Thinking About a New Article - Two-Bath Developer for Roll Film Users

March 17, 2017  •  2 Comments

I am considering ideas for future articles in The Darkroom Underground, and I wanted to get your thoughts on one that I have been thinking about for a while.  

The vast majority of the time, I work with my large format view cameras to create big negatives for my pure platinum fine art prints.  When I am not focused on creating my artwork, I still love to enjoy photography and pursue things that I typically don't have the time to do.  For example, I love going out on short road trips and finding old buildings and architecture.  This is a perfect time to be free and use a smaller medium format or 35mm camera and roll film.  I also never use a meter, just the Sunn16 rule for creating my exposures, and I started thinking that other photographers might like to know the film I use and how I develop them.  

I like using my older manual cameras, Mamiya C220 TLR, Nikon F, Leica M3, for these types of adventures because I am totally free to just enjoy the scenery and not think too much.  I am usually out for the entire day, which means I have a very wide range of contrasts to deal with back in the darkroom when I develop the films.  I use a two-bath developer that I mix from raw chemicals, which is both economical for me because I don't use that much roll film, and I get the added benefit of producing a lot of negatives that are able to be printed in the darkroom or scanned.  Analog photographers are very familiar with the challenges associated with having a wide range of exposures on a single roll of film and trying to find a balance that produces high-quality results.   

If this sounds like something you would like for me to share in a future edition, I will be happy to create some fresh exposures and walk you through my entire workflow.  Just send me an email and let me know you are interested in the article.  

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Nicolas Biondi(non-registered)
I' m interested on your article. I use a single bath developer but I want to know your experiences in two too.
I also like what Mr. Rolf Schmolling wrote.
Rolf Schmolling(non-registered)
Hi Tim,

well, for my 120 and 135 film I use a two bath developer SPUR HCD new which – unfortunately – is not produced any more. It consists of HCD-S and HCD-2. Though it is possible to develop in HCD-2, only, the combination of bith brings aded sharpness and finer grain. It was a bit difficult to actually gain information what kind of developer this is, because it is NOT a classic two-bath developer where the first bath brings the developing chemistry into the emulsion and the second bath activates it. One had to read through quite a lot of mystical blog-writing to get something substantial…

So HCD new (HCD-S & HCD-2) is not a classic two bath developer but instead is a combination of a comparably hard/harsh(/steep curve) working developer (HCD-S) and a (much) softer variant of the same chemistry (HCD-2). Generally one agitates for 30 seconds and then either let it stand for the rest of the cycle (HCD-S 30 seconds agitation, then stand for say 2 minutes – Tri-X 400 @400) or agitates every minute three time. That makes sense when one seeks the edge sharpness effect with a hard/harsh working developer, which one get's say with Rodinal stand development (Rotation generally is not recommended). SPUR is German chemistry firm which developed that kit for/together with a German analog equipment and chemistry seller Spürsinn (Braunschweig). Unfortunately they had a truly spectacular fall out some years ago and thus Spürsinn sold the remaining HCD new and the stuff is not made any more. Spürsinn now sells its own solution, actually a combination of three developers and SPUR yet another variant of HCD, but I found the developing times quite longer and thus inconvenient. (I do have to re-check the current situation).

Now why is that a loss for us analogists?

HCD new enables a wide range of pulling/pushing with very little penalty for grain, and I am quite unhappy that one day my supply will be come to an end. I found it quite handy when say – I need to enable normal shutter speeds for my Zenza Bronica ETRSi (645) – I can just push to 1600 or 3200. Or get even finer grain I can pull TMX to @25 or get longer shutter speeds for my beloved Tri-X 400 @100.
Though I can understand the idea for mixing my own stuff – cheap, might even be more environmentally friendly – BUT obtaining the chemistry is an additional hassle. And storing and mixing… I am vary of adding yet another shelf full of stuff.

So yes I am interested, but with that above caveat. Or maybe I could write about my experience with SPUR HCD new and its later siblings. I have mostly scanned the resulting Tri-X 400 so I wonder if that would be appropriate. Unfortunately we cannot reverse engineer the HCD new, duh. I did keep most of my information on HCD new in a DTPO database

[this is written just off the chest, didn't have the time to think much about it, will work next two days and then do some research]

Cheers, Rolf
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