Chris's Tested Film Developing Times

 

The films that I have tested are organized by Developer. Each has a recommended Exposure Index, developer dilution, time, and temperature. Some films have both normal and (N-1) times. (N-1) is a shorter time to reduce contrast, great for sunny days and high contrast lighting situations (note the EI is usually one stop lower for the reduced time development, as noted in the tables!).

Developing times were tested in 15 oz and 30 oz Stainless Steel tanks. I only put one film in a 15 oz tank and two films in a 30 oz tank. If I am developing 35mm film, I fill the extra space with empty reels to keep the film from overagitating by moving too much. In 4-reel tanks used for 35mm film, I use a blank reel at the bottom and top with the two reels containing film in the middle. In the 2-reel tanks for 35mm I put the film reel at the bottom and the empty reel on top.

Agitation is first 30 seconds then 2 inversion cycles every 30 seconds. I hit the bottom of the tank on the palm of my hand twice after each inversion cycle during both the initial 30 seconds and during the every 30 seconds agitation as well. This dislodges air bubbles, and I get more even developing with this method. I have created several film processing video tutorials that you can watch on my YouTube channel.

 

  • D-76
  • Rodinal
  • Tmax Developer
  • PMK Pyro

Kodak D-76 Developer:

Formulated in 1927, Kodak D-76 is the world's most popular black and white developer.

Because most films work well in D-76, and because it is widely available, inexpensive, and easy to use, it is a good one to learn with. It gives a good balance of film speed, grain, sharpness, and tonality; many photographers standardize on it for all of their work.

The combination of D-76 and Kodak Tri-X film is considered the classic film and developer for photojournalism and documentary photography. D-76 also gives excellent results with Kodak's Tmax 100 and Tmax 400.

I have only found two films that really give poor results with D-76. They are Ilford Delta 3200 and Kodak's now-discontinued Tmax p3200. Kodak Tmax Developer is the best developer I have tried for them.

How To Use D-76:

D-76 comes as a powder that must be dissolved in hot water. Make sure to mix the entire packet at once; do not measure out smaller amounts of the powder to make a smaller amount of liquid. Film developers are actually made of a mixture of several chemicals, and if you mix only part of the package, you may not get the right balance of ingredients in yours!

I have a video on YouTube showing how to dissolve the D-76 powder.

The liquid you get when you dissolve the powder is the full-strength D-76 developer. You can use it full-strength, or you can dilute it 1+1. That means equal parts of water and full-strength D-76.

All of my developing times are for D-76 diluted 1+1. The diluted developer gives slightly better sharpness, and better tonality in very light tones, which are less likely to block up in the diluted developer.

It is important to note that D-76 is not a particularly strong developer. If you develop 35mm film in a two-roll tank, you cannot develop two rolls together in diluted D-76. You'll get underdeveloped film if you do. Just put one reel with film in the tank and fill the remaining space with an empty reel. If you use a four-roll tank, you can do two rolls of film along with two empty reels.

Diluted D-76 cannot be reused, so dump it right after use. It should be diluted right before use, since the shelf life of the diluted developer is short.

 

Film

EI

Contrast

Dilution

Time

Temperature

Kodak Tmax 100 80 Normal 1+1 9.5 min. 68 (20C)
           
Kodak Tmax 400-2 320 Normal 1+1 9 min. 68 (20C)
Kodak Tmax 400-2 160 N-1 1+1 7 min. 68 (20C)
           
Kodak Tri-X 320 Normal 1+1 9.75 min. 68 (20C)
Kodak Tri-X 160 N-1 1+1 7 min. 68 (20C)
           
Ilford Pan-F Plus 25 Normal 1+1 7 min. 68 (20C)
           
Ilford FP-4 Plus 100 Normal 1+1 11 min. 68 (20C)
           
Ilford HP-5 Plus 320 Normal 1+1 11 min. 68 (20C)
           
Efke KB-100 80 Normal 1+1 9 min. 68 (20C)
           
Fomapan 100 100 Normal 1+1 9 min. 68 (20C)
Fomapan 100 50 N-1 1+1 6.25 min. 68 (20C)
           
Fomapan 400 320 Normal 1+1 10 min. 68 (20C)
Fomapan 400 160 N-1 1+1 7 min. 68 (20C)
           
Fuji Neopan 1600 640 Normal 1+1 7 min. 68 (20C)

 

Rodinal:

Introduced in 1891 by Agfa, Rodinal is the oldest commercially produced film developer still in production. It is a very unique developer that gives a look unlike any other developer. It has a special place in my heart because it is the developer that I learned to develop film with. My high school photography teacher, Don Goss, thought that it was the greatest developer ever made, and it is the only one he kept for his students to use. I began using Rodinal in his classes in 1991, and am still using it today.

Rodinal is sold as a highly concentrated liquid that is very heavily diluted for use. A dilution of 1+50 is commonly used, but it can be used in dilutions from 1+25 to 1+100.

Unlike most developers sold today, Rodinal is not a fine-grain developer. It is a sharpness enhancing developer, so grain is more visible than with normal developers like D-76 or Tmax Developer.

With 400 speed films like Kodak Tri-X, Tmax 400, and Ilford HP5, Rodinal gives a slightly gritty look that I like for documentary work.

For fine grained films like Kodak Tmax 100, Fuji Acros 100, and Ilford Pan-F, the increased grain is not noticeable, but the images look much sharper, with beautiful tonality that no other developer gives. I especially recommend Rodinal for Fuji Acros 100, as it is the only developer that I have tried with that film that has given tonality that I like.

Rodinal Name Confusion:

Today, there are several different versions of Rodinal sold. The reason for this is that is that after World War II, the Allies voided the patents held by German manufacturers, and several factories in Soviet-Occupied Eastern Europe made it for their own markets.

When the Communist system collapsed in the early 1990s, Rodinal was still being made by Agfa in West Germany and by factories in East Germany and some other former Communist countries. Some of these companies began exporting their versions of Rodinal to the west, under the name R-09. The R-09 formulas were now different than the version made by Agfa in West Germany because Agfa had tweaked the formula several times over the years.

To add to the confusion, Afga spun off its consumer photo supplies division in 2004, and a year later, it went bankrupt. The latest Agfa version is still made, and is sold by Adox under the brand name Adonal. Adox also sells the pre-WWII formula under the name Adox APH-09. I have recently switched to the APH-09 formula. The developing times I have tested are the same for both versions, but I think the APH-09 formula gives slightly better tonality. The difference is not great, though. Either one will work well.

How To Use Rodinal:

Rodinal comes as a liquid concentrate that you dilute with water to make the working strength developer.

I usually use Rodinal diluted 1+50. More concentrated dilutions like 1+25 give harsher contrast in the lightest tones, while more dilute solutions, like 1+75, give flatter highlights. In my opinion, the 1+50 dilution gives the best overall tonal look.

Because Rodinal is used in such highly diluted solutions, you need to be able to accurately measure very small amounts of the Rodinal concentrate. If you're mixing one liter of working-strength developer, you start with 1000ml of water and add just 20ml of Rodinal to it (yes this gives slightly more than one liter, but its easier to measure this way).

You'll need a graduate small enough to measure such small amounts, and you need to be precise. Being off by even a small amount when measuring the concentrate can make a difference in your results.

The Rodinal concentrate lasts for years, but once diluted, it goes bad quickly and should be used immediately. It cannot be reused. An interesting thing about Rodinal: Kodak films turn the developer a deep purple color; you'll see it when you pour out the developer after use!

 

Film

EI

Contrast

Dilution

Time

Temperature

Kodak Tmax 100 50 Normal 1+50 11 min. 68 (20C)
Kodak Tmax 100 25 N-1 1+50 8 min. 68 (20C)
           
Kodak Tmax 400-2 320 Normal 1+50 9 min. 68 (20C)
           
Kodak Tri-X 320 Normal 1+50 11 min. 68 (20C)
Kodak Tri-X 160 N-1 1+50 8.5 min. 68 (20C)
           
Ilford Pan-F Plus 50 Normal 1+50 11 min. 68 (20C)
Ilford Pan-F Plus 25 N-1 1+50 7.5 min. 68 (20C)
           
Ilford FP-4 Plus 100 Normal 1+50 13 min. 68 (20C)
Ilford FP-4 Plus 50 N-1 1+50 10 min. 68 (20C)
           
Ilford HP-5 Plus 320 Normal 1+50 11 min. 68 (20C)
Ilford HP-5 Plus 160 N-1 1+50 7.5 min. 68 (20C)
           
Efke KB-100 100 Normal 1+50 10 min. 68 (20C)
Efke KB-100 50 N-1 1+50 7 min. 68 (20C)
           
Fuji Acros 100 100 Normal 1+50 11 min. 68 (20C)
Fuji Acros 100 50 N-1 1+50 7.5 min. 68 (20C)

 

Kodak T-Max Developer:

Kodak formulated Tmax Developer in the late 1980s for developing the now-discontinued Tmax p3200 film, and for push-processing Tmax 400.

It is also a good general-purpose film developer that works well for most films, not just Kodak's Tmax Films, and is the developer I recommend to beginners who don't want to mess with powdered chemicals like D-76. Tmax Developer is sold as a liquid concentrate that you dilute before using. The concentrate has a very long shelf life compared to most film developers, making it a good choice for those who do not process a lot of film at a time.

It is the only developer I recommend for developing Ilford Delta 3200.

How To Use T-Max Developer:

Tmax Developer comes as a liquid concentrate that you dilute with water to make the working strength developer.

Kodak's normal dilution for this developer is 1+4, but they give developing times for a 1+7 dilution for Tmax 100 and Tmax 400 films. I have found that most films actually work beautifully in Tmax Developer diluted 1+7, and that is the dilution I use for more most of my recommended times with this developer.

Tmax is a fairly expensive developer, and diluting 1+7 saves some money. It also gives more usable developing times. When used at the 1+4 dilution, many films have very short developing times in Tmax Developer. It is a very powerful developer. The problem with short times is that it increases the likelihood of getting uneven developing. With most films, the developing times for the 1+7 dilution of Tmax Developer are 1.5 times the developing times used for the 1+4 dilution.

In the past, Tmax Developer was sold in an opaque gray bottle, and the concentrate seemed to last forever without going bad. Today, it is sold in a clear bottle and exposure to light makes it go bad. Store it in the dark for maximum shelf life.

 

Film

EI

Contrast

Dilution

Time

Temperature

Kodak Tmax 400-2 320 Normal 1+7 9.5 min. 68 (20C)
Kodak Tmax 400-2 160 N-1 1+7 6.5 min. 68 (20C)
Kodak Tmax 400-2 1600 2 stop push 1+4 7.25 min. 75 (24C)
           
Kodak Tmax 3200 1600 Pushed 1+4 10.5 min. 68 (20C)
           
Kodak Tri-X 320 Normal 1+7 9 min. 68 (20C)
Kodak Tri-X 160 N-1 1+7 6.5 min. 68 (20C)
           
Ilford HP-5 Plus 400 Normal 1+7 9.75 min. 68 (20C)
           
Ilford Delta 400 400 Normal 1+4 6.5 min. 68 (20C)
           
Ilford Delta 3200 1600 pushed 1+4 7.5 min. 68 (20C)
Ilford Delta 3200 1600 pushed 1+7 9.75 min. 75 (24C)
Ilford Delta 3200 3200 pushed 1+4 7.5 min. 75 (24C)

 

PMK Pyro Developer:

PMK is a modern developer based on Pyrogallol, a developing agent that was popular in the late 19th and early 20th centuries.

It is unique because it imparts a greenish-brown stain to the image that is proportional to the amount of exposure. So, highlight areas stain more than shadow areas. The stain makes up part of the image density, so it provides smoother gradation and better separation of values than an image made up of just silver.

The downside is that there is a speed loss of about a stop with most films, and the developer is finicky to work with. It requires a different agitation method than most developers, and it is more toxic.

I've been using it extensively for Ilford FP-4 and Ilford HP5, because of its unique tonal rendering, which gives an image that looks like you could almost reach into it. Worth the effort, but not really a good developer to learn with because of its quirks. It also works well with Ilford Pan-F, Kodak Tmax 100 and Tmax 400, and Fuji Acros 100.

Using PMK:

PMK can be purchased in kits with the powdered chemicals that you have to dissolve in water, or it can be purchased in liquid form. I strongly recommend the liquid, due to the very high toxicity of Pyrogallol. If you inhale any of the powder, it can make you very sick. I use the liquid kit from Photographers Formulary.

There are two concentrates used for PMK. Part A contains the developing agents, and Part B is a saturated solution of Sodium Metaborate. Part B lasts forever in storage, but Part A does go bad if exposed to light. It is said to have a shelf life of many years, though I have never had a bottle last more than a year without it losing strength. Storing it in the dark will lengthen the storage life of the concentrate.

PMK is used in a highly diluted form for the working strength solution. The standard dilution is one Part A + two Parts B + 100 parts water (1+2+100). You should use distilled water for mixing all photographic chemicals, but it is especially important for PMK, as it is very sensitive to variations in water quality.

To make one liter of working strength PMK, start with one liter of distilled water, then add 10ml of Part A. Next add 20ml of Part B. Make sure to shake the part B bottle before use, as the chemicals can settle in the bottle. Once both chemicals have been added, stir it until it stops changing color. You will see it suddenly darken, then get lighter and turn a pale brown color.

I have a video showing how to mix and use PMK on YouTube, which shows the color change that happens during mixing. It is the only photo chemical I have used that does this, and kind of makes me feel like a mad scientist!

Agitation with PMK:

Note that PMK requires different agitation than what is outlined at the top of the page for other developers! Agitation must be constant for the first minute, then two inversions every 15 seconds for the rest of the developing time.

Fixer for PMK:

According to Gordon Hutchings, the formulator of PMK, film developed in PMK should be fixed in an alkaline fixer, rather than the standard acidic fixers we normally use. The stain formed as part of the image by pyro developers is inhibited by acidic conditions, so an alkaline fixer is supposed to allow maximum pyro stain effect. I use Photographers Formulary TF-4 alkaline rapid fixer, which can be purchased directly from Photographers Formulary or from suppliers like Freestyle and B&H. Fixing times are the same as for other rapid fixers.

 

Film

EI

Contrast

Dilution

Time

Temperature

Kodak Tri-X 200 Normal 1+2+100 8 min. 75 (24C)
Kodak Tri-X 100 N-1 1+2+100 6 min. 75 (24C)
           
Kodak Tmax 100 50 Normal 1+2+100 11 min. 75 (24C)
           
Kodak Tmax 400-2 250 Normal 1+2+100 11 min. 75 (24C)
           
Fuji Acros 100 64 Normal 1+2+100 10 min. 75 (24C)
           
Fomapan 100 40 Normal 1+2+100 8 min. 75 (24C)
           
Ilford Pan-F Plus 32 Normal 1+2+100 6 min. 75 (24C)
           
Ilford FP4 Plus 80 Normal 1+2+100 7 min. 75 (24C)
Ilford FP4 Plus 40 N-1 1+2+100 5.5 min. 75 (24C)
           
Ilford HP5 Plus 250 Normal 1+2+100 9 min. 75 (24C)

 

 

 

The knowledge that I am sharing took many years of study and practice to attain. If you find it valuable, please donate through my Paypal button below. My creative work is how I support myself and my son. Thank you!

 

 

 

©2017 Christopher Crawford

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