choosing negative developers: summary

Matching the right film to the right developer to suit your personal tastes and working methods is something of a Holy Grail among black and white photographers. This module is about the relationship between film, film speed, developer, grain, sharpness and (most elusive of all) tonality -- and, of course, the paper you choose to print upon.

Our own beliefs, born out by decades of experience and observation, are as follows. First, those who discuss developers have seldom conducted scientific tests; they know (if they are lucky) what works for them, and they are often inclined to make the mistake of assuming that the same combination will automatically work for others, which is far from invariably the case. Second, the vast majority of developers do exactly what it says on the box, delivering fine grain or acutance or extra speed or whatever: most do a competent job. Third, there are relatively few film-developer-paper combinations that are pure magic, and rather more combinations that are more or less awful -- even if the developer is excellent for other films, or the film is excellent in other developers.

 

Illustration from the Developer Choice module

There are 13 pages, corresponding to about 4,000 to 4,500 words, and 16 pictures shot on 35mm, 120 and large format using around a dozen different film stocks and developed in about 9 different developers. For comparison a magazine article normally consists of 1,500 to 2,500 words and 4 to 8 pictures.

You may also care to read the following modules:

Our materials

ISO film speeds

Exposure determination for negatives

 

As for books, the most useful are likely to be:

Black and White Handbook (you will be leaving the secure area, and will have to log in again.)

Quality in Photography (you will be leaving the secure area, and will have to log in again.)

Darkroom Basics (you will be leaving the secure area, and will have to log in again.)

go to choosing negative developers module

Go to the unillustrated list of modules (in either alphabetical or date order)

or go to the illustrated list of modules

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© 2005 Roger W. Hicks