delta400: "best" developer?

Discussion in 'Darkroom Developing and Printing' started by Gianni Rondinini, Aug 24, 2005.

  1. hi all.

    i shot some rolls of delta400 120 in south west national parks during
    my last trip there with my wife. i couldn't shot slower film for a
    number of reasons, i'm sorry.

    i'd love to be able to make some very large prints, up to 20x24"
    --well, for me it's *very* large: i've never gone any larger than
    8x10"-- and i'm trying to understand what's the best developer i can
    use for my films.

    i suppose i'll have no contrast problems because landscapes were quite
    contrasty and i used some coloured filters to have even higher

    i usually develop my deltas in rodinal 1+50 --as from digitaltruth--,
    but have in stock also some d76, tmax and xtol. i wouldn't want to use
    anything else because i'm not very good in preparing my own chemicals
    at home and i'm not able to find easily other developers here in

    the idea is to get the thinnest grain possible to be able to enlarge
    that much without getting baseball-sized grain for such subjects :)
    --i like thick grain for jazz concerts, but this is different--.

    any suggestion is appreciated.

    Gianni Rondinini, Aug 24, 2005
    1. Advertisements

  2. Gianni Rondinini

    Some Dude Guest

    If you're accustomed to Rodinal i'd suggest 1:25 or tmax 1:4

    I believe if you attempt to blow up delta 400 to 20x24" you are going
    to see considerable grain no matter how you develop the film.
    Some Dude, Aug 24, 2005
    1. Advertisements

  3. Gianni Rondinini

    Jordan W. Guest

    Xtol or D76 would certainly give you good results, though 20x24"
    from 120 format is a stretch. The key thing is to test (with a
    non-critical roll of film) your development time before committing
    your valuable vacation photos to a developer you haven't used before.
    Jordan W., Aug 24, 2005
  4. Gianni Rondinini

    UC Guest

    D-76 1:1
    UC, Aug 24, 2005
  5. Agreed that you should test on a non-critical roll or two first to get
    your development time correct.

    Xtol will give very fine grain and good sharpness, and should give you
    adequate results for 20X24 prints. I've done 16X20 blowups of Delta 400
    from a 120 neg, and gotten very fine-grained results. Rodinal will not
    give you fine-grained results, and even D-76 1:1 will be grainer than
    Xtol or one of the other Phenidone/Ascorbic acid developers.
    LR Kalajainen, Aug 24, 2005
  6. i'll try xtol and later d76 on a couple of test rolls.

    thanks to everybody for your suggestions.

    Gianni Rondinini, Aug 25, 2005
  7. My vote is the XTOL... Shoot a test roll, clip and try the dilutions from
    the Massive Development Chart.... 1+2 or 1+3 is probably going to be your

    Dennis O'Connor, Aug 25, 2005
  8. Delta 400 takes the PMK stain really well for a modern emulsion film,
    but unfortunately is NLA in sheet films.
    Gregory Blank, Aug 26, 2005
  9. For some version of "unfortunately". If I want 200 speed sheet film, I
    know where to buy it, and the "400" printed on the box was always kinda
    offensive to me.
    Thor Lancelot Simon, Aug 26, 2005
  10. For some version of "unfortunately". If I want 200 speed sheet film, I
    know where to buy it, and the "400" printed on the box was always kinda
    offensive to me.[/QUOTE]

    I got 320 out of it.
    Gregory Blank, Aug 26, 2005
  11. Gianni Rondinini

    UC Guest

    ISO over-states tue useful speed about 2/3 of a stop.

    I got 320 out of it.
    UC, Aug 26, 2005
  12. Gianni Rondinini

    Mike King Guest

    The best developer for this project is the developer you are already using!!
    Grain is very much inherent in film, a 400 tablet grain film is pretty fine
    grain so use a standard developer, so called fine grain developers will
    deliver less grain but usually sacrifice acutance or film speed or BOTH to
    get there and if the film is already exposed at EI 400 you can't adjust
    exposure to compensate for the lower EI delivered by the fine grain soup.
    Mike King, Sep 6, 2005
  13. Xtol. Make sure it still works by developing a scrap
    piece of film -- Xtol is known to go suddenly bad without
    any warning or color change.

    For the _finest_ grain use Microdol-X.
    Nicholas O. Lindan, Sep 6, 2005
  14. "It ain't necessarily so. . ." I use Delta 400 and develop in a
    fine-grain home-brew formula consisting of 1 tsp. sodium metaborate, 1/2
    tsp. ascorbic acid (Vit. C crystals) and 4 ml of a 1% Phenidone solution
    for 6:45 at 70F. I get both fine grain and high acutance. I rate my
    D-400 at IS0 200, but that's not due to my choice of developer. I also
    rated it at 200 for HC-110B which I used for years before switching to
    my current fine-grain soup. I still get the same sharp, well-exposed
    negs, but much finer grain than HC-110. Most Phenidone developers do
    not need sulfite if they have ascorbate or ascorbic acid as the
    superadditive to the Phenidone. It's sulfite that softens grain edges
    so that the film does not appear as sharp. If the film is exposed at
    400, no great harm done: that may be the correct rating for the
    particular lens/camera/light meter combo, or it may be salvaged by
    increasing normal development time by about 20%. At least the negs
    should be printable.
    LR Kalajainen, Sep 6, 2005
  15. can i please ask you how much is a "tsp"?
    in grams, if possible.

    i have tons of "prime" chemicals at home --i got them from the
    professional that sold me his darkroom-- and may think about trying
    your "brew".

    Gianni Rondinini, Sep 7, 2005
  16. Gianni Rondinini

    UC Guest

    D-76 1:1 is where you should begin your journey.

    I doubt seriously whether any other product will give you better
    overall results.
    UC, Sep 7, 2005
  17. Gianni Rondinini

    Rod Smith Guest

    tsp = teaspoon. That's a measure of volume, equal to 4.93 ml (or 4.93 cc).
    The mass in grams varies with the substance, and perhaps with how finely
    packed or well ground it is. Anchell's _The Darkroom Cookbook_ lists
    sodium metaborate as being 4.6g per teaspoon, but he's got no figure for
    ascorbic acid. I believe this is for US teaspoons; I'm not positive, but I
    think that British teaspoons are a bit different.

    FWIW, Kalajainen's developer is pretty similar to some of Patrick Gainer's
    developers. Some of his earliest phenidone/vitamin C ("PC") developers are
    described at PC-TEA and
    PC-Glycol are also very simple but I don't know of a Web page devoted to
    them. (They were described in the March/April 2004 issue of Photo
    Techniques Magazine.)

    Stock A
    ascorbic acid 10g
    phenidone 0.25g
    propylene glycol to make 100ml

    Stock B
    sodium carbonate, anhydrous 15g
    water to make 1l

    Propylene glycol is the main ingredient in "eco-friendly" car anti-freeze,
    and you can use that if you like, but you might want to boil off some
    water first, which will stink up your work area. You've got to heat it to
    about 80C to dissolve the ascorbic acid and phenidone. You can experiment
    with other stock B solutions if you like, and using sodium metaborate
    would produce something very much like Kalajainen's developer. The two
    stock solutions are mixed with water (about 1:1:50) at time of use. The
    claim is that dissolving the phenidone in propylene glycol and keeping the
    sodium carbonate in a separate solution results in very long storage life.

    ascorbic acid 9g
    phenidone 0.25g
    TEA to make 100ml

    TEA is triethanolamine. In concentrated form, it serves as a preservative
    (much like propylene glycol), but when mixed with water, it functions as
    an activator (like sodium carbonate or sodium metaborate). TEA is quite
    viscous, and in fact it freezes at about 20C. You must heat it to about
    80C to dissolve the ascorbic acid and phenidone.

    Personally, I've used PC-Glycol but not (yet) PC-TEA. PC-Glycol works well
    for me, but sometimes the base+fog levels are a tad high. I've seen
    suggestions that adding about 0.2g of potassium bromide may help on that
    score, but I've not yet experimented with this.
    Rod Smith, Sep 7, 2005
  18. Glad to. "tsp." is an abbreviation of the American kitchen measurement,
    a teaspoon. 'Tbs" stands for tablespoon, which equals 3 teaspoons.

    This is just a convenient volumetric equivalent for grams. Since photo
    developers are very forgiving creatures, very precise measurements are
    not necessary. "Close enough for government work" is a common
    expression used here for an approximation that works well.

    So, keeping that motto in mind, 1 tsp. sodium metaborate = 5 grams.
    1/2 tsp. ascorbic acid = 4 grams.
    I make the 1% Phenidone solution by dissolving 1 gram Phenidone in 100
    ml. 90% isopropyl alcohol. The stock solution will keep about a year at
    normal room temperature. There are some who insist that propylene
    glycol is preferable to alcohol, but I haven't had a problem with the
    alcohol solution at all. 100ml is plenty to keep me going for about
    4-6 months of shooting, and then it's a very simple matter to mix up
    another batch.
    LR Kalajainen, Sep 8, 2005
  19. Gianni Rondinini

    John Guest

    And the highest resolution, use 1:1.

    John, Sep 9, 2005
  20. Gianni Rondinini

    John Guest

    I'm sure that in fact they do. Not for the sake of the Phenidone which
    will oxidize eventually but rather for the ascorbate which oxidizes
    very quickly as seen in the numerous failures of Xtol and other
    ascorbate developers.
    But of course the image is in fact sharper than those made with
    low-sulfite developers as the grain defining the image edge is finer.
    Also grain migration is less of an issue and most will agree that
    higher sulfite developers such as D23 will deliver better highlight
    detail than low-sulfite, high accutance developpers such as FX1.

    Photography - -
    Motorcycles - Music -
    John, Sep 9, 2005
    1. Advertisements

Ask a Question

Want to reply to this thread or ask your own question?

You'll need to choose a username for the site, which only take a couple of moments (here). After that, you can post your question and our members will help you out.