D-76 v. HC-110

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I'm fairly new to LF. I've been shooting TMAX 100 and developing in D-76, which I understand is the developer Kodak recommends for the film. I've been getting some inconsistent results, but to be honest, this is likely due to problems holding all variables constant. A number of photographers that I admire, though, use HC-110 rather than D-76. Why? Is there any real advantage to using either developer? Thanks in advance for any information.

-- Mark Christopherson (mchristopherson@lhdl.com), November 28, 2000


Although I'm not experienced with HC-110, I do know that the developer reccomended by Kodak for T-Max films is T-Max developer, either the one shot or the RS version.

-- William Levitt (light-zone@operamail.com), November 28, 2000.

D76 is a solvent developer - the high sulfite content actually dissolves some of the silver and then replates it - a process that reduces perceived graininess. HC110 is also supposedly solvent but is generally classified as an acutance developer. D76 will probably give you finer grain but lower sharpness. HC110 will more likley create sharpness increasing acutance effects at the expense of somewhat coarser grain. LF folks are generally less concerned about grain. In my opinion, I don't think sharpness is as big an issue either and I think LF folks choose developers based on the gradation it can yield (loosely, the shape of the characteristic curve). HC110 can yield a variety of results based on dilution and agitation patterns. It is availabe as a liquid. All of which makes it very convenient and eeasy to use. I would deefinitely urge you to go through the Film Developing Cookbook by Anchell and Troop. Good luck. DJ

-- N Dhananjay (ndhanu@umich.edu), November 28, 2000.

I agree with N on the comments about D-76 and HC-110. I use HC-110 because of the edge sharpness and the ability to form a Makie line at the transition between black and white on the neg. According to John Sexton, T-max was engineered using D-76 in the developmental stages. If you use T-Max developer, use the RS. Regular T-Max developer leaves stains on the neg and is not recommended by Kodak. As for sharpness and grain, I agree that they are not very important with LF. They are more important to the 35mm shooters. I would recommend you use the developer that, with your working conditions, gives you the best tonality and overall, the best print. Do your own testing to see what works for you. It may be entirely different from what I like.


-- Doug Paramore (dougmary@alaweb.com), November 28, 2000.

There are so many choices out there concerning this subject. I started out with Tmax RS developer for both Tri-x and T-max 100 sheet film. I loved my tri-x negatives, but did not like the T-max negatives. I finally decided to do a littler more experimentation for T-max development. I would have given up completely on T-max if Tri-x came in readyloads. I tried T-max in T-max RS developer at different dilutions and temperatures and I also tried it in Xtol and HC-110. I printed all the results in as similar a manner as possible (obviously I shot a negative of the same thing for each test , under the same conditions and with the same exposure). I then stared at them for several days and also asked friends which they liked better. I finally decided that HC-110 (dilution B for 8 minutes at 68F for normal development) worked for me. I agree with a previous post. Grain is not such a big concern in large format. You can go with the combination that looks best to you. By the way, my time and temperature may not work for you because of different water chemistry and agitation methods.

-- Paul Mongillo (pmongillo@thurston.com), November 28, 2000.

In my personal experience, (based mostly on Tri-X, but also T-Max 100), D-76 and HC 110 are interchangeable. I've also had good results with HC 110 & HP5, but not with Delta 400.

Just be advised that any B&W film/developer combination has a learning curve. If you're just starting out, you might want stick with one film/developer combination, and put some serious effort into controlling your variables (change only one at a time).

P.S. I have found that with my setup (Nikor S.S. tank & cage) T-Max requires more vigorous aggitation than other emulsions. Good Luck.

-- Dave Brown (wolfgang@peakpeak.com), November 29, 2000.

My understanding is that HC-110 is liquid D-76 (or D-76 is powdered HC-110, if you prefer). In my admittedly unscientific experience this pretty much bears out. (Of course times vary with dilution.) Any comments?

-- Mark Parsons (Polar@thegrid.net), December 01, 2000.

> HC-110 is liquid D-76

No, they're radically different.

HC-110 (from the MSDS) Ingredient: DIETHANOLAMINE-SULFUR DIOXIDE COMPLEX Percent: 50 - 55 Ingredient: WATER Percent: 10 - 20 Ingredient: HYDROQUINONE (SARA 302/313) (CERCLA) Percent: 9 Ingredient: DIETHYLENE GLYCOL Percent: 8 Ingredient: ETHANOLAMINE/2-AMINOETHANOL Percent: 5 - 10 Ingredient: DIETHANOLAMINE (SARA 313) (CERCLA) Percent: 3 Ingredient: DIETHYLENETRIAMINEPENTAACITIC ACID/PENTETIC ACID Percent: 1 - 5 Ingredient: ETHYLENE GLYCOL (SARA 313) (CERCLA)

D-76: Water Metol Hydroquinone Sodium Sulfite Borax

I suspect the unspoken, unadmitted reason many use HC-110 is because Ansel used HC-110. There's nothing wrong with it, but other developers may match specific films better.

-- John Hicks (jbh@magicnet.net), December 01, 2000.

I use D-76 1:1 for TMX and TMY in all formats. Grain might not be such a problem with 8x10", but I like to have a relatively (admitting that tray processing of sheet film will produce different results from small tank processing of roll films) consistent process across formats, and D-76 1:1 gives results that I am satisfied with in 35mm and 120 as well as 8x10".

-- David Goldfarb (dgoldfarb@barnard.edu), December 01, 2000.

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