Black & White Film Developer Buying Guide

Black & White Film Developer Buying Guide


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  1. Actually interested in learning how to develop IR film, it's something I'd like to try (in the future of course)

  2. Good info and well presented, thank you!
    Are these broad comparisons applicable to different sizes of the same film? IE, 120 or 4×5? For now the only processing I am doing is for my large format camera and, for me, that is HP5+ and HC-110. That's been for the last two years or so while I learn what to expect from my camera and the HP5+ film. I am now looking at some slower film and a couple of the developer choices look interesting. Maybe. The reasons I decided on HC-110 are still a valid consideration for me and wouldn't really change just because I'm adding another film to my options. I chose the HC-110 based on its decent looking results (though, I was looking at on line versions of negatives to make that call, so it really was a bit of a guess), long shelf life, and relative low cost. In the long ago, I used D-76 and really didn't like the mixing process.
    I am currently using it as a one shot developer at 1:31 and getting good consistent results. But the Rodinal results you shared with us are tempting…

  3. Thank you for all the effort and time that it takes to make these guides. The duel exploration of the art and science of photography is what draws me to the pursuit. Seriously, thank you again.

  4. Just Superb! Thank you for this. My go to dev. Is HC110 with Ilford Fast Fixer absolutely no complaints. Oh by the way never used Stop Bath only water at same temperature AND finally a must do is final soak with distilled water with Photo Flow. Again great job!

  5. First I would like to say thank you so much for taking the time to do this video. Extremely helpful and well put together.
    Second I want to talk about KEH and my honest experiences, so far. I've had to return 3 Mamiya 645 bodies and 1 Nikon f100 body. 3 listed at excellent (two mamiya and the one nikon) and 1 at bargain. Mamiya bodies had mirror lock up and shutter issues and metered prism wouldn't work. I fully film tested them and replaced batteries, cleaned contacts, etc. The Nikon had a rewind fork issue and would not rewind the film… at all. All these issues could have been avoided and noted if it were properly tested before selling. I'm left to believe that, no, they do not properly test their cameras. I tried calling multiple times to see what condition the bodies were actually in and they refused to give me a detailed answer. I would strongly caution anyone before buying from KEH and to try and check thier Ebay store first to see if the item is listed and try and get detailed answers. Otherwise it's really just a big gamble.

  6. Another great review! Soo much work you've must have put in and you should know that it is highly appreciated! My favourite developer is DD-X, but then I only use Ilford Delta 100, 400 and sometimes 3200. (I do not see any softening in either the 100, 400 or 3200) I used to use Kodak T-Max, but after testing Ilford for me there was no going back! Put simply: I am an Ilford guy! 🙂

  7. Great content! It took me years to know some of the things you said. Its a great way to enter bw photography knowing these basics.

  8. Some of the best comparative vids on YouTube for film shooters. I’ll just add one more to your list that ticks the boxes for
    1. Full film speed
    2. Long lasting
    3. High acutance
    4. Low grain

    That is pyrocat Hd in glycol from photographers formulary. Very good developer that I may actually use as a standard when my other developers are gone.

  9. A very comprehensive review however I have been using Perceptol for many years and it is intended purely as a fine grain developer not for fast films as you stated. I use it with HP5 Plus at 200 asa and FP4 Plus at 80asa and find it superb but the max film speed that Ilford recommend for HP5 Plus is 320asa and it is not recommended for anything faster and certainly not 3200. Microphen is Ilford's speed enhancing powder developer.

  10. Pity you probably dont have very good access to Foma developers. Its extremelly cheap here 🙂 Great video anyway, us usual 🙂

  11. I would add Fomadon Excel which is Xtol clone and it's cheap in Europe, I think it's the best one from whole Foma's lineup. Very nice results, I use it for everything from slow to fast films, it gets me good film speed with detailed shadows and low grain. There should be also more from Adox, for example the Silvermax developer which works best with their Silvermax film (that's a little gem in itself since it's old Agfa? stock with high silver content which if remade today would be several times more expensive) delivering wide tonal range.
    Xtol isn't contrasty developer itself but with films like Rollei RPX 25/Retro 80s or Fujifilm Acros (sadly discontinued already) you will get tons of contrast for your pleasure.

  12. I came to your channel as purely a Fujifilm digital shooter. I stuck around for your film content. So now… Well funnily enough, my first bottle of developer (DD-X) arrived in the post yesterday. Thanks for the inspiration!

  13. Did you tried Ilfotec LC29? I am using ID-11, but I do not like the sort self life, and now I am reusing it, but I want to use a one shot developer instead, It can be done with ID-11 to, with 1:1 or 1:3, but LC29 seams easier to use for that purpose. (I heard bad things about the Ilfosol 3)

  14. Thanks for the review! After looking through your files I liked XTOL the most.
    Also noted for myself specifically for the T-Max film:
    Cinestill Fd96: Good shadows, but less dynamic range
    Kodak XTOL: Best dynamic range, but less sharpness
    Ilfotec HC: Good DR, best sharpness, decent shadows
    Kodak HC-110: Similar to Fd96, but better DR (also good for the Tri-X film for the best sharpness while maintaining decent grain)

  15. I have used nothing but Tmax Dev for the past six years. Once my current stock runs out I will be making the switch to Xtol as I shoot mainly Tri-X. The smoothness and tonal range via Xtol + Tri-X is something that is much more desirable.

  16. Thank you for all the effort, that's absolutely insane! 👌 I prefer HC110 and for pushing HP5 Microphen. Your description of those too was spot on. 🙏

  17. Hi Andrew. Another great comparison video. I'd like to try stand development (actually, semi-stand to avoid bromide drag). Would any of these developers work better or worse in that process? I was thinking of using Rodinal because of it's long shelf life and low price?

  18. Nice compilation and great (consistent) sample pictures. However, I think you forgot (to at least mention) Caffenol – I would have loved to see it compared to some of the commercial ones.
    Thank you very much for your efforts – I enjoyed this a lot.

  19. Thank you fo making the video, I plan to start developing my black and white film in the upcoming month. Still deciding whether I should use D76 or Kodak HC.

  20. As far as I know Perceptol was not designed for fast films, on the contrary, it is well suited for low to medium speed. It does actually decrease film speed thus needing to overexpose a bit. Great guide btw!

  21. Dude y’all are continually putting out good work! Thank you for what you do, these film guides and comparisons are absolutely amazing, and the heart behind it is evident!

  22. Agin maximal effort. Slow down dude, you'll get a heart attack 🤣
    Back in my B&W days I used Microphen on a daily basis; for me, it was excellent in every way. But when I needed really, really fine grain I turned to the Perceptol, which could give me medium – format like results on 35mm FP4 and Delta 100 films.
    OK, I admit, I'm an Ilford guy 😇

  23. You put a lot of effort and dedication into that test.
    My experience of developers is like that: The differences between developers are more subtle in reality than most people think.
    Shadow detail is determined by exposure – highlights by the developer/time.
    There is no magic bullett developer, you get something, you give something.
    Stick to 1-2 Films and 1-2 Developer and learn their characteristics – thats all you need. Cheers!

  24. my 5 cents..http://www.covingtoninnovations.com/hc110/ read here about HC-110 and Ilfotec HC (Ilfotec LC-29 more diluted HC). Here http://www.stefanheymann.de/foto/entwickler/hc-110.htm is table how to use times from hc110 for ilfotec hc or lc29…

  25. Very nice job, thanks. XTOL and Rodinal for me. I would agree with one of the comments below – my recent experience with KEH has been mixed at best. If they inspect, some of their inspectors need to be retrained.

  26. Thanks for all the effort you put into this comparison. From my own experience Rodinal is good enough for "traditional" films like HP5+ or Fomapan. For "modern" films like T-Max or Delta Ilford DD-X is much better (although expensive). DD-X also pulls great.

  27. Thanks for the great overview. I like to pull process for increased dynamic range and find D-76 produces good results.

  28. Your video was a great help. I'm an old Rodinal user, since 1966, and thanks to you, I don't see any reason to change. Thanks a bunch.

  29. Great informative video. I use microphen and perceptol. I think you made a little mistake about perceptol. It’s designed for slow to medium speed film. You lose some speed of the film you use in turn for extremely fine grain negative. So normally you rate the film half of what it is to get the full range of tones. It’s good for pulling say hp5. Microphen is great for pushing film like you stated.

    Really enjoy your videos. This must of been a very time consuming process. Great work 👍🏾

  30. Awesome video. My personal (very biased) favorite is Replenished XTOL at 75F in a JOBO. Hands down, the gold standard developer. Very few other developers make negatives that look like negatives ran through replenished XTOL.

  31. Awesome. Do you have any video where you go over the clip test? I had an issue developing my tmax. I don't know what went wrong because I mixed my xtol April and it should still be good. I couldn't fit it in one bottle so I stored them in several bottles (https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B0749ZWF1C/ref=ppx_yo_dt_b_search_asin_title?ie=UTF8&psc=1). I tested my fixer and it appeared to work by doing that fixer test but it took like 2 min to clear I think so that fixer I think took a little long. Thx

  32. Found at the right moment. Wanted to buy some new developer and without this video I had to try them out 1 by 1. Hope for a second video with Rollei, Tetanal (Ultrafin (+T-plus), Blue), Compard (R09 Special) maybe Spur. Whatever thank you and your sponsor! just like your film comparison, it helped me a lot.

  33. Very informative. Thank you very much for explaining all the characteristics of developers in detail. #longlivefilm

  34. really really great vid. I find that xtol with constant agitation brings back some of the contrast that it lacks

  35. What?! There aren’t "too many variables". You can use do some Zone system exposures and a densitometer to determine appropriate speed setting and build and compare your contrast curves and even evaluate your development. And there’s ways around having to use a densitometer if you don’t have one…

  36. Im new to developing film at home. But I cant seem to understand one thing, In the case of color film, if you sink the developing tank in water at 38celsius lets say, the chemicals inside the tank will not be at 38, they';ll be a lot cooler. So to summarize, does the water surrounding the tank have to be at 38 or the chemicals inside? Thanks!

  37. I used Rodinal initially, the shelf-life is amazing and it's a really easy to use, no-fuss developer. Eventually I made the switch over to Xtol because I often found Rodinal unflattering. Xtol + Tmax400 results in contrast that is easy to control in post, pleasantly fine grain and high sharpness for 135 film. It actually made me pick up my medium format cameras less frequently because I'm finally pleased with the look of my 135 negatives.

  38. Wow, excellent comparative!!! A lot of things are really new for me. Thank you for share this information!!!

  39. Your videos are great — really helpful contributions to the vast body of information on film photography. I really appreciate the systematic and thorough approach you take.

  40. I like the Cinestill DF 96 it may not be particularly faster but it is easier and I get good Negatives. I used to use D-76 all the time. Great comparisons! I will try Rodinol.

  41. Hi Andrew. Thanks again for this video. I started off developing TriX 400 in Adox Rodinal. Since a while I develop TriX 400 with a 1 + 1 dilution of Xtol. It gives such clean results. I will probably never go back to Rodinal. Finer grain, beautiful highlights, great sharpness, more shadow detail,… For people who love shooting TriX it is a really awesome. The only downside is the 5 liter jug. But even then it is so easy to use. No seringue. Just easy mixing. Cheers man.

  42. Everytime I watch your videos I am blown away. Huge undertaking for film, not even including the digital editing.

    There are so many ways to develop, its mind blowing. Im lazy so I do Stand development with rodinal or my homemade rodinal. Xtol with anything over 400.

    Is HC-110 still made anymore ? I always hated that syrup ! Mixing it is a pain.

    I have always used kodak developer but I have started using Ilford.

  43. I sure appreciate all that went into making this video and impetus behind it. Thank you! Been shooting film for a couple years now and when I first started I tried so many different Chems. I shoot medium format and, as of now, my go to chems are Rodinal and Xtol. Maily use the rodinal for semi-stand and Xtol for normal developing. Been loving the results. I think it is important to note that sticking with one film and developer for a while is a very good thing to do. Really helped me to nail my exposure and development process. To paraphrase what you mentioned in your video. The same film and developer combo can produce myriad results based on time, temperature, agitation, chem ratio, etc. Man, I love film! Thanks again

  44. Watch out for Blazinal. I was enthusiatic when this product got available in Canada. The sad thing about this formula is that it doens't last. After some 2 years, it ended up doing a sudden death of my film (comparable somehow to the XTol) even though I was using it as a one shot developer. Same thing happened to a friend of mine using Blazinal.
    I finally got hold of a distributor of Adox in Canada and order from him their Rodinal.
    Keep your good work!

  45. I see that D-76 is scarce at the major suppliers lately… I teach high school darkroom photo… d-76 is my go to. Do you have any idea why it's so hard to find? Did Kodak discontinue it?

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