View Full Version : Diafine Two Bath Developer

Juergen Sattler
13-May-2006, 17:24
I just heard of Diafine the first time and was wondering if anyone on this forum is using it - it almost sounds like magic!? It's a two bath developer that can be reused over and over again - on another forum someone has been using the same Diafine mix for two years now. Supposedely you soup the film in the first developer for at least 3 minutes (longer times make no difference), pour the chemicals back in the bottle and pour in developer number 2 - also for at least 3 minutes. Shadows are said to be great without washing out the high-lights. Is this magic or what?

Jim MacKenzie
13-May-2006, 18:05
It does work but it's not magic. Some love the tonality it creates; others think that it's a bit too abrupt in its differences between tones. The only way to know if you like it is to try it.

It's well worth trying, though.

R Mann
13-May-2006, 18:38
I use it - I like it in the summer as my darkroom temperature runs around 75 to 80 degrees. I does a good job - I would compare it to what you would get with d76. I find there is a little speed increase, but not what is sometimes claimed (or printed on the box). It does last for a long time - I have used some batches for over a year with no problems.

Jay DeFehr
13-May-2006, 19:40

since time/temp are not effective development controls with Diafine, one is left only with exposure to optimize, which simplifies the process, but also imparts unreasonable limitations for me. Without the ability to control contrast, and work in various lighting conditions, there is very little creative control in B/W work. Negs developed in Diafine appear bland and lifeless to my eyes. In other words, not magic at all. If there is an opposite term to magic, Diafine might be described by it.


Donald Qualls
13-May-2006, 21:12
I've used Diafine occasionally for a couple years.

Nothing can beat it for ease of use, and if you shoot Tri-X (400TX) anyway, you've got the film for which Diafine was optimized; you'll get everything it can deliver in terms of increased speed (some of it real).

For large format, speed is a much smaller issue in general (when you're on a tripod anyway, exposing for 1 second instead of a 1/4 second isn't usually a big deal), and in any case the Tri-X we get isn't quite the same as what's sold in 35 mm. At the bottom, though, there's still convenience; it's hard to argue with a developer that almost doesn't need either a thermometer or a stopwatch -- as long as it's at least 65 F and you give at least 3 minutes in each bath, you'll get usable negatives.

On 400TX, I've liked my Diafine negatives as well as any; they're flatter than those I make with HC-110, but not enough so to cause problems in printing or scanning. The only large format I've done with Diafine was Fomapan 100, which gives a nice, solid EI 160 and, in 9x12 cm, almost indistinguishable tonality and grain. Diafine doesn't really lend itself to tray processing IMO (too easy to get bath B into bath A, thereby contaminating it and destroying its long-life properties), but works very well in daylight tanks or tubes, with the limitation that it also doesn't like continuous agitation (especially in the B bath, where there's a concern about washing the developing agent out of the emulsion). The working solution keeps like Rodinal or HC-110 concentrate -- no matter how bad it looks, if there's enough to cover the film, it'll still get the job done.

I don't use it very much, even with all that -- I don't shoot as much 35 mm as I once did, don't want or need to shoot at EI 1600 as frequently (though that might change again getting the meter fixed in my Spotmatic), and don't find Diafine attractive as an alternative to HC-110, Caffenol, or Parodinal for box speed metering. For large format, it's hardly worth bothering -- I do about 90% of my large format in Parodinal now, the remainder in HC-110.

For what it costs, by all means, get a quart size package of Diafine, mix it up, store it in PETE or glass, and use it for a while. If you like it, get another quart and use it like replenisher; if not, you've spent less than a quality lunch for two...

14-May-2006, 05:24
Diafine is a compensating developer, so you don't have to fool with +1, -1, etc, zone development. If you don't wish to use PYRO to tone down overblown highlights and/or control extremely contrasty situations/film, then it's the best way to go. It provides incredibly sharp images, although without the dazzling edge effects of PYRO.

David Karp
14-May-2006, 08:08
I have used Diafine with LF, MF, and 35mm in a variety of films. Although others like it with the T-Max films, I found it to be very undesireable - very, very flat and muddy. Have not tried it with the Delta films. I like it with HP5+ and FP4+, although I did not see the advertised speed increase. I ended up using HP5+ at 200 and FP4+ at 80. Much of what I photograph is in conditions with lots of contrast, so the inherent compensating nature of the developer worked for me.

For a while now, I have switched from Diafine to Barry Thornton's 2 bath, which also gives you a little more flexibility than does Diafine. There was a discussion on 2 baths not too long ago that you can see here: http://www.largeformatphotography.info/forum/showthread.php?t=15811&highlight=thornton

Since that discussion I tested Delta 100 in 4x5 with Thornton's developer and liked the results with it.

I use a slosher to develop my film and it works great in this combination. Just make sure to the B bath out of the A bath.

A lot of people don't like 2 baths. I do, not having seen the problems others have mentioned with them. Try it. You might like it.