When it comes to fine-grain developing, the developer that most people reach for today is Kodak Xtol. But Xtol is one of the newest developers to come out of Kodak, before Xtol if you wanted to tame that grain, you reached for Microdol-X. While I’m unsure as to when Microdol-X was first released by Kodak, I’ve found images online of the powder coming in cans rather than pouches. The logo style is that of 1935, so I’m guessing it was released at some point in the mid-1930s at the earliest. I stumbled across Microdol-X while visiting Pittsburg back in 2015, while my main goal wasRead More →

While these days the old standbys are still excellent choices to develop your film and offer up a great deal of variety there’s something to be said about having a universal one-size-fits-all developer. I first discovered this last year with Adox FX-39 II. But I quickly fell a rabbit hole of similar developers. And I’m not talking about Diafine, but rather Rollei Supergrain. Supergrain is an updated version of Amaloco AM 74. Supergrain offers up a series of dilutions and times that will develop most films at the same associated times. Perfect if you’re shooting a whole bunch of different films but have limited timeRead More →

Several years ago, when I was starting to branch out in my home film developing, I would try a lot of different, strange, and odd-ball developers. Sure I went with the basics, D-76, HC-110, Rodinal. But as I continued to listen to the Film Photography Podcast, I started to get my hands on stranger items, PMK Pyro being the first speciality developer and from there Pyrocat-HD which has become a fast favourite. But then I heard Matt talk about a developer call FA-1027. The next trip I made to New York City, I popped into B&H and got myself a bottle. Sadly I have onlyRead More →

It’s funny how some developers just drop right into your lap. One of my readers, Jon Porter, wanted to know my thoughts on FX-39. And at the time I had never even heard of Adox FX-39, so I hopped onto my source for the rarer chemicals, Argentix.ca, and found that yes they did carry Adox FX-39 II. Is this new version any different from OG FX-39, not on the surface, it just has been adjusted to last longer. But that wouldn’t be a problem. I went through my first 500mL bottle quickly and in a couple of months. FX-39 is based on Neofin Red (createdRead More →

When I first started with film development, my world consisted of Kodak products, D-76 and HC-110. The only other developer I used outside of Kodak was Rodinal and Ilfosol 3 (at least at first). Then in 2015, I started reviewing cameras and decided at the same time to explore Ilford more both in film stocks and developers. I stumbled upon two developers that soon became favourites, one of them is Perceptol (which I will review next month) the second is Microphen. While not a developer I use often, it offers fine grain, neutral contrast, and works for both push and pull processing. Technical Details Manufacturer:Read More →

If there is one developer that is the closest thing to a magic bullet in my chemistry set, that developer is Pyrocat-HD. While Rodinal is the oldest commercial developer, Pyro based developers pre-date Rodinal into the early days of photography, being used back in the days when plate-based photographic media were the norm. And while the developers changed overtime, Pyrocat-HD is among the newest in the category being developed by Sandy King as an improvement over PMK Pyro. Sandy promotes the developer as giving 1/3rd of a stop in film speed with about 10-15% less developing time. Along with consistent staining action and lower toxicity.Read More →

Do you know that Kodak D-76 has a cousin? Although in the grand timeline of things, I can’t place exactly when the stuff was first released. But if I had to hazard a guess it was sometime in the 1920s. It proved to be a favourite of Ansel Adams along with HC-110. Today Kodak no longer produces D-23 in favourite of the far more shelf-stable D-76, but you can still mix it up from raw chemistry if you know the formula (I’ll be sharing that later) or you can purchase pre-made kits. Personally, I enjoy working with D-23 when I need some compensating capabilities andRead More →

There are new developers, there are old developers, and then there is Rodinal. First released in 1891 by Agfa, Rodinal is the brainchild of the Doctor, not that Doctor, but Dr Momme Anderesen who disliked the reliance on hydroquinone in the traditional film developers of the day. Instead, he began work on using Aromatic Amines in 1880 before settling on p-aminophenol. The result is the developer we call today Rodinal. And for much of its life was a closely guarded secret by Agfa, at least until the patent expired. And while today Agfa exists, Rodinal has taken on many different forms, but the same formula.Read More →

While today it’s been several years since its introduction, Xtol marks the last developer to come out of Kodak. And as developers go, it is the least toxic of all the ones available on the general market. The reason is that it uses Ascorbic Acid as one of the active ingredients. It not only allows for sharpness but also reducing visible grain in the process. But Xtol is also a developer with a flawed history; you need to mix up a lot to maintain its stability. And while I no longer keep Xtol in my toolkit, it remains a beautiful developer that is perfect ifRead More →

If there is one film developer that I will always go back to and use until they cease production (which isn’t any time soon) that developer is HC-110. Released in 1962 to little fanfare, Kodak HC-110 quickly found traction as being the developer of choice of Ansel Adams and those who use the zone system extensively. Kodak HC-110 is the third black & white developer that I ever used and became my developer of choice. Personally what keeps me coming back to HC-110 is the general-purpose use, the excellent results, economy, stability, and results that it continues to give. Kodak HC-110 has never let meRead More →