Film/developer testing : LUSENET : B&W Photo - Film & Processing : One Thread

After shooting slides almost exclusively for many years I would like to learn B&W photography. During this period I have on occasion used Tri-X developed in Rodinal or T-Max. I would like to make som tests on these films:

Slow speed: Delta 100, FP4+, Pan F

Medium speed: Delta 400, Tri-X, HP5+, Neopan 400

High speed: Neopan 1600, T-Max 3200, Delta 3200

I would like to find a standard developer for these films, any suggestions?

What kind of developer should i use for pushing the medium speed/high speed films 1/2/3 stops?

Do you feel that there are any films that I left out?

Thank you in advance.

-- Jonas Vilslev (, May 26, 2002


d-76 or id-11 diluted @ 1:1 is a good starting point for an overall comparison of the various qualities of these films.

perceptol or microdol-x ( virtually identical ) diluted 1 part developer to 2 parts water can be very good as well. Processing times can be significantly reduced in diluted perceptol by processing at 24 degrees celcius.

apx 100 is a lovely film which works well in either of the above developers. I rate it at 50 iso and pre soak before development for 1 minute.

id-11/ d-76 1:1 @ 20 degrees for 9.5 min

microdol-x/ perceptol 1:2 @ 24 degrees for 11 minutes

these times are for 120 film printed on a diffusion enlarger. 35mm may be a little different. For pushing tri-x to 800 asa i have found tmax developer 1+4 @ 24 degrees to work quite well although i consider tri-x at 400 asa to be " pushing " the film which i normally rate @ 200. T-max developer is also suitable for the tmax 3200 also.

microphen - or dd-x are both a good choice for pushing the ilford 400 @ 3200 delta films as well as hp5 plus.

good luck,

matt stanton

-- matthew stanton (, May 26, 2002.

I favor traditional films over tabular grain films, and I prefer high accutance developer over "fine-grain" developer, generally. My favorite combination is Ilford Pan F+ developed in Rodinal. With this film/developer pairing one gets the fine grain inherent in slow films, such as Pan F+ (EI 50). If one were to use a faster film together with a "fine grain" developer one would get managable grain but the accutance would be compromised. With Pan F+ and Rodinal, one eliminates the visual compromises (as I see it) and suffers only the compromise in convenience caused by the slow film speed. When I got out there and actually did more shooting at EI 50, I found the slow film speed to be not so inconvenient after all. - On a sunny day f5.6 at 1/125th or 1/250th was typical. 11" X 14" enlargements from a 35mm negative look wonderfully detailed and sharp with this combination. If you would like to see a few Pan F+/Rodinal photos they are at my web site:

-- Ollie Steiner (, May 26, 2002.

I'd suggest D-76/ID-11 1:1 to 1:3 for the slow and medium films and DD-X for the fast films. Or DD-X 1:9 for the slow and medium films and 1:4 for the fast films.

DD-X will give you slightly more speed and slightly more graininess than D-76/ID-11, while imho D-76/ID-11 is dismal with the fast films.

-- John Hicks (, May 26, 2002.

IMHO, you're taking on way too many films. I'd pick two films, slow and fast, and a general purpose developer. According to some Kodak literature I've read, T-Max developer was designed for pushing. It might be good for that, but I wouldn't call either Rodinal or T-Max a good choice for evaluating film qualities. Learn a combination like FP4+ and Xtol (or D-76, HC-110, ID-11, or similar) until you know it like the back of your hand. Then fine tune a faster film. Only then should you try the less "middle of the road" combinations and pushing. (I don't have anything against Rodinal and keep a big bottle handy, but it has a unique signature and isn't suitable for every subject and film type, especially in 35mm.

-- Conrad Hoffman (, May 27, 2002.

The distinction between slow and fast film has nearly vanished; those explained in old books can be largely ignored.

I don't recommend HC-110. I know many people who have HC-110 halfway used and never finished because they found D-76 better, or started mixing their own chemicals (or take a couple bottles off my mixed chemical shelf). HC-110 is too much of a compromise unless you are shooting LF, in which case you can afford such a compromise.

Drop the idea of pushing for now. You'll regret when your eyes become more critical months later.

T-MAX developer, I think, was originally designed to compensate for lack of shadow details with old T-MAX films. I've read on a British Professional Photographer article that some author there complained Ilford about lack of shadow details with Delta films, and Ilford secretly told that guy to use T-MAX developer. As EKC silently improved the emulsion and thereby eliminated the special need for T-MAX developer, they started advertising T-MAX developer as a push developer. Ilford, on the other hand, put "Professional" designation when they improved it. T-MAX developer might be a good choice for Delta 3200 and TMZ, but then why not Microphen?

My recommendation is the same as John Hick's recommendation. I'd use Microphen instead of DD-X, partly because Microphen is cheaper and its (unofficial but very close) formula is published (should Ilford change it or discontinue it I can still make some and use it). But this is a very small point -- DD-X or T-MAX dev is probably just as good.

-- Ryuji Suzuki (, May 27, 2002.

Do yourself a favor and pick one film and one developer and one paper, and LEARN them before you go anywhere else. You can't start comparing one against the other until you have a handle on one!!


-- Kevin Kolosky (, May 27, 2002.

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