Ratical : Analog Photography

B&W Developers

In order of priority, the characteristics I value of a film developer are:

  1. Predictability
  2. Ease of use
  3. Capabilities (push processing)
  4. Cost

The Ilford Photo Film processing chart serves as an excellent reference for common films and developers. As with color reversal, development times can be interpolated ⅓-stop increments:

Temperature Time (min:sec) Speed Push/Pull
20°C/68°F 9:00 400
20°C/68°F 9:20 500 +⅓
20°C/68°F 9:40 640 +⅔
20°C/68°F 10:00 800 +1

Note: Prices were calculated USD as of January 2023.


I have always had great success with Ilford DD-X. Mix a room temperature, and is ready to use immediately. The only downside is the short shelf life.

5 liters (1+4) ÷ 450ml ≈ 11.1 rolls

Final cost: $3.10/roll


Ilford Microphen has worked very well with HP5+, but left thousands of tiny spots on FP4+. It is difficult to mix properly, requires heating, and 200ml of solution is left over and usually wasted.

1 liter ÷ 450ml ≈ 2.2 rolls

Final cost: $5.00/roll


Kodak D-76 provides predictable results, requires effort to mix since it is a powder that will not completely dissolve at room temperature.

1 gallon ÷ 450ml ≈ 8.4 rolls

Final cost: $1.25/roll


The canonical name seems to be Aga Rodinal, but this formula is made by other manufactures such as the Compard R09 . Rodinal has a reputation for a long shelf life, and is easy to mix since it is a liquid.

5 liters (1+25) ÷ 450ml ≈ 28.8 rolls

Final cost: $0.54/roll

Last updated on July 12, 2023