One thing that is always satisfying is being able to come up with new processing details for rare films. I did some extensive testing with Eastman 5363 back when the Film Photography Project began to release it for general photographic use. But now I have a new challenge from the group, Derev. Of course, there has already been some testing of the film by the Alpha team over at FPP HQ in New Jersey which gave me a baseline, so I went and checked over my extensive list of films looking for similar film speeds, film feel, and developing times to see if other development times would work in a similar fashion. Here are my results from my testing, one outside of the existing development times, the other expanding on HC-110 times. For testing purposes I went with my Nikon F5 since we’re still in cold weather in Canada, I wanted a camera that could perform in the worst conditions and had a rock solid meter. Plus I have a full set of lenses with amazing performance. I wanted to reduce the number of variables in my testing. So like Leslie, I wanted a camera I knew could perform and rise to the challenge.
At the Speed of Sound – Derev Pan 400 “Yeager”
The first film that popped up in search of my records was Rollei RPX 400, having a similar time on HC-110 and Kodak D-76, I decided this would be a good test to try to find a Pyrocat-HD time. I love shooting 400-speed films and developing in Pyrocat-HD. And while most people use Pyrocat for large format applications, I think it works well in all film sizes. So I started by giving the film a slight pull to ASA-320 since it is designed for aerial surveillance I figured it could take it and used the standard dilution of 1+1+100 and a developing time of eighteen minutes with a modified agitation pattern, constant for the first thirty seconds, then two inversions every two minutes.
Well, I can pretty much stop right here, unlike with 5363 I went into the Beta testing of Derev far more confident in my skills and my chemistry. I knew I had a winner as soon as I pulled the film out of the tank, and was blown away when I the images up onto my screen. The images have that typical brightness I find when processing in Pyrocat-HD not to mention a good tonality and smooth contrast. The images are sharp to the point of cutting me, but the grain so fine you can hardly tell it is there. Of course, there are a few things that could see improvement. First off pulling the film, even slightly made the highlights almost disappear, but a minor issue in this case. You could probably use the same time and technique and leave the film at box speed of ASA-400. But with that taken care of, I could move onto another developer for the second roll of film and settled on Ilford Microphen, sticking to the longer times and lower dilution I cut the developer 1+1 and went with a thirteen-minute time and standard agitation pattern. And I could see right off pulling the film out of the tank I had another winner. I’m glad I did not use a stock solution fearing the contrast would be far too high. It’s fairly high as it is, but there’s plenty of tonal range. But let’s talk about sharpness, I mean these images are sharp enough to jump off the screen at you, the trade-off is an increase in grain especially in the white spaces, but it’s nothing too terrible certainly an excellent developer combination.
I can say fairly certainly after two successful tests that I can assume that most developer/time combinations for Rollei RPX 400 will work with Derev Pan 400. The early days of home developing me would say stick to the tested times. However, the brazen and experimental developer that I am today says go ahead and try something crazy. If you like HC-110, you can easily calculate from the HC-110 Dilution B times provided by the FPP and get some E, F, even H times (E = 10:40, H = 14:00, and F = 17:30). So go nuts and have some fun. I’m a fan of the Yeager stock; it behaves like no other 400-speed film I’ve encountered. However, the mylar base is a pain in the neck to load in the change bag, and reminds me of Svema Foto 400, but with better sharpness and finer grain.
Geese In the Engine – Derev Pan 100 “Sullenberger”
One of the combinations for developing I’ve found myself using more and more these days is Dilution H of HC-110. While an unofficial dilution, I rather like the look of the photos I get. You double the Dilution B times and using HC-110 1+63 from the syrup. Easy enough and having Dilution B times from the Alpha Tests, I made that the first stop with Derev 100. Well, in this case, I feel that I could have given the film another thirty seconds in the tank as they all seemed a little under-developed. But thankfully there’s enough forgiveness that I could pull out some decent images. And while I lost some shadow detail overall, I’m fairly impressed. The images are the perfect sharpness, extremely fine grain. And while I can’t give a final opinion on tone and contrast, what I do see is acceptable.
I decided to stick with the HC-110 theme and went for a new process for semi-stand developing, at least for me. I had two other rolls of film up for semi-stand development and threw in the Derev Pan 100 to soup with them. Going with Dilution J (1+150) and 45 minutes total time with gentle agitation for the first minute, then two more gentle inversion at the 22.5-minute mark. I’m stunned at the results here, with rich sky separation with only a slight under-cooked nature of the images but who cares, they looked darn good right out of the tank. And even better after getting them scanned, wonderful even tones complete with bright whites and dark blacks. Fine grain and deadly sharp images. And while they probably could have been in the tank for a touch longer, it did not take much to get good results from the negatives. For the first time using a semi-stand process with HC-110, I’m darn pleased.
I’m pretty happy with all these images and the film as a whole, the Yeager is by far my favourite of the pair. If your interest is peaked, be sure to sign up for the FPP Newsletter to get the first crack at the wider release of the film, which is a few days away on the 5th of March! You can sign up for the Newsletter by visiting www.filmphotographyproject.com and the sign up is right on the main page. And yes, this is brand new in production film, not dusty dead stock.