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Thread: Zone VI Paper Developer Alternative

  1. #1

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    Zone VI Paper Developer Alternative

    In a previous post, someone mentioned the demise of Zone VI chemicals. I am working down my stash of Zone VI paper developer which I hate to lose.

    I have seen numerous opinions about a suitable replacement along with some contradictions. Some say to just use Dektol but it might be slightly warmer or less contrasty. Some say to use Bromophen as a similar PQ developer but their product info says it is somewhat warm toned. I would like to avoid liquid developers if possible because of shipping cost and oxidation (I used to like Edwal Ultrablack but its shelf life is not great).

    I found the Zone VI to be a sharp, contrasty, cold tone developer. What should I buy to replace it? Thanks.

  2. #2
    Drew Wiley
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    Re: Zone VI Paper Developer Alternative

    I don't know of any off-the-shelf direct replacement, but it's easy to mix something
    similar from scratch. My formula is a little bit cooler due to the presence of benzotriazole instead of potassium bromide:

    hot H20 375ml
    sodium sulfite 20g
    hydroquinone 10g
    sodium carbonate 40g
    benzotriazole 1/4g
    water to make 500ml

  3. #3
    Drew Wiley
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    Re: Zone VI Paper Developer Alternative

    ooops, forgot the metol 1-1/2 g

  4. #4
    Peter De Smidt's Avatar
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    Re: Zone VI Paper Developer Alternative

    Until it was discontinued, I used a lot of Zone VI print developer. Since then I've used both Dektol and phenidone/ascorbic acid developers. With a little adjusting, such as adding some benzotriazole to Dektol, both worked well for me with Ilford MG Fiber, but then 99.9% of the time I tone in selenium and a touch of sulfide, and so I wouldn't say my prints are cold-toned.
    “You often feel tired, not because you've done too much, but because you've done too little of what sparks a light in you.”
    ― Alexander Den Heijer

  5. #5

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    Re: Zone VI Paper Developer Alternative

    Have you considered mixing your own? Quick, easy, economical and you will have complete control of color with either the addition of 1% BTA or 10% KBr.

    Water
    Sod. sulfite
    Sod. Carbonate (Arm & Hammer works fine).
    Phenidone
    Hydroquinone
    BTA &/or KBr.

  6. #6

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    Re: Zone VI Paper Developer Alternative

    I faced the same issue a few months ago. I went back to Dektol 1:2, 2 min.@ 68F, just as Kodak recommends. Printing on to Ilford Multigrade IV FB, I can't really see any difference. I find Ilford Multigrade liquid developer to be very slightly warmer than either, still acceptable. I think that using modern cold-tone papers, the developer doesn't make much difference. I tried Ansco 130 from the Formulary, that produces beautiful prints that are subtly different than Z-VI or Dektol prints, but I can't hack the 3-minute developing time.

  7. #7

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    Re: Zone VI Paper Developer Alternative

    Quote Originally Posted by Mark Sampson View Post
    I faced the same issue a few months ago. I went back to Dektol 1:2, 2 min.@ 68F, just as Kodak recommends. Printing on to Ilford Multigrade IV FB, I can't really see any difference. I find Ilford Multigrade liquid developer to be very slightly warmer than either, still acceptable. I think that using modern cold-tone papers, the developer doesn't make much difference. I tried Ansco 130 from the Formulary, that produces beautiful prints that are subtly different than Z-VI or Dektol prints, but I can't hack the 3-minute developing time.
    I mixed up a small package of Dektol tonight and plan to use it side-by-side with the Zone VI tomorrow on Kentmere FP VC paper. I am hoping that is is close enough because Dektol is simple, cheap, and available.

  8. #8

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    Re: Zone VI Paper Developer Alternative

    I misunderstood and thought you were seeking a PQ developer.

    However, my comment regarding color (tone) will work for an MQ developer as well. Dektol can be modified with the addition of BTA or KBr to produce the tone that you seek.

    Mark, the old Ansco 130 is one of my favorites. What dilution and temperature are you using to take 3 minutes? Thanks.

  9. #9

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    Re: Zone VI Paper Developer Alternative

    I actually might have a pack or two of Zone VI left. I really like it. But I found that I like my own modification of Ansco 103 (not a typo) better. Use standard formulary, but halve the amount of potassium bromide when making the stock solution and substitute 10% benzotriazole in the working solution as needed.

  10. #10
    Drew Wiley
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    Re: Zone VI Paper Developer Alternative

    None of the above gives a true cold tone on Kentmere Fineprint, but instead you will
    still have a bit of greenish-brown tone, plain Dektol being the worst offender in this
    regard. The silver iodide emulsion of Fineprint is difficult to tame with MQ or PQ
    developers. Amidol works superbly, however; and glycin formulas like 130 do very
    nicely but won't render quite as cold a tone. There are a number of toning tricks involved too if you want the maximum effect. Great paper. An interesting off-the-shelf dev concentrate you might also want to try is Formulary BW65. I have no idea
    how it will react to Fineprint, but it did give amidol-like results with graded papers.

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