Dektol developer : LUSENET : B&W Photo - Printing & Finishing : One Thread

I did quite a bit of developing in high school, and somewhat less in college, but recently decided to get my own rig set up at home. I had no idea how little I knew about what I was doing until I went out to start from scratch. ;-) I've answered most of my questions from searching through old questions of others, but these persist:

At what dilution should I be using Dektol to develop paper? I just tried 2 parts water:1 part Dektol concentrate (as mixed from the bag), and my paper was developing through my picture and into near-complete black in about 15 seconds. (This is with exposure times of < 5 seconds.)

Is there a cheap timer for my enlarger? I'm using a stopwatch (ACK!) to time my exposures (and developing time, if I can make it longer than ten seconds or so), and, especially for printing, it's less than completele accurate. The cheapest darkroom (outlet controlled) timers I've found are ~$70, and I just can't justify it. Suggestions?



-- Mike Watson (, May 03, 2001


1:2 is pretty much standard for Dektol. It sounds like your paper is over-exposed, or has been exposed to light. Try developing an unexposed sheet (or part of a sheet) and see if this stays paper white for 90 seconds in your developer. You can also double check that you mixed the stock solution correctly. If you pass both of these tests, you may have to brite a bulb in your enlarger or be using your enlarging lens wide-open.

As for a timer, there are many around for a few bucks on the used market. You can check ebay and other on-line sites.

-- Ed Farmer (, May 03, 2001.

I would say it doesn't matter how fast or slow the print 1st appears in the developer, it's the final image that matters. I use Ilford Multigrade Paper Developer and when mixed new prints appear in about 10-15secs and as it becomes exhausted, takes longer. I leave them in the developer for 1min regardless. Once they take more than about 30secs I mix up new developer. So, for consistancy, I think you should develop your prints for a set time that ensures they are developed to completetion. If your more advanced and after a specific attribute, you can try different techniques, not that I know any, but I've never successfully pulled a print from the developer early and been happy with the result, I just get another piece of paper out and... get the enlargement exposure time right.

Are you stopping your lense down a couple of stops? what size prints are you making? are you using variable contrast filters? are your negatives 'thin'... Just some of the parameters that affect the exposure time. Hand timing <5sec exposures sounds like a recipe for inconsistancy! A less powerful lamp sounds like a good idea, but check for fogged paper 1st as mentioned by Ed.

-- Nigel Smith (, May 03, 2001.

Don't any photo materials come with instructions these days?
The short induction time of 15 secs would indicate an overstrength developer to me, or one that's way too warm. I've never had a print come up in that short a time, with any paper.
Your developer should be no hotter than 75 Fahrenheit/ 24 Celsius otherwise you run an increased risk of scratching an over-soft emulsion.
You don't give any details of the paper either. Some papers are developer incorporated and should be developed in an activator bath alone, or in a weaker than normal developer.

-- Pete Andrews (, May 04, 2001.

To get consistency in printing, you need a good timer, and $70 is not too much for one. The more versatile ones cost considerably more. Otherwise you may end up counting the seconds yourself.

-- Keith Nichols (, May 04, 2001.

Dektol is normally made for a 1:2 dilution. But that has nothing to do with your paper turning black. Paper is made to develope to completion. In other words, meant to be developed until the process is complete. Your paper has been overexposed and/or your negative is way too thin for the length of the exposure it's been given. RC paper usually is developed for 60 secs and FB is developed for 2-3 minutes depending on brand and type. James

-- james (, May 05, 2001.

I agree with most of the others about your exposure being too much - either on time or lens aperture...

Anyway - here's the answer you were looking for - a metronome. You can set it to click at a count of 60, which is one per second, obviously, and then count the seconds while turning your enlarger on and off. I have used this method successfully for years,...after hearing that Ansel Adams did exactly the same thing...:)

Good Luck!

-- KL Vance (, May 07, 2001.

Get a timer with a foot switch. They show up on ebay all the time cheap. If all you want are quick prints with no controls(dodging and burning) then a stop watch that glows in the dark is adequate. Just stop down the aperture of your lens to increase the exposure to where you want it. 20 secs? 30 secs? James

-- james (, May 07, 2001.

"I would say it doesn't matter how fast or slow the print 1st appears in the developer, it's the final image that matters."

Not true. The induction period (time from immersion in the developer until the image begins to appear) is an indication of proper exposure. Depending upon the paper being used, the induction period may vary from 15-30 seconds. Your development time should always remain the same - and should be in the 2-3 minute area (some RC papers like 1-1/2 minutes). But, you can tell a lot from the induction period. If it is under the "normal" time then you have over exposed the print, if it is over the normal time you have under exposed the print.

In fact, you can use the induction period timing to "tweak" the print exposure by calculating the difference (in percentages) between what you have timed and your optimum induction period. If you apply that percentage difference to the print exposure your induction period should be corrected and the print exposure should also be correct.

The standard dilution for Dektol is, as others have said, 2 parts water to 1 part stock solution.

-- steve (, May 11, 2001.

There use to be cheap timers available. I have a 30 year old timer that I got from Spiratone for a few bucks. It is a mechnical timer but has a switch to control the enlarger. Try E-bay.

-- Gene Crumpler (, May 14, 2001.

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