I have recently started developing my own films and after a lot of reading on APUG and elsewhere I decided to start with ID-11. I've used it with Ilford HP5+ and with Delta 100, 1+1 for the HP5 and stock solution for the Delta 100, and it has been absolutely fine. I haven't started printing yet either, but my negatives look good, with what seems to be a full range of tones, dense but not too dense, and that's just from following Ilford's instructions to the letter. It is cheap and keeps a long time in full bottles (I bought enough 150ml brown glass bottles to store a litre at a time, then I can easily mix 300ml of 1+1 or use 2 bottles for stock 1+0, per 35mm film).
For now I'm very happy to stick with ID-11. My next step is going to be to do some film speed and development timing tests, as recommended by Les Maclean in Creative Black & White Photography. I'll be using HP5+ and FP4+ in ID-11. There is no point in moving on to anything else until I am experienced enough to know for sure that differences in the negatives are caused by the developer and not inconsistent technique on my part, and even then I think ID-11 is likely to be my 'normal' developer.
First, there are no stupid questions. There are lots of stupid answers to some of them, though.
The easiest thing to control is the time, temperature and agitation of film development. I suggest you continue to use the manufacturer's recommendations and then, if necessary, adjust the effective exposure rating of the film(s) to suit your particular camera(s).
The old rule of 'Expose for the shadows and develop for the highlights,' which you'll hear from time to time, relates to the use of sheet film or to roll film devoted to a single subject in the same lighting. It's fine if, and only if, you're willing to devote a roll of film to a subject. If not, your next best bet is to standardize the film development and adjust the other factors [film speed rating, individual frame film exposure, enlargement exposure and paper contrast] as needed.
Hopefully, you'll soon see your way clear to doing contact printing and then enlarging. 'Having a camera without having a darkroom is like having a leash but no puppy.' [Old B&W wonk adage.]
Ok this might sound dumb, but can you leave chemicals in their trays for say a week or two, as long as i cover them and stir them before use? I realize they might lose their ability to work in a shorter amont of time, but now that i have a permanent darkroom, i can leave them out and they wont be disturbed. Im planning on printing every evening after work, and pouring in and out of bottles gets old quick. If im just being lazy, let me know, I havent found an easy system for storing chemicals yet that doesnt require a funnel and countless drips of chemicals.
You are being lazy. Get a few cheap funnels from the grocery store (you want a funnel to dedicate to each chem). The chem killer is air. By leaving them in the trays you are creating a big air to chem surface. Chems that will keep for months in a full bottle will die in weeks in a half full bottle, and days when left in trays. There are trays available that have floating lids, but they tend to be huge, need a lot of chemistry to fill, and are way more expensive than funnels.
Seeing as this thread has resurfaced, I'll update what I said on 21/03/2006.
I've completed my film speed tests using 120 Ilford FP4+ and ID-11 mixed 1+1. I had decided that FP4+ would be the best film for my medium format work because of its long exposure scale and good balance between speed and grain. I will come back and repeat the tests for HP5+, which is my preferred film for 35mm (handheld, natural light only, etc).
Anyway, the results were pretty much what I expected, i.e. my normal development time is exactly what Ilford recommend, and my normal exposure method will be to meter the darkest shadow with important detail in it and then reduce the exposure by one stop from there. Two stops can be OK, but I'm starting to lose more shadow detail than I would like. I bought a Pentax digital spotmeter, which makes this kind of metering a lot easier.
Nothing I've seen so far has changed my mind about ID-11. I've been reading about compensating developers in Les Maclean's book, and I'm interested in trying one of those when appropriate, but as far as alternative 'standard' developers go, I can't see the point of trying anything else at the moment.
One funnel is all you'll ever need. Think with me for a moment: you put a piece of paper in developer, lift it out and let it drip a bit, place it in the stop bath, lift it out and let it drip, etc. In other words, you're getting some developer in the stop and some stop in the fixer each time you develop a print. And you don't worry about it a bit, do you? Of course not.
So now tell me: what happens if you pour the developer back into the bottle through a funnel, move the funnel to the stop bottle, pour the stop through the funnel, etc? Exactly the same thing as processing a single piece of paper -- maybe even less. QED.
Well actually I do. The problem isn't stop in the fixer, it's developer in the fixer. I mix all stop bath as a one shot, and I don't always use it anyway, so the only things I'm using funnels for are developers, fixers, and toners, and I don't want any of those things mixing. Some toners mixed with fixer become deadly gas. Yes, fixer is going to be contaminated through the normal process of print making, but that doesn't mean it's not worth it to try to minimize the contamination. Could you get away with one funnel? Sure, but a funnel is only 50 cents!
Fixer is also the most expensive chem; if you have an active darkroom even saving a teaspoon here and there adds up over time. A funnel pays itself off many times in just one year. I've been using the same funnels for 8 years now. They've paid off the investment.
Why have dedicated trays, tongs, graduates, etc...? Weak fixer won't ruin your day for weeks, or even years. My Photo 101 teacher was a darkroom **** about cleanliness and avoiding as much contamination as possible, so it was drilled into us that extra tupperware is cheaper and less frustrating in the long run. Keep the dry side dry, and keep the wet side from mixing, and no one gets hurt.
EDIT: I guess I could change that to "my teacher was a darkroom fascist", for the profanity checker