Divided D-76 Style Film Developer

Discussion in 'Darkroom Developing and Printing' started by jch, May 5, 2008.

  1. jch

    jch Guest

    Hello All,

    I have been reading about divided developers for film. Never tried it;
    looks promising though! Do any of you in this group have any experience
    with this approach? The reason for my interest is the fact that i live
    in the country and that my house disposes of waste water via a septic
    tank system. Hence, i want to minimise the amounts of photographic
    chemicals entering the tank in case they kill the microbes.

    Below is a divided developer formula; a variant on D-76 where BATH A and
    B can be kept for a long time:
    A BATH
    Water at 125F 3 cups
    Metol 1/2 tsp
    Sodium sulfite 2 TBL
    Hydroquinone 2 tsp
    Potassium bromide 1/8 tsp
    Cold water to make 1 quart

    B BATH
    Water at 80-100F 3 cups
    Sodium sulfite 2 TBL
    Borax 2 TBL
    Cold water to make 1 quart

    Process 2-4 minutes in A BATH, and the same time in B BATH, both at 68F.
    Agitate for 15 sec initially, and for about 5 seconds every half
    minute. Stop bath is not recommended after B BATH, a quick 1 min rinse
    in water is enough. Fix the film in the usual manner.

    A BATH will last indefinitely, and B BATH can be used for 20-30 rolls of
    film before any change in contrast or density should be noticed.

    There is also a phenidone version of this formula to obtain increased
    film speed.
    jch, May 5, 2008
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  2. jch

    Peter Guest

    Not sure what to make of this, but at least A BATH will deteriorate
    with use and with time. The usual interpretation of "indefinitely" in
    "A BATH will last indefinitely" is misleading. The lifetime may be a
    little uncertain, but it will steadily deteriorate.

    As B BATH becomes contaminated with A BATH it will at least look

    Metol and Hydroquinone decompose in air. They are the more
    troublesome parts of your mix (although I don't necessarily recommend
    drinking a lot of borax). Unless you process a whole lot of film, you
    may be just as well served by letting the used developer sit in a tray
    for a few days before pouring it down the sink.
    Peter, May 5, 2008
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  3. I used several divided developers in the past for 4147 Plus-X and 4164
    Tri-X. I used D-23 or D-25 for Bath 1 and a solution of 2% Sodium MetaBorate
    and 2% Sodium Sulfite for Bath 2. I used up to 7 minutes in bath 1 and 3
    minutes in bath 2.

    The good part was the measured film speed went up one stop.

    The bad part is that it worked the opposite of what people said. They said
    it would lower the highlight contrast while maintaining the contrast
    elsewhere. What I got was that it lowered the shadow contrast (even though
    it increased the film speed). The only way to control the highlight contrast
    was to reduce the time in bath 1, and that lowered the contrast everywhere.

    When I switched films to the TMax series, it was even worse because all the
    sulfite made the sharpness very mushy. So I gave it up entirely.
    Jean-David Beyer, May 5, 2008
  4. jch

    jch Guest


    Thanks, that is excellent feedback. I was hoping for a universal long
    life developer solution. I found a 30 m bulk roll of ILFORD FP4,
    probably purchased around 1987, and stored in the freezer all this time.
    The price was C$28.69. I was planning to test the divided developer
    formula with this film.

    I am getting back to wet, analog photography after 20 years. In the
    past i used a lot of Beutler and Acufine style developers. These
    formulations always gave my very consistent results. I wonder how well
    the Diafine formula would work? The latter is also supposed to be a
    divided developer.

    / John
    jch, May 5, 2008
  5. Devided or two bath developers work on the principle
    that the emulsion soaks up the developing agents from the
    first bath and they are made active in the second. Since the
    amount of developer that the emulsion can hold is limited
    the amount of development is limited. In theory this can
    result in a consistent contrast with limited control and,
    for some films, for reduced development of the highlight
    areas since, presumably, the developing agents get used up
    faster there. In practice the system often does not work
    very well especially with modern films which have much
    thinner emulsions than those of the 1930's when most of
    these developers were devised.
    On your main point about polution: I think there will be
    little difference between the single bath and two bath type
    developers. To cut down on discarded developer it makes more
    sense to use a replenished system. When the developer
    eventually reaches the end of its life it can be disposed of
    at a recycling place. This takes quite a bit of time so it
    can be done even if you are out in the sticks.
    The real culprit for septic tanks is hypo. Hypo
    accumulates silver in a form which kills some types of
    bacteria. The bacteria in the tank are what causes it to
    break down the waste so you want them to be healthy.
    Kodak used to have an on-line pamphlet about photo
    chemicals and septic tanks, I don't know if its still there
    but its worth a look.
    Much of the silver in hypo can be recovered by simple
    methods. For instance, the silver will plate out on steel
    wool put into the solution. Use oil and soap free steel
    wool. It takes several days and the resulting hypo can not
    be reused but is environmentally friendlier.
    There are a number of developers available with
    replenishers or are self-replenishing. D-76, Xtol, and T-Max
    RS are examples.
    Richard Knoppow, May 5, 2008
  6. Kodak does not recommend putting any photographic solutions into a
    septic tank.
    The chemicals breakdown naturally with aerobic bacteria found in
    municipal processing
    plants, but not with the anaerobic bacteria found in a septic tank.

    See Kodak's web site for more details:

    sometime.photographer, May 6, 2008
  7. jch

    John Guest

    John, May 6, 2008
  8. jch

    jch Guest


    Have you personally tested the divided development process recently with
    the modern thin emulsion films? Any conclusions?

    Jean-David B. reported: "The bad part is that it worked the opposite of
    what people said. They said it would lower the highlight contrast while
    maintaining the contrast elsewhere. What I got was that it lowered the
    shadow contrast."
    OK, will look at those. Being a person who likes to experiment a bit, i
    will try to use the divided developer formula i posted (from the Zone V
    booklet) to see if i can duplicate Jean-David B's results.

    / John

    jch, May 6, 2008
  9. jch

    jch Guest


    An off-topic question: i noticed that you run Linux. What distribution
    are you using these days? I started with Red Hat Linux about 1998, but
    now i run OpenBSD for the past couple of years.

    / John

    jch, May 6, 2008
  10. jch

    jch Guest

    Excellent info, thanks.

    / John
    jch, May 6, 2008
  11. jch

    jch Guest

    Thank you very much indeed for this link. Looks like an excellent line
    of products. It seems that wet, analog photography is alive and well in
    a niche market.

    / John

    jch, May 6, 2008
  12. I am running Red Hat Enterprise Linux 5 on my main (this) machine, and I run
    CentOS 4 on my old machine. I started with Red Hat Linux 5.0 around 1998
    (when it was the current version).
    Jean-David Beyer, May 6, 2008
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