View Full Version : Liquidol first impression

16-Jun-2018, 06:39
I tried out some Liquidol paper developer yesterday and unfortunately was not wow'ed. The images are much softer and flatter (less glossy) than what I get with LPD 1:1 or PF 130. Blacks were dull black with shadows very open. Highlights were never really white but rather a very soft grey even when using high contrast filters and shortening times. Midtones were not muddy, but there was little separation where I expected to see it, but instead more of a gradient transition. Looked about the same wet or dry. I did like the short one minute development times for testing.

Dilution was 1:9 fresh out of the bottle. Paper MGFB Classic, also new. Acid Stop and Ilford Rapid fixer. It could be the temperature in my darkroom was a bit hot (90 degrees F) so developer rose from 70 to nearly 80 degrees by the end of the one hour session.

I know this developer has its fans who get rich blacks and good results. Is there some learning curve with exposure or a better mix for this developer? Or are its characteristics just extremely different than LPD and PF 130?

Also what is the working strength practical shelf life in a bottle? Documentation motions up to 32 hours in a tray, but no mention of sealed bottle.

Jerry Bodine
16-Jun-2018, 09:54
...Also what is the working strength practical shelf life in a bottle? Documentation motions up to 32 hours in a tray, but no mention of sealed bottle.

As you probably already know, Ron Mowery designed Liquidol to be long-lasting. Before I purchased any Liquidol, I found some of his posts on APUG (now Photrio), then PM’d him my questions. Here are some excerpts from his responses:

...When I designed Liquidol for the Formulary, I used the latest Kodak technology to get long life. I have used bottles that are over 5 years old, and the same is true for F5 fixer. Nothing fancy is needed for keeping the concentrates.

I have bottles of unopened Liquidol that are years old and that still work. Opened bottles will keep for at least 6 months if not a year, and in a tray the keeping is very good. I have had excellent results after 48 hours in an open tray...

Specific to your question, there is this:
Liquidol has a long shelf life but not infinite. When it is good it is clear or even yellow. The time to worry is when crystals form. This indicates that the oxygen has begun to turn the Sulfite into Sulfate and it begins to precipitate. Even then if it is not dark brown, the developer will still work, albeit with some slight loss in capacity and tray life.

Short story of personal experience:
When I received my first bottle, I tested it with fresh 5x7 Classic paper (that I have yet to use for images) using a 31-step Stouffer and was very pleased with both whites and blacks as well as gloss finish, using 1+9 dilution and 60 seconds dev as recommended for starters. Experimentation is recommended. One day I just happened to go into my darkroom to get something and immediately noticed the door handle was rather hot. When I opened the door I was hit with a blast of hot air. The thermostat for my wall heater had stuck in the ON position and could not be turned off. The room temp was at 108*F. I gambled against electric shock and tried to rip the thermostat out of the wall and in the process it shut off; then I grabbed the used bottle of Liquidol and boxes of film to get them out of the room, then put a large fan in the doorway to flush the hot air from the room. I ordered a new bottle of Liquidol and when it arrived I repeated the earlier tests and found no differences in the results. Liquidol is truly tough stuff.

I've since clearly labeled the circuit breaker for the power to the darkroom and replaced the thermostat with a heavy duty ON-OFF switch that will only be used when I am in there and need a chill chaser. The room is very well insulated and seldom goes much above 70*F year round.

Mark Sampson
16-Jun-2018, 17:28
I am using Liquidol now that I've set up a new darkroom. I find that works very well for me... although I haven't done any sensitometric tests, just followed the directions.I'm getting prints I like, with deep blacks, and it lasts far longer than I would have thought.
I'm printing on Ilford Multicontrast Classic and that paper responds quite nicely. I've been able to get all the contrast range I need; I'm developing for 90 seconds rather than the two minutes that was my previous standard. The tone color is quite neutral (no obnoxious green tint). Process temps have been in the low-mid 70s. I'm quite pleased, given the number of prints I've been able to make so far; in a year I'll know more.
@esearing, I'm sorry to hear of your poor results. Perhaps further testing, A-B against your preferred developer, will point to some answers. Paper is expensive and so is your time.

18-Jun-2018, 04:53
Perhaps further testing, A-B against your preferred developer, will point to some answers. Paper is expensive and so is your time.

Ran the same image through LPD,PF130, and Ilford Multigrade in same hot conditions (90 degrees air temp, 78degrees for chems). The LPD print was noticeably better when wet even though I used a warm dilution 1:3, not as bright as a 1:1 mix would be. Dry down took away some of the wet sparkle but there was still good separation throughout the image. PH130 was nearly black, still worked, but it stained the paper. It was mixed in January, so I will have to order some more to test it again. Ilford Multigrade was about the same as Liquidol, flat and soft in the midtones but with less shadow detail but brighter in the highlights.

I could be that LPD has a higher temperature allowance than other developers. I guess I need a garage air conditioner or to work in the early mornings while temps are cooler.