Well, after my usual bout of procrastination I finally sent off for some developer. I ended up buying it through Ebay as the postal charges at the likes of AG Photographic, Silverprint and Firstcall ended up almost doubling the price of the chemicals. I can understand that these companies don't want the hassle of having to deal with different postage costs for smaller or cheaper items and that it can be different fitting a wide range of shipping costs into a "shopping cart" system but, still...
When a £4.98 litre of D76 - we're talking about dry chemicals weighing not a lot - ends up costing just short of a tenner at AG Photographic when delivered to my home or 500ml of Firstcall's own developer, priced at £9.49, works out at £17.50 with postage then I think the companies should be trying to do something about it. For the D76, that would work out at £1.66 (!) per 35mm roll of film at 1+1 and 72p per film for the Firstcall dev.
Incidentally, the Firstcall developer has shot up in price over the last year or so but the company explained to me that it's the result of the brew effectively doubling in strength so it now goes twice as far as it used to. That may be the case but it used to be around £5 for a litre and is now £9.50 for 500mls so it doesn't account for all of the increase. And the price is about to go up again in November probably as a result of the weak pound v the Euro.
I'm not sure why all of these photographic chemicals are so expensive to start with. The going rate for the dry chemicals that make up a litre of D76 at most photographic dealers is about four times that of a litre of petrol - and think of the processes involved in producing that!
I'm not trying to single anyone out here as all the dealers are the same. They don't have high shipping prices on purpose but just as a result of trying to make everything available for purchase through their cart systems. That's why I turned to Ebay. There isn't a huge selection of developers on offer but at least the postage charges are reasonable. In the end, I decided to just go with D76 and picked up a 3.8 litre pack for £9 including postage (40p per 35mm roll at 1+1).
The same developer and postage at AG would have set me back £12.43, £13.43 at Silverprint and just short of £19 at Firstcall. There may be some dealers out there who can do better than this but I haven't found them yet. Obviously I'd have preferred to have supported photographic dealers who still support film but I think they have to do more to support us as well.
D76, from my "exhaustive research" on the issue, isn't the "best" developer for the Tmax 400 I'm using but I think it's so good that the differences would be very difficult to see unless in direct comparisons involving large prints. There was another reason as well, though: I have a roll of Eastman Double X 5222 to develop - and just try getting a time for that in Firstcall Superfine! Fortunately, there are dev times out there for D76 for just about every film ever made.
So the developer should be here early next week and if I can clear my diary (Do you mean "get the finger out"? - Ed) then I might even be in a position to post some photographs on my photography blog. Fancy that!