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Author Topic: Substitute for Pyro Developer for HP5+ and FP4+  (Read 2126 times)


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Substitute for Pyro Developer for HP5+ and FP4+
« on: May 03, 2020, 05:26:32 pm »

For many years I have used, first the original PMK Pyro developer and more recently Pyrocat HD.  With the lockdown I have taken out my film cameras and enjoying that.  But I am running out of Pyrocat and can't find any more in the UK.  So what do I?  My favourite films are FP4 and HP5.  When I started I, like pretty much everyone else, use D76.  But printing with a cold light enlarger on Oriental Seagull I found that the PMK developers were a huge improvement

Now I am mostly digital and will scan 120 film to print digitally.  The stain from PMK and Pyrocat undoubtedly was of use when printing in the darkroom but I wonder if anything else about the developer is really optimum for scanning.  So what could I use instead?  I once tried HC110 but can't remember what I thought about it - except that I had difficulty in precise dilutions.  I also once tried Rodinal with disastrous results - although touted as a fine grain, sharp developer the negatives I got from it were horrible - grainy beyond belief and not sharp.  Probably user error but very disappointing at the time.

So any suggestions for an easily sourced film developer?



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Re: Substitute for Pyro Developer for HP5+ and FP4+
« Reply #1 on: May 12, 2020, 08:47:49 pm »


Cannot help with the pyro, but back in the day I found that Rodinal heavily diluted with water (can't remember how much -but much more than recommended) gave very nice results.
Of course, the process times were quite long. 
Hope that is of some help in case you are forced to try it again. 
All the best,


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Re: Substitute for Pyro Developer for HP5+ and FP4+
« Reply #2 on: June 06, 2020, 10:41:51 am »

I too started by D76 when I learned the darkroom in a community college, but soon moved to PMK and later Pyrocat. The improved micro-contrast and hiding the grain almost immediately attracted me.  I also like highly diluted Rodinal on slow films due to the similar reason as well as the compressed global contrast.

I then moved to digital. and then picking up the film again alongside the digital. Surprisingly, looking back of my old prints, I found the tonal appearance was almost awful. I much prefer the tonal appearance by D76 and HC110, although the printing skill at that time is much worse than today. So I picked HC100 again to refine my skill. (HC100 is as convenience as Rodinal).

Maybe it's the shifting of my visual preference. I found tonal appearance is much more important and essential than the sharpness and the grain pattern.

I have many "hybrid photography" friends who prefer digital equally as analog. Now we all agree that, if you can't manage D76 or HC100 (or the equivalent from Ilford) with the basic level of skill, don't try any special developer.

Maybe you can try D76 or HC100 again.

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