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Thread: use developer dilution to tame high water temps?

  1. #1

    Join Date
    Mar 2002
    now in Tucson, AZ

    use developer dilution to tame high water temps?

    Here's a new one to me after forty years in the darkroom. The water temp where I live now is at 80F. I have a lot of exposed 4x5 FP4+ film, which I will develop in Pyrocat-HD, using a 12-sheet Nikor tank (in numerous batches of course). I've done this successfully for several years, but the ambient water temp has never gone above 75 until now. So the calculations... show a dev time of 4'06". I wouldn't do that short a time in a tray, much less in a daylight tank with its long fill/dump times. So it occurs to me...

    Can I use a higher-than-normal developer dilution to increase the development times to a reasonable, and repeatable, length?

    My current dilution is 1:1:100, standard I guess. And of course it's important to keep the processing chemicals at close to the ambient wash water temperature. Chilling the chemistry is not really an option.
    Is it feasible to go to, say, 1:1:200 and increase the dev time? I suppose there are two concerns here.
    1) would there be enough developing agent to get to a normal printing density?
    2) how would you calculate an increased time?
    I have some exposed, non-project film that I had planned to use to calibrate the process before developing important film. But I wonder if anyone has tried this approach with any success? I don't want to spend half a box of film, and many scarce hours, testing this approach if I can pick your collective brains.
    Ideas, anyone?

  2. #2
    ic-racer's Avatar
    Join Date
    Feb 2007

    Re: use developer dilution to tame high water temps?

    I did a project requiring very dilute developer a few years ago. Since my tank is of limited size, I changed the developer in the tank up to six times.

    This shows measuring and diluting the solution between six bottles. The correct processing time was established via trial and error. Lots of it, as I found my control strips processed faster (when processed alone) than the keeper negatives.
    Click image for larger version. 

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  3. #3
    David Schaller
    Join Date
    Mar 2002
    Williamstown, MA

    Re: use developer dilution to tame high water temps?

    I'm interested in this too, specifically PyroCat, for a different reason -- large N minuses.

  4. #4

    Join Date
    Feb 2001
    Blue Jay, CA

    Re: use developer dilution to tame high water temps?

    It is sound in theory if you don't overdo it. Due to high temps I went to my own dilution of HC110 years ago as I wanted to keep development times above 4 minutes in the summer. It is more dilute than the standard 1:31 "B" dilution. It didn't take much testing, I just made a negative developed normally, then a second identical exposure, cut in strips with longer and longer times in more dilute developer until I had a match. I use slow constant tray agitation so no chance I'd stray into accidental stand development + my dilution didn't need to be hugely more than normal.

  5. #5
    Jim Jones's Avatar
    Join Date
    Aug 2006
    Chillicothe Missouri USA

    Re: use developer dilution to tame high water temps?

    I've developed T-Max film in T-Max developer in trays and tanks at normal dilutions up to 85 degrees with no problems. Of course that's with a pre-wash.

  6. #6

    Re: use developer dilution to tame high water temps?

    Why not just keep a couple of bottles of water in the refrigerator? Mix the water from the fridge with water from the tap and off you go.


  7. #7

    Join Date
    Jan 2006
    Tucson AZ

    Re: use developer dilution to tame high water temps?

    I put a couple of frozen bottles of water in the Jobo. Works well. Sometimes need to change them out part way through. Or maybe I should just shoot C-41 in the summer.

  8. #8
    IanG's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jan 2007
    Aegean (Turkey & UK)

    Re: use developer dilution to tame high water temps?

    I regularly process at 27C (just over 80F) when in Turkey, that's the water temperature in the summer. I'm also using Pyrocat HD and my times are nowhere near that short,

    15min @20C or 9:15 @ 27C that's in Jobo 2000 (inversion) tanks.


  9. #9

    Join Date
    Dec 1999
    Forest Grove, Ore.

    Re: use developer dilution to tame high water temps?

    Is the water any cooler in the morning? Mine is, so I develop film then. I keep my temperature at 70 degrees F. If needed, I get some ice from the fridge to maintain the proper temperatures. I use a Zone VI, compensating developing timer that corrects for changes in development, if I drift away a bit from 70 deg. F.

    I'm no whiz at developer chemistry, etc., but I remember reading the following in Ansel Adams books. Addressing your question, it depends on what developer that you're using. If it includes both metol and hydroquinone, then it's not a good idea. The two change their fundamental characteristics differently with a change in temperature. It's not just an increase in activity. Metol activity behaves as expected with changes of temperature.

    However, activity for hydroquinone behaves disproportionately with changes in temperature. It has almost no activity below 55 deg.F. However, it becomes excessively active above 75 deg F. So as temperature changes, developers containing both these active ingredients fundamentally change their properties. Adams also comments that at high dilutions, prints developed in Dektol take on a muddy quality. Seems like it would be the same for film.

  10. #10

    Join Date
    Oct 2003
    St. Simons Island, Georgia

    Re: use developer dilution to tame high water temps?

    I had this problem when I lived in a place where the water pipes were in the roof. I was using Efke film and had reticulation problems if I chilled the developer but used other chemicals at room temperature. I went to more dilute Pyrocat and various minimal agitation schemes to develop at 80F. The need for minimal agitation was also required to control the very high SBR where I lived.
    I luckily had a corner of a building that, in the late afternoon, gave me a complete range of zones and made an excellent test site. I had to do a good bit of experiment ion to find appropriate development times, and like Ian, my times were not nearly as short as yours.

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