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Sunday, 12 September 2010


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You should ask over at APUG.



For years, I processed in D-23 and then a
3% solution of Kodalk. My film of choice was Verichrome Pan exposed at (let's use all of the old terminology, ASA 100). This resulted in very low grain, hugely long negatives that were very easy to print (on Portriga Rapid #3 and then selenium toned to deepen the shadows).

This film/developer combination was very forgiving of exposure and if you were a stop or so under or 3 stops over you still could make a exquisite print.

I was very particular about holding the developer and Kodalk temperatures at 68. Agitation was 5 seconds out of every 30 by hand in a film tank that was struck firmly after the reels were lowered in the prefilled tank (to remove bubbles) and the top attached. The switch from the D-23 to Kodalk was done lights off into another prefilled tank.

Elon (and Kodalk) to make the D-23 are no longer supplied by Kodak, but about a year ago when I got the film/darkroom bug that has so clearly infected you, I was able to find suppliers via Google.

The avaibillity of very nice papers both from Epson and other vendors and the latest inks and profiles on the newest generation of printers has ended (at least for now) any desire on my part to stand around in dark smelly rooms.

Verichrome Pan and Portriga Rapid are no longer available. I bought about 1000 rolls of VP the day that Kodak announced they had stopped production. It's all in it's freezer. My collection of much loved but little used film cameras get hauled out yearly to run the shutters and fondle for a day or two and then it's back to work with a Canon or the GF1.

I just shot a couple of rolls of Ektar with a Zeiss Box-Tengor. It's a great box camera, 8 shots and your done, wait a few days to get it processed, then scanning, all before you get to the fun stuff, to long for age induced short attention span. I want to look at prints. I can now make really wondeful prints and never smell hypo. Seems like a good deal to me. Good luck on the darkroom. Looks like a lot of fun, but geeze if your want to make pictures it's to much upstream swimming for me.

I have not used any of the divided formulas with modern films and I have serious doubts if they would work well since they are dependent on the emulsion absorbing sufficient developer to be activated when immersed in the second solution WITHOUT resulting in bromide drag. Even with thick emulsions such as XX, film hanger perforations frequently caused streaking with divided developers; completely immersed very gentle agitation in the first bath for 5 seconds of each minute of the 3 minute cycle was necessary. You really need to be careful not to cause any flow-patterns or bromide drag when using dip-and-dunk and film hangers. Frankly, the most even development seems to be long development times with tubes such as those from BTZS and even manually rolled JOBO drums.

I was just researching divided paper developers. Ended up on APUG and found plenty of info and arguments. Divided D-72/Dektol solves the temperature I was having.

The articles sections only goes back to 2006 and most of the formulas for divided developers date prior to that. How about a divided room temp (70-85F) C-41?

Using "site:www.apug.org subject" and lots of digging turns up lots of interesting stuff. Most posts about developers seem to devolve into arguments about stop bath, measurement techniques, "you are just wrong" arguments, wrong formula arguments, and anhydrous v. non-anhydrous weight v. volume arguments.

Sub-niche topics being argued by sub-sub-niche beliefs?

Not what you were looking for but a place to start maybe?

Aside from conserving chemicals (because the A solution is not "used", only the B solution) I'm curious, what is the advantage to dividing developer? I used diluted D-76 (1:1) for years to increase tonal range and eventually went to highly diluted Rodinal. Those choices were based on how it affected my negatives. Does splitting D-76 into A and B solutions significantly alter the negative? If so, in what way?

The theory is that in a divided or two-bath developer you take the accelerant out of formula and make it into a separate, second bath. You first immerse the film in the first bath, where the developer soaks into the emulsion. When you transfer the film to the second bath, development begins. Because of the limited amount of developer in the emulsion, the developer exhausts quickly in heavily exposed areas, thus limiting overdevelopment of highlights, and continues to develop the shadow areas, where there is more developer available than is needed. This is called a "compensating" effect and is supposed to give good separation in the shadows (as if you had given extended development) without making the highlights too dense (which would happen with extended development).

That's the theory.

In practice, I believe that the sodium sulfite concentration of most A baths will give a certain amount of development just in the A bath, and the conventional wisdom is that modern films, which have thinner emulsions layers, don't absorb enough chemicals for the compensating effect to really work. It seems to be known experimentally that very thin-emulsion films such as 100 Delta do not work as well with 2-bath development as thicker traditional emulsions such as Tri-X.

My work is that agitation and evenness problems might overwhelm any perceivable advantage of the process.

The 2-bath process also has a convenience advantage in that neither time or temperature are very critical. For me, the advantage is volume--I could load 24 reels into a reel basket and develop 24 rolls at a time in tanks. I've had evenness problems in the past with hand dip-and-dunk processes of all kinds, which normally require nitrogen-burst agitation.

I have no experimental experience with divided developers, and I wanted to get as much information as I can from others in order to decide whether to go ahead and run my own experiments or not.


Back in the 1970s I used D-76 1:1 with Tri-X and Hp-5 also but in recent decades I settled on HC-110 dilution B (1:31). It's easy to handle, incredible shelf life, and produces excellent results.


Try asking over at Rangefinder Forum as well as APUG


For some reason I was under the impression that VerichromePan was about the last 'thick' emulsion around. Isn't Tri-X, indeed everything after that Adox stuff half a century ago, based on the new-and-sharper thin emulsion idea ?

You definitely get development in the A bath. I processed a few sheets with this method and gave up on it. It was a fun experiment but it just wasn't Rodinal. I also found that it's not as infinitely forgiving as some of the literature on it would suggest. Thats as much as I can tell you without digging around for my notes.

Would you really have 24 rolls to process at once at all often (without saving them up for quite a while)? From what little you've said about your shooting style, it does not sound like you. But maybe you could stand to save them up for a while to process together. I couldn't. (Also I go all paranoid about that much film being wiped out in one mega-oops.)

I did fairly often have more than 4 rolls to develop at once (I used stainless-steel tanks, so 4 roll was the biggest size that was at all common). I frequently ran two batches after a good session or a convention.

Never did use divided developers, can't help you there. Looking back, I think maybe I should have used Diafine, which seems to have some things in common with divided developers (two-bath, not very temperature or time-critical). I only tried it on tri-x, and found it too grainy for my taste (no matter how tempting EI 2400 was).

If you are researching divided D76 you should perhaps look at divided Pyrocat as well, which is reputed to work well with both roll and sheet film.


"(Also I go all paranoid about that much film being wiped out in one mega-oops.)"

A very good point...I'm heeding....


There are a number of different formulas out there for Divided D-76. The formulas work well in situations here you need to severely contract development but don't want your shadow values to go muddy. I have used the formula with contemporary films with very good results. As to the Sodium Sulfite in part A causing development if you look at the formula in David Vestal's Craft of Photography you will see the addition of Potassium Bromide to Part A. KBr will restrain any development that might occur in part A. As for agitation problems, rotary processing with a 5 minute prewet yields great results otherwise keep it gentle.

I sort of mirrored the coompensating effect by taking out the developer, adding water to the tank, without agitating, and leaving it there for five minutes. The idea is the same, the development continues till the developer imbibed in the film is exhausted. Lifts mid tones...

because temp and time are less critical with divided dev., I use divided D23 (a slightly modified version, by Joe Englander) for all my 100Tmax 4x5. In a manual inversion Jobo tank. Works just fine.I buy most chemicals in bulk, 50 lbs bags. I don't depend on manufacturers that might discontinue products anytime.
35mm Tri-X I process in D23 1:1. Quick to mix, keeps 6-12 months.

Hi Mike. I used divided d76 and d23 in the 90's. D-76 work better for me with trix, hp5 and agfapan 100. I never knew if d-23 don't work well for me because the grade of purity of the chemicals i got in Buenos Aires. I read good comments of foreign people but for me all the negatives were weak. D 76, maybe because have hydroquinone that is more active, work very well. You can't have much problems with this method. You need the chemicals above from 18 C but no problem with the hot side of the scale during summer. I have the formula in a magazine but now i am in the bed. I will search in my things to write the formula here. There are a lot of variations of divided d-76 included one that replace hydroquinone by Vitamin C. I will be back tomorrow, good night.

I have no idea, but if you run the experiment I would love to see the results.

My current preferred film-developer combination is HP5 at 800, in D-76 at 1:1. I like the results, but the developing time is 18 minutes, which is a long time to keep running back for once-a-minute inversions. Also, it's difficult to keep an even 20 degree temperature when your cold tap water is 31.

For those reasons alone I'm interested in any process that would be less dependent on temperature and timing.

If memory serves, the majority of my b/w was developed in Edwal FG7, 1:15 with a 9% sodium sulfite solution, agitating 5 sec. every 30 sec. with a vigorous invert and twist motion. The negs got a selenium toner treatment as well. The development was very even. I exposed generously to keep the shadows and they printed easily. But I have to admit I never appreciated the tonal range in those negs until I copied them digitally. Much of the b/w work on my site was done this way. www.williamstickney.smugmug.com


The conventional wisdom is 1/2 right. It is conventional, but not wisdom.

I use divided developers all the time now. I have not used a conventional developer for years. Works fine with HP5+, FP4+, and both Delta 100.

I don't have time right now, but I can give you a bunch of leads on information regarding divided developers a bit later.

Yall are all crazy. Love my Jobo. Love, love, love my Jobo. Love. Hand to hand-process a roll the other week and started looking for spare parts for my beloved ATL....crazy, crazy people.

(I did try divided development with 4x5, was a giant pain and no real difference with HP5+ or old Tri-X, but it seemed like a worthwhile process with old school eastern european films like the Maco/Efke/Foma stuff that's pushed as being 'silver heavy'. Thick vs thin, like you said, but those same thick emulsion films had enough batch variations that i'd not want to try and figure it out every box....)

Diafine should do all the things you mentioned above, eg compensating, not particulrly time or temp critical, reusable. I've been using it for years with good results.

I used "true" divided development for years in my film days. Any standard developer formula can be used. Mix an "A" solution as usual, but reserve the alkalai, sodium carbonate for the "B" solution. As I recall I developed 2 mins in "A" and 2 mins in "B". It is a very forgiving process as time, temp and agitation are not critical. In the "A" solution the developing agents are absorbed into the film but no development takes place, but when placed in the "B" solution total development is instantaneous. Since development only takes place in an alkaline solution nothing happens till it hits "B". Also, the "A" solution is never exhausted as no development takes place there, only needs to be topped off and the "B" solution should be replaced occasionally and should never stored and only used fresh, but that is dirt cheap. I have even used kitchen baking soda as part "B" The results were long tonal range and high acutance plus consistency.

I have used this process with print developers for making large mural prints and had similar uniformity and consistency.

Get back to me for more info.

Oh yeah. I forgot to mention. For roll film, normal agitation in a Jobo or Patterson type tank works fine. I use constant agitation for 30 seconds, followed by ten seconds each minute thereafter. No rinse between baths. Water stop bath. When I go on vacation and come back with lots of roll film, I have one of those giant Patterson tanks that takes a bizillion reels. Works just fine.

For sheet film I have used a slosher in trays with the same agitation pattern, and rotary development in a Jobo Expert Drum on a Beseler rotary base. I followed Sandy's recommendations in his View Camera Magazine article for dilution and development times for DD-23. Worked fine with Thornton's 2 bath.

Oh yeah, oh yeah.

One of the posts asks, basically, why a 2 bath?

First, its simple. A few minutes in A, a few minutes in B, no real fussing over time or temp.

Second, and especially for roll film where you can't develop each shot individually, you get automatic compensation for each shot. The highlights stop developing when the developer is exhausted and the shadows keep on developing. If the scene is exposed properly, it works like a charm.

For me, the advantage is volume--I could load 24 reels into a reel basket and develop 24 rolls at a time in tanks.

Have a look at Prescysol developer. It is a two part developer but the two parts are mixed together (with water) before use. Its advantage is that it has the same development time for any film making a mix of types easily possible.


If you are looking for large 8x10 stainless tanks, hangers, a gas burst manifold and wash tanks I have all this crap taking up space in my darkroom and would love to come to some arrangement with somebody. It's some of that stuff I just can't seem to throw away.

I use D-76 1:1 in a Jobo on T-Max and Delta 100/400 and get perfect results every time and I can even read while developing… I am pretty sure you can pick up a Jobo on eBay…

Mike, My answer to any developer question is-- "PYRO". The only developer that will give you negatives that are easy to scan and doesn't give you blocked up Hi Lites for printing--the thing you are trying to avoid with split developers of any kind.
One of the problems is the emulsions are so thin that they do not retain enough developer to make any of this worth while.
Some Pyro info-- http://www.cabbagetownphoto.com/pyro.html
more on Google...
Also a diffusion enlarger is a must for fine detail in clouds etc.

I can't resist a really snarky post, to wit:

Can you only use processes like these during the waxing phase of a blue moon?

I am back. Here is the formula of D-76 high acutance divided developer as was published by Steve Anchell in Camera & Darkroom december 1993. This is what i used with the films mentioned before. Include i remember use TMY (tmax 400) an all was ok. A few comments on the method. Do not use presoak and do not rinse between solutions. Obviously, you must to avoid contaminate the solution A with the B. The agitation with 35mm must be each 30 seconds, gently invert the tank a few times. With 120, to prevent uneven development, use continuous but gentle agitation in the second bath. Invert the tank or do a slight twist or gently "swish". Steve recommends keep the temperature of all solutions the same between 68F/20C to 80F/27C.
For this formula develop all films for 3 minutes in A and 3 in B. Leaving the film longer in solution A will increase contrast. Solution A will last indefinitely; solution B should be discarded after 20 rolls of film.
Solution A

Water (125F/52C) 24oz. or 750ml
Metol 25.6grains or 1.75gm
Sodium sulfite 1oz. 102 grains or 37 gm
Sodium bisulfite 131 grains or 9 gm
Hydroquinone 87.6 grains or 6 gm
Potassium bromide 12 grains or 0.8 gm
Cold water to mae 32oz or 1 liter.

Solution B

Water (90F/32C) 24 oz or 750 ml
Sodium sulfite 1 oz 234 grains or 46 gm
Borax, granular 1 oz. or 30 gm
Cold water to make 32 oz or 1 liter

I have another D-76 split developer formula from 1979 35 mm Photography magazine. But i prefer the Anchell's recipe. I like a lot known that are more photographers developing film. Long live to the film. Hope will come more cheap. Saludos

Barry Thornton used Delta in a two bath and loved it. In fact, he developed and marketed his own two bath chemicals. Check out his formulae.

The concern about thin films not being able to retain enough solution doesn't hold water - pun intended. I use a modified D-23 followed by a borax bath. Works fine. I add extra Metol to the D-23 so that plenty of developing agent is held in the emulsion. Works very well and easy to use.

Not a true "purist" divided developer since some development takes place in the first bath, and development only finishes in the second. Some compensating action is lost, but flexibility is gained since altering the time in the first bath alters the contrast of the results. That makes it very versatile.

Hi Mike,

Lots of people have said that divided developers don’t work with modern films. The first question that comes to my mind when I read that is whether they have actually tried a divided developer with a modern film.

More recently, Sandy King quieted some of these comments by writing an article in View Camera Magazine in which he tested Diafine and Divided D-23 with a variety of modern films. He found that they both work fine with films from Tri-X to T-Max to HP5+. His purpose was to use the divided developers in a hybrid process in which the film negatives are scanned and then printed digitally. He concluded that the developers work perfectly well for that application, but believes that the long scale of these negatives is better suited for scanning than for printing in the wet darkroom. My personal experience that these developers do work very well, and they can be used in the wet darkroom.

I have used three different divided developers with a variety of modern films with good success. Diafine is a true divided developer. No development occurs in the A bath. Development occurs 100% in the B bath. Divided D-76H, as described in the second edition of the Darkroom Cookbook, also works well. This version omits hydroquinone because it is not active at the pH of fresh D-76, and splits the sodium sulfite 50/50 in the two baths. I have used it for roll film and sheet film and it works just like D-76, only it is easier to use because there is no reason to fuss so much about time or temperature. The late Barry Thornton’s metol 2 bath developer is a variant of Divided D-23. It uses less sodium sulfite than the standard DD-23 or DD-76 to achieve greater acutance than would otherwise result. He discussed this at length in his book The Edge of Darkness. Sandy King has devised some divided versions of his Pyrocat developers. I have some Pyrocat MC and intend to do some testing on it as a divided developer. The Pyrocat divided developers are also true divided developers, with no development occurring in the A bath.

There have been many recent discussions of divided developers. Here are links to a few of them. I find that the discussions on the Large Format Photography Forum have been full and extremely interesting.











There is also information here: www.pyrocat-hd.com/

Hey Charlie. I used the same but i get not well development include with the borax B solution. Really, after all this years i am tempted to try again this formula. Sometimes i shoot some pictures in very high contrast that is very suitable for the divided D-23.
Mike. After all this i hope you share your experiences for the curious. I preserve a lot of old magazines, include some of the 50's. I have the David Vestal formula and others. In my case i remember beautiful negatives but i can't preserve this style of work because i have no time and way to measure the quantities of chemicals and i develop in very separate times. Maybe i can develop three rolls and then, after a month or more, i develop five or seven rolls. I use ethol UFG that i get from a friend from USA, old Promicrol from my father, and I am waiting a can of 30 meters of Adox and some Rodinal from Europe but i have to wait for someone that can carry this to this continent. Yeah, is complicated but i like a lot film.

Hi Mike

I just posted a thread over at RFF with some samples of PlusX (movie stock Kodak 5231) in Thornton Two Bath developer.

I use 77~80 gms Sodium Sulfite in Bath A. The first experiement resulted ina slight mishap because of overcooking (4.5 mins with lots of agitation in both baths), but the negatives were still good. I used a lower time of 3.5 mins for the second trial to set timings.

Link - http://goo.gl/jVnN

I have also had very good success with TriX (4.5 + 4.5 mins), and Foma 100 (5 + 6 mins) in the Thronton 2 bath formula.

Dear Mister Johnston,

Apologies for my rather late reaction.
But, to answer your call, I would like to present an environmental friendly alternative to the traditional D-76, the E-76. This formula originates from Chris Patton from Stanford.
Along with this one I would like to propose an alternative for Dektol too, the E-72.
I do not have any experience with dividing the E-76 formula, but I am sure this can be done almost the same way it is done with the traditional D-76.
I do have a lot of experience in the use of the E-72, since it was published, and I can reassure you that it works remarkably well!

I am so free to quote Chris Patton from his former website :



The most hazardous component in traditional D76 is the Hydroquinone. The EPA lists this agent as an airborne carcinogen. So, even if you are not going to try E76, do buy your D76 in liquid form.

FORMULA [to make one liter]:
0.2 grams phenidone
100 grams sodium sulfite
8 grams vitamin C (powdered)
12 grams borax

Use exactly the same developing times as traditional D76.

There is some affect of aging on this developer, it gets stronger over the period of a couple of weeks.

NOTE: Crone-C additive will NOT work with E76

You can get the powdered Vitamin C (ascorbic acid) from health food stores.
[Do not use sodium ascorbate in place of ascorbic acid [Vit C])



The most hazardous component in traditional Dektol is the Hydroquinone. The EPA lists this agent as an airborne carcinogen. So, even if you are not going to try E72, do buy your paper developer in liquid form.

FORMULA [to make one liter]:
0.4 grams phenidone
45 grams sodium sulfite
19 grams vitamin C (powdered)
90 grams sodium carbonate

Use exactly the same developing times as traditional Dektol. Dilute 1:2 to use.

There is some affect of aging on this developer, it gets stronger over the period of a couple of weeks.

You can get the powdered Vitamin C (ascorbic acid) from health food stores.
[Do not use sodium ascorbate in place of ascorbic acid (Vit C)]

I sincerely hope this could be of any help in your quest.

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