Film developing with D-76

Kodak D-76 is a classic and truly versatile developer. It provides full emulsion speed, long density range and excellent shadow detail with normal contrast and produces fine grain with a variety of continuous-tone black-and-white films.

Kodak D-76 developer to make 3.8 litres (1 gallon)

Dilution

Kodak recommends to use D-76 as a full-strength stock solution. But there is no reason to use it undiluted. For greater sharpness, but with a slightly increase of grain, a 1+1 dilution is typically used, which is also recommended by Kodak. It gives a long density range and allows push processing with relatively low fog.

If it is diluted to 1+3 it becomes a non-solvent high acutance developer. Non-solvent developers produce a coarser grain structure but the image will look sharper. It is because of there is not a lot of solvent with such dilution to dissolve the edge of the grain.

Fresh solution should be prepared just before developing from certain parts of stock and water. However, I personally recommend to dilute it 1+3 for a better compensating effect. Once Kodak included charts for this dilution. But a few years ago they were removed from its official data.

Pull and push processing

For pull processing up to 2EV I recommend a 1+5 dilution that gives a great compensating effect and lowers contrast. It is very good when a film was shot with high contrast scenes. In my own experience I prefer a 1+1 dilution for push processing up to 2EV or for normal processing with lower contrast scenes. To push it even more I use it undiluted, but do it quite rarely.

Stability

The key to stable results is strict compliance with the same rules every time you develop the film. Do not modify temperature and agitation until you get stable results with a certain dilution. If you need more or less film density, first try to increase or decrease developing time. If it doesn’t help, other dilution may be used. But the more diluted the solution gets, the lower the contrast becomes, and vice versa.

By the way, any dilution other than stock can be used only once. This is very convenient. As a result, you always get fresh solution just before developing and you do not need to put the used one back into a separate bottle after the process is over and calculate developing time for the next film, which is absolutely unpredictable. This is another key to stable results.

Development times

The times in this chart are given for the temperature 20°C with no presoaking and the following agitation:

  • 1 inversion of tank or film reel rotation for 2 sec per every 30 sec with dilution 1+1
  • 3 inversions of tank or film reel rotation for 6 sec per every 30 sec with dilution 1+3
  • 5 inversions of tank or film reel rotation for 10 sec per every 30 sec with dilution 1+5

To remove air bubbles from the film I tap the tank a few times immediately after the developer is poured inside. I have been using the sealed Jobo UniTank 1500 tank system for many years.

And, of course, this chart reflects my own experience. Also you may refer to The Massive Dev Chart for other films and times.

ISO/Dilution 1+1 1+3 1+5
Ilford Pan F Plus 50
25 9 15
50 9 15 23
Ilford FP4 Plus 125
64 11 17
125 11 17 23
250 17 23
Kodak TMax 100
50 9 17
100 9 17 23
200 13 23
Fuji Neopan 100 Acros
50 10 17
100 10 17 23
200 17 23
Fomapan 100
50 10 17
100 10 17 23
200 17 23
Kodak TMax 400
400 10 15
800 11 19
1600 19
Kodak Tri-X 400
400 10 19
800 11 27
1600 13
3200 17
Ilford HP5 Plus 400
400 13 20
800 17 25
1600 19
// Sasha Krasnov
6x7 and 6x6 formats example on 120 film type by Sasha Krasnov

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4 Comments

  1. David Lyga

    This is rather interesting especially because you are not afraid of stating diminutions up to 1+5 for D-76. ‘Officially’ you are not supposed to do that but, trust me, it does work with consistency. There are many old wives tales with processing. Your data is more real than most.

    I would have preferred that you had stated dilutions as I had) 1+? rather than 1:?. Why? Because in some literature a, for example, 1:3 can mean one part developer MAKES three parts working solution. Ilford’s way, using the ‘+’ instead of the colon, removes any lingering ambiguity.

    • I use the colon as ‘+’. So, the 1:X means — to prepare working solution take one part of stock add X parts of water. But you are right. To avoid misunderstading I will change ‘:’ to ‘+’. Digitaltruth also uses the same symbol too. Thank you, it makes my post better!

  2. Eric James

    Interesting to see someone use D76 other than the ‘stock’ or 1:1 dilution. I have been using D76 at 1:3 almost exclusively on HP5+/Delta 400/TMax 400 over the years, but lately have attempted to develop FP4+ at 200iso, and at a D76 1:1 dilution for 12minutes at 24C. It worked fine, perhaps a little contrasty, but the day’s lighting was high in dynamic ranges too, so I cannot give a definitive comment yet. I look forward to diluting D76 a little further at 1:3, to compress the highlights and shadows together a little more.

    Many years ago, I experimented with 1:4 and 1:5 dilutions, but since have lost my data. As I recall, I think I was developing for about 60 minutes in some cases!? I cannot remember.

    Incidentally, I do not invert the tank during development, but instead rotate the spiral 3-4 times per minute. No spillage to worry about.

    Many thanks for your article, очень интересная статья!

  3. Maybe a bit late for the discussion but not for the topic.
    To some photographers dilution equates to using less chemistry for an area of film to save money. Others, to obtain a shift in resolution, sharpness or maybe grain. Perceived or real is of no importance to this input. The process still requires the energy to get’er done.
    Example: Using Kodak’s data sheet, a gallon of stock D76 will do 16 unit areas of film UNREPLENISHED (single shot). A unit area is a roll of 35mm/36 exposure, 120 rol, four 4×5 negatives, or two 8×10 negatives. That is 8 ounces per roll. (128 ounces divided by 16 rolls)
    If you do it straight (stock) 1:1, or 1:50, …no difference in the energy needed… it is still requires 8 ounces to provide the necessary energy to full and consistent properly exposed negatives. Meaning 8 oz. of D76 stock and 8 oz. for the water (1:1).

    if you were to try 1:50 (ratio is exaggerated for clarification only ) you need 8 oz. of D76 …BUT 400 oz. of water… If you want to develop a single roll of 35mm film. Result… a very BIG, TANK and Long, very long wait.

    Another example… TMAX developer, as I recall is 2.7 oz… 1:4 ration means 2.7 oz of developer and 10.8 oz of water. Then the question, will that even cover the roll? In this case you may actually need to increase the total solution (keeping the ratio the same, just to get the film covered for processing… A little easier for rotation processing for sure.
    Each developer has it’s own capacity and that is where you need to start for consistent developing of your negatives. I am sure you can adjust down if you wish… but you will not get the negative the boys in the lab got when settling on the number that established the capacity they but on the container.

    For me to follow this capacity issue is this: When I get a negative that is too thin or too dense… I no longer have to ask myself if it was the development or the exposure.

    Tim

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