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Monday, March 18

Diafine and a plea to commenters



Tri X and Diafine at 1260 ISO

Will we ever see Diafine in the UK again? I'm beginning to wonder. About the only place it seems to be available is at AG Photographic but if you check out their web page you'll see they're "waiting for fresh stocks". That's been the Diafine status for some time. Firstcall Photographic and Mr Cad used to have occasional supplies but no longer. I've had a look online and can't find it anywhere.

Whether it's environmental regulations or just price increases, it seems that importing Diafine is no longer attractive to retailers. It's not just the UK: I couldn't fine it on sale elsewhere in Europe. If you're not familiar with it, Diafine is a speed increasing brew that some say was specially developed in the 1960s for Tri X when that film was the press photographers' favourite. Diafine's two-bath development process isn't too fussy about time and temperature which was handy when you might have had to develop your film in a shanty town or a war zone.

1260 ISO is fine for outdoors as well

There's no doubt that it's supreme with Tri X. I remember being stunned by the relative fineness of the grain when I rated my first roll at 1260 ISO. I don't shoot a lot at that speed but I haven't found anything nicer. Right now, I'm looking for something around that speed to use indoors with my Konica Hexar. Tri X/Diafine would probably have been my first choice. I've asked AG when they might get some more Diafine but there's been no reply in a week or so and I'm guessing the answer is, "don't know". So I'm on the look-out for something in the 800-1600 ISO range. I haven't settled on an alternative combination yet so if you know of a UK Diafine supplier with the product in stock, please let me know.

And now to the comments issue. A month ago I changed the settings on this website so that anyone wishing to leave a comment would have to wait until I'd given it the OK before it would appear. I was forced into comment moderation due to the sheer weight of spam comments that were being left, some of which were sneaking past Blogger's spam filter. Unfortunately, the extra step involved in commenting seems to have discouraged some readers from leaving their thoughts at the end of a post. That's a shame as blogging gets a bit lonely when it's nearly all one-way traffic! So please don't let comment moderation put you off. Bloggers are human, too, and love feedback - keep it coming!

15 comments :

Andrew Kaiser said...

Don't worry, even if I don't comment much I promise I'm reading!

Neal said...

yes I'm always still reading as well.

On a note about chems and pushing, perhaps you could just shoot tmax 400 at 1600 and soup it in HC110 or something. I've seen some lovely results.

Cheers.

Jan Moren said...

I've lately found that Delta 400 in Microphen gives really good results at 800 and 1600. Is becoming my go-to combination for anything close to low-light.

Romain Graciano said...

Difine is quite interesting and very useful. Perfect combo with tri-x. I like it also with pan-f plus rate at iso 80~100

Some shops in france has still some stocks but indeed, difficult to find them... There is still freestyle-photo but i just check the price ! 4 times thta i paid at my local shop here...

Andrea Ingram said...

Well, I really enjoy your posts.
Hqave been tempted by this developer but never got round to trying it. I rate HP5 @ 1600 and do stand in Rodinal. Works for me!

Anonymous said...

If you want to mix your own, there is a formula in Anchell's Darkroom Cookbook for Diafine-like developer. I've never tried it, but the formulas from that book I have tried worked as advertised. Also, did you consider DD-X?

BRUCE ROBBINS said...

There are so many possible combinations of film and developer for 1600 ISO that it makes my head spin! I think if I were to test them all I'd notice very little difference in practical terms. On that basis, it probably makes most sense to use the cheapest/easiest combination. So what's that, then? ;-)

Jan Moren said...

Cheapest and easiest is probably something like HP5 in a D-76 copy. A local company here makes "ND-76", costing less than half of the brand name stuff.

With that said, I've completely stopped using that. My previous comment about Delta+Microphen just seems to give me so much better results.

Pavel said...

I am a regular user of diafine these last six years and I was shocked at the recent hike in prices; but then thought about it and decided that since the product last several forevers I guess the price increase is not that hard to live with. I could have kept on using my four year old mix, but made a mistake and contaminated solution A. I am lucky that I have two local brick and mortar stores and one of them stocks Diafine. I wonder however if I had not better stock up? Could it disappear from availability here in the US as well? I notice that B&H have it but will not ship it. Adorama on the other hand has it in stock in both quart and gallon sizing and Adorama does ship internationally! Perhaps several users in the UK can get together and order a large batch and that way lessen the shipping costs?

Btw .. I have, several times, given up on trying to publish a coment after repeated failures of the verification system. Depending on the color of the background I can not read the numbers no matter how much I magnify the page and the sound does not work on my Mac. I got lucky this time ... it worked on only the second attempt! ;)

Anonymous said...

The problem with replacing Diafine with something like XTOL is that you lose the compensating power of the 2 bath developer. Diafine allows you to really expose for the shadows and let the 2 bath action take care of protecting the highlights. This is especially true with mid-life Diafine, that has mellowed a little. Xtol is great, but it's just not the same. I've shot lots of concert material with Tri-X @ 1250 and f1.4 - f2 and 1/30th. With that exposure and nicely ripened Diafine you will get as much shadow detail as possible with a pushed 400 asa film, but even shooting straight in to stage lights they will not be entirely blown out. Some of my friends, who are shooting digital were amazed at the ability of film to hold on to the highlights.

Losing Diafine would be a disaster for anyone pushing film.


Ian Anderson said...

To encourage a student starting high-level photo training, I'm about to use Diafine again, 44 years since I last did home-developing. It was superb with Tri-x and any B & W film. Amazingly, I have found that I packed away with my developing tank, an unopened pack of this wonderful 2-bath developer. But I'm shocked you say it is disappearing from the market. So I'll treat it like liquid gold. Hopefully your blog will provoke a better supply in the UK. Best wishes!

BRUCE ROBBINS said...

Hi Ian,
Great to hear of another guy going back to film developing! I agree with you about Diafine. In some ways it's the ideal developer - especially for a student because of its less stringent time/temperature requirements.

As for supply, I don't know if it's disappearing from the UK market: I just can't find any! I sent an email to the manufacturers asking them about the possibility of me importing it in commercial quantities but never received a reply. That didn't exactly fill me with confidence...

Good luck with your film developing and best wishes to your student.

Stefan Eisele said...

Dear Bruce,
Just stumbled over your post, when checking out how to deal with Diafine and Tri-X. I'm not sure if you have found it in the mean-time. You can order it from fotoimpex in Berlin (I've just done so):

http://www.fotoimpex.de/shopen/

That's the english web-shop.

Bruce Robbins said...

Thanks Stefan. I'll check it out. I think I looked at Fotoimpex ages ago but they only had the big size then and that's too much for me.

Gaj said...

I'm down to my last two 1 quart (US) packs, so last year I started looking for alternatives. After many dozens of films I've settled on Stoeckler, Barry Thornton's 2-bath (Stoeckler variant), and Caffenol-C-L.