View Full Version : Print developing times

27-Jun-2009, 09:47
I understand the importance of water temp. when developing film, but is it a critical when developing b&w prints? My film speed tests were done with 75 deg water temp, because where I live, its difficult to lower the temp and maintain it. So do I adjust a paper developer time for water temp? If so, is it roughly the same as when adjusting film development? Lastly, can someone recommend a paper developer for a newbie that may be a little more forgiving? Thanks

Keith Tapscott.
27-Jun-2009, 11:04
Any of the print developers that are sold as a liquid concentrate will perform well. These are usually diluted 1:9. I wouldn`t bother adjusting the development times as many darkroom users often develop their prints a touch longer than recommended by the manufacturer.
Ilford Multigrade developer works OK for me. Try 1 minute for resin-coated papers and 2 minutes for fibre-based papers.

Arne Croell
27-Jun-2009, 11:26
Temperature does affect emergence and development time, so being consistent is a good idea. Ansel used his factor method: he determined emergence time and then calculated full development time as a multiple of that. The old Zone VI Compensating Timer measured the temperature and adjusted the lengths of the "seconds" counted accordingly. Note that all these methods work well only within a range of about 65-75F since Hydroquinone has a very different response to temperature changes outside that range than the other reducing agents like Metol or Phenidone; it is essentially not active at really cold temperatures and too active at hot ones, changing the contrast characteristics at temperature extremes.

Bruce Barlow
27-Jun-2009, 11:47
As a Neaderthal, I still love Dektol. Easy and available. I mix a gallon and decant into 16 oz. bottles. Dilute 1:2 and it's a perfect serving for 8x10 paper.

Development times matter. Do a simple exercise: Expose three prints the same. Develop one for a minute, one for two, and one for six minutes. Line them up. What do you see?

Don't theorize, DO!

All best,


Greg Lockrey
27-Jun-2009, 12:38
I always liked Dektol and I usually set my enlarger times to print out at 4 minutes with Brovira when I was using it. I found that it gave me good detail in the shadow areas without fogging the highlights. 5 minutes tended to fog the highlights a bit. I also used to put ice cubes in a baggie to bring the temps down to about 68-70 degrees when it got warm.

27-Jun-2009, 13:04
Usta be on fiber paper that time variations affected contrast.If one is doing matched prints, the emergence time is a help, but as long as the temp stays constant during the production of all the prints it matters little, within reason- like 65-85 F
There have been investigations i the past, report in Photo Techniques [or one of the other names it has been] of VC/RC and the reported results IIRC were that tone manipulation by development time was of lille effect
YMMV, try it

Andrew O'Neill
27-Jun-2009, 14:02
For consistency, keep temperatures the same. Use emergence time and factorial method of development if your temps vary.

27-Jun-2009, 18:09
My darkroom stays 60-70f year round. I use dektol and Ilford MG RC paper. In the low 60's, you need 2 minutes for full consistent development. At 65-70f, 60-90 seconds is fine, much more than that doesn't help anything. Basically it takes a certain amount of time from white paper to properly and evenly developed. Then there's a period of time it doesn't do much good or bad to the typical photo. Then there's overdeveloping. It's NOT a linear progression like with film and pushing film.

28-Jun-2009, 02:07
Temperature and development times are quite critical particularly with Warm tone papers as shifts in development affect image colour and tones.

It's more important though to keep the temperature relatively constant, many of us push/pull prints to deliberately to achieve subtle changes in contrast and image colour.


Ron McElroy
28-Jun-2009, 09:32
I agree with Bruce on this one. Dektol (and Zone VI dektol) has been my primary developer for paper since the 70s when I learned to print. Testing for your darkroom environment is the only way to find what works for you.

In my darkroom the incoming water temp in summer hits about 84F, but the room has ac and I process at the ambient air temp of about 72F. With dektol 1:2 I expose for a 2 minute development.