which developer is Re-useable?
Old 05-29-2011   #1
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which developer is Re-useable?

I'm trying to find out not so much from the manufacturer's recommendations, but from user's experience which film developer can do multiple batches and be saved for another day (how long?).

I know that Ilfotec HC at 1+31 can be reused for multiple batches at a time and then again similarly at least within the week.

What about Ilfotec DD-X? Is it really as they say so different from the Ilfotec HC and is a one batch only developer? Also, can DD-X be mixed at a different dilution, and if so, which and how to adjust timing?

It's difficult for a beginner on a limited budget to asses the situation. For example, I understand that the $48 for 1 qt of Ilfotec HC will come out to be so much cheaper than 1 qt of Ilfotec DD-X, due to the different dilution possiblities, (1+31 vs 1+4), but I'm not sure how long the remaining portion of the Undiluted Ilfotec HC will stay good, and whether I'll be able to take advantage of it before it expires...etc.

Can somebody shed some light on this? Thanks!

Thanks for your help!
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Old 05-29-2011   #2
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Diafine is the most reusable developer I know of (but I'm no super-expert on the subject). It also keeps for a very long time. I'm still usung a batch from last year (I have filtered it once, a couple months ago).

The downside, depending on your preferences/needs, is that has a "speed-increasing" effect, roughly doubling the exposure index of most films.

Rodinal is not reusable, but you can use very tiny quantities per roll of film (esp with stand dev) and it keeps a very long time, so it's a good alternative, IMO.


Last edited by mathomas : 05-30-2011 at 21:10. Reason: Fix spelling
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Old 05-29-2011   #3
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Any two-bath will keep half way to forever, and Diafine is excellent stuff, but it doesn't suit everyone. With all due respect to Mike, Diafine is only a sort of speed increasing developer, because of compression of the mid-tones, so you don't actually get a 2x ISO increase. A usable 2x EI, possibly. I've never been keen on the tonality but (a) that's me and (b) that's the subjects I shoot and the way I shoot them.

Likewise, Rodinal give excellent sharpness but big grain and low speed, so once again, it won't suit everyone.

This is not to detract from his advice, which is very good. It's just that there's a lot of alchemy in developer choice, and what is perfect for one may be indifferent or even hopeless for another.

ANY re-use of developer involves a loss of emulsion speed, because of hydrobromic acid build up in the developer, and the only ways to compensate for this are extended development time = more contrast, or cutting film speed. With a fully 'seasoned' (replenished, stable) developer, film speed drops to around half the ISO speed for most films.

You might care too have a look at my site and look at ISO speeds, developer choice, metering and more. Or you might not.


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Old 05-29-2011   #4
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I suggest you get the datasheet for ilford developers from their website which explains what you need to do with all the dilutions and time adjustments required.
Bear in mind the keeping properties of the working strength solutions and be realistic about how much film you will actually develop in that period. You will waste a lot of developer if you don't use it within its keeping time.
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Old 05-29-2011   #5
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As Roger says, two bath developers can be reused a number of times. I've had good success with the ones based on D-23 and they're cheap to make; you do have to buy the chemicals, however. Kodak's Xtol can be replenished and acts as its own replenisher so you only need one developer. Used this way, it can last for a year or more but it's not strictly a reusable developer.
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Old 05-29-2011   #6
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I use Adox Borax MQ with a replenisher, which I normally pitch after six months, and mix fresh. You have to mix it yourself, but it's not difficult or expensive. It's similar to stock D-76 in most respects.

I have recently rediscovered Kodak Microdol-X, and mix replenisher from the powder developer, and adding some Sodium Carbonate. It's a great developer, and can last for years with proper storage. It actually gets better with time, as it "seasons".
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Old 05-29-2011   #7
Tom A
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Two Bath developers are in a sense re-usable. You have some of the in-active components in the A bath and the B bath is an accelerator - most of the developing action takes place in the B-bath (some minor action in the A-bath). You have to make them from scratch - but none of the chemicals are difficult to get or particularly hazardous (Elon/Metol, Sodium Sulphite, Potassium Bromide, Hydroquinone and Borax) Once you got the chemicals - you can do a lot of films in it.
Also using a replenishing developer (D76, Adox, ID 11 etc). The replenisher is usually added as 20 ml/roll. You can do up to 50 rolls with 2000 ml developer and 1000 ml of replenisher. BUT, as Roger says, there is a build up of bromide in the stock and you have to watch for slower action and compensate.
One of my favorite "split" developers is David Vestal's variant - which has 50 gr of Sodium Sulphite/1000 ml in both the A bath and the B bath. Seems like David forgot where to Sod. Sulphite went and just added 1/2 to both the A and the B!
If you are serious about souping your own film - get Anchell/Troops "The Film Developing Cook Book" - essential reading and you will recoup the cost in the first 30-40 rolls!
I bulk buy chemicals and the cost is about 10-15% of what a store charges for basics stuff. Mixing my own saves a lot of money - as well as allowing you to "customize" a developer for your own style of shooting. Some time ago I calculated my cost for doing triX in Divided D76 - it came out to $0.08/roll. Cost might go up a bit now as I have to have the chemicals shipped from the US - could go as high as $0,10 a roll.
You will need a small scale (digital is best with a "tara" function) - some plastic bottles (or glass) and mixing container - and the basic chemical supply - and you will never go back to "store bought" packages again!
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Old 05-29-2011   #8
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I've used D-76 1:1 up to three times when needed (adding time per use)
I wouldn't store it for using it later, I would use it for the developing session and dump it when done...
For the last two years I've been using either Rodinal or HC-110 as one time developers...they are cheap enough for one time use and I don't have to worry about stock solution going bad...
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Old 05-29-2011   #9
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5L of Xtol costs 9.95 at B&H, and you need about 100mL of the stock solution per roll to develop properly (you can dilute to 1+1 so you have 200mL of working strength developer, but you still need at least 100mL of the Xtol per 135/36, 120 or 4 sheets of 4x5). If you get a tank with a floating lid or use glass bottles, it will last 6 months. Unless you are using a replenished system (which requires a lot of volume of processing to make sense), it does not make sense to reuse developer -- it is still quite cheap, and reusing diminishes the quality. It is also not the area where you want to skimp on price! It is your one chance to get it right, so make sure you are at least using a good developer so you get the most from your film. Xtol is a great general purpose developer with fine grain, good speed, nice tonality and high sharpness. If you mix it with deionized or distilled water and store it properly, it will keep very well (note, do not use compression bottles! Glass bottles filled to the top are best, next best is a good purpose built tank with a floating lid...both are easy to get in NYC).
Rodinal is another great choice, especially for slower films -- it is extremely sharp and has great tonality, but it is best to shoot the films as if they were a bit slower. Grain is still very fine with modern tabular grain films, especially at 1+50 or higher. The benefit of rodinal is that keeps forever, and you only need about 7-10mL of concentrate per roll of film.

Last edited by StuartR : 05-29-2011 at 18:48.
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so much to learn!
Old 05-29-2011   #10
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so much to learn!

Thanks for all your words of wisdom! I really appreciate you all taking time to impart your knowledge. There's a lot in the replies for me to digest and understand, such as how the developer changes the exposure Index...etc.

Basically, since Thomasw asked, I'm mainly looking to start learning. Eventually I want to be a good printer who knows how to photograph what the eyes see. So, yes, there is budget constraint;but more importantly, there's a need for the most efficient and true reflection of the shots taken, so that I can be getting a clear reflection of the view and intention while photographing, and how it can come out when developed.
I don't think I'll be advance enough any time soon to want the effects yet.

Presently I have 30+ rolls of 35 mm film to develop: Kentmere 400, Tmax 100 & 400, HP5, Fuji Acros,neopan 400, maybe even a roll or two of Tri-X (besides Kentmere, these were what happens to be available in Hong Kong). So, I need something that will work with different types of film. *Out of all these, there IS one roll of Acros that needs to come out well*

Ideally, after those are developed I can get back into the darkroom where I was interning and practice making contact sheets and enlargements. If I can't go back into the darkroom... I'll be careful not to accumulate so many rolls of film. In any case I'd like to start soon or I'll forget what I shot.

Again, thanks all for your patients and inputs!
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