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Monday, 14 August 2023


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In my opinion, Pyro 510 is the best film developer ever. It's a concentrate and somewhat viscous. I heat the concentrate to around 100F degrees to facilitate using a syringe for measuring 1:500 dilution.

In the 1970s I tried most of the 35mm B&W film and developer combinations and settled on Tri-X shot at ASA 200 developed in HC-110. Printed on Oriental Seagull 2 or 3 paper because it was, at that time, affordable in 500-sheet boxes. This combination worked well for my work at that time. Now I use PC-TEA for medium format. It is sort of like Xtol but in a concentrate that reminds me of HC-110.

That makes me wonder what developer Roy DeCarava used. To me, his tones are near perfect, even if gloomy at times.


When I used HC-110 as a film developer, I would reduce the developing time in order to reduce the high contrast. I later switched to D-23. It was simple to mix, and the lower contrast was better for scanning the negatives.

For 20 or so years I developed everything in D19 diluted 1:1 at 80 degrees for 5 minutes. By any objective measure if was a terrible developer if you weren’t developing X-rays but it made pictures that looked like my pictures. Also with the surplus 70mm aerial photography panatomic X film that I was using for portrait photography it was magnificent. 35mm tri-X on the other hand was a hurricane of grain, but it was sharp grain.

That guy with the Nikon Titan body sounds more like someone trying to imitate Robert Adams not Ansel Adams. I knew a few people that tried to imitate Robert Adams technique, but none of them were successful. Horrible agitation, artifacts, I suspect Robert had a nitrogen burst line.

This is the underlying principle : translations age much faster than their original texts. (Think the Bible.) Here in the Netherlands, every sixty years or so almost all of Shakespeare’s plays are translated anew, even if the previous translation is still held in high esteem. We much easier accept all sorts of pecularities, historical traits and expressions from an original text than from its translation - the more so when the transalation is from another age entirely than the original text.

In my 'umble opinion, Rodinal and HC-110 keep for a long time, which is valuable for a guy like me who develops one or two rolls a month. I love the look of D-76, but it always goes weak before I can finish it.

I've been playing with Clayton F76+ recently, which to my eye gives D-76-like results, requires no mixing, and seems to have a decent shelf life.

"Here's the thing to remember about that: he was Ansel Adams. And, um, you're not."


Hey Mike--this totally made my day. I'm still chuckling. Thanks!

"With average skills or below, most pictures will be overlaid with a fog of depression and despair; tones will look grimy and dirty; sunlight shining on the World will seem like it gave up up before it got here; pictures convey a grim mood and feeling. "

Sounds like the perfect stuff to produce 10,000+ likes on Instagram!

If I remember correctly D76 1:1 20 deg C 7 min Tri-X E.I. 64 was my go to for a long time. Great tonal range, acutance, etc.

In the film era I used different developers in my quest for quality. Once I gave up 35mm film and started using larger formats, 2 1/4 square (6x6) and 4x5, I used whatever my local hero was using.

I could not match his skill for composition or his darkroom skills but I figured I could use the same raw materials. Initially it was Agfapan 100 and Rodinal (often referred to as "Rodent-all) and later it was X-tol and T-Max 100. Some of my prints were pretty good but none were as good as those of my friend.

Now the debate is over paper surfaces and which most reflects the artistic intent of the photographer. Here I've managed to settle on a couple of matte papers, used most often, and a couple of "glossy" or luster papers. I'm happier with my prints now than I ever was in the wet darkroom.

"...or maybe it was Technical Pan? "

Tech Pan was the analog 50-plus megapixel sensor. I remember when it came out, the articles in all the magazines said you could get 4X5 quality from 35mm, but they said you needed the best optics for this high resolving film. I was living in Alaska and had my own darkroom so I was immediately onboard.

Then just like when Canon came out with their 50mp DSLR, warning their users that the lenses they used for years might not be "good enough", I soon saw the limitations of my cheap lenses that I mounted to my Pentax MX. Those lenses did not allow the quality of the Tech Pan to show. I used that experience to go over to Nikon and only primes, including the above mentioned 55mm Micro-Nikkor (still have it 40 years on). Then the Tech Pan sure lived up to the hype. But beyond the lens, you needed to use basically every trick used by large format shooters, tripod, cable release, optimum aperture, critical focusing, etc. Also, you were using a 25 ASA (that dates it) film with all the potential blur from the longer shutter speeds, so static subjects were all you could shoot.

All that made the hassle too much for all the benefit of a 35mm capture.

Need to find my Ansel Adams book to check but I thought he used a very diluted (G?). It's always confusing to me because the European version of HC-110 is different than the US one (more diluted).

Back in the good old days I used a special dilution of Rodinal to process Kodak IR film. It produced a significant reduction in visible grain. I need to dig out my notes from storage for the recipe. All my IR photography is now done with a converted Fujifilm X70 which I am very happy with.

back in the 90s HC110 was my developer of choice, for TriX and PlusX, 35mm through to 4x5. But i always diluted it heaps more than the standard recommendation and it gave beautiful results with soft and controllable tonality. Slightly slower film speed though, ie a pull. And the grain not as tight as my friends using the other stuff

I couldn't agree more. I tried all sorts of developers, and some were better than D-76 1:1 for some things, two bath types for extended tonal range for example. I tried staining developers, fine grain developers etc. but I always went back to D-76 (Ilford ID-11, which was the same as D-76).
Rodinal was great for one application - Kodak High Speed Infrared exposed at around 400 ASA for pictorial effect.

Never used Rodinal in any of its current forms (some have a terrible reputation for suddenly turning up their toes), but have spent a few years with HC-110 B. Not because of AA, but because a friend kept making amazing images using it, and I didn't know much about developers (I just wanted something reasonable that lasted longer than Ilfosol 3!).

Now I'm using HC-110 E for 400 ISO and higher, and Adox FX-39 II for 200 or lower. Both work well for me.

Seems like in a few years you can forget the lecture on HC-110 if the rumours of its non-availability turn out true (although there is IlfoTec-HC and Euro-HC and...)...

Yeah, I have to say I much prefer more modern developers – Lightroom, Photoshop, Epson, etc. Having spent 30+ years doing photography in the film era, this old dog is much happier with the new tricks. I can't imagine what would get me to go back to film, but agree that if film and specific developers work better for what someone is trying to express, by all means go with it. (Although I do wonder sometimes, if digital had somehow been invented before film, would anyone feel compelled to invent film?)

I am so grateful for your Rodinal / HC 110 post.
I am also one of those who had talked myself into Rodinal / HC 110 because they both had the reputation of being quite great developers.
Then when my photos looked shitty (please excuse my honest statement), I blamed myself for not understanding the whole thing, for doing something wrong.
When in fact I had above average technical knowledge and worked as a reproduction photographer, had densitometers around me and spent lots of my free time doing step wedges and drawing gradation curves.
I was determined to crack this tough nut. I also added sodium sulfite to the Rodinal, as I did with FG7. But it didn't help in the case of Rodinal.
I didn't want to accept that D76 or Atomal, A49, FG7 without effort almost always and quite easily gave the much better results.
Devilishly, there were films where Rodinal gave impressively good results, for example Agfapan 25, exposed to 12 ASA. Or Tri-X, if you were targeting grain.
And unfortunately, we have to admit that Ralph Gibson created all his black and white work with Tri-X and Rodinal.
That said, I agree with everything your post says.
You get in your own way far too often in life and make nonsense because you are committed to an idea, a fantasy, a dogma.
It's the same with cameras. I could have done my entire life's work with my first camera equipment, Konica T3 or Canon AE-1, instead of buying boxes full of other cameras because I believed that ...,- you know all that.
But many wrong ways you just have to go yourself, so that you understand it.

But it's good to get going sometimes, isn't it.

I, too, have struggled with Rodinal with many different films, from low speed to high speed. It seems to have, as you write, a lot in its favor. I've settled on one combo that gives me exactly what I want, when I want that look - Ilford HP5+ and Rodinal 1+75. Shot at 200. Wonderfully long range, nice grain, and better contrast than with almost any other developer I've tried with HP5.
I actually prefer Diafine for most other films over any other developer (that I have tried). It gives me nice negatives and they scan well.

Mike? Miiiike? You ok? It's like you'd been doomscrolling prior to writing that post - and some of the outrage wafted onto your keyboard.

Don't be 'that' guy Mike.

As far as I know, the word acutance is only used in regard to photography. It is commonly used to describe a subjective impression of edge sharpness.

In the digital world the unsharp mask function increases the acutance at a boundary between light and dark areas by lightening the light side and darkening the dark side in the immediate vicinity of the boundary.

In the analog world the same effect can be created by the use of particular developers. Of the many developers I have used over the years the two particularly stand out in this regard are Rodinal at a dilution of 1:50 or higher and Ilfosol at the recommended dilution of 1:10.

I still use Rodinal a lot, but only for some films. In particular I have found it is brilliant with the latest iteration of Ti-X, but not so much with the Tri-X I was using in the 1960's and 1970's. I don't like it with HP5, which does much better with Ilfosol 3. But with just about any other cubic grain film Rodinal is okay. I don't use Delta or tabular grain films so they may be another story altogether.

In the hybrid analog/digital world where I work any film and developer combination benefits from tweaking the gamma and/or the curve shape in post processing. Rodinal is no exception. And because I do not print larger than 8x12 for 35mm or 12x12 for medium format I don't find Rodinal's grain to be an issue, even with ISO 400 films.

Regarding D-76, when I was still using my darkroom my wife's comment after looking at several month's of my prints said that D-76 film developer made my prints look like they were printed on Kodabromide paper, even those actually printed on the much more expensive Dupont Velour Black.

And FWIW, I never liked HC-110. The extreme viscosity was a pain to work with and the specified developing times were too short.

Great post. You can only get good at something if you are willing to learn from others, and from your own mistakes. Where it gets dicey is knowing who you can actually learn from.

With the loss of so many film websites over the past while, and search engine optimization pointing you to influencers and/or YuTube, I’m afraid anyone new to film development will likely get conflicting, or flat out wrong advice on the internet. There aren’t too many film clubs or local camera stores left, which makes it pretty hard to find a mentor as well.

Anyone starting out is as likely as not to quit in a year or two if they aren’t able to at least improve their results, which doesn’t bode well for future film sales.

Is there anything out there at all to help us ‘greenies’ get good advice on developers and film?, or is just a matter of chance?

I only use HC-110 Dilution B for very expired films, as it does tend to reduce base fog, especially at low temperatures.

I have lots of Verichrome Pan in odd sizes (122, 127, 828), which is all quite expired, so it goes in HC-110. I also have an EI & developing time for my stock of Kodak 2475 Recording film with HC-110. (The EI use is 200 -- the base fog is massive. But the grain remains delicious!)

I also liked that the HC-110 syrup lasts forever -- but what Kodak is selling today is NOT the water-free syrup. (Tetenal was the last place that could make it.) So I won't buy any of the new stuff.

My most recent B&W developing was with home-mixed D-76. I make a small batch and put it in four 8 ounce bottles filled to the brim. (I think I'm using a Hydroquinone-free variant.) Long shelf life.

A photographer I worked with measured Rodinal using a pipette to ensure the correct dilution.

Hallelujah brother.

Back in the day I regularly used to see magazine articles raving about Rodinal & HC-110. Tried them and very quickly headed back to the old D-76/ID-11. Same with D-76 1:3 – it might have cranked up the adjacency effects, but the tonality was awful.

From what I could see the main advantages of Rodinal were that it was cheap and lasted well: neither exactly major image quality issues. And its not being a Kodak product appealed to the conspiratorialist subculture.

Mike, so glad you posted the film developer post. I experimented with just about every B&W film stock and developers. Here’s my take on the developers you mentioned but using Verichrome Pan and Ilford FP4.
Great results with Verichrome Pan at ASA 80 HC-110 1:15 from stock solution of 1:3. VP in Rodinal 1:75, VP in D-76 1:1.
NEOPAN 400 @ 200 asa in Rodinal 1:50 w sodium sulfite 9% solution. ILFORD HP5+ in HC-110, 1:15 from 1:3 stock solution. I still have my little black book from 25 years ago and it contains many films and developer combinations. The films above were both 120 film and 35mm formats. My favorite of all time however was ILFORD FP4 in 120 format using W2D2 Pyro developer, the edge acuatance was remarkable.

I agree Rodinal produces grain, which can yield higher than desired contrast and is not ideal for pushing. But for the new-to-film student, it offers a long shelf life, sharpness (accentuates grain, making edges appear sharper - what some classify as acutance for this developer); its ability to work with a wide range of films makes it flexible, easy to mix, and given its high dilution rates, a little Rodinal can go a long way. Even though I am a Pyro developing fan, I always keep a bottle of Rodinal in the cupboard.

Upon completing the first semester at my photography school, Portfolio Center/Atlanta (now known as The Miami Ad School/Atlanta), students were shown the basement to find studio space. From then on, instructors were rare, only appearing on critique days. It became a sink-or-swim situation: either you figured things out, or you dropped out. My journey to becoming a commercial photographer was shaped by this hands-on environment. While instructional guidance was sparse, the visual direction given by more advanced students' work hanging on the gallery walls and critiques was plentiful. I quickly learned how to swim. Although it was tough for me to build sets (power tools and work benches entered my life for the first time), I always sought help from my guy friends, and in return, I gave ideas and kindness.

So, what’s your preferred developer for 35mm b/w film? I use Ilford HP5 and Kodak D76 with good results. Regards.

Oh Mike I must partially disagree with you over Rodinal though I have no experience using it pictorially if that means landscapes. I used it shooting portraits and families in a studio with APX25 and diluted 1:50 for many years or at least till Agfa on their way down stopped making APX25. I reduced agitation and rated the film at ISO 12 and was presented with quite "heavy" negs which gave me wonderful grain free images and cool whites together with the ability to dig details out of the blacks if I wanted or needed to. Oh yes I was beyond my teenage years when i started to use Rodinal and it was, for portraits, my favourite dev+film coupling; in fact I wrote an article about my usage for the late lamented Darkroom User magazine edited by Ed Buziak.

Excuse me for being a little argumentative here - it is all in good spirit and with love :)

In the speaker thread you answered a person who claimed the many appreciating the LS3/5a were buying into a false myth.

You answered (in part):
...Who do you think is buying all those LS3/5a's, hordes of sound engineers? It's a very rare product that receives that much love from the marketplace for so long...

It sounded to me like you were saying the longevity of the product and the love cast upon it disproved the claim of a myth?

Would that not also apply to Rodinal/HC110?
I doubt the hordes buying Rodinal/HC110 all have "Adams proficiency" and the love from the market place in the case of Rodinal is 3 times longer than that of the said speakers.

I do not personally take offence although I use both developers. I may very well be too ignorant to know any better. Just as I probably wouldn't be able to evaluate if the LS3/5a's exceeds the quality of any similar priced speaker.

My main reasons for using Rodinal & HC110 are the longevity of the opened bottles, the economy and ease of use as a 1 shot developer (I use both at 1+50 dilutions).

It suits my infrequent developing pattern well, but I am very open to alternatives that you may suggest as long as I don't have to suffer too much on the convenience side.
The D76 route does not seem suitable for an infrequent user like me?

An old bottle of unopened Rodinal in my collection from who-knows-when - no date imprint.
When I got it, it had some cellophane-like seal around the bakelite cap, but it dissolved into tiny pieces when I touched it.
Almost 100% crystallised but should allegedly work if dissolved.

Rodinal at 200:1 dilution, semi-stand, 30mins to an hour could be a surprisingly fine grained, full tonal value experience. The very weak dilution was much better than negatives processed at the recommended dilutions.

Though, truth be known, I was a straight D76 kind of guy. Nice tight grain structure. Excellent tonal range for a very wide variety of emulsions. Good stuff, that. Much better than when mixed 1:1 or 1:3.

YMWV, of course.

No need to apologize for the tone, Mike. Personally, I like it when you tell it plainly as you see it, and it even makes me giggle a bit.

Yes to D-76 diluted 1:1. I stumbled on that without understanding, but the negs gave me decent prints, when I was making silver prints.

This entire piece could have been "The Trouble With Film".

No, I am not Ansel Adams.

So what developer do you recommend?

Another great "nuts and bolts" post.

In the book, Pentax and SLR Photography, by Robert Fuhring, (https://www.amazon.com/Pentax-Single-lens-reflex-photography-Fuhring/dp/0817404805) he mentioned that one magazine editor would tolerate new photographers' pet processes for a while. Eventually, the new photographers would fall in line and let the lab process with D-76 and whatever paper they used. The results with D-76 were better than the "special processes" the new photographers championed.

(I really like how Mr. Fuhring wrote his various versions of that title. Easy to read and not too technical sounding, with several stories included to show the importance of the point he was covering. Just the information you needed to understand the camera and to help take better photos. Even those new-fangled electronic flashes were covered.)

Less grain than any other film? It had to be Tech Pan. Of course, that was "graphic arts" film and had to be coerced into good pictorial photography results with a different developer. Lord help you if you didn't have the exposure and dynamic range under control!

There you go. Another controversial title. This is going to flash all over the web! ;-)

I tried a TON of developers, using HC-110 in various dilutions at our college paper as it was cheap, D-76 and several others, before landing on DD-X and Tmax developers. TMAX 400 in Tmax developer sang - especially TMAX 400 2. Fuji Neopan 1600, Ilford 3200 both were fantastic in DD-X run in my Jobo, and HP 5+ came out nicely. I'm so glad to never never deal with the syrupy HC-110 every again! At some point I got tired of chasing combinations and found the best dilution, temp, and time for my 3 favorite films run in my Jobo and stopped trying - made things a lot more enjoyable.

So what "developer" do you use now on your raw image files? In-camera JPEG is the most common. I confess to relying on Lightroom's auto-tone as a basis for my Nikon files, but there are literally infinite options for "developing" to get "The Look".
They all work only as well as you do, as always. I've used all of the chemicals you listed - I can't tell which was used on any prints. I got what I wanted to see with whatever tools I used. The end goal is to find tools that help you work well.

Rodinal was my favorite developer for 35mm Tri-X. I used the Bill Pierce formula of 2/3 Chock Full O'Nuts coffee scoop of sodium sulfite per roll and 1:75 dilution of Rodinal. Don't remember the time but it was sorta long. Gave a low contrast negative that printed nicely on a #3 grade paper. The results were sharp but not too grainy. It was very forgiving of exposure as well.

I had to abandon Rodinal when I went to work for a newspaper. Time was more important than quality and the staff used DK-50 full strength for about 2 minutes total development time. Huge clumps of grain but got the job done quickly. Eventually D-76 replaced the DK-50 (full strength of course). But we found it wasn't great for push processing. Later we found several bottles of Edwal FG7 in a supply cabinet and it replaced the D-76. I found that I could presoak the film before development and then give it a minute or so soaking after development and shadow detail appeared where once there was nothing. This was a miracle for those high school football games shot in small stadiums under 60 watt bulb lighting.

Ahh, the memories. I'm likely to have nightmares about this tonight.

No good using Rodinal or R09 with a fast film, unless you want grain like golf balls and perhaps, if you get dilution, time and temperature wrong, the 'fog of depression' will appear with any speed of film, including slow ones.

Advantages of Rodinal:
Lasts forever, and,
Only small amount of developer required.

Disadvantage of Rodinal:
Requires precise dilution and possible use of a syringe for accurate measurement.

Views my own. As ever, read the instructions.

A PS: to my previous post; if I recall correctly, Technical Pan film requires a purpose made Kodak developer. Theoretically, so do the Kodak T-Max films although a Kodak Company representative told me at a Trade Show in the UK "You will get better results with T-Max using D.76. We have done or own lab tests to prove it, but don't tell anybody."

In my view the current Kodak T-Max 100 and 400 ISO films are the best B&W films going. Please don't tell Ilford I wrote that!

After shooting mostly film for the last five years I have only recently returned to digital (thanks to the Fuji X-T5). Your comments on grain I think are apropos (Rodinal sucks at this). Your comments on characteristic curve shape are equally valid, but only for those still working with an enlarger in a darkroom. High-definition camera scans of my negatives have freed me from those limitations; I can bend the curve to any shape in Lightroom. For speed, fine grain, and non-toxicity my favorite developer is Kodak Xtol.

on Rodinal I must respectfully disagree.
Agfa 100 at 80 ASA, Rodinal 1:50 and Rollei SL 66: I have four of them, my best ever, on the wall before me (9/9 on 11/14 Portriga Rapid from the 1970s and 1980s): Loong scale, singing highlights, finely graduated middle tones, open shadows, and deep blacks where appropriate. And of course, incredible detail.

Cheers, Fritz

I've been using HC-110, dilutions B and E with medium- and large-format films for several years, mostly for convenience. I have come to depend on the E dilution (47 to 1) with HP-5+. BUT, the suckers have now changed the stuff! My latest batch is the NEW HC-110, supposedly with the same active ingredients but now clear and watery rather than a viscous mellow yellow. (Experts on what this implies about the continuing collapse of all things Kodak will undoubtedly weigh in here, as this has become a topic in other forums.) I will give the new stuff a try, but am disgusted and thinking of going back to dependable D76. I could also lift from the closet a bottle of very brown Rodinal, maybe a decade old, because whatever its other drawbacks, the stuff is said to keep forever.

I agree with you on HC-110. It's especially bad with TXP that was the Tri-X sheet film available when Ansel Adams' revised version of "The Negative" came out. With the muddy shadows and uncontrollable highlights, just not a good choice. It's one advantage that it's a liquid concentrate that is easy to use and lasts forever--especially if you buy a bottle, try it, hate it and leave the partially full bottle in the darkroom forever like I did.

I don't really agree about Rodinal. It has a distinct look with "enhanced" grain, and it's not a great general purpose developer like D-76. However, for the people choosing to use film now, I can see the appeal of Rodinal. It has grain, it looks more different from the perfect smoothness that you get with digital than something like D-76.

Oh dear. I just bought a bottle of Rodinal that will last me their rest of my life. How will I ever achieve good image quality. (I'll probably use a digital camera.) I'll have to compare Fomapan 400 in Rodinal to the revered TX in D76 to see what you are talking about. Of course I will be scanning the negs and so can easily adjust the tone curve.

Ralph Gibson is one such photographer who has an idea of what he wants and bends the materials to his vision. He shoots with digital Leicas now, but he used to soup his Tri-X in Rodinal. I've read somewhere (I believe a forum thread by somebody who claimed to have spoken directly with either Gibson or an associate who worked with him - so sadly no more reliable than gossip) that he would shoot in contrasty lighting, overexpose by two stops and then push two further stops in development to get his whites crisp.

I find this kinda funny since those (HC-110 and Rodinal) are the two developers I use currently.

Just wondering, what is your opinion of Ilfosol? It was the first developer I used. I recall getting beautiful negatives with it. But then I got burned when I found out firsthand what a short self life it has. Never again! These days I don't develop often, so long shelf life is a requirement.

I go back and forth on this. The last roll of film I shot was Fuji Neopan 400, which has a very particular grain structure. I really liked it, although I don't seek to recreate it in my digital photography. I was using a home-brew ascorbic acid based developer with phenidone as the developing agent. 35mm. I really liked the results.

I had -- and this was 20 years ago now -- the mind reels, experimented with Rodinal as a stand developer. Very high level of dilution and one inversion every so often for half an hour or so. I don't recall being impressed enough to move away from my home-brew.

I was using a Zone IV VC enlarger -- the one with the green tube and the blue tube -- AND using a split bath development -- a high contrast one to get the blacks going, and a low contrast one to get the mid-tones where I wanted them. I had a whiz-bang alignment device to square my easel with my negative stage and the lens stage for every enlargement.... basically, I was susceptible to any snake oil salesman promising more exactitude and better control over my process. Prints were full frame (because I was producing Art) on 11x14 paper.

Man, was it fun.

But it also was a pain to keep up with processing film. And 20 years later I am where I am.

I recall being able to get decent results with Rodinal, but wouldn't die on the hill of its defense. And of course because I was mixing my own soup, I wanted mix my own home brew version. Meh.

Your critique of HC-110 Dilution B surprises me. For years I used it successfully with several 35mm Kodak and Ilford films until Kodak introduced T-Max Developer. The only drawback was lower film speed: I routinely rated Tri-X at ASA 125 instead of box-speed ASA 400.

According to Fred Picker's book "Zone VI Workshop" (1974), Ansel Adams used HC-110 with 35mm film:

"I [Picker] tried many combinations [of films and developers] until I received a letter from Liliane DeCock several years ago. She said that Ansel Adams was making prints from 35mm negatives that looked almost like they were made from 4x5's. Liliane was Ansel's assistant and an outstanding photographer and printer...

"The film and developer combination that Ansel Adams used was Tri-X and HC110 (Kodak). I have used this combination for several years for nearly all of my black and white work in 35mm, 120 roll film, and 4x5."

Picker goes on to quote at length the test results of a German magazine that surprisingly found HC-110 the best of the tested developers. It produced better sharpness and contrast on Tri-X than on Plus-X and Ektapan.

Day late and more than a few dollars short, I'm sure, but my own opinions...

I miss Plus-X so badly. It at EI400 in Diafine was my silver bullet. Nothing was better than that combination for the landscapes I like to shoot. I pretty much stopped buying Kodak film when it went away. Now, though, Kodak is the only game in town (Fuji C200 is Kodak Gold & Fuji 400 is Kodak too) so if I buy color film, I have no real choice. Thankfully Ektar is at least worth it.

I'm going to buy a 100' roll of Double X though, to run through that new to me Nikon F4 and see if it comes even close to Plus X with Diafine. I doubt it but a fat old fart has to have some hope. It's the scanning that's going to be the real PITA.

Long ago, when I spent time in the darkroom, I was a dedicated D-76 guy until I wasn't. I think it was the constant jockeying for sink space in the school lab that inspired me to give liquid concentrate TMax developer a go.

The results were great, and the ease of instantly mixing a 1:4 dilution was, to me, completely worth the premium over the cost of D-76 powder. At times I was even heedless enough to mix straight into my loaded tank; water first, a firm tap, then the TMax concentrate, followed by a solid minute of agitation cycles at the start. I know; the horror.

Anyway, there's a site that offers an interesting comparison of film & developer combinations here. This page of it showcases Tri-X film: https://fotoimport.no/filmTriX

If I were to resume processing B&W film, I would grab a new bottle of TMax with no reservations.

I remember an unsatisfactory experience with Rodinal in highschool, but don't remember if I saw it in a store, a magazine ad, an Ansel Adams book, or where. However, after a few tries I moved on, quickly ending up at D76 1:1, and also Autofine (normal speed) and Acu-1 (single-use pushing variant of Acufine).

I feel like Diafine is my big missed opportunity, but I have some rolls marked as developed in Diafine and it didn't become my normal. Don't remember how I decided.

HC110, though, that was brilliant. Well, the replenisher was brilliant. I tried that process from a magazine back when where you develop in HC110 replenisher (diluted, but with none of the normal HC110) and shoot your film at EI 4000. There was high base fog and a stronger than usual curl, but I could live with those, they printed quite well. Should have used that more, too.

Today of course digital is a better solution to those problems than either of those developers (and people wanting to use film today are either looking for the experience to move on from, or else are looking for very different results than I've ever wanted). More power to them, anyway, trying things to see what works for you is a good choice.

Oh my, the number of rabbit holes this discussion can open! I shot Tri-X using diluted Rodinal, basically following Bill Pierce's guidelines. I liked the general grittiness when I did stage photography and street stuff in Cambridge and Chicago from around 1967 and continued to about 1980, but packed up the darkroom and put my time into other things after that, until photography went digital around 2000.
I liked the results, made a few pictures that I am proud of, and never came close to optimizing anything.

Now, my efforts on occasion to work with film require using whatever stock and chemicals can be found in local stores, and this changes each time I get that urge.

The rabbit holes -- Before typing this note, I wondered, so what is Bill Pierce up to now -- and found an answer at Bill Jarecke's Youtube channel:
and it is an incredible story. He never turned pro, to hear him tell it.

I am 98% in agreement with you, Mike. The other 2% are probably things that you don't agree with either.

I started with Verichrome Pan (620 and then 127) in the 50's with D76 or whatever my dad bought, spent most of the 60's trying just about everything especially if it was outdated and cheap. I did try Rodinal at various dilutions and also Tech Pan in H&W Control Developer, but gave up on both of those for all the usual reasons. Then in the 70's shot a lot of Ilford FP4 and HP5 in ID-11 for 35mm and 120 and HC-110 for 4x5 and larger. I mostly used fairly high dilutions for HC-110 in one-shot applications, and after some trials mostly developed sheet film in slightly modified colour drums for consistency and to easily handle longish developing times. Finally, in later years for 35mm I shot HP5+ and Delta 100 in Xtol at 1:3 developed to exhaustion which gave me at bit of speed enhancement and a good tonal range. I also shot some SuperXX, of which I still have 400 ft.

I'm probably not going to go back to film and will have to try and sell my remaining stock. I like the look of film, but digital is just rather more consistent. I've certainly done my share of trying things out, but having a camera that can produce results that rival the quality of 35mm to 4x5 at ISO's of up to 50,000 consistently, with never a bad batch of developer and no spotting is nice.

Looking back at old negatives, since 1967, I sometimes wonder why they look so good. The notes on the sheet say D76 1+1. In later years XTOL 1+1. I say no more, and may God forgive me, I've tried so many combinations and ruined so many films. Sometimes I think of what Elliott Erwitt has said about processing: Read on the yellow box. (The guys in Rochester knew what they did.)

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