Jump to content

Most Versatile Developer for Use With Ilford HP5 Plus Film

Recommended Posts

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

Link to comment
Share on other sites

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.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

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.



Link to comment
Share on other sites

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.
Link to comment
Share on other sites

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 http://www.digitaltruth.com but also see http://www.covingtoninnovations.com/hc110/ 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


Link to comment
Share on other sites

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.
Link to comment
Share on other sites

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 <a

href="http://www.boonvilleusa.com/">BoonvilleUSA</a>.) 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.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

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.

Link to comment
Share on other sites


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 -




Link to comment
Share on other sites



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




Link to comment
Share on other sites

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! :)
Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • 2 weeks later...

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.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now
  • Create New...