Developers: do they affect outcomes?

Film Photography & Darkroom discussion

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kcf
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Developers: do they affect outcomes?

Postby kcf » Tue Nov 03, 2009 2:30 pm

Does it matter what developer one uses to develop a negative? I'm under the impression it makes no difference what developer is used, and that people who wax on about the virtues of Rodinal, for example, are merely perpetuating a myth that one developer produces better or different results from another. Isn't developer developer? Aren't they all performing essentially the same function?

Does it make any difference really whether one uses D-76, Rodinal, Xtol, Diafine, HC-110, Pyro or any of the others to develop film? Is one really going to notice any difference in the results, assuming they are mixed and agitated correctly?


Ornello
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Re: Developers: do they affect outcomes?

Postby Ornello » Tue Nov 03, 2009 3:39 pm

kcf wrote:Does it matter what developer one uses to develop a negative? I'm under the impression it makes no difference what developer is used, and that people who wax on about the virtues of Rodinal, for example, are merely perpetuating a myth that one developer produces better or different results from another. Isn't developer developer? Aren't they all performing essentially the same function?

Does it make any difference really whether one uses D-76, Rodinal, Xtol, Diafine, HC-110, Pyro or any of the others to develop film? Is one really going to notice any difference in the results, assuming they are mixed and agitated correctly?
Depends on the format and how the developer is used. The smaller the negative and the greater the print magnification, the more the differences show up. I can see very small differences in developers because I use high-grade equipment (the enlarging lens is crucial). Rodinal is crap, by the way (it delivers poor speed, excessive grain, and poor sharpness). The best developers I have ever used are made by Paterson and formulated by Geoffrey Crawley. Going back to the 60s, his developers have set the standard. Acuspecial and Acutol were the ones I used most. Acuspecial was intended for the slowest films, which needed the extra control of contrast that Acuspecial provided. Acutol was intended to compete directly against Rodinal and easily surpassed it.

http://www.photomemorabilia.co.uk/Pater ... anchorFX21

Jim Appleyard
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Re: Developers: do they affect outcomes?

Postby Jim Appleyard » Tue Nov 03, 2009 9:08 pm

Sometimes it makes a difference, sometimes not. Many times people don't know what they're talking about.

foolscape
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Re: Developers: do they affect outcomes?

Postby foolscape » Sat Nov 07, 2009 2:34 am

I tend to notice the difference most with Pyro negs. This could be due to the compensating effect. It tends to lower contrast somewhat, but mostly with old-style emulsions like Adox. The effect on FP4 or Tri-X are a little less noticeable, but still there. But, other than that, I agree with Ornello. The differences only become apparent with smaller film sizes and increased enlargement. If you want to enlarge a 35mm neg to 16x20, you may need Perceptol or Microdol-X. DK-50 won't get you there.

--Gary

Keith Tapscott.
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Re: Developers: do they affect outcomes?

Postby Keith Tapscott. » Fri Nov 13, 2009 3:01 pm

foolscape wrote:I tend to notice the difference most with Pyro negs. The differences only become apparent with smaller film sizes and increased enlargement. If you want to enlarge a 35mm neg to 16x20, you may need Perceptol or Microdol-X. DK-50 won't get you there.

--Gary
As Gary has mentioned, the choice of developer does affect the film yield and different types of developers can be chosen depending on the effect that the photographer wants to emphasise.
D-76 remains the yard-stick to which other developers are compared and was once considered to provide the best overall balance of speed, grain and sharpness.
Finer grain can be obtained with a true fine-grain developer such as Microdol-X, Perceptol or Atomal FF at the expense of a slight loss of emulsion speed and less acuity. Developers such as Microphen and T-Max/T-Max RS provide a higher effective speed of around one-third to two-thirds of a stop but with slightly coarser grain.
Other types of developers might be chosen for enhanced edge effects (acutance) like Beutler`s, FX-1/FX-2, Neofin and FX-39, while some developers are highly regarded for their pictorial effects like the Pyro formulas which are popular with large-format users.

Ornello
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Re: Developers: do they affect outcomes?

Postby Ornello » Fri Nov 13, 2009 5:07 pm

Keith Tapscott. wrote:
foolscape wrote:I tend to notice the difference most with Pyro negs. The differences only become apparent with smaller film sizes and increased enlargement. If you want to enlarge a 35mm neg to 16x20, you may need Perceptol or Microdol-X. DK-50 won't get you there.

--Gary
As Gary has mentioned, the choice of developer does affect the film yield and different types of developers can be chosen depending on the effect that the photographer wants to emphasise.
D-76 remains the yard-stick to which other developers are compared and was once considered to provide the best overall balance of speed, grain and sharpness.
Finer grain can be obtained with a true fine-grain developer such as Microdol-X, Perceptol or Atomal FF at the expense of a slight loss of emulsion speed and less acuity. Developers such as Microphen and T-Max/T-Max RS provide a higher effective speed of around one-third to two-thirds of a stop but with slightly coarser grain.
Other types of developers might be chosen for enhanced edge effects (acutance) like Beutler`s, FX-1/FX-2, Neofin and FX-39, while some developers are highly regarded for their pictorial effects like the Pyro formulas which are popular with large-format users.
One must use good equipment and technique, though, for these differences to become apparent.

kcf
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Re: Developers: do they affect outcomes?

Postby kcf » Mon Dec 14, 2009 4:59 am

What is meant by speed?

Is speed something different from contrast?

foolscape
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Re: Developers: do they affect outcomes?

Postby foolscape » Mon Dec 14, 2009 6:18 am

Yes. It means that if you intend to use a developer that causes a loss of film speed, you should rate your film appropriately when you shoot it.

--Gary

Ornello
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Re: Developers: do they affect outcomes?

Postby Ornello » Mon Dec 14, 2009 9:42 am

kcf wrote:What is meant by speed?

Is speed something different from contrast?
Some developers will give more shadow detail than others, though none will give more than about 1/2 stop over D-76. Ilford Microphen, Ethol UFG, Acufine, etc. Some developers give less speed than D-76. Kodak Microdol-X and Ilford Perceptol are examples.


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