These notes here are my working practices but like cooking everyone has their favourite receipe and their own way of preparing the mix. I quite often find it frustrating when looking at film images that there is little or no supporting information like which film, exposure iso, developer used and time/agitation. My regime works for me but you will find your own combination of film/iso/developer that gives you the look you want to achieve.
Over the years I have tried all the film and developer combinations that came by but I have always come back to Tri-X in Rodinal because it just works!
Other developers I use or mix myself are:
The best piece of advice I was ever given was to keep the developing process alkaline. Most fixers are acid and on some of the older/softer emulsions like Efke/Adox can cause pinholes in the emulsion or worse. So my development regime is:
Water for stop bath
Moersch alkaline fixer
Just keep the process simple as too many variables - film type, iso/exposure, type of developer, development time, temperature - will have you running around in circles and result in confusion. It is paramount you get to understand your film, how to expose it and develop it for the look you want.
In the darkroom I use a Leica Focomat V35 for 35mm B&W and a Meopta Opemus 6 with B&W head and a
Meopta Colour 3 head - this gives me 35mm and 6x6cm.
What's on the shelf - film
I tend to use just four films now and depending on the time of year and the light, rate the films ASA as necessary:
Kodak Eastman Double-X
ORWO N 74 plus
ORWO UN 54
Film & Box Speed
|Kodak Double-X 5222 (250 asa)||200 - 800||Panthermic 777, D96, Diafine or Rodinal|
|Kodak Tri-X (400 asa)||320 - 1250||Diafine or Rodinal|
|ORWO UN 54 (100 asa)||50 - 200||Panthermic 777, Diafine or Rodinal|
|ORWO N 74 plus (400 asa)||250 - 800||D96, Diafine or Rodinal|
What's on the shelf - developer
|Rodinal||Rodinal was Agfa’s trademark
name for their concentrated film developer formula, patented by Dr.
Momme Andresen in 1891. It is the oldest continuously-produced developer
formula in the world.
Rodinal has a very well-deserved reputation for brilliance, gradation, and sharpness. Rodinal is not a “fine-grain” developer. Conventional wisdom has it that, with Rodinal, whatever grain structure is inherent in a film’s emulsion will be retained in the developed negative. Rodinal negatives may sometimes look more “grainy” than negatives developed in the so-called fine-grain formulas, but they also have greater perceived sharpness.
Dilutions are typically at 1:25, 1:50 or 1:100. Higher dilutions are possible and are used in conjunction with stand or semi-stand development. Used as a one-shot developer. The keeping qualities of Rodinal are legendary. My particular bottle was opened in July 2004. (This was posted 27/12/2008)
|R09||This is the original Rodinal formulation from the pre-war days, and the replacement for the Calbe R09. Fine grain and an absolute classic developer which is ideally suited for use with older style films such as the ADOX CHS 25 and CHS 100. Used as a one-shot developer. Again, like Rodinal, this developer lasts forever in the bottle.|
|Diafine||Diafine is a two bath developer and probably
the most foolproof. You mix the chemicals to produce two solutions,
A & B. You pour in solution A and develop for 3 mins, pour solution
A back in the bottle and then pour in solution B and develop for 3
mins, pour solution B back in the bottle. Then use water for a stop
bath and the fix as normal. Simple and fast with nice results. You
re-use the solutions constantly and Diafine is another developer with
a long life. I regularly use this when I have exposed a roll of Tri-X
at different iso values.
From the manufacturers leaflet: "Diafine is usable over a wide temperature range with one developing time for all films. Fast, medium and slow films can be developed simultaneously without adjustment in developing time.
Diafine is unsurpassed in its ability to produce the greatest effective film speed, ultra-fine grain, maximum acutance and highest resolution. Time and temperature have no practical effect if the minimum recommendations are observed. Diafine is an ultra-fine grain developer with the highest effective speeds."
|Panthermic 777||Sometimes called the 'Life Magazine' developer, it dates from the 1940's. For decades it was the favorite developer of many of the most recognizable names in photojournalism, including W. Eugene Smith, Henri Cartier-Bresson, and Andre Kertesz. It was the developer of choice at the Magnum and Black Star agencies. It is characterized by clear highlights, bright, open shadows, and a full, rich tonal range with a tight grain structure.|
|Coffee||Yes, coffee and it works very well. Fellow Leicaphile Mark Anthony has a full description on his site: Developing Film in Coffee|
What! No development times?
No, sorry but there are too many variables and my technique may not work for you. There are plenty of sites with advice on actual development times and solutions but take these as a starting point. Films and developers have changed in their formulation over the years and you need to check you have the right info for your film/developer combination.
Here are some good starting places:
For some serious education/information on films, developing and darkroom processes the best places on the net are the Analogue Photographers User Group (APUG) and Film & Darkroom User (FADU). The collective knowledge, experience and wisdom there is invaluable.