Multigrade developers

Discussion in 'Darkroom Developing and Printing' started by Au Yong, Sep 17, 2003.

  1. Au Yong

    Au Yong Guest

    Dear All,

    What are the differences between multigrade paper developers (like the
    Ilford Multigrade developer) and "conventional" developers such as Dektol? I
    am using MG papers now but considering to try graded papers. I am not sure
    whether I have to change the developer as well. I prefer to stick to as few
    types of chemicals as possible before I fully understand the properties of a
    certain combination.

    Also, I heard that some papers are developer-incorporated. What are these
    papers and how will the development be different if not developed in
    dedicated developers?


    Au Yong
    Au Yong, Sep 17, 2003
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  2. Ignore that Ilford calls that developer "Multigrade". It is a Phenidone -
    hydroquinone developer that is very similar to their powdered developer
    Bromophen. Liquid developers are more convenient to use because they don't
    need to be mixed up prior to use, but don't last as long in storage
    (powdered developers usually last indefinitely; liquid developers are good
    for a year in a full container and a few months at most in a part-empty
    one). MG developer works well with graded and multigrade papers.

    Dektol is a metol-hydroquinone developer that in practice works very
    similarly to Multigrade, but has a slightly different tonality because of
    the slightly different developing agents.

    Stick to the developer you know during your graded paper tests. Once you
    are done, then try a different developer with both types of paper if you
    There isn't a huge difference, but if you are using Ilford papers, none are
    developer-incorporated anymore. I think Kodak Polycontrast is

    Jim MacKenzie, Sep 17, 2003
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  3. Essentially none. Ilford just wanted a developer to name "Multigrade" along
    with their Multigrade paper. There is nothing "multi-" about the developer.
    Nonetheless, I find it convenient.
    Not sure if they're still around, but they develop very fast, and you can
    use ordinary developers (nothing special).
    Michael A. Covington, Sep 18, 2003
  4. Most RC papers have a layer of developer (mostly
    Hydroquinone but other agents may be used) under the
    emulsion. The purpose is to allow their use in activator
    processing machines. Instead of developer these have a bath
    of stong alkali (usually sodium hydroxide) with sulfite. The
    developer in the paper is sufficient to develop the paper
    and the alkali bath essentially never wears out. These
    papers develop in normal developers also. The maximum
    density is a little better in a standard developer and the
    developer in the paper tends to replenish the developer
    Some papers have a small amount of certain developers in
    them because they tend to stabilize the emulsion. These
    won't develop in an activator machine.
    Ilford does not seem to have developer layers in any of its
    papers. AFAIK Kodak and Agfa do in all their RC papers but
    check the data sheets for each to be sure.
    The developer layer tends to make the image come up fast
    when papers are developed in a normal developer but total
    development time is about the same.
    Richard Knoppow, Sep 18, 2003
  5. Au Yong

    Au Yong Guest

    Thanks for all the responses. If I understand it right, both "ordinary" and
    "multigraded" developers works fine in both graded and multigrade papers.
    The images of paper is more dependent on the negative, the paper emulsion
    and the development procedure (perhaps with the exception of some special
    developers for soft effect or high contrast effect). Is that correct?

    TK Au Yong
    Au Yong, Sep 18, 2003
  6. Right. There is nothing special about Ilford Multigrade developer. It's
    just an ordinary developer that they sell with their Multigrade paper.

    Paper is nearly always developed to completion. Film is developed to the
    desired degree of contrast.
    Michael A. Covington, Sep 19, 2003
  7. Correct. Multigrade is a trade-mark which Ilford has used
    for decades. The Multigrade developer and fixers are liquid
    concentrates. Handy but no different in performance from the
    kind mixed from powder.
    This is also true of Kodak T-Max and T-Max RS developers,
    they really have nothing to do with T-Max films although
    they work well toghether. T-Max and Multigrade are just
    trade-names these companies like.
    Richard Knoppow, Sep 19, 2003
  8. So Richard, for TMY is there a 'better' developer I should be using other
    than their RS?
    The reason for the question is that I am about to go to the *darkroom* and
    soup some more TMY in D-76, and then I had the stray thought that maybe the
    negs will become magiically better if I wait until I can get some RS, or am
    I just delusional?

    Cheers ... Denny
    Dennis O'Connor, Sep 19, 2003
  9. Sorry Richard, BIG typo... That's TMX 100 that I am about to soup in
    D-76... The rest of my deranged ramblings stands...

    Dennis O'Connor, Sep 19, 2003
  10. Yup.... Last darkroom session I got diverted by my significant other and
    wound up with the Dektol diluted 1:1.... First print slid in face down,
    immediately flip it to face up to break any air bells and I already had an
    image, at maybe five seconds - huh! whyut the heck?... Think hard...

    Let's see, I put in 1 quart of Dektol stock and one quart of water, then she
    got ahold of <well, ahem> to be sure she had my attention... When I went
    back to the darkroom I put in one quart of Dektol and one quart of water and
    the tray was full... OK higher math, so I whip out my trusty K&E sliderule -
    1+1 divided by 1+1, times the square root of 8 parsecs per fortnight,
    divided by C^2, then log / log / antilog... Ummm, comes out to 1:1... Well,

    So, other than being maybe a half grade too contrasty the print was fine...
    The tray was too full for two more quarts of water and being too cheap to
    pour out good chemicals, I dialed the enlarger down a half grade and
    finished another 50 some prints with the 1:1 Dektol using a full two minutes
    development as always... And looking at them as I type this, I'm wondering
    if I shouldn't continue with 1:1 Dektol... The prints look really good...
    - ignoring the images themselves, jeez, I hope I learn to take real photos
    someday -
    But, did I mention that the prints look really good..
    Dennis O'Connor, Sep 19, 2003
  11. *chuckle* I would say T-Max developers accentuate the faults of T-Max films
    (tendency to excessive highlight contrast). T-Max film in Xtol or D-76 is
    more to my taste!
    Michael A. Covington, Sep 20, 2003
  12. Quite a few people use Dektol 1:1. It lasts longer in the tray and works a
    little faster. If you normally develop prints to completion, I don't think
    it changes the print contrast.
    Michael A. Covington, Sep 20, 2003
  13. Indeed, this concurs with a recent claim a Ilford representative made
    in a german darkroom forum. No developer layers in Multigrade IV.

    Gruss, Roman
    Roman J. Rohleder, Sep 20, 2003
  14. Go to Ilford's web site and read it for yourself... Sure beats what "some
    guy said"..

    Cheers ... Denny
    Dennis O'Connor, Sep 20, 2003
  15. I am actually going to test that next time... Easy enough to do... Shoot
    two prints, pop one back in the paper safe, develop one at 1:1, dilute the
    tray of dektol to 1:2 and develop the second print... Finish the printing
    session at 1:2 (thrrrifty, you know laddy)
    Dennis O'Connor, Sep 20, 2003
  16. Au Yong

    Dan Quinn Guest

    RE: "Dennis O'Connor" <>

    I don't like to develop prints for less than three minutes
    nor more than five. I dilute accordingly using the LFP, least fluid
    practical, and process one-shot. Eight onces will do for an 8x10.
    I've used dilutions as high as 1:11 but with some little loss
    of density.
    Using Agfa 100 at 1:3 gives blacks equall to using it full
    strength and allows more time in the developer. Stock Agfa 100
    is very nearly 1/3 the strength of stock Dektol.
    I suggest you try Dektol, if that's what you use, at 1:7. Off
    center your negative and use the clear area for a density comparison.
    If three minutes is your maximum wait time, then adjust the dilution
    to yield maximum density within that time.
    As long as dilution is not overdone you will have a choice
    as to how long you care to process in the developer. Used one-shot
    the process time is fixed.
    One liter of stock Dektol should be good for 48 8x10s or 12
    BTW, A. Adams use Dektol as dilute as 1:6. Dan
    Dan Quinn, Sep 20, 2003

  17. Using LFP is not a good idea. You need a full reserve of developing
    agent to work the print to its maximum density. You're potentially
    underdeveloping your prints.
    Michael Scarpitti, Sep 21, 2003
  18. Au Yong

    Dan Quinn Guest

    (Michael Scarpitti) wrote
    The concentration of the solution must be considered. Perhaps
    I should have spelled that out. Highly dilute Dektol, eg 1:9 or
    more, may require more than eight ounces of solution.
    Doesn't Jobo drum process an 8x10 in less than eight ounces? In
    fact Jobo uses the VLFP in any of it's drum processes. That is
    they use the Very Least Fluid Practical. So little in fact that
    Rodinal, at high dilutions, cannot be used for film developing. Dan
    Dan Quinn, Sep 21, 2003
  19. Au Yong

    Nick Zentena Guest

    Depends on the drum. For paper the smallest current paper drum seems to
    need 40ml for 1 8x10. But that's just to cover the paper. You can use more.
    The problem with the Jobo setups aren't the tanks it's the capacity of the
    processors. The smallest processor can only handle 600ml of solution. If
    you're using dilute B&W developer that's not very much film. The next up
    processor can handle 1litre but that's still not a massive amount of
    solution. OTOH the same drums work on a motor and you can put ALOT of
    chemicals in them. Or you could try using them with inversion and but that's
    even more chemicals for those big tanks.

    Nick Zentena, Sep 21, 2003
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