Where to start with film and developer.

Grandpa Ron

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Aug 9, 2018
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A couple of years ago I decided to repair and old view camera given to me in the 1970's. It turned out to be a 4x5 format 1915 vintage Seneca. I made some lens boards and acquired a 127 mm and a 165 mm Wollensak lenses plus I made some pinhole mounts.

It has been a steep re-learning curve since I had not developed film since the 1960's. So to keep the cost down, I have been using the Arista EDU 200 ISO film and developing in Rodinal. I have tried a lot of different development times and I settled on 50:1 mix at 16 minutes. I like one shot developers because it may be weeks or months between development sessions.

I have probably shot 75 to 100 sheets of 4x5 film and made more than my share of mistakes learning the process. However, I am planning an extended trip to the Rockies and far West; so now it is time to up the anti. Given the plethora of developers and films available, I am to say the least a bit bewildered. While I will scan some negatives into the computer for reviewing, I intend to enlarge and print the better ones in the darkroom.

So, my question is ..... If you were starting out and trying to keep things simple, what 4x5 film and developer would you use.

Thank you,
I would probably do what your doing. Nothing wrong with your choice as it has been done your way for decades. Developers can be somewhat of a rabbit hole and I say that from experience. I like consistent results and Rodinal gives you just that. Once you start back printing, it will tell you more and I think you will be happy providing your good with a light meter.

I know a master printer (we're actually going to a tractor show today) and he uses Kodak D76. He uses Dektol as his paper developer. We have had this conversation before and said the key is to find what gives you consistent results. He said the classic developers give you results that you can expect. He wasn't aware of all the different developers out there and was surprised by the massive choice. He said thank God I settled on one 50 years ago.

I've tried to learn from him in the Darkroom one time but he gets confused when I'm in there so I leave him alone. He wants to help but I value his friendship more than his experience. He loves the little hole in the wall diner I take him to. We haven't been there in a long time and we are looking forward to it. We are both shooting Nikon F2 today and sunny 16ing it.
I agree, if you are happy with your process stick to it and perfect it.

Personally I shoot T-Max 100 4x5 and use T-Max developer at 1:4.

I use Ethel LPD paper developer (mostly at 1:3) and Ilford Pearl Portfolio RC paper on a cold-head enlarger for printing.
I'm very much in favour of keeping things simple. I've really only used three black and white films (OK, 5 as FP3 changed to FP4Plus, and PanF to PanFPlus - the 5th was HP3) and two developers (Unitol until discontinued, and Rodinal afterwards). I much prefer to keep as much as possible identical to reduce variables.

Given that I hate grain, my preference would be FP4Plus and a one use developer like Rodinal. In your specific case, I'd stick with what I already know.

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