonate per litre. The results were pretty good but the highlights are still foggy, suggesting that I need a longer first developing time or more thiosulfate. I'll do another experiment tonight and report back. My second developer (for after re-exposure) was just HC-110 syrup diluted 1+19 with water and ten teaspoons sodium carbonate per litre.

    In your case, I think you could probably get away with modifying Dektol instead of using Bromophen. The results should be pretty similar, though you may need to play around a little with the dilution of Dektol and the developing times.
  6. Bingo -- That's what I'm looking for!

    I'm also trying to find Kodak Direct Positive Film Redeveloper, which will be a BIG help in my
    Jobo -- I won't have to unload & reload for the re-exposure step, doing it chemically instead. I
    use plastic reels for 35mm & 120/220 in 25xx/28xx drums, and they are a PITA.

    Lastly, I uploaded the November 2003 version of Kodak Bulletin J-87, which describes their
    B&W reversal kit.

  7. If you want to use a chemical foggant, you can just use the toner part of a sepia-toning kit (preferably odourless). It gives a nice chocolatey tone that's very pleasant. It should be very easy to obtain.
  8. Jordan,

    I was trying to avoid any toning (color shift) at this point in time.

    BTW, the reason I want to use B&W reversal (and, incidently, E6) is for

    Per chance, do you think E6 Reversal would work as a fogging agent? If it would, that would cut
    down on the number of chemicals I'll have to keep in stock...
  9. Dan -- Part of your reply got cut off (the reason you are doing reversal processing at home) but the E6 reversal bath should work. I just checked the MSDS for the Tetenal E6 reversal bath here: It indicates that the reversal bath is basically a propionate-buffered solution of tin (II) chloride, which is a known silver halide foggant. I believe that the Kodak direct foggant is a solution of a thiobarbituric acid salt of some kind. The tin reagent works directly and should give a neutral tone (or else it would be useless in E6). My guess is that the solution would smell pretty foul, so be careful.
  10. Jordan,

    Now that I've completed my new plumbing set-up for my Jobo ATL-3, I'll have to give it a try.

    This may sound a bit odd at first, but I'm actually trying to use E6 & (especially) C41 chemicals,
    since they are priced like commodities rather than specialty items. Plus, in order to make sure that
    everything is fresh, the fewer bottles on my shelf, the better.

    By the way, my processor now has a permament connection to the sewer; plus I installed a
    water panel to hold the rinse water temps +/- 1 degree, for better E6 & C41 process stability
    year-round. [Fortunately, the only C41 I do is sheet, since rolls go through a customers' Noritsu
    -- The same customer that I get my chemicals through.]

    Cheers! <br>
  11. While you're at it, you might play around with using the E6 first dev as a first dev for your B&W slide process. Obviously, you'll have to adjust the time and temperature at least a little. <p> For the record, I thought I would list the results of my recent B&W slide experiences here -- just in case anyone stumbles across this in the future. My first recent attempt at B&W slides used a permanganate bleach and an HC-110 re-developer (I used HC-110 1:19 plus 12 tsp sodium carbonate per litre). For a first developer I used the following:<p>
    HC-110 1:31 (dil B) containing<br>
    16 g sodium thiosulfate<br>
    10 tsp sodium carbonate<br>
    4 g potassium bromide<p>
    per litre. Developed TMX for 7' at 24C. The resulting slides had good density but foggy highlights and a low-ish film speed. Following the adage that you don't know if you've gone far enough until you've gone too far, my second attempt was with the following first developer:<p>
    HC-110 1:31 (dil B) containing<br>
    16 g sodium thiosulfate<br>
    12 tsp sodium carbonate<p>
    The bromide restrainer was omitted in this case. Developed for 9'30" at 24C. The resulting slides had weaker blacks than the first attempt while still retaining the foggy highlights. This suggests that what I need is more silver solvent rather than a more active first developer. Hopefully I can get a working system going before too long.
  12. Jordan,

    Yes, the E6 first developer should indeed work. In fact, there's a method by Mikhail Garous using E6 chemistry entitled A Method for Monochrome Transparency Processing where he substitutes a toner for the color developer step. In his article, he has recipes for both the 3 bath and the conventional 6 bath E6 process, modified for B&W reversal. In addition, the author provides two recipes for toner, producing either a neutral or a sepia tone.

    But, there are several çaveats in the Garous article that are worth noting:
    • First and foremost, in the 6 step process, he omitted the second step, the reversal bath;
    • He makes no mention of the reversal bath carryover into the toner (color) developer, which in the conventional E6 process "the reversal agent must be in the emulsion when the film enters the color developer" (per Kodak Bulletin Z-119, available on my home page);
    • He doesn't discuss the change from the conditioner - bleach steps to pre-bleach - bleach steps. Since the next step after the "toner" step is the pre-bleach (or conditioner) step, and since he doesn't call for a wash step between his 3rd & 4th baths, the carryover could be an issue.

    • Now, all I have to do is tear apart the air distributor on my Jobo ATL-3 to repair or replace the switch, so the programs will run properly... ARRGGGHHH!

      Dan Schwartz
      Cherry Hill, NJ
      Visit my home page at
  13. Hi Dan, Yup, seen the article by Garous, corresponded with him, tried the method (about a year and a half ago) with the Tetenal 3-bath kit. I can't help you with specifics of the 6-bath process, but remember that the chemical toner foggant he calls for is exactly the same as the active ingredient of the reversal bath -- tin(II) chloride -- except that he has the tin salt in a basic solution for the toner, while the reversal bath solution would seem to be neutral to acidic. In short, I don't see the need to use both the toner bath and a reversal bath, so that's probably why he omits it. The basic steps of the process are the same in each case: (1) Develop the negative image. (2) 'Tone' the remaining silver halide positive with the tin(II) salt or thiourea. (3) Bleach away the silver negative with bleach-fix, leaving the toned image behind. As I mentioned, I tried Garous' method with the thiourea toner. I got fine-grained slides with a nice tone to them, but with consistently foggy highlights and overly dense shadows. Adding extra silver halide solvent didn't help. The effective film speed for this process was about EI 50 with Fuji MS100/1000 film. I've attached a scan of one of the slides -- sharpened and with *considerable* levels adjustment in Photoshop to open up the shadows, which were really dense, and adjust the contrast. The colour of the scan shows the typical tone from this process (with thiourea toner). In this case the first developer was from the Tetenal 3-bath E6 kit. One of these days I'll sort out this whole procedure, and will get flawless B&W slides made at home, every time. One of these days ... :)
  14. Jordan,

    Going through the Kodak E6 Processing Manual's troubleshooting section, too high a D(max)
    indicates either the first or color developer is too dilute or underreplenished. Too high a D(Min)
    indicates either a fixing problem, or not enough pre-bleach or bleach activity.

    I've always been a bit suspicious of the Tetenal 3 bath kit, anyway, and that might be part of the
    cause of the foggy highlights: Too much is trying to be done in each bath, and the change threw
    it completely out of whack.

    By the way, Garous claims his process works with both TMax and E6 film; and your example
    above used E6 film. How did it work with convential B&W film?

  15. Dan, it's difficult to directly compare this process to E6, because the nature of the reversal is so different -- the toning step is completely different than a colour developer and the bleach step in particular is totally different (the bleach has to work 'around' silver sulfide, not just dyes, to get at the silver). In my case, the foggy highlights (high Dmin) were sepia in colour, which indicates that it's not a bleach problem (if it were, the foggy highlights would be black, not brown). Donald Qualls, who posts to these forums frequently, suggested in another thread that the sepia toner (thiourea) was probably reacting with developed silver as well as undeveloped silver halide. This seems a pretty likely explanation to me.

    I used the MS100/1000 and not Tmax because I had it handy. There's no reason, in principle, why it wouldn't work with Tmax. The bottom line is that there are a lot of variables in reversal processing that can be played around with. I do all my processing by hand (no Jobo) so it can get very time-consuming. I'm not being as systematic as I could be, but am rather trying to arrive at a workable process as quickly as I can. I'm confident that I'm almost there with the Tmax reversal outlined in my previous posts.

    As for the Tetenal 3-bath, I agree that it's not the thing to use if you want absolute consistency and fine control of colour. But for hobbyist purposes it's just fine. I got great slides with the 3-bath kit, both at normal speeds and pushed. Someone with a densitometer would probably find a lot to complain about but I was quite satisfied. I processed in stainless-steel tanks using a styrofoam cooler full of water as a tempering bath.
  16. I should add another "data point" to the discussion above. I tried doing B&W reversal of a colour slide film using the first of the two formulas I listed above. Looks like the slide film was NOT happy with my permanganate bleach -- the film was pretty gooey and the emulsion was coming off all over the place (rinsing away in the wash water, etc.)
  17. Okay, after a bunch of trial and error, here's what seems to be a good first developer for reversal processing of B&W materials:
    Start with 500 ml HC-110 Dil B
    Mix in the following:
    6 tsp sodium carbonate
    2 g potassium bromide
    8 g sodium thiosulfate
    Development time for Ilford Pan F (gives the rated speed) is about 8'30" at 24C.
  18. Jordan wrote:
    Start with 500 ml HC-110 Dil B
    Mix in the following:
    • 6 tsp sodium carbonate
    • 2 g potassium bromide
    • 8 g sodium thiosulfate

    Development time for Ilford Pan F (gives the rated speed) is about 8'30" at 24C.

    And what did you use for the second developer? Also, did you use a chemical reversal or light reversal @800 footcandle-seconds?

    Dan Schwartz
  19. In this case, the second 'developer' was a thiourea toner (like odourless sepia toner) made from 4 g thiourea (thiocarbamide) and 18 tsp sodium carbonate in 1 L of water. In this case no re-exposure is required. This procedure gives a nice deep chocolatey colour with Pan F Plus, but I found the colour very yellow and sickly with TMX.
  20. Hi gang!

    This post is to memorialize an E6 reversal bath formula that also works as a B&W reversal bath, originally published by Ron Speirs at this link.

    The reversal agent used in E-4 was quite nasty stuff (Tertiary butylamine borane). The agent used in Kodak E-6 is Dimethylamine borane, but I don't know much about it. Perhaps the reason that light reversal was recommend for do-it-yourselfers was that these chemicals were hazardous or hard to get.

    I have been processing E-6 for more than 15 years. At first I bought the Kodak 1-gallon kit, but eventually found formulas for mixing my own. I stumbled on a very simple, workable reversal formula:

    Prepare a stock solution of:
    • Potassium Borohydride 0.1 g
    • Sodium Hydroxide 10 g
    • Cold Water to make100 ml

    Use 12 mL of this stock per 1L of working solution. Use for 1 minute immediately preceeding the Color Developer. Don't wash between this reversal and the color developer. Use once and discard. I guess the reason that this chemical is not in official kits is that the working solution doesn't last.

    This formula also works for reversing B&W film and paper, thus eliminating the need for light exposure during these processes.

    Dan Schwartz

    Note: All links open in a new window...
  21. Hi gang!

    Here are two more formulas for E6 reversal, courtesy of Fuji Hunt:

    Acetic Acid 1-5%
    Sodium Aminopolyphosphonate 5-10%
    Sodium Acetate 7-15%
    Tin Chloride 1-5%
    Water 60-80%

    Sodium Phosphate, Dibasic 1-5%
    Sodium Aminopolyphosphonate 10-20%
    Potassium Sorbate 0.5-1.5%
    Propionic Acid 5-10%
    Sodium Propionate 15-30%
    Tin Chloride 1-5%
    Water 40-60%

    Dan Schwartz

    Note: All links open in a new window...

Share This Page