View Full Version : basic chemical recommendations

24-Jan-2008, 11:14
I'm about to delve into some BW film processing after a little break of about 23 years!

I'll be dabbling in a bit of T-Max 400 and FP4 for now using a Combi-Plan.

So I need an idiots guide to chemicals please would I be best with T-Max developer and Fixer (would this be suitable for FP4?) and what about stop bath, any stop bath? And any wetting agent??

Any advise would be much appreciated. :)

Bruce Watson
24-Jan-2008, 11:19
What you need is the The Film Developing Cookbook. (http://books.google.com/books?id=lzAKYgLtTd4C&dq=the+film+developing+cookbook&pg=PP1&ots=BhO4kPmQtP&sig=CnZQvW20W9SAOsvPn7ZZFRZdBpI&hl=en&prev=http://www.google.com/search?hl=en&q=the+film+developing+cookbook&btnG=Search&sa=X&oi=print&ct=title&cad=one-book-with-thumbnail) Your local photo store may sell them. Tells you much of what you need to know to allow you to intelligently choose a developer.

24-Jan-2008, 11:19
I would recommend xtol for the developer, water for the stop bath, Ilford Rapid Fix, and photo-flo for the wetting agent.

Gene McCluney
24-Jan-2008, 11:26
T-max, Xtol, D-76 or HC-110 would all be good developer choices..kind of "industry standards" here. T-max and HC-110 are liquid concentrates, the others are dry powders. HC-110 is particularly long-lived in concentrate form. You would use it, as well as the T-max developers as "one-shot". Mixing up just the amount you need, and then dumping after developing. Kodak rapid fix, or Ilford Rapid Fix and photoflo are also pretty much standards that enjoy a very wide audience of use.

Ralph Barker
24-Jan-2008, 12:34
Every photographer who processes their own film will have their own favorites. In that respect, not much has changed in the last 23 years. A few products have bitten the dust, and a few new ones have appeared, but most of the "old faithfuls" are still around.

My suggestion would be to re-start with a couple of simple decisions. First, determine where you want to buy (e.g. local vs. Internet). Then, re-start with one of the old faithfuls, as suggested - D-76, HC110, etc.

24-Jan-2008, 14:24
Thanks for the info everyone, I was looking at The Film Developing Cookbook on Amazon earlier so I'll maybe get that.

I seem to remember using Paterson developer all those years ago but I believe they're all done now, and Hypam Fixer – oh how the memories are rushing back...

Ron Marshall
24-Jan-2008, 15:45
Ilford DD-X, since you are in the UK.

26-Jan-2008, 19:23
Regardless of the chemicials I suggest you test development to get a 12-14 minute development time at 68 degrees. If you vary the tempeture to get a short development time and need to do normal-1,-2,-3 or +1,+2,+3 and you may have a 6 minute development time, for example, with the need to stop development at 6 minutes 15 seconds (varys by you test) but the point is diluted developer in a long developement time lets you have, in theory, have 2 minutes per zone, and is lots easier to control than using the full strgenth developer for a shorter time. my opinion for what its worth.

John Kasaian
26-Jan-2008, 21:10
Start with D-76 or the Ilford equivalent. Why? because it is easy to find, pretty safe to work with and every photography teacher I know of starts students out on it. You may well migrate to something else later on (and maybe back again!) but you are asking for a place to start, right? The stuff works great on Tmax 400 and FP-4+. Tmax RS (the developer Kodak makes for Tmax sheet film) is, for me difficult to obtain (why I have no idea) more costly and quite frankly I can't tell the difference between it and D-76 so I use D-76. A stop bath is nice. It isn't expensive (down right cheap)and you'll have to mix up a batch for your prints anyway. I find it is unneccesary for sheet film if you are using a processor though.. Distilled water is fine---I wouldn't try reusing the stuff in a Combi-plan---use it as a "one shot" (though I'm sure there will be differing opinons. ) Plain old Kodak fixer works fine. I find "rapid" fixers more of an effort to mix and being basically lazy....well you get the idea.

With Tmax 400 (at least the "old" stuff---I haven't tried "Son of Tmax" yet---a pre-wash"will get rid of the pinkish purple dye. I'd recommend a prewash for Tmax---plain distilled water works fine. One minute in my Unicolor processor will get all the color out, I don't know how long it will take in a Combi plan---perhaps some kind and knowing soul will chime in here. The prewash comes first, before the developer.

I dry sheet film in a low tech way---wooden clothes pins (the kind with springs) suspended from a bit of clothes line strung up over a sink or tub. One clothes pin on the corner of each negative. Hey it works for me.

Keep it fun, keep it simple. There are plenty of tricks to learn and exotic chemicals to play with...when you find the need you'll acquire the skills (motivation is a...well...motivator!) But IMHO the simpler the better. Developing film is IMHO one of the least interesting parts of LF (someone once said that watching dust balls breed under the bed is more fun than developing film!)

My 2-cents, anyway!