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Thread: Have you found exotic developers worth it for 8x10?

  1. #1

    Have you found exotic developers worth it for 8x10?

    I'm going to be processing my 8x10 in a Jobo expert drum, and I'm going to be establishing my system for consistency with a densitometer, the whole works. So I'll be settling on a developer of choice for sheet film. I spent a lot of time playing around with developers before, but that essay on Magic Bullets in the splash page really rings true in my mind. I'll also only be contact printing the 8x10s or scanning them for enlargements.

    Have you found it worth it to use more exotic formulas like Pyrocat? Or is it somewhat of an exercise in gilding the lily when it comes to a format that is already delivering the goods through sheer size? Especially as now there are a lot of great developer choices that are off the shelf. Even FX-39 is back. D76 creates grainless HP5 negatives. I've even thought about using Anco 130 as it will be my paper developer of choice.

    When it comes to using film in my Rolleiflex cameras and enlarging them, I'm sure I'll enjoy using an acutance developer. But when it comes to 8x10, stop me if I'm 'magic bullet chasing.'

  2. #2
    Eric Woodbury
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    Re: Have you found exotic developers worth it for 8x10?

    For me, it was a lot of fun using the exotic developers, but I use XTOL for 95% of my work. It's non-toxic, easy. If I need N+4, I will use Wimberley's pyro formula. And I have a pyro amidol formula I use for a few things, but XTOL is fine.

    My films are HP5, FP4 mostly, with some Tech Pan and Ilford Ortho thrown in for good luck.

    Have fun.

  3. #3

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    Re: Have you found exotic developers worth it for 8x10?

    I like Ansco 130 because of it's longevity (thanks, john nanian!)
    I mostly use "plain vanilla" D-76 and have used TMAX RS back when I shot TMY. And a brief fling with HC-110
    Regrettably, due to some health issues, Pyro isn't on the menu for me, but I'm happy with Ansco 130 and D-76
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    I steal time at 1/125th of a second, so I don't consider my photography to be Fine Art as much as it is petty larceny.
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  4. #4
    おせわに なります! Andrew O'Neill's Avatar
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    Re: Have you found exotic developers worth it for 8x10?

    Pyrocat-HD

  5. #5
    Vaughn's Avatar
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    Re: Have you found exotic developers worth it for 8x10?

    Depends on the what one wants the final image to look like. For me the answer is yes, even tho the word 'exotic' does not really apply, IMO.
    "Landscapes exist in the material world yet soar in the realms of the spirit..." Tsung Ping, 5th Century China

  6. #6

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    Re: Have you found exotic developers worth it for 8x10?

    You didn't say what film you expect to use, or your subject matter. Knowing that would help.
    But XTOL, perhaps diluted 1:1, should work quite well for a number of different films and subjects.

    Full disclosure: I shoot 4x5 outdoors, and my favorite combination nowadays is Iford FP4+ and Pyrocat-HD. Won't necessarily be yours.

  7. #7
    Vaughn's Avatar
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    Re: Have you found exotic developers worth it for 8x10?

    Quote Originally Posted by Mark Sampson View Post
    ... my favorite combination nowadays is Iford FP4+ and Pyrocat-HD. Won't necessarily be yours.
    Same here in formats up to 11x14, for the way I make platinum/palladium prints and carbon prints (going for negs with a bit more contrast than average). But I also find FP4+ in Ilford Universal PQ Developer to be excellent for those processes (also very easy to mix/use).

    You also might find that the best neg for contact printing may not be the best negative for scanning. My best negatives for carbon printing give scanners fits (DR of 2.8+). Might be a bit of an extreme case...but it does seem that the best negatives for scanning might be a bit flat relative to the best neg for contact printing.

    My platinum printing and carbon printing require different density ranges for their negatives. I will occasionally expose two negatives and develop one for each process. Since my carbon printing flips the image, compositionally this does not always work.
    "Landscapes exist in the material world yet soar in the realms of the spirit..." Tsung Ping, 5th Century China

  8. #8
    Peter De Smidt's Avatar
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    Re: Have you found exotic developers worth it for 8x10?

    Assuming you develop to the same contrast, difference betweens contact prints made with different developers are going to be very small. Grain isn't going to matter. Speed will matter a bit. Some developers cut film speed in half, some give a boost..... With 8x10, I prefer to use a speed-increasing developer like Xtol. But other issues, such as longevity, ease of mixing/using, suitability for a Jobo....are all going to matter more. I use DS-10, and Xtol-ike developer formulated by Ryuji Suzuki. It's supposed to be more robust than Xtol. I really don't know. I make a stock solution of everything but the Dimezone-S, the latter is in a stock solution in polypropylene glycol. I have 5 liter dispensers with floating lids for the base. To develop, measure out the needed stock from the big tank and put in a bottle in the Jobo to temper. Once everything is to temp, I use a pipette to measure the Dimezone-S solution into the developer....develop....This gives me the benefits of Xtol without the limited storage time. It been fine for me, but I haven't run exhaustive tests. I use it mainly because it's easy to store, gives good film speed, and I have enough of the base chemicals to use it for a long time.
    Please stop feeding the trolls.

  9. #9

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    Re: Have you found exotic developers worth it for 8x10?

    Nothing exotic about PyrocatHD. Least expensive and most consistent. Thousands (quite literally) of 8X10 negs. The developer is never the problem. The photographer usually IS. Have fun chasing all of the "non" magic bullets.

  10. #10

    Re: Have you found exotic developers worth it for 8x10?

    I'm planning on doing pretty straight forward silver prints, likely on Ilford paper. Plus scans, but the silver prints would be the priority. It seems like I would be fine using D76 with my 8x10, and can explore Pyrocat with my 6x6 images. I'm more likely to just do inversion processing with my roll film personal work so I can do fun stuff like reduce agitation and increase adjacency effects.

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