View Full Version : Film Developer Standard?

Eric Woodbury
27-Apr-2011, 14:43
Maybe this is a stupid question. Won't be my first. I'm wondering if there is a film developer that might be perceived as a standard, much as Dektol is for a print developer? Maybe it is D76. Here's the issue. I have done a lot of developer testing of my own brews in the past year and a half on HP5+. I'd like to compare the developer to a 'standard'. It would be nice so that in description, I could say 'it has more of this and less of that' than the standard. It would be good so that I can tell if all my work was worth it or for nothing.

I've read other descriptions of developers and people say it is better than DD-X and worse than pyroX. But I haven't tried DD-X (the X must stand for Xpensive) and I've only used one pyro. There are comparisons to all kinds of things, but a good, clear, analytical description is hard to come by and a comparison to some "standard developer" is as well. I'm considering something like PC TEA, as I have these chemicals and it is well respected and easy to make.

OK, thanks for looking. Sorry for the trouble.

27-Apr-2011, 15:03
I would say that D-76 would be the "standard" to measure against...generally used straight with sheet film. Just a very good, widely used developer.

HC110 might qualify (Dil B), but the use of the various dilutions would make it more difficult to determine a standard.

Nathan Potter
27-Apr-2011, 15:19
By any kind of manufacturing standard or say ANSI standard the developer constituents can be a standard but the processing results would not be, unless the full process is disclosed and documented for each type of film or paper. I don't believe any of the developer processes are documented fully enough to be considered a "standard" due to the large number of variables involved. For example the exact agitation used or the exact age of the developer, among other variables would need to be specified.

I suppose the final criteria would be the achievement of an exactly reproducible sensitometric curve from session to session.

Nate Potter, Austin TX.

Eric Woodbury
27-Apr-2011, 15:21
Vaughn, thanks for that. I hesitate some. I think you are right and I used D76 for a lot of years a long time ago. Generally good stuff, but as noted by Anchell, the pH can change and the hydroquinone is unnecessary. See D76H. Now there are many D76 look alikes as well. Still, I have the chems for this one, too.

27-Apr-2011, 15:29
Well, I would suggest one of the Ilford developers for an Ilford film. Lots of folks (like me) don't use Kodak products.

Ilford has a publication available online called "THE ILFORD BLACK & WHITE PHOTOGRAPHIC CHEMICAL RANGE" that gives a good comparison of all the developers except Ilfosol 3, which apparently came out after this publication.

There's also a Fact Sheet entitled "ILFOTEC DD-X, ILFOTEC LC29 AND ILFOSOL S FILM DEVELOPERS" that compares those three liquids.

And finally there's a separate sheet for Ilfosol 3, which is designed for the slower films such as FP4+.

These are all available at http://www.ilfordphoto.com

I don't shoot HP5 so I can't make a personal recommendation, but DD-X would seem to be the front-runner based on the literature.

- Leigh

27-Apr-2011, 15:37
D-76, HC-110, or Xtol, especially if you live in the USA.

27-Apr-2011, 16:38
Vaughn, thanks for that. I hesitate some. I think you are right and I used D76 for a lot of years a long time ago.

We have used it as our only developer for the 30+ years I have been around the university darkroom, and I figure most school darkrooms have used it as their main, if not only, film developer. So as an off-the-shelf product, it is probably the most used and known developer in the USA. And that is why I thought it would make a good "standard" for comparisons.

And I would consider using it as an off-the-shelf product if one was to work up a comparison, rather than making it from scratch. I believe some changes are made to the formula to get all the ingrediants to mix well out of the bag. It just seems to me to be the most useful way to go about it. More people would have used it off the shelf and would use their experiece with it to see where your list of comparisons would take them.


27-Apr-2011, 16:54
As far as I am aware, D-76 is the developer by which all other developers are compared to and many, if not all, film manufactures tweak their product to match D-76. It's been that way every since the developer came out in the 1930's I believe.

D-76 was my forst developer and I mixed and used it for several years. That said, I've found Xtol to be a better developer than D-76 and better on the environment also.


Kevin Crisp
27-Apr-2011, 20:22
D76 or HC110 or, these days, Xtol

Jim Noel
28-Apr-2011, 07:35
For many years, at least 50, D-76 has been the developer against which all others have been compared for film speed and granularity. That says to me that it is the standard. Whether it is the best for a particular situation is beside the point.

Oren Grad
28-Apr-2011, 08:00

28-Apr-2011, 15:27
WOW, i see many recommend D-76 but i see many use another developers like Rodinal or HC-110 or even XTOL, so i really don't know why i recommend something and i use something else, i am using D-76 but i used another developers and i got great results with all developers and bad results or not properly, even with D-76 i have not so good results, so why recommending D-76 as standard developer 85% over another developers?

28-Apr-2011, 19:05
I believe "PE" on the APUG forum has mentioned that the developer specified by the ISO standard is similar to D76.

Helen Bach
28-Apr-2011, 19:34
It was similar, but the ISO no longer specifies a particular developer for film speed determination. Manufacturers can use whatever they wish, and may even quote the speed with different developers.