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Mixing & using D-76, small batch or full gallon?

Jason Fox , Dec 09, 2006; 01:06 a.m.

I haven't developed film in about 25 years and it is coming back slowly! I plan to shoot Tri-X or Delta 100 and develop one or two 35mm rolls a weekend with D-76 in a single reel Jobo tank. I have the 1 gal. size package of D-76. Is it better to make up the whole gallon at once or can you mix up a quart and save the rest of the powder for the next batch? Would you prefer to use a quart of working solution for several rolls (over a few weeks) or make up the required amount of a diluted solution and dump the D-76 after each roll? If I were to use a quart of undiluted working solution, how many 24 exp rolls should it develop? Back in my college newspaper days we would take a quart D76, develop 8 to 12 rolls of FP4 in a session and then dump it, so I'm not really sure what to do with smaller quantities. And, I care more about the image I get now. :-) Thanks for your help!


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Michael Madio , Dec 09, 2006; 01:44 a.m.

Mix the entire package to make a stock solution. If you mix a partial package, you may not get the correct proportion of chemicals. Use it "one shot" at 1:1 dilution then discard. It's the most consistent method.

Chris Waller , Dec 09, 2006; 04:26 a.m.

I would also recommend that, having made up the whole gallon, you decant it into, say, 1 pint bottles. While the bottles are unopened, the D76 will last much longer.

Josh X , Dec 09, 2006; 10:16 a.m.


As Chris said, making 1 pint aliquots (or some equivalent) will allow your developer to last longer. The more exposure it gets to air (opening and closing the bottle, a little liquid left in a large bottle, etc) the sooner it loses strength.

Using D-76 1:1 is probably the best compromise between sharpness and grainlessness. If you want a bit more sharpness (at the expense of a bit more apparent grain), try it at stock strength. Of course, you will need to adjust times.

Ilford's recommendations for developing time are an OK place to start, but consider checking out The Massive Dev Chart for alternative times. Of course, you'll just have to experiment to see what you like best in a film/developer combo.

I second the motion to use the developer as a one-shot deal. You will get the most consistent and best results this way.

Good luck and happy shooting!

Walter Degroot , Dec 09, 2006; 01:17 p.m.

first, let me agree with the above statements. IF i were going to be developing several rolls of film over a 6 months period OR expected to use up the gallon of d-76 in a reasonable time., I would follow the above suggestions.

someone more knowlegeable than I did a lot of testing and experimentation and wrote an article about using spoons to divide a pouch of common Kodak B&W chemicals so you mix what you need.

I think the argument that Kodak puts so much of this and then that in one envelope can seems logical. BUT more likely Kodak mixes a large batch of the various chamicals and THEN fills the small packages.

according to the author. his system works out very well and is dependable.

I DO prefer to use developer as a Oner-Shot and then discard the developer. this gives the most consistent results.

I have the article in the form of scanned charts and typed-in text as a pdf file. it is 92k in size.

what I didn't like: Zone V used to sell B&W kits for developer experimentation. seems ok? someone else , maybe them, sold kits to make up E-6 or was it E-4 by measuring with spoons! I think this is flakey. and chancy. but B&W is not nearly as critical.

Once your camera, iso, water, time , temp, and agitation and even the type of tank is established, and you are getting good results, then you can go out and confidently take photos and expect good results.

I think the fact that you used spoons to divide a gallon pouch, seems a lesser matter than if something else were done carelessly.

the system and techniques he describes are repeatable. and you will continue to get good results.

I expect answers both pro's and con's. this is not brain surgery. I will send the file if you wish

Frank Schifano , Dec 09, 2006; 01:40 p.m.

The best, or rather most efficient, balance between economy and image quality using D-76 is to be had by diluting the stock soultion with an equal part of water, using it once, then discarding it. I've been using the developer this way for years and have absolutely no complaints. There are some films that are better served by XTOL, and yet others that look nice with Rodinal, but all in all there's hardly a film on the market that won't behave better than good in D-76.

A few pointers on how best to accomplish this. First do not mix up a partial bag of the powdered chemistry. There is a possibility that you may not get the proper proportions of each component into your smaller batches. More important though is that at least some of the dry components will degrade in an opened bag. Second, split the mixed stock solution into the smallest practical bottles you can manage. Twenty oz. soft drink bottles are convenient and easy to source for free. Sixteen oz. bottles are a more convenient size, but a little harder to find in the US. Top off partially full bottles with a shot of inert gas. Nitrogen is ideal, but can be inconvenient to obtain. Propane from a soldering torch works well and is safe if you use a few precautions., Don't use it near any sort of fire or in close proximity to an electrical outlet. Be sure that you have some ventilation, an open window will do.

Kelly Flanigan , Dec 09, 2006; 03:09 p.m.

One can use partial amounts of a coca cola, beer, d-76, koolaid, cereal, crackers, flour, fixer, paint, glue. An open cantainer will cause issues of being flat, not mixed right, bugs getting into it, humidity issues.

Small packages have a greater surface area to volume ratio, a smaller container of unopened d-76 or cola cola in a plastic bottle has a shorter shelf life.

Here I have used partial batches of d-76, paints, etc for over 1/2 century. For folks who cannot mix, measure and discover secret resealing ways they should use full batches.

Here I usually mix d-76 as the full gallon; and make 4 full glass wine bottles full, and one that is the rest. The sealed full ones last me at least 6 months. I often mix it 1:1 before useage, as a one shot developer.

The greater issue with using partial small patched of d-76 is that it will powder will oxidize and turn brown and thus really not to usable in the future. I have been able to seal up small batches, but its still not so saveable as a factory sealed pouch.

When the pouches came out, there were many developer products in the smaller sizes, often these have been dropped to increase the saleable shelf life at stores.

A developer bottle of the 1930's was often just a 1 quart glass vinegar bottle, with a floating wax slug that reduces the surface area of the exposed upper surface. Today folks like store bought solutions, plastic containers that pass gas and flatten developer quicker. :)

Bob Michaels , Dec 09, 2006; 05:01 p.m.

Or take the shortcut and use HC-110. It's a good developer as well.

Gene E. McCluney , Dec 10, 2006; 05:44 a.m.

It seems to me that the "bigger deal" is not whether you can mix up from dry powder, a smaller quantity of developer that will work satisfactory from a 1 gallon envelope, but rather how do you keep the remaining powder fresh over a period of time? The powder, once you cut open the packet is now exposed to air, and the developing agents will start to oxidize due to moisture absorption from the air, and the exposure to the air itself. It would seem that working out a repeatable solution to the storage of the remaining unmixed developer powder is key here, and there isn't a cheap way to do it. It needs to be stored in a sealed container with the air removed.

As others have suggested, it is best to mix up the whole gallon, and divide the liquid between several bottles, if your developing requirements are small. The totally full capped bottles will have a shelf-life of several months if unused.

Another alternative is to use one of the b/w film developers that comes in liquid concentrate form. HC-110 is very similar in results to D-76, and the concentrate (some call it syrup) has a very long shelf life in partially full bottles, so you can continue to mix up fresh working solution from the concentrate for many months. This type of developer formula does not use "water" as the carrier liquid in the "syrup", rather another liquid that resists oxidation, hence the long shelf life in concentrate form.

Michael Madio , Dec 10, 2006; 10:17 a.m.

Regarding long term storage of D-76, I have had stock solution that's over 2 years old that worked perfectly. I store the stock solution in 500mL (16oz) PETE bottles (from bottled water), squeeze the bottle to remove the air, and place kitchen wrap under the lid. I have 16oz and 32oz daylight tanks so if using the larger tank, a single 16oz bottle of stock solution is perfect for a 1:1 working solution. If using the smaller tank, I use 8oz of stock solution and can further squeeze the bottle to remove the air from the remaining 8oz of stock solution.

The bottom line is if you keep air out of the stock solution, it will last a very long time.

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