If I had to choose between Microphen and Perceptol, Perceptol would win every time. And it all has to do with how the developer works. If you know me, I’m a fan of the old school, not only do I shoot and develop my own film, I like older film stocks, older developers, and that classic look. And while it’s easy for me to whip up a batch of D-23, there’s just something that Perceptol does that makes it the perfect mix between new and old. If Microphen is your fast-moving friend, Perceptol is one that takes a little more time. While I wouldn’t useRead 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 →

I’ll be the first to admit; I never was a fan of TMax Developer. It was, at least in my mind initially TMax developer was a one-trick pony. Suitable for only modern T-Grain films (TMax, Delta, Acros). But that quickly changed as I started to branch out and trying to see what the developer can do with both modern film grain and classic grain. I discovered that TMax developer is something a little more than a one-trick pony. Technical Details Manufacture: Kodak Name: TMax Developer Primary Developer: Hydroquinone Type: Reusable or One-Shot Mix From: Liquid Handling TMax developer is a liquid, it runs clear andRead 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 →

When it comes to basic bare-bones developers, you don’t get any more simple than Kodak D-76. Kodak D-76 is the common factor between professional and student photographers and everyone in between. It’s a staple in most darkrooms, you can develop film and prints with it, and for me, it was the first developer I ever used for both film and prints. And for a while, I had stopped using Kodak D-76 in my processing, but after I started reviewing films, I got back into the stuff. The reason it gives what you expect, a baseline. It also is relatively inexpensive and economical for long termRead More →

How do Developers Work? Before you can get into the actual developers, we should recap how developers and black & white film photography works anyways. We’re going to put on our lab coats and try to explain this process as simple as possible. Black & White film is made up of individual crystals, the crystals are known as silver halide (2Ag+Br–) is made up of a positive silver ion and a negative bromide ion. These crystals while theoretically would be perfect, in reality, there are small imperfections in each crystal. The crystals are naturally light sensitive, however, when they are bombarded by photons (light) theRead More →