The Online Darkroom Store

Saturday, October 29

Good old D76

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!


Andrea Ingram said...

Have tried Caffenol ?

DavidM said...

I suppose if you took yourself, at your own expense, to a Developer Station and filled your own bottle from a pump, then bought some flowers, bag of charcoal and a tube of soft mints, D76 it might well be cheaper. In any case, everything that crosses the border will soon be more expensive, now that the People Have Spoken.
Not in this house, they didn't.

Bruce Robbins said...

Never tried caffenol, Andrea. It's always seemed slightly weird to me and I wonder about it's repeatability. Probably without good cause.

Well, David, they didn't speak in my house either. They positively screamed with delight! And tears as well in my case.

Kodachromeguy said...

In the United States, it is shipment of photographic chemicals that is outrageous cost. Most are considered hazardous and therefore need to be shipped by ground via UPS or a similar carrier in special boxes, etc (=rip-off cost). I am not sure if that applies to all powdered chemicals. Therefore, if you visit a major city that still has a real camera store, it's worthwhile to buy some chemicals if they have any in stock and take them home yourself. Luckily, I still have some bottles of Rodinal from the early 2000s that are fine. (Recall, about 25 years ago, Rodinal was packaged in dark brown glass bottles - it really did last forever.)

DcAnalogue said...

Postage costs are otrageous almost always.
You've been lucky to find a low one on the bay!
I buy many cameras/lenses/darkroom supply from there and expecially from UK (not talking about US ones...) are often absurd! Any low cost item will see doubled its price when shipped here in Italy.... :-(

Anyway, I suggest you check which seems to have very good prices and reasonable shipping costs.

DavidM said...

We are working on the plans for Hadrian's Wall.

Frank said...

Shipping prices are almost always too high for one small item.
That's why I always order some items I do not need at that time, but I'm going to need in the future.
So when I order films or paper, I order developper, fix or whatever I may need soon.
If you want the lowest price to develop film, hc-110 or Rodinal. Once you opened the bottle, you can use it for years, no matter what it looks like.
And one more vote for Fotoimpex.

Nick said...

Bruce, Caffenool's repeatability relies completely in your own ability to weigh and measure conistently same amounts of ingredients.
As you are very capable of using other developer chemistry with repeable results I see little problems for you.
I even found it quite pleasing for paper developement, as it gives a little warmtone touch.

Prices for chemicals in powder form is quite cheap. Try some Adox Atomal from Fotoimpex.

A quite costly developer is a new formula of Atomal by Klaus Wehner.
You might find it useful to thumb through some pages of diskussion here:

Yes Iknow, it's all in German, but just take a look at the pictures. All of the posts have details on filmtype and developing times.
I really like some of the results, and use it only when I need detail quality in landscapes or trees.

Photos on a photoblog? What a thought...

Kenny Wood said...

Kodak D-76 3.8L Black & White Film Developer for £8.94 including postage from Shariff Photographic Supplies. The actual cost of the developer is £4.99. Postage isn't too bad if you're buying more than one!

DavidM said...

I've just been looking at Silverprint's website.
They apply a uniform postal charge to everything in the UK (except the Highlands)
As ID11 (aka D76) lasts forever in powder form, there seems to be no good reason not to order several packs at the same time, thus reducing the transport cost per item to a more satisfactory level. Developer isn't like chocolate, so you won't consume it just "because it is there." I assume this strategy would be the same for other suppliers.
For myself, after a short period of using ID11, I have returned to Ilfotec HC with occasional excursions into the modern equivalent of Rodinal. Ilfotec HC seems to deliver much the same, good all round, results as ID11 or D76. A wide rage of dilutions can be used for finer control or economy. It lasts much longer than Ilford claim although I do top up the bottles with Tetenal Protectan.

(We are postponing the refurbishment of Hadrian's Wall until we can get enough builders from Poland.)

Bruce Robbins said...

Well, David, by that logic I should buy 14 packets of the stuff and enjoy free postage. :) BTW, if you need some Polish builders you only have to ask. They're ten a penny up here.

DavidM said...

Yes. Logical indeed. I haven't thought about fourteen packs, but now, I have to ask myself, why not? A useful hedge against inflation, too.
Your recent blogs suggest that you are somehow working towards a camera, or an outfit, that will last you for the next ten years, or so. Perhaps even forever – the "perfect" kit for you. Why not get enough developer for the next ten years, too? . You might even be able to share it with another photographer nearby. Probably worth laying in stocks of Marmite, while you're at it.
After Scottish UDI the builders will probably be ten a bawbee or a ten a mickle or whatever the currency will be. Who can tell? We live in interesting times.

Bruce Robbins said...

The currency should be the "muckle", made up of 100 mickles with 50 mickles to the bawbee. If Scotland does a UDI then I'm moving to the south east of your green and pleasant land. The idea of UDI stinks but when we're talking about a Salmond and a Sturgeon how could it do anything else.

Pieter Vandenberghe said...

Another vote for fotoimpex, but do check out (Ypres is about as close as you can get to the UK). It's a smaller store, but prices are lower than fotoimpex, as are the shipping costs.

Rick said...

Just taking a quick look at both B&H and FPP here in the US, I can get a 1L package shipped for ~4$USD, making the whole thing <$10USD to get it to my front door. That's for d-76. I had some E-6 chems shipped last spring, and the shipping alone for those was like $20USD. And I could only find one place that would ship it, the FPP.

Anonymous said...

Make your own D76 from scratch
Aparently the original 1927 version is closer to ID11 than current D76, the formula has changed over the years
Original D76 formula (J cappstaff 1926)

750ml of water 125 degrees farenheit
metol - 2g
sodium sulfite anhydrous - 100g
Hydroquinone - 5g
Borax - 2g
Mix in this order then add 250ml of water to make 1 litre
Store in a brown bottle

Leave to settle for 24 hours
I use stock (undiluted) and add 1 minute to the given developing times for ID11