Earlier this year Ilford teased us with a simple way to get into home black & white developing. Now as a long-time home developer I knew right off the mark that the pack is not aimed at photographers like me. I had no intention of trying it out because of that fact, but when I saw that my local dealer, I mean camera store, Burlington Camera & Digital had them for sale, I knew I had to give it a go. Even if it was just for writing about it here and discussing it on a future Classic Camera Revival episode. The box is attractive enough, and all four chemistry pouches fit neatly inside. Simple packaging, good size, I mean, if I were to do some developing on the road, this would be what I’d take with me, next to a monobath of course.
So, what’s in the box? Well, it’s four pouches with all the chemicals you need to start developing your own black & white films. Each pouch is colour coded, red, blue, green, purple. In the red pouch is your developer, Ilfosol 3. A one-shot liquid developer that works well with Delta 100, Ilford FP4+, and Ilford Pan F+. I’ve never used it with Delta 400, but I’m sure it delivers decent results. The pouch of 60mL is calculated to the 1+9 dilution, you probably could extend that by using the 1+14. But for the case of thinking of the audience, I used the kit in its recommended dilutions. Next is the Ilfostop, a chemical stop bath, then Ilford Fixer, and wetting agent that you use during your final wash.
The starter pack has enough chemistry to developer two rolls of 35mm or one roll of 120. Although I’m sure you could coax another two of 35mm or one of 120 out of the fixer and the stop bath. I ended up using the stop bath for six rolls of film and it remained bright orange, so still good! The wetting agent has enough chemistry for 16 rolls of 35mm or 8 rolls of 120. Now you can buy the pouches as individuals which would be handy if you use this for travelling, so you can bring extra pouches of developers, stop, and fix. You will still need to bring measuring cylinders, developing tank, and change bag. Of course, if you have the LabBox or a Rodinex you can do away with the change bag.
As a long-time home developer, I don’t see myself using these chemicals in the near future, I much prefer to do my developing at home than on the road. I have tried in the past, and besides the one thing that is missing is a clearing solution (Permawash, Archival Wash, or Hypoclear) which is one thing I always make a point to use when developing. But if you are thinking of developing your own black & white at home and don’t want to invest in a full set of equipment and know someone who has the tank, measuring, hypoclear, and bag. All you need to do is pick up one of these packs, and I’ll be glad to help you out to get your feet wet.