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.


  1. Peter, I read on that you develop C-41 at room temperature. What is the development time you use?

  2. I use the press kits (powder) and use a drum (continuous agitation). It states 18 mins. I have never tried by hand, but I don't see why it would not work. There may be slight colour shifts, but I scan so it really isn't noticeable.