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Thread: standard developer with long shelf life

  1. #1
    Tim Meisburger's Avatar
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    standard developer with long shelf life

    I started LF almost two years ago, and at the same time started developing film for the first time. To start, I took everyone's advice and settled on D76 and Dektol as my standard developers, figuring they were proven, and would be readily available, even in Asia. But because I use a Paterson Orbital for both negative and print development, I use tiny quantities of developer and find it goes bad long before I've used a batch.

    I am moving to the US in a few weeks for a year, so will have access to other options, so would like to try changing my normal developers to something with a longer shelf life. Right now for film I think that means Rodinal. Is that a good choice for a standard developer? Are there other options?

    For paper, is there a similar liquid concentrate with a long shelf life?

    Thanks for your advice. Tim

  2. #2
    Vaughn's Avatar
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    Re: standard developer with long shelf life

    For film, there is also HC-110. Last quite long in its concentrated form and can be mixed for use straight from the concentrate.

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    Re: standard developer with long shelf life

    HC-110 concentrate keeps for years, at least a decade, probably two.

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    Re: standard developer with long shelf life

    I use Tetenal Ultrafin Plus for film, and have just started using a bottle of the concentrate which I've had sitting on a shelf for at least two years and I would guess more like three. So far it's doing just fine. I hadn't opened it at all until a couple weeks ago, and I noticed last night that the much older bottle of the concentrate (6 years? Not sure, it may be older), which I had opened and used some of, has changed color and looks disgusting.

    Hope that helps!

    Elizabeth

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    Mark Sawyer's Avatar
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    Re: standard developer with long shelf life

    Shelf-life as an unopened powder package, or shelf-life after being liquified? Two very different things.

    D-76 and Dektol both have very, very long shelf-lives as powders sealed in their original air-tight packages, where they do not oxidize. But once mixed to a stock solution, they have very short lives, as they quickly draw oxygen from the air (oxidize), and slowly draw oxygen from the water (hydrolize).

    HC-110 has a very long life as a liquid, as it is suspended in glycol rather than water, and does not oxidize or hydrolize. I don't know of any paper developer that does the same thing. I think the liquid ones slowly hydrolize (a few years), while the powdered ones are fine (for several decades), til you mix them to stock solution, then they oxidize and hydrolize in maybe a month.

    If you do lots of work in streaks, powder. If you do a little here. a little there, but at a slow, semi-regular rate, liquid.
    "I love my Verito lens, but I always have to sharpen everything in Photoshop..."

  6. #6
    Tim Meisburger's Avatar
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    Re: standard developer with long shelf life

    Okay, so I have two or three options for film, rodinal, HC-110 and Ultrafin. Any votes for which would be best as a standard developer? I'll read up about them.

    Are there any liquid concentrate paper developers?

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    neophyte
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    Re: standard developer with long shelf life

    I know you said standard, but I have become a devotee of pyrocat-mc which once mixed up into propylene glycol has a very long shlef life and is very convenient to use. Given my experience with this I would vote for hc-110 on the basis of being made in the same manner.
    "In the field of observation chance favours the prepared mind" -- Pasteur

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    Re: standard developer with long shelf life

    If you mix a gallon of Dektol, an decant it into 16 oz or 20 oz plastic soda bottles, eliminating any air by filling them full, they become "single servings" you can store practically foreer and use a bottle at a time, mixing with wo bottles of water to get a working solution. I get 8 - 16 oz. "Servings" by cheating a little and topping off the water in excess of the mixing instructions to eliminate air in the bottles, then short the dilution a little when I mix them to compensate. For me, 48 oz of working solution is perfect for 8x10 paper.

    I've kept Dektol this way for two years and more, especially when I wa testing developers and had a lot I had to use, not knowing their keeping properties. By the way, my tests showed that I like Dektol very much.

    Ansco 130 lasts forever in plastic bottles, too. Go for four 1 liter bottles from a mixed gallon, and then dilute 1:1. I've kept ANSCO 130 stock for three years. You can even take a 2 liter bottle and pour your tray of 1:1 into is and store it for...a while. I've done that with success, but I don't remember how long it was between printing sessions. Ansco 130 is really nice if you like warm tones. It's a good companion to colder-toned Dektol.

    And yes, HC-110 will outlast me, at this point in my decrepitude. Good stuff, too.
    Bruce Barlow
    author of "Finely Focused" and "Exercises in Photographic Composition"
    www.brucewbarlow.com

  9. #9
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    Re: standard developer with long shelf life

    Hc110.

  10. #10
    Tim Meisburger's Avatar
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    Re: standard developer with long shelf life

    Thanks Bruce. Its really useful to know about the different characteristics of Ansco 130 and Dektol. I think my best option for print developers seems to be to re-bottle in small containers. When I get to the US I'll pick up some Dektol and some Ansco 130 and experiment.

    I have also been reading about concentrated liquid developers, and the broad consensus seems to be that HC-110 is more like D-76, so, since I have a small bottle of RO-9 I picked up in Germany recently, and some D-76, and think I'll shoot a few pairs of negatives tomorrow and compare. If I prefer the D-76 look then I'll try out the HC-110 when I get to the US. Perhas I'll find I prefer one for one look, and the other for another. What fun!

    Thanks for your help. Tim

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