Tag Archives: developer

Kodak Day – Developer Review – D-23

Sometimes simple is the best way to go about things, and what could be easier than Kodak D-23. So with today being George Eastman’s birthday I figured I’d dig into this wonderful developer that is new to me and give some of my first thoughts on this developer. Now for those who have been in the photography field for some time you probably are wondering why I’m reviewing a developer that hasn’t been commercially available for many years now. While I can’t pinpoint when D-23 was released, all I know is that Ansel Adams used the stuff.

Miners Falls
Miner’s Falls — Hasselblad 500c – Carl Zeiss Planar 80mm 1:2.8 – Ilford Pan F+ – D-23 (1+1) 8:30 @ 20C

Munsing Falls
Munising Falls — Hasselblad 500c – Carl Zeiss Planar 80mm 1:2.8 – Ilford Pan F+ – D-23 (1+1) 8:30 @ 20C

Kodak D-23 is a semi-compensating developer, which makes it a favourite of those who use Adam’s Zone System to determine their exposure settings. The two chemicals that drive D-23 is Metol and Sodium Sulfite, both of which you can purchase in bulk from Photographer’s Formulary, or you just buy their “Developer 23” Kit. The kit was actually how I first started using this developer. I have used D-76 in the past and while I can see why D-76 is still around as it has a better shelf life, I much prefer D-23 after using it. I find that it produces the same grain and sharpness as D-76 but has way better contrast in my negatives.

Project:1812 - The Forts of Prairie Du Chien
The Old Prairie du Chien Museum — Hasselblad 500c – Carl Zeiss Planar 80mm 1:2.8 – Ilford FP4+ @ ASA-100 – D-23 (stock) 6:00 @ 20C

Project:1812 - The Battle of Tippecanoe
The Prophetstown Historic Marker — Hasselblad 500c – Carl Zeiss Planar 80mm 1:2.8 – Ilford FP4+ @ ASA-100 – D-23 (stock) 6:00 @ 20C

As you can see with these images, the lighting conditions were pretty severe with lots of shadows and highlights especially when I was in Prairie du Chien thankfully my head was right in the game that day, and I was nailing my exposure (thanks to filters and my trusty Pentax Spotmeter V). The addition of D-23 into the mix was the secret weapon and brought these images to life in my opinion. I think I prefer to work with D-23 in stock dilution you can dilute it 1:1 which does help tame the contrast on films like Pan F, but I wasn’t 100% happy with the images the diluted developer produced.

In the Shade
A Quiet Spot — Hasselblad 500c – Carl Zeiss Planar 80mm 1:2.8 – Ilford Pan F+ – D-23 (1+1) 8:30 @ 20C

Bicycle Races are Coming to Town
Old School Bike — Hasselblad 500c – Carl Zeiss Planar 80mm 1:2.8 – Ilford Pan F+ – D-23 (1+1) 8:30 @ 20C

As I mentioned at the start Kodak doesn’t make D-23 anymore; it is super easy to make at home. For 1 liter of chemistry, you need 7.5g of Metol and 100g of Sodium Sulfite, I placed an order yesterday for a pound of Sodium Sulfite and 100g of Metol, so I’m laughing for the near future and can start to explore what this developer can do with films beyond Ilford stock. But the one thing that I will be using D-23 for in the future is to work as a historical developer with a WW2 combat photographer impression.

Developer Review – Rollei RPX-D

Along with their wonderful line up of RPX films, the folks over at Rollei have also got some developers specifically for their film. Similar to Kodak’s TMax Developer for their TMax line of films. So as part of my ongoing 52-Roll project I’ve been using the RPX line of films exclusively. So when I saw the RPX-D developer I figured to give it a shot to see if it gives something more to this film that I wasn’t seeing with my usual chemistry. Before I start I was a little disappointed with the developer, specifically because it seems to be a two trick horse, only having times for the RPX 100 and RPX 400 films, and really was more suited for the RPX 400 films and pushing it beyond the ASA-400 box speed.

RPX 100 – I really do like this film, and the RPX-D developer did a good job with it. The contrast was right on point and the film scans were nice and sharp. There was a decrease on the grain when I scanned it as well. But really it wasn’t anything more or less than what I could get out of Xtol or Blazinal with the film.

52:500c - Week 15 - A Fort Named George
Hasselblad 500c – Carl Zeiss Distagon 50mm 1:4 – Rollei RPX 100 @ 100 – Rollei RPX-D (1+15) 6:30 @ 20C

52:500c - Week 04 - A Fort for A City
Hasselblad 500c – Carl Zeiss Distagon 50mm 1:4 (Yellow Filter) – Rollei RPX 100 @ ASA-100 – Rollei RPX-D (1+15) 6:30 @ 20C

52:500c - Week 03 - In the Darkness Bind Them
Hasselblad 500c – Carl Zeiss Planar 80mm 1:2.8 – Rollei RPX 100 @ ASA-100 Rollei RPX-D (1+15) 6:30 @ 20C

RPX 400 – So the one big issue I have with this film is that it just lacks contrast, sort of like why I’m not a fan of Ilford’s Delta 400. So I was hoping that the RPX-D would bring out a bit more in the film to a point where I preferred it, and you know what, it really did! Both at ASA-400 and ASA-800. However it really didn’t tone down the grain on the film like it claimed and actually softened the film I feel.

52:500c - Week 14 - Just Won't Quit
Hasselblad 500c – Carl Zeiss Disagon 50mm 1:4 – Rollei RPX 400 @ ASA-800 – Rollei RPX-D (1+7) 13:00 @ 22C

52:500c - Week 08 - Fort Town
Hasselblad 500c – Carl Zeiss Planar 80mm 1:2.8 – Rollei RPX 400 – Rollei RPX-D (1+11) 11:00 @ 20C

So my final say on this developer is really don’t worry about it. It really doesn’t add anything to the film that you can’t get with your standard developers like Xtol, HC-110, and Blazinal. In fact I’d go as far to say I actually prefer the film in my standard chemicals. But in the end it is all about personal preference. But in the end stick to what you know, and I know that I probably won’t go for any other specific Rollei developers for the rest of the project.

Exploring Ilford – Part 2 – Perceptol

After the lack luster across the board performance of Ilford DD-X (Which I have since tried with Delta 3200 which DD-X was designed for, and my good friend Julie Douglas saying it works well with Kodak films) I decided to give another Ilford developer a try, Perceptol. According to the Ilford site the developer is a very fine grain developer with excellent image quality. While designed for the slower films in the Ilford line up it would produce noticeably finer grain with faster films. This is Ilford’s version of the classic Microdol-X from Kodak, a developer that actually grew on me the more I used it, so I was looking forward to the results!

With Delta 400
So the first film I gave the developer a go on was a film I don’t really have a good feeling on, Delta 400, mostly because I just don’t like the contrast, but that’s a rant for Part 5 of Exploring Ilford. I also decided to help cut the grain and boost the contrast by pulling the film one stop. It worked, a bit, but the one thing that I really liked about this is that the developer did exactly what it said it would do, it reduced the grain to something a lot more pleasing in the film scans and produced a super sharp image! I mean, razor sharp.

Ottawa Wanderings - March 2015
Pentax 645 – SMC Pentax A 645 35mm 1:3.5 – Ilford Delta 400 @ ASA-200 – Ilford Perceptol (1+1) 12:30 @ 20C

Ottawa Wanderings - March 2015
Pentax 645 – SMC Pentax A 645 35mm 1:3.5 – Ilford Delta 400 @ ASA-200 – Ilford Perceptol (1+1) 12:30 @ 20C

With Pan F+
The next film up was Ilford Pan F, a favourite of mine. Now I’ve developed Pan F in plenty of other developers, some of my favourites being Rodinal and Xtol. But Perceptol really added something to the film. Pan F on it’s own is already a fine grained film with good contrast because of the slow speed, but Perceptol really brought out all the great qualities of the film. The grain was reduced to nothing which is going to make printing it all the more interesting while trying to focus it. But the grain that is there is oh so pleasing.

CCR - Review 7 - Fuji GX680iii
Fuji GX680iii – Fuji Fujinon EBC 80mm 1:5.6 – Ilford Pan F+ @ ASA-50 – Ilford Perceptol (1+1) 15:00 @ 20C

CCR - Review 7 - Fuji GX680iii
Fuji GX680iii – Fuji Fujinon EBC 80mm 1:5.6 – Ilford Pan F+ @ ASA-50 – Ilford Perceptol (1+1) 15:00 @ 20C

With FP4+
I already was a big fan of FP4+ but souping this film in Perceptol while generally enhancing the grain of the grain of the film (which really isn’t a bad thing since it’s a pleasing grain) made the film razor sharp. And probably my favourite part of the film was the contrast, dead on, exactly where I like my contrast to be!

CCR - Review 8 - Minolta Hi-Matic 7s
Minolta Hi-Matic 7s – Rokkor-PF 1:1.8 f=45mm – Ilford FP4+ @ ASA-125 – Ilford Perceptol (1+1) 15:00 @ 20C

CCR - Review 8 - Minolta Hi-Matic 7s
Minolta Hi-Matic 7s – Rokkor-PF 1:1.8 f=45mm – Ilford FP4+ @ ASA-125 – Ilford Perceptol (1+1) 15:00 @ 20C

With Delta 100
Next film on the list is Delta 100 and I was even more impressed with the results. Contrast, Sharp, and next to no grain. I mean the grain of Delta 100 wasn’t exactly my favourite in some other developers (it was okay in DD-X), but in Perceptol it was giving results of Pan F+ and contrast again right where I want it, if not more than I was getting with FP4.

CCR - Review 10 - Fed-2 (ФЭД-2)
Fed-2 – Jupiter-8 2/50 – Ilford Delta 100 @ ASA-100 – Ilford Perceptol (1+1) 17:00 @ 20C

CCR - Review 11 - Pentax 645
Pentax 645 – SMC Pentax A 645 35mm 1:3.5 – Ilford Delta 100 @ ASA-50 – Ilford Perceptol (1+1) 13:00 @ 20C

With HP5+
HP5+ in 35mm is a rough film to work with, so I figured I got some decent results out of Delta 400 (sure in medium format) and not wanting to give HP5 a bum rap I took a roll out to test out a camera and again pulled the film just a touch to a classic ASA-320. Well the grain is still there, but the contrast has certainly improved. While HP5 is still not my favourite film in 35mm ASA-400 offering, in Perceptol it certainly looks better than Delta 400.

TFSM - Spring '15 - Queen Street
Pentax K1000 – SMC Pentax 55mm 1:2 – Ilford HP5+ @ ASA-320

TFSM - Spring '15 - Queen Street
Pentax K1000 – SMC Pentax 55mm 1:2 – Ilford HP5+ @ ASA-320

TFSM - Spring '15 - Queen Street
Pentax K1000 – SMC Pentax 55mm 1:2 – Ilford HP5+ @ ASA-320

With Kodak Tri-X 400
Having enough developer left over, I figured, why not give it a shot with a film other than Ilford to see what happens, and having a couple of rolls of Kodak Tri-X laying around, and Doors Open Toronto here…I thought…why not! Now I’ve always used Ilford film in non-Ilford developers and have enjoyed the results, and as my good friend Julie pointed out to me she loves using Kodak films in Ilford developers. And well I was seriously impressed with the results of my beloved Tri-X in Perceptol, smoothed out the grain, kept the contrast and gave a very very very classic Tri-X look.

DO:T - John Street Roundhouse
Rolleiflex 2.8F – Carl Zeiss Planar 80mm 1:2.8 – Kodak Tri-X 400 @ ASA-320 – Ilford Perceptol (1+1) 12:00 @ 20C

DO:T - John Street Roundhouse
Rolleiflex 2.8F – Carl Zeiss Planar 80mm 1:2.8 – Kodak Tri-X 400 @ ASA-320 – Ilford Perceptol (1+1) 12:00 @ 20C

However there is one thing that I really don’t like with Perceptol and that it only comes in packages to make 1 liter of the stock solution, I know that you can just use it as stock and keep reusing it for a specific amount of processed rolls but I’m a diluting guy, so if I’m using 250mL of chemistry of each batch of 500mL (2 rolls of 120 or 2 of 35mm) that’s only four rolls per bottle. But at least the cost is lower. In the final say, I won’t keep Perceptol all the time, but if I want a better look out of HP5+ or a really fine grain look on Tri-X I’ll make sure I shoot enough film to use up a single 1 liter bottle in one go.

Exploring Ilford – Part 1 – Ilfotech DD-X

Before working on the camera review (CCR) blogs I had very little experience with Ilford Chemistry, so I made a choice to use only Ilford Films and chemistry over the course of the CCR blogs. So as I come to the end of the first quarter of blogs I figured I would give a review of the first developer I used. Ilfotech DD-X. According to the Ilford website this is a similar developer to Kodak’s TMax developer which I’m a big fan of, so I figured it would be a good place to start. Plus I see a lot of people using it. However for the most part…I wasn’t too happy with the results. For me to be happy with a developer it needs to give solid results across a broad range of films, not just one or two. Which can be hard for a developer to do.

CCR - Review 1 - Nikon F4
Toronto, Ontario – Nikon F4 – DC-Nikkor 105mm 1:2D – Ilford HP5+ – DD-X (1+4) 9:00 @ 20C

CCR - Review 2 - Pentax K1000
Willamsford, Ontario – Pentax K1000 – SMC Pentax 55mm 1:2 – Ilford HP5+ – DD-X (1+4) 9:00 @ 20C

Now I know that HP5 in 35mm is a very grainy film but DD-X just made the grain super muddy when scanning the film, and not exactly the most pleasing results. The detail and sharpness I would expect out of a developer for T-Grain film, even on a film with a traditional grain structure just wasn’t there, and while the contrast is present and pleasing for my tastes, it just doesn’t work for me.

CCR - Review 4 - Canon AE-1 Program
Canon AE-1 Program – Canon FD Lens 50mm 1:1.4 – Ilford Delta 400 – Ilford DD-X (1+4) 8:00 @ 20C

CCR - Review 4 - Canon AE-1 Program
Canon AE-1 Program – Canon FD Lens 50mm 1:1.4 – Ilford Delta 400 – Ilford DD-X (1+4) 8:00 @ 20C

So I thought I’d better give it a test using a film that it’s designed for, starting first with Delta 400, and the results even worse, it was just a big muddy grain fest with little contrast. Now Delta 400 isn’t exactly a film known for the nice contrast-y results that I look for in my black & white work, but it was just all grey! I’m not going to give up on the Delta 400 film, I do plan on giving both it and HP5 in 35mm another chance at a slower speed in the different developers as the project continues, and also in medium format as well. But enough with the negative lets get onto more pleasing (at least to me) results.

CCR - Review 3 - Rolleiflex 2.8F
Rolleiflex 2.8F – Carl Zeiss Planar 80mm 1:2.8 (Yellow Filter) – Ilford FP4+ – Ilford DD-X (1+4) 10:00 @ 20C

CCR - Review 6 - Olympus Trip 35
Olympus Trip 35 – D.Zuiko f=40mm 1:2.8 – Ilford FP4+ @ ASA-125 – Ilfotec DD-X (1+4) 10:00 @ 20C

Next up on the list was Ilford FP4, a favourite film of mine, while not Kodak Plus-X it’s pretty darn close and again I rather liked Plus-X in TMax developer so time to give another traditional grained film a shot! This time I had the chance to try both 35mm and Medium format with the developer. And the results, beautiful! While there’s still not exactly the same contrast I like, the results were much better than HP5 or Delta 400. While the grain is still a little more apparent as I’d like, it wasn’t as bad as the Delta 400! It certainly works for me.

CCR - Review 5 - Nikon F2 Photomic
Nikon F2 Photomic – AI-S Nikkor 50mm 1:1.4 – Ilford Delta 100 – Ilford DD-X (1+4) 12:00 @ 20C

CCR Review 5 - Nikon F2 Photomic
Nikon F2 Photomic – AI-S Nikkor 50mm 1:1.4 – Ilford Delta 100 – Ilford DD-X (1+4) 12:00 @ 20C

And finally saving the best for last is Delta 100, like TMax 100 looking amazing in TMax Developer, Delta 100 is the perfect match for DD-X in my view. Sharp, fine grain, the contrast spot on. The blacks were black and the whites, white, and the midtones were dead on. Of course this is only in 35mm and not 120 but I still have some DD-X left over so I’ll give it a shot soon to see if the results are similar or better.

CCR - Review 5 - Nikon F2 Photomic
Nikon F2 Photomic – AI-S Nikkor 50mm 1:1.4 – Ilford Delta 100 – Ilford DD-X (1+4) 12:00 @ 20C

My final verdict on DD-X, not a developer I would use again anytime soon, I can get more constant good results out of Kodak TMax Developer and at a lower cost. The bottle of DD-X runs about 22$ in change, while TMax developer only costs 15$ in change. While not much of a price difference it’s more the results that matter to me, if DD-X had given better results than TMax it would’ve replaced it in a heartbeat (after I finished off the bottle of TMax developer in my cupboard). So sorry DD-X you’re being voted off the island.