D-76 and PMK sources.

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I am getting back into photography after 20 years. I used to use D-76 1:1 with TriX film. After reading all the posts relating to this subject, it's pretty obvious I want to try out D-76 and PMK for developers, TriX and HP5+ for film. What source of D-76 is the most economical? I've read it's a very simple formula. Does buying the chemicals save money over buying Kodak packages? Are there any other advantages? Sources for PMK? Can anyone recommend a particular bulk loader?

-- John Kilmer (jontar5@dreamscape.com), July 15, 1999


You can save anywhere from 25% to 75% by mixing photo formulas yourself. (The only exception to this is fixer, which, for some reason, can be bought cheaper alreay compounded.) However, in order to get the greatest savings, you will have to shop around, which can sometimes be an arduous task. The price on chemicals can vary 100% from supplier to supplier! Low grade bulk chemicals are best procured from suppliers of industrial chemicals; more esoteric items, such as developing agents, silver and gold salts, etc., may need to be found elsewhere. The Photographer's Formulary is a good starting place. Of course, you will need to buy a balance, which will add to your initial setup costs.

-- Peter Hughes (leonine@redshift.com), July 16, 1999.

Hi. I don't know where are you from, but here in Europe, the Ilford version of D-76, ID-11 is 10-30% cheaper. Strictly speaking the two are no longer identical since D-76 changed its formula recently but the results are the same. PMK is another story. I have never mixed it myself (I mean from separately purchased chemicals), but generally it is a very economical developer, so in my opinion it's not worth the effort.

-- Evgeni Poptoshev (evgeni.poptoshev@surfchem.kth.se), July 19, 1999.

There is information on mixing PMK and my developing times for various films at http://unblinkingeye.com. You need to be very careful when handling pyro-gallol, as it is quite toxic, though I have managed to do it safely for several years now. I enjoy mixing my own developers, though I'm not sure if I save that much money. If I were you, to start with, I would buy a small quantity of pre-mixed chemistry and give it a try. I really think D-76 is a bit outmoded these days. With the quality of today's films, Rodinal is an excellent choice, and very economical.

-- Ed Buffaloe (edbuffaloe@earthlink.net), July 19, 1999.

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