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 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.
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.
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.
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