View Full Version : Dektol Dilution

brian steinberger
25-Aug-2005, 19:41
If you mix Dektol using the powder and make a gallon and use it just as so, then your development time is 1 minute, correct? And if you dilute this with equal part water 1:1, then you can develop for 2 minutes. Is this information correct? Also, what is normal agitation pattern for developing prints?

Bobby Sandstrom
25-Aug-2005, 20:15
Brian 1:2 (1 dektol 2 water) for 2 minutes at 68 to 70 degrees will be fine. To agitate you can filp the paper over end to end continuously. (aprox 1 filp every 3 seconds) It's vigorous. That's how I learned from John Sexton.

Good Luck

25-Aug-2005, 21:44
I agitate by tilting the tray continuously for the first 15 seconds (to make sure that the developer spreads evenly over the entire print surface), then tray tilts for 5 seconds twice a minute. I pull the print after 1 minute 45 seconds and let it drain until the 2 minutes is up, then slide it into the shortstop. None of this is actually critical, just be sure that you do it the same way with every print.

james mickelson
25-Aug-2005, 23:15
Actually there is no set time in solution. It depends on what you want your print to look like. How deep you want the darker areas to be and how light you want your highlights to be. I dilute 1:4 and use a 3 minute baseline, but this changes depending on what I want the print to look like and how long my exposure was. Sexton and many other printers teach this. A few seconds exposure and development either way can and does make a big difference. Say for instance you have an image that will be very high key with only the zone 6-8 densities developed. Or you have very deep blacks in the image. These will need different development strategies as well as exposures. And this will also be dictated by the negative's development. Too short a print development time and you have little control. Too long and you start to see a degrading of the very high tones. You must learn to balance the entire system from film choice, exposure, development, paper choice, print exposure, and development. To answer your question, try developing the paper for 1 minute, 1.25 minutes, 1.5 minutes and so on. Then dilute your choice of developer and do the test again. Make the test using a part of the negative that has a full range of tones. You'll see the difference. My answer would be that mixed straight, the developer is too strong and the time too short. I believe in Ansel Adams book, he uses Dektol at 1:4. Look it up.

John Cook
26-Aug-2005, 04:06
Brian, you really need to start reading the package directions.

Dilute 1:2 (as Bobby says) and agitate continuously for 1 to 2 minutes at about 68 degrees.

Using Dektol straight will not offer superior results.

Since paper is fully developed (unlike negative film) extending the time will not produce remarkably different results, until fog begins to set in.

Shorter times and lower temperature will produce uneven development with a mottled appearance.

Dektol, like fixer has a shelf life and a capacity. The written instructions explain that as well. But, unlike fixer, Dektol begins to turn dark and give off a "fishy" smell when it becomes exhausted. This dark, exhausted developer will stain trays and sinks black.

Antti Aalto
26-Aug-2005, 04:53
Try factorial development. What you'd do is, expose the paper paying attention to where an appropriate contrasty spot will appear during development. During development, make note of the time when you can see your chosen detail appear. Then apply a factor and you've got your total development time. For example, 20 seconds with a factor of five will give you 1'40'' development time. If your proof's nearly there exposure wise, instead of changing exposure, try altering the factor. The useful range of factors (where there's a marked change) is limited, let's say from 3 to 8 or something in the range. Great factors are also an inconvenience.
The idea to try with your setup would be to initially develop a known proof in undiluted Dektol. Choose the spot to follow, make a note of the time, develop like you normally would (a minute) and count the factor. Let's say you'd get 15s and four. Change your developer dilution, check when the spot will appear and apply the factor you got with undiluted developer. Unless you're using crazy dilutions, your print should be about identical. Works to compensate for somewhat exhausted developers as well.

Ansel Adams
26-Aug-2005, 11:06
And I quote; "Since paper is fully developed (unlike negative film) extending the time will not produce remarkably different results, until fog begins to set in. "

Wrong you are paper breath.
Leaving the print in the developer (In this case Dektol) will in fact increase certain aspects of the print. Perhaps you need to go back and re-read my book. After all, I am the leading authority on print making you knoa.

Warmest regards,

Donald Qualls
26-Aug-2005, 17:56
Whatever you do, do *not* use your Dektol without dilution. Standard dilutions are 1+1, 1+2, and 1+3, but Ansel Adams (the real one, not the somewhat rude fellow who posted just ahead of me) mentioned using dilution as high as 1+9 for making very large prints that required development by rollfing from hand to hand in a trough (because there were no trays big enough). Changing dilution mostly changes process time -- the weaker the developer, the longer it takes to work -- but also affects capacity (of course) and can have very minor effects on contrast and range.

FWIW, I've been using my Dektol at 1+3 and been pretty happy with it; I've been developing my RC paper for two minutes, which is about 4 times longer than it takes for the print to stop changing visibly (at least under safelight). I haven't tested whether shorter times would be the same, though I have a hunch I could develop this paper, on which the image is very quick to come up, for one minute and get no visible difference. Some papers, however, are much slower in the dev and two minutes should be long enough for almost all of them in 1+3. If you're concerned about it, expose three prints identically; develop each in fresh developer (not the same soup for all three in succession), one for one minute, one for two, and one for three (or you can even use more steps, perhaps 30 seconds and four or five minutes). Choose the shortest time that has no visible change from the previous one, for best consistency.

Mark Sawyer
26-Aug-2005, 18:21
Without getting into the subtleties of the fine print, I'll throw in that one minute is the minimum time for an RC print, as they have a developer/accelerator built into the emulsion. But Fiber-based prints require a minimum of two minutes to allow the deep blacks to fully develop, (I prefer three minutes or there-abouts).

Ansel Adams
27-Aug-2005, 10:12
Mr. Qualls,

I am NOT rude. back in the 70's Saturday Night Live used to do a comedic skit that used the term "Wrong you are ???? breath". They would fill in the ???? depending on who th eguest or subject was.

I guess your sense of humor is a bit dry.

And for the record, extended development at most dilutions will in fact affect the final image.
I also do NOT recommend development times of less than 2 to 2-1/2 minutes in Dektol. My favorite dilution is 1:4.


John Berry ( Roadkill )
28-Aug-2005, 19:47
I use dektol at 1:2. 2 min minimum. I have used up to 5, or split with selectol soft. Whatever it takes.