Saturday, October 26, 2013

E-72 for Dektol

Updated 2014-1-23

In my chase to concoct a suitable 1st dev to replace Dektol I met many dead ends. For me, mixing up Dektol from scratch was next to impossible due to the restrictions of Hydroquineone for sale. Mixing up Kodak Dektol annoyed me, as I knew I was going to have to pitch half of it because it would go bad. Buying 1 liter packets was an ultimate rip-off in pricing.

Part of my problem was caused by me. I had looked for an alternate developing solution when the complexity and time constraints of reversal processing we not really worth it. IE: when it just ain't art! I had perfected Thornton stand developing to the point that the scans could be non perceptible. Well, at least with the limitations of my V700 fluid scans. From a cost perspective, the developer was peanuts. The simplification of the development process led to a consistency where I could not even care what ISO the film was. Well most of the time.

My stock consisted of a pound of Metal and 20g of Phenedone. That would equate of several years worth of each. Ascorbic acid seemed to be the natural and only work-a-like for HQ. The problem was the traditional developers lacked the punch I got from Dektol. I tried modifying several recipes trying anything to enhance the energy required for this stuff. I burned through 100g of Citric acid trying to find the right combination.

Chris Patton came up with a Dektol work alike with ascorbic acid. You can see it . I added some Salicylic Acid (1g) before adding Ascorbic Acid to reduce the possibility of iron in the water causing problems. I also added 5g of hypo. This was a divorce from adding the hypo at development time. I found that this was the best compromise for what I was doing.

The recipe allowed for use of Metol or Phenedone. I have both so I picked Phenedone. No real reason and maybe next time I will try Metol. It's nice to have an inventory.

Here is the recipe as I am using...


Water (125°F/52°C)750 ml
Sodium sulfite (anhy)45g
Salicylic Acid1g
Ascorbic Acid19g
Sodium carbonate (mono)*90g
Potassium bromide1.9g
Water to make1000ml

*77 g Sodium carbonate (anhy).

If all works out, it should give you a PH of 10.0.

And if you want to stick to Dektol, just add the 5g of hypo.

The traditional problem with any ascorbic acid developer is the mystery of when it dies. It does not change colour, it just stops working. Unlike XTol, I can actually use this up way before it dies. It only takes me 5 mins to mix a batch up and the water can be at room temp.

Developer Times / Dilutions

FilmDilutionDrum Time
ORWO UN54+1:111
ORWO N741:110


I made 1l in Oct 15, 2013. Today (Jan 23, 2014), I haven't used it again until now. Being an ascorbic based developer, I was impressed that it passed a strip test. Sure it was only 3 months, but it was a welcome site.

Wednesday, July 31, 2013


I tried PC-TEA and think it is good enough to keep using. The problem is you really can't change the PH as the TEA is the alkali. I wanted something stronger to replace the Dektol I have been using in reversals and have the same keeping properties as PC-TEA.

PC-GLYCOL, as devised by the gadget man, did not contain any alkali. It just had the dev elements in Glycol. He suggested using an alkali 2nd part and mixing them at dev time. After doing some net reading, it looked like some others were experimenting with borax and lye. I had borax, but no lye. I did have tons of Sodium Metaborate, which is made from borax and lye. So I whipped up a batch as follows......

70 ml glycol (warm it up for better dissolving)
35 mg Phenidone
12 g Sodium Metaborate
10 g ascorbic acid
2 g potassium bromide (optional)

Top up with glycol for 100 ml solution

I will post results as soon as I can.

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

It's gotta go......

I go to develop some negs again.....XTol has gone flat on me again! :(

Well, it's not my fault I can't use it fast enough. I process mostly reversals these days. The problem is everything is not art. XTol only comes in 5l packs and I can barely get through 1l. I like the stuff, but I don't like throwing it away along with a roll of film that got wiped because of it.

Time for a new take. I am going to switch to something I can make when I want and how much I want. Living in Canada presents some challenges of what I can get. I guess that will have to factor into something.

1) Buetler - probably the simplest there is. The promise is fine grain and acutance.

    Part A

    Dist. Water 750ml
    Metol 10g (B&H)
    Sodium Sulfite 50g (B&H)
    Dist. Water to make 1L

    Part B

    Dist. Water 750ml
    Sodium Carbonate 50g (Baking soda baked @450 for 3 hrs on a sheet of alum foil)
    Dist. Water to make 1L

Usage is 1:1:10 with a start time of around 10-15 mins.

This is what I got.

A larger one is here . Rodinal size grain. Sure this was Neopan 400 and not a recommended speed. But this is my I moved on.

2) Stoeckler 2 bath

This is a modified D23 with an alkaline 2nd bath. It is a compensating and high acutance developer. Recipe is as follows.

Bath A

    Dist. Water 750ml
    Metol 5g (B&H)
    Sodium Sulphite 100g (B&H)
    Dist. Water to 1L

Bath B

    Dist. Water 750ml
    Borax 10g (dep store, 10 mule team)
    Water to 1 ltr

I was impressed. I wasn't expecting much because of the above results. This has a capacity of about 15 rolls of 35 mm.

Larger versions here and here . Fine grain and high acutance indeed! The blacks are excellent. Worthy of a goto formula, but I play on....

3) Thornton 2 bath

This is Thornton's modification  of  Stoeckler's work. He changed the amounts of the Metol and Sulphite to adapt the tones. He used Sodium Metaborate (Kodalk) instead of borax. This was considered a more stable consistent alkali.

Bath A

    Dist. Water 750ml
    Metol 6.25g (B&H)
    Sodium Sulphite 85g (B&H)
    Water to 1L

Bath B

    Dist. Water 750ml
    Sodium Metaborite (Kodalk) 12g (B&H)
    Water to 1L

Wow. Just looking at the curves on vuescan, shows much more of an even spectrum.

A bigger version here

Note that I stand develop with these 2 bath developers. There is not much sense in using high acutanse 1developers and dulling the edges with agitation. I just vigorously shake for 15 secs and slam them down on the counter to dislodge any air bubbles. My ballpark times are 6 & 6 for iso 400, 5 & 5 for iso 100. These are generally longer than suggested by other people stuck on stirring...