Silver Gelatin Dry Plate Developer Formulas Kodak D-49 & D-19 & Bonus Tips and Info

May 30, 2021  •  Leave a Comment

Silver Gelatin Dry Plate Developer Formulas Kodak D-49 & D-19 by Tim LaytonSilver Gelatin Dry Plate Developer Formulas Kodak D-49 & D-19 by Tim Layton If you are using commercial dry plates, then you most likely using Kodak HC-110 as the recommended developer. 

While HC-110 can do the job, I wanted to share a couple of DIY self-mixed developer formulas that allow you to have more creative controls, especially if you are making your own handmade silver gelatin emulsions.

Even if you are getting good results with HC-110, it is a lot cheaper to mix your own developer, plus you get the satisfaction of being able to take back more control of your technical and creative process.   

Join me and photographers from around the world in the Handmade Silver Gelatin Emulsions Community and learn more about how to make and use silver gelatin emulsions.  

Handmade Silver Gelatin Emulsions Community Hosted by Tim Layton - www.timlaytonfineart.com/emulsionHandmade Silver Gelatin Emulsions Community Hosted by Tim Layton - www.timlaytonfineart.com/emulsion

COMMERCIAL DEVELOPERS

While you can use just about any modern print developers like Kodak Dektol or even mix D-72 for processing dry plates coated with emulsions, there are a few notes that I think are worth mentioning that may help you. 

A good place to start is using Dektol or D-72 diluted 1:1 in lower light and even overcast lighting conditions.

Based on your plates highlight density, you can further dilute to 1:2 or even 1:3 as needed.

I have included the formula for D-72 paper developer directly below in case you want to use that versus buying Kodak Dektol. 

D-72 Standard Paper Developer Formula

Formula to prepare 1 liter of the stock developer

Distilled water - 500ml
Metol - 3g
Sodium Sulfite - 45g
Hydroquinone - 12g
Sodium Carbonate - 80g (monohydrate)
Potassium Bromide - 2g
Add water to make 1 liter

D -72 is very similar to Dektol and can be used in the same way.  This is my most frequently used paper developer for silver gelatin prints and I also use it for plates too. 

The standard dilution is 1:2 or 1:3 at 20C for paper and dilute as directed for dry plates as discussed above this formula. 

NOTE: sodium carbonate can be purchased as anhydrous or monohydrate.

Anhydrous vs. Monohydrate

Anhydrous

A chemical is said to be anhydrous, when it doesn’t contain any water. 

Monohydrate

Monohydrate contains one water molecule per formula unit. Usually, the number of water molecules a substance molecule has is written as “chemical formula. n H2O”. n gives the number of water molecules and, if the compound is monohydrated, n is one.

For fiber papers, I like to develop for 2 to 3 minutes and for RC papers, one minute.

For dry plates, start with the expectation of around 4 to 6 minutes of development, but watch the highlight densities and shadow values as you are developing each plate under safelight. 

MQ DRY PLATE DEVELOPERS

Kodak D-49 is a really nice choice for developing silver gelatin dry plates too.  Originally D-49 was formulated for bromide prints, but it turns out this formula works exceptionally well for dry plates made with ordinary (colorblind) blue-sensitive emulsions. 

D-49 Developer Formula
500 ml distilled water (around 49C/120˚F)  
3.1g metol  
45g sodium sulfite  
11g hydroquinone  
45g sodium carbonate (anhydrous)
2.1g potassium bromide  
Room temperature distilled water added to make a total 1,000 ml 

NOTE: sodium carbonate can be purchased as anhydrous or monohydrate.

Anhydrous vs. Monohydrate

Anhydrous: a chemical is said to be anhydrous, when it doesn’t contain any water. 

Monohydrate: monohydrate contains one water molecule per formula unit. Usually, the number of water molecules a substance molecule has is written as “chemical formula. n H2O”. n gives the number of water molecules and, if the compound is monohydrated, n is one.

MQ style developers, meaning metol and hydroquinone based formulas often use potassium bromide as the restrainer, sodium carbonate as the accelerator, and sodium sulfite as the preservative as shown in this formula. 

As a side note, you can increase the sodium sulfiite ratio to make the developer even more active.  If you increase the sodium sulfite keep in mind that you will also be softening the gelatin.  This is why the developer becomes more active.  Be sure to handle your plates with care and use a hardening fixer.    

Technically, you could also decrease the potassium bromide (restrainer) to also make the developer more active.  Going too far will also cause fogging. 

When I know I am going to be making platinum contact prints from my dry plates, I like to increase density by raising the pH of this formula by adding in a few drops of regular household ammonia.  I would suggest starting with 3 drops per 1000ml of developer.  If you get fogging or the emulsion lifts off the glass, then back off a drop.  

You should add the ammonia as the final step after the potassium bromide before using the developer at 20C.

If you want a more active developer that produces more density that D-49 stock without having to tweak the formula as described above, then you could consider using Kodak D-19.

D-19 Active Developer Formula
500ml distilled water (49C/120˚F)  
2g metol
90g sodium sulfite
8g hydroquinone
sodium carbonate (45g anhydrous or 52.5g monohydrate)
5g potassium bromide  
Room temperature distilled water added to make a total 1,000 ml and do not dilute

Since you should not dilute D-19, if this formula is too active for you, then use D-49 or one of the other paper developers listed above. 

NOTE: sodium carbonate can be purchased as anhydrous or monohydrate.

Anhydrous vs. Monohydrate

Anhydrous: a chemical is said to be anhydrous, when it doesn’t contain any water. 

Monohydrate: monohydrate contains one water molecule per formula unit. Usually, the number of water molecules a substance molecule has is written as “chemical formula. n H2O”. n gives the number of water molecules and, if the compound is monohydrated, n is one.

Since D-19 is an alkaline developer, you need to begin with hot water (49C/120F) in order to ensure each ingredients will dissolve properly.  Make sure each ingredient is fully dissolved before adding the next.

Join me and photographers from around the world in the Handmade Silver Gelatin Emulsions Community and learn more about how to make and use silver gelatin emulsions.  

Handmade Silver Gelatin Emulsions Community Hosted by Tim Layton - www.timlaytonfineart.com/emulsionHandmade Silver Gelatin Emulsions Community Hosted by Tim Layton - www.timlaytonfineart.com/emulsion

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