View Full Version : Reversal Processing with D-11

22-Sep-2015, 10:40
If you have used Kodak D-11 for a first developer in processing B&W slides, then please answer the following:

1. The film, format, and EI used (e.g., 8x10 Ilford Delta 100 at ISO64);
2. The type of processing used (i.e., rotary, hand inversion, tray, etc);
3. The Dilution, processing temperature, and developing time in D-11 (e.g., 1:3 @ 68F for 10 minutes);
4. The results obtained.

If you processed using a different first developer, please identify it and provide the above info.



Mark Sampson
22-Sep-2015, 18:47
Kodak used to specify D-19, a high contrast developer, for the first developer in the reversal process. I believe that D-19 was the first developer they included in the "Direct Positive Developing Kit" (or whatever it was called) for Panatomic-X film and later, T-Max 100. But it's been a while, and my data books are in storage far away. And I'm not familiar with D-11, either, so my information counts as anecdotal at best.

22-Sep-2015, 22:37
Do you mead ID-11 Ilford copy of D76?
I use PQ Universal with at 1+5 withh 12g of Sodium Thiosulphate crystals as a first developer.

23-Sep-2015, 02:16
Sorry, but no specifics for your process/materials here, but I will dig into my "wayback" machine and (try to) remember some points...

The choice of developer basically allowed how dense were the highlights, how much (far) the shadow range would extend (the shadows would mush into the grain at some point stronger or weaker), and was there a wide, flat midtone area??? The 3 main developer formulas were (in order of contrast) D-19, D-11, and D-8... Some additional trimming of contrasts could be by the dilutions of those developers... (And choice of film) And light level the film was exposed at (film gets very flat in low light)... This is what you are trying to balance with reversal... (Might be good for one subject or conditions, but sad for another...)

A good reference is if you have a chance to see 35mm reversal prints of classic B/W films at an arthouse... Look what happens in the shadows, or look at the contrast + grain and overall look in a lower light scene (in a film like "The Grapes of Wrath")... Filmmakers have been fighting this for decades...

I switched from reversal processing, to duping a negative to another negative film for projection... The dupe film was processed to a moderate high contrast in D-11, and projected nicely (with a very slight blue base tint in the highlights that no one noticed) the positives looked good despite being shot in very different conditions, and I had a negative to print from later...

I think your next step is testing, testing, and more testing... And trimming the development... Then some more testing... And then more testing....
(It seems endless at times...)

Steve K

23-Sep-2015, 06:08
I was thinking this over while I was developing some film tonight... Maybe you could give some specifics to what you were trying out??? (It might help jump-start my brain, since it's been about 30 years ago...)

To answer some of the above questions, I had been using a 35mm/Agfa APX 100 to reverse, D-11/1:1, I had been using S/S film reels, but had to switch to plastic as the bleach was eating the solder on the metal reels, first dev time was like 6 to 10 mins(???), Flashing on the reel did not produce an even D-max, unrolling the film to flash was better, but very soft/sticky and picked up dust easily and not always even flashing with a photoflood lamp or small strobe and could buckle with the hot light, difficult to dry because film could not be wiped and even with a distilled water aftersoak film usually had drying marks, chem fogging with thiourea had best D-max, sulfide was brown/red with weaker D-max, EI was higher than box speed, but shadows were weak, and light level changed the curve considerably...

Whew!!! I can't believe I remembered that!!!!!!! (How well is the question!?!!!!!)

Steve K

23-Sep-2015, 09:25
Thanks for the replies.

I think that the dilution given in the Cookbook is a typo: should be 3:1 instead of 1:3. Either way I'm going to find out. I ordered SS reels from Freestyle and they are on the truck for delivery today. I plan to run a series of controlled test with 4x5 sheets which I can process one at a time to determine the best procedure. Once that is completed I'll be looking for a chemical fogging formula.


29-Sep-2015, 00:09
Here's the result of my initial experiment with reversal processing:


The dilution (Kodak D-11) was 3:1. Both were shot and processed together and are mounted in Blair 4x5 slide mounts. I once lusted for a Noblex 4x5 projector but is was discontinued it before I got the money and I never could find a used one. On a road trip I stopped in a ink Jet Arts in Salt Lake City and bought all the remaining stock of 645, 67, and 4x5 cardboard mounts.

I'm totally unfamiliar with B&W slides and how they are supposed to look so your feedback is solicited.


29-Sep-2015, 04:40
The bottom one is about right... There is a good modulation of highlight density and shadow density (with neither being excessive), with the longish scale in between that is normal... You are close to the middle of the ballpark with development/exposure...

B/W reversal images tend to be a little flat (unlike color that tends to be contrasty and has dye layers with extra density)... And the lower Dmax is normal with modern thin emulsion films (as the density depends on the thickness of the film)... They have a different range/scale than prints...

Test some chem fogging solutions and see what you like (for the Dmax)... Also, decide what your end use for the images will be, (what process printing, projecting, scanning, etc) as you will be trying to match the scales to that use... (For MP use, a flatter film was desired as it would pick-up contrast while duping/transfering...)

Try some 35mm soon, and put them into a projector and see if the Dmax is high enough... (Street stuff between buildings and sunlight is a good test...) And try available light shooting...

Shoot/test some with high/low key subjects, and shoot some subjects with extreme contrasts (dark shadow of building with bright sky behind) to see how the film did... (And shoot something half dark & light to see how even the development is... This might change with the film on the developing reel) But you got a good, even development on your samples... Shoot some stuff in bright & low light to check out it's scales...

You are off in a good direction!!!!! Test, and see how you like it...

Steve K

29-Sep-2015, 10:06
Thanks for the detailed reply Steve.

Where can I find information and formulas on chem fogging solutions and where would they go in the process? For the above I used a 500 watt soft-box at ~ 3.5 feet for 1'10” each side. Chemical fogging would eliminate the need to take the film off the reel midway thru the process – the slight “smudge appearing at the top right corner of the 50 ISO sheet was from holding the sheet during re-exposure.

Also, how long does stock D-11 last? I still have 310mL remaining in a 1L beaker covered with food wrap. I'd like to shoot another negative and process it without diluting the D-11 to see if there is any improvement. I'm shooting expired (2/13) 100TMax (kept refrigerated but not frozen since purchase) for these tests and have fresh 35 and 120 Delta 100 awaiting the outcome of the developing tests (I don't have any 4x5 Delta available). David Woods recommends a shooting ISO of 64 for Delta 100. How accurate do you suppose that is?

It's a disappointment to read that the solder points deteriorated in the bleach. Upon reading in the Cookbook about the difficulty of re-spooling wet film onto plastic reels, I just purchased a 35 and 120 SS Hewes Jobo reels from Freestyle.

Finally, the end purpose is simply to create B&W slides for projection. I have 3 great projectors and top quality lens and a good slide show is a treat for me.


30-Sep-2015, 03:03
Hey Thomas!!!

You can find different formulas for fogging developers by "borrowing" formulas from B/W re-developer toners/intensifiers... (I don't have any handy as my lab ref stuff is still packed from a move...) "Camera & Darkroom" used to publish MANY formulas like this!!!

You would use these after the bleach step...

D-11 is quite sturdy (like a good MQ developer), and can be stored and re-used... (Don't tell anyone, but my standard chem bottles are 2 Ltr. (PET/polyester) carbonated soft drink bottles, and solutions last 6 months + if stored in the dark, and air evacuated by blowing my breath into them with a drinking straw...)

Just a quick review here (for the other's reading)... Reversal is a relief process where one is "fighting" for the "real estate" of the thickness of the coating of the emulsion... The more light that hits an area, the deeper the penetration (depth) of the exposed silver halide... Then the developed/exposed silver is bleached away, leaving the unexposed areas UNDER the exposed areas, and these are fogged and re-developed... Those areas are now thinner or thicker, depending on how much developed silver was removed, and a reverse of the exposed normal (unbleached) negative... (More exposed areas (highlights) are bleached away, leaving little (thin) unexposed areas under them, so the re-developed area is thin, producing less density... Shadow areas don't get much light, so little is bleached, leaving a thicker, unexposed area under them that is re-developed to a higher density...)

The reel thing is real... I had been using junky, old S/S reels to process the film... I first noticed the spirals had been getting a little rough/etched while I was handling them... But kept using them, and a few runs later, one reel unsoldered itself during process, spewing the remains of the solder over the films!!! I switched to some old, cheap, plastic reels from the junkbox, and they worked fine (at this point, I was using a thiourea based re-developer, so the film didn't have to leave the reels... But often tricky to remove the finished film, as it was so sticky when done!!!) I think Patterson or Jobo had a different style plastic reel that loaded by clipping the film in the middle and wound like a S/S reel, so that would help removal...

Post a question about "Plan B" in the future when you want to make B/W chromes by duping... (I had a big project that required 1,700 slides in 8 weeks, so I developed an EZ rig/process to do it... Worked great!!!) But keep with the reversal, as it's kinda very interesting to do as a process, but duping is the "get-the-job-done" way...

Have fun!!!!

Steve K

30-Sep-2015, 11:10
Many thanks again Steve.

Instead of shooting the 100 Delta which I had planned, I'm going to buy a few rolls of 100 T-Max and shoot it at box speed which should result in slides that are "spot on." Then I'm going to experiment with toning them with Kodak Brown Toner which I have on hand. It will be interesting and fun to see a big 6x7 B&W and toned transparencies on the big screen.

I sent an email to Steve Anchell about the apparent typo in the Cookbook and asked that if he publishes a new edition to try to include fogging formula(s) for the reversal chapter.

Again, thank you for the valuable input.


30-Sep-2015, 15:51
Another factor is choice of film... Mainly, the color of the base as you will be projecting through it... The 400 speed films usually have the grey base for AH, some film bases are tinted sometimes to match the printing paper (one of the very old Tmax's had a magenta base I suspect was a built-in multicontrast filter to match the weird contrast filter needed for normal printing), emulsion thickness (more is better), T-grain or traditional (I'm not sure what bleaches better), base thickness (what mounts better/easier, and no weirdness from the projector heat), slower or faster (I think I remember that the slower films were better), line film (but usually has a thin base/emulsion...)??? Maybe trying color films and developing them B/W with this process??? (CN would be out because of the orange base, but maybe old slide film???)

Many doors to open!!! (And some may lead to a broom closet...)


Steve K

30-Sep-2015, 22:05
...I had been using S/S film reels, but had to switch to plastic as the bleach was eating the solder on the metal reels...

I've been thinking this over and yes it's reasonable to assume that the sulfuric acid in the bleach step will eventually degrade the solder points on the reel but the reversal step would have no ill effect on SS reels. But the primary development and bleach stages can be done on plastic reels and the third, and final stage on SS reels after re-exposing the film. This should work well since loading a wet plastic reel is easy and reloading onto a SS reel much easier than with a plastic reel. Toning, which is done after the film is fixed and washed, can be done with plastic reels once the film is dry to load.

So I didn't waste money on the Hewes reels after all! Thanks again for pointing the SS issue out.


1-Oct-2015, 10:04
FWIW, a revised edition of the Darkroom Cookbook is now at the editors and corrections/additions to it can be made if submitted within the next 1 or 2 weeks. After that it will be too late. So if you have found something in the 3d edition that you think needs to be corrected, I suggest that you send him an email with your evidence. Steve forwarded my email with photo attached to David Wood and I plan to redo my experiment this weekend and forward the results.


3-Oct-2015, 01:38

I tweaked the ISO and these two are extremely close. You'll have to excuse the crappy P&S shot but I like the ISO 83 the best. I also ran a pair using D-111 undiluted and while it is also good the 3:1 dilution looks best to me. It's very time consuming mixing the chemistry and doing the processing - more so than E-6.



4-Oct-2015, 11:27
Differences between a 3:1 dilution and undiluted (3:0):



5-Apr-2016, 07:11
The 4th edition of the Cookbook is now available. I wonder if the dilution given for D-11 has been corrected?