Developer for a beginner for FP4/HP5 : LUSENET : Large format photography : One Thread

After looking around at different films, I settled on FP4 and HP5.

I am now looking for a developer to learn and grow with. Most of my epxposures will be of landscapes, and I really want to be able to work with the 'shoulder' of the exposure. I hope I am getting the terminology right. From what I have read and understand, landscape exposures are more likely to be N-1 or N-2, instead of N+1 or N+2. If this assumption is correct, what would be a good developer to use with these 2 films? I would like to start with a developer that is forgiving of minor mistakes, such as slight time variances or mixes.

I have never been in a dark room, so you won't insult me if you have very basic answers. Assume nothing!

-- Andy Biggs (, June 18, 2001


Andy, You could try checking out the Ilford web site and start by using some of the developers that Ilford themselves recommend. As far as N times are concerned, you would help yourself a great deal if you got hold of a good book, something like Chris Johnsons "The Practical Zone System". Welcome to the all-consuming world of DIY processing!!! regards Paul

-- paul owen (, June 18, 2001.

D23 should give you a nice, gentle shoulder (especially with reduced agitation). Dilute HC110 and dilute Rodinal should work nicely also. I like Xtol 1:3. Good luck, DJ.

-- N Dhananjay (, June 18, 2001.

Invest a little time in research of developers or find someone's who's work you respect who uses the film you want to use and then pick their brain about the developer they use and how. You will spend one to two years (depending on time invested) learning the use the developer of your choice with all the varitions that are possible. I have my favorites, SD-1 Pryo, PMK Pyro, and Weston's ABC Pyro. Good Luck with your research. Pat

-- pat krentz (, June 18, 2001.

Good point. Looks like I will be revisiting some web sites of my large format heros.

I need to now question my film choosing. I was going to use FP4 and HP5, based upon people I have met in the field.

-- Andy Biggs (, June 18, 2001.

D-76 is very nice for both of those films. Fairly easy to control, with beautiful highlight values. A good place to start is a dilution of 1:3, 12-14 minutes (to be determined through trial and error...), 68 degrees, agitate 1st minute, and then for 5-10 seconds for every minute thereafter. For film speed, a good place to begin might be ISO 200 for HP5 and 60 for the FP4. I think its been mentioned...find someone who can help you run some tests for your equipment and situations, and someone who can help evaluate your results. Its a bit like learning a musical instrument; its going to take patience, practice, and a sense of adventure. Have fun!

-- Chris Jordan (, June 18, 2001.

You can see the theme. Dilute developer, longer times for compensating-like development, whatever the developer.

-- David Stein (, June 18, 2001.

My personal suggestion would be for HC-110. I started out shooting FP4+ and developing in HC-110 and I still use the combination. I found that the two worked together quite well for zone system controls and I have never been let down by them. I would probably still be using it for all my sheet film stuff had I not gotten hooked on PMK (use it for about 85% of all my stuff now). Whatever you choose, good luck.

-- David Munson (, June 18, 2001.

Both HC-110 and ID-11 give beautiful results with both films. Both give excellent tonality with good film speed. The films respond well to most general purpose developers.


-- Doug Paramore (, June 18, 2001.

Andy, I started out with HC 110 Dil B for those films. I have tried PMK a few years ago and haven't looked back since. The great thing about this developer is that it is very hard to block up your highlights, great for landscapes.

-- Dave Anton (, June 18, 2001.

First of all, thank you so so much for all of your posts, both in this thread, as well as others.

It has been suggested to me that I start off with a different film other than Fp4+ or HP5+. Tri-X has been the number 1 recommendation for my beginner status. Apparently, it will be forgiving, yet workable. As well, to use with HC-110 developer.

Totally different thread now, but I am going to look into that, as well.

-- Andy Biggs (, June 19, 2001.

Andy, I can't see any point in changing your thoughts on films to Tri-x. Screw that beginner status BS. I took up XTOL and HP5+ and am happy. I also like the ideal of supporting Ilford for films, as they seem more commited to B&W than Kodak. I took up XTOL primarily because of what I read about it regardless of failure. (It's easy to check) I also like it's low toxcity. FP4+ and Xtol is suppose to be a very good combination suggested in the Film Developing Cookbook.

-- Wayne Crider (, June 22, 2001.

P.S. You may want to try some Polaroid Type 55 Pos/Neg film; I find it quite remarkable for contrast range and you don't have any developing to do except washing the film.

-- Wayne Crider (, June 22, 2001.

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