View Full Version : Homebrew film and print developers

Dave French
22-Jul-2009, 11:09
Does anyone here have experience with homebrewed film and/or print developers? I'm a bit put off by the cost of XTOL, for example, especially since I use so little of the 5 L. that I have to mix each time I need a fresh batch. Ditto with Dektol.

I develop HP5+ in homemade BTZS-style tubes, using about 50ml per 4x5 sheet, but I shoot so little (and print even less often) that any chemicals I mix exceed their shelf life long before I can use them.

Vit. C-based developers seem like a good idea, since the components should be readily available either locally or ordered online. Does anyone here have any experience using such developers? Opinions?

Thanks --

Arthur Nichols
22-Jul-2009, 11:49
I mix up my own "Mytol". I have not done scientific testing but it seems to work as well as the pre-mixed version. I also mix my own Dektol, the generic name is D-72. Steve Anchell put out two books with formulas. One is called the darkroom cookbook and other is called the film developer cookbook. These two are standard reference books in my darkroom. Almost every photo formula can be found on the web as well. I bought a large container of sodium sufite and sodium carbonate. These are the two chemicals that are used in the highest quantity for the more or less standard formulas.
Good luck

Dave French
22-Jul-2009, 12:24
Thanks, Art.

I've seen references to Steve Anchell's books and will look for copies. I've also bookmarked Patrick Gainer's article (http://unblinkingeye.com/Articles/VitC/vitc.html); I remember reading it in Darkroom and Creative Camera Techniques years ago.


22-Jul-2009, 12:31
i home brew ( really it is a kit from the formulary )
ansco (formulary) 130. i am using some i mixed over a year ago
and it is still good. ... i also home brew a coffee + vit c based
developer for all my film. i mix it fresh, and the ingredients can be
found with ease pretty much anywhere.

Drew Wiley
22-Jul-2009, 12:51
I've been making all kinds of customized film and print developers for years. If you
wish to experiment it is best to start with published formulas and then tweak things
from there. Be prepared for some failures, so don't use your best exposures as the
guinea pig!

David Karp
22-Jul-2009, 12:57
Mixing your own is fun. I have used some Agfa 100 print developer (from the Cookbook) and use Barry Thornton's 2 bath film developer. I have also used Divided D-76H (from the Cookbook).

If you are concerned about cost, there are other alternatives to X-Tol that last a long long time. Pyrocat HD or MC in glycol from Photographer's Formulary, HC-110, or Ilfotec HC (I think that is what they call it) come to mind.

22-Jul-2009, 13:00
There are a few darkroom cookbooks that offer recipes and hints on mixing your own One is The Darkroom Cookbook by Stephen Anchnell. Photographers' Formulary is both a supplier and has reference material on line at http://www.photoformulary.com/DesktopDefault.aspx

Arthur Nichols
22-Jul-2009, 14:18
Here is a link for the "Mytol" formula
Here is the formula for D-72 (Dektol)
Water 125F 750ml
Metol 3.0 grams
Sodium Sulfite, anhydrous 45.0 grams
Hydroquinone 12.0 grams
Sodium Carbonate, monhydrated 80.0 grams
Poassium Bromide 2.0 grams
Cold water to make 1.0 Litre
You can purchase bulk chemicals at
Artcraft chemicals: http://www.artcraftchemicals.com/
Photographers formulary
And of course you will need a scale. I bought a digital toyo and it has worked great for years.
Good luck!

Jason Greenberg Motamedi
22-Jul-2009, 14:24
I mix just about everything myself: developer, fixer, stop, and hypoclear. I think the only thing I don't mix myself is the photoflo. In the long run it is cheaper to mix yourself, but the initial purchase of chemicals, as well as a decent scale, gloves, glasses and a mask with a particle filter (which you should have anyways for mixing bagged chemicals) can be very expensive. Add in a used magnetic heater/stirrer (not necessary, but convenient and fun) a collection of glass beakers, graduated cylinders, maybe some pipettes, and it may well take years to recoup your costs.

That said, when Kodak decides to stop making D-76 or Xtol I won't panic (remember the Rodinal panic?). My main concern is obtaining the raw chemicals--getting more and more difficult, but for the moment thanks to Artcraft, the Formulary, Bostick & Sullivan, and a few local suppliers I am set.

For what it is worth, in my experience Mytol works identically to Xtol.

kev curry
22-Jul-2009, 15:18
Pyro. Cheap as chips, lasts for years or even indefinately... so they say.
Buy a kit mix it up and forger about film developer forever...ish;-)


Dave French
23-Jul-2009, 03:05
Thanks to all for your suggestions and links to various resources. I remember (I've been away from this for a while) there was some discussion about Pyro and this might be a good time to look into it.

The Bostick and Sullivan site lists several Pyro variants; any pros or cons on them?

23-Jul-2009, 05:44
Rodinal. Keeps forever. Can be used in dilutions as high as 1:100. Freestyle will send it to your door.