11. mai 2015

Monobath-processing with Kodak HC-110 :)


First a disclaimer: This is in no way, shape or form an attempt to be a scientific report, I am simply going to tell you what I did and how I interpreted the results. For accurate, scientific results, one should use the proper material and processes. (which I don't do at all ;) )

I recently saw a video by Ted Forbes, where he did a review on R3 monobath.

What is a monobath?

Well, for those old enough, it's the same process that makes polaroid-photos develop, stop and fix themselves after shooting. For those that are too young for this...it's magic! :)

For black and white processing it means: A single bath that covers the three stages of black and white development (dev - stop - fix). It really doesn't stop anything, it fixes as it developes....... ^^

This has been researched for decades in the past, with interesting results.
Truth be told though, a magic bullet has never been found, because they experienced speed-loss, development artifacts, grain issues and many other things along the way.

Also, the liquid gets REALLY muddy after just 2-3 runs, as the fixer rinse out the silver and whatnot, I suppose it may or may not affect the shots after a while.

Also, as one know, if you are using black and white film, and you use several different films in the same developer, they have different times at which they are developed. Thus a developer react differently with various films.

The same is true for a monobath, thus, you must tailor the monobath to the particular film you are using and from that follows, that monobaths, although successful with one film, may not be usable with another film.
- Modern T-grain films may also have issues with monobaths.

......So it was never a commercial success.

Anyway, the R3 process is tailored to suit several films, and it seem to do various films pretty well take a look if you live in the US.

In Ted's vlog on youtube, he mentioned that you can make it yourself, and one Mr. Donald Qualls posted an interesting find over at photo.net in 2004, where he had made a monobath with ammonia, which developed Tri-X pretty well.

He also posted the recipe ^^

Orginal at 75F to make 256ml, by Donald Qualls Oct. 2004
50ml household clear ammonia
15 ml of HC-110 syrup Dilution A (1:15)
10 ml Ilford Rapid Fixer concentrate
ca 180ml Water to make up 256 ml  

I wanted to make 1500ml, to fit in a large bottle of Coke that I have, so I multiplied up the amounts and used:

300 ml household clear ammonia 
90 ml of HC-110 syrup straight from the bottle.
60 ml Ilford Rapid fixer concentrate
Water to 1500ml

My bottle of ammonia is a no-name brand called "First price" and says 5-10% on it.
I read somewhere it means "5% of solution", "10% of weight". 

Anyway, the original recipe state to use 5% household ammonia and you can usually find it in the cleaning section in your general grocery-store.
I mixed the developer and ammonia first, then I put the fixer in and then water, just to make everything more easy for myself, as I didn't want to stir around with too many bottles and cups.

Use a well-ventilated room OR as I did, mix the stuff on the stove below the fan that normally suck cooking-fumes out, the fumes from the ammonia will make you gag for sure and it can hurt your skin, eyes and lungs, so avoid breathing this stuff :)

In the analog geeks group at Facebook, people have already tried out Tri-X and it works as advertised.
But I am a Acros-shooter for the most part and for 400 ISO I use Neopan 400 (and more often these days, Tri-X), so I wanted to see how this monobath would work with Acros and Neopan.

After all, both Neopan and Acros have roughly the same develop-times in HC-110 (you can put both films in the tank and develop them together).

Both also have a very short development time when you look at dilution B.
For the monobath, you effectively use dilution A, which means half the time of B, which again means a development time of around 2 minutes 30 seconds for those films, very similar to the Tri-X times.

I will not get into the details surrounding Neopan 400 here, except to say that with a development time of 15 minutes, the negatives were thin (looked underdeveloped, edge-markings barely visible) and the base-fog on the film was present, but didn't play a great part in scanning. But I would not use this particular recipe for Neopan 400.

- Scanning did work well, but it was clear that the monobath would have have to be adjusted to suit Neopan 400, which isn't viable, considering the film is no longer produced by Fuji.

For Acros however, it was "wow time".
- And that is kind of funny, since I read somewhere that it is a t-grain/cubic hybrid sort of film.

I did a few test-shots around my apartment windows (because it was getting late in the evening), used my Hasselblad 503CW, mirror lockup and remote release (shutter was around 1/30's at F4) and snapped away.

Some shots were +1 over measured exposure, to see how overexposure would look like, didn't have much effect on the final outcome, maybe a little.

The development data was 15 minutes at 25 degrees Celsius. 30 seconds initial agitation (I used the stick in the tank, not inversions of the whole tank, to avoid spillage), then 4-5 rounds with the stick every 5 minutes.

I have not tested the minimum time for development and fix/clear, others can do that, I did 15 minutes to be sure it was clear


Negatives were CLEAR....really clear indeed. Where the Neopan 400 showed a good amount of base-fog, the Acros came out clear as it normally does in conventional developers.

The negatives themselves looked GREAT (although the negative area looked more brown than the typical black).

Here the strip is hanging in the shower to dry:

Here is how the initial scan looks, I have scanned the sheets to preserve shadows and highlights, so anyone can download them and adjust the levels, to see how the edge-markings and base are, compared to the rest of the negative's shadows and highlights. (I always seem to get leaks in the edges of the negatives, no matter what camera and no matter how damn careful I am :/ )

- You can initially click the photos, then right-click and select "view image" in Firefox to see the full resolution example and then right-click again and select "save image" to get it to your computer, if you like. You can also do the same with the single-photos below, they are large exports from Lightroom and should provide a good way to check out details.

The scanner I use is a Epson v750, all negatives are scanned trough clear plastic sleeves, placed directly on the glass in the scanner, at 1200 DPI.

In all honesty, the negatives themselves are very usable and I would guess that they are a breeze to print too (I've worked with some narly negs in my short time in the darkroom, and these look pretty darn good to my eyes).

Grain is nicely controlled too, nothing to worry about, compared to a normal HC-110 development.
Shadow detail IS pretty good, got good control over that when scanning. If anything, the negatives seem to have gotten increased contrast (S-shaped tone-curve) with a slightly rougher look. I think they look quite similar to Acros souped in Rodinal 1:50.

Here are some of the shots, large scans, adjusted with the curves tool. Mostly just set the black and white point to where the base is just visible, no need to bend the curves here.

Worked like a charm this! :)

I would be happy to try it again sometime.

Acros, being a fine-grained, "best-reciprocity-master", all-round goodie 100 ISO film, is a film I use A LOT, probably others too, so good to know that Acros is a happy camper in this recipe.

Neat to know you can finish the film in 10-15 minutes, wash and hang to dry. ^^

My 1500ml bottle is now pretty muddy (after three trial-runs), but it don't seem to affect the quality of the negatives just yet, activity also seems to be good, so I'll keep shooting it and see when it starts to "die" on me. :)

Have fun and feel free to try it out and share your own results ^^

3 kommentarer:

  1. Super tios,fantask fint resultat. Må testes.

  2. R3 is not specifically designed for TRI-X and in fact is better on TMY and Ilford Pan-f. I don't know where the wrong idea that it is for Tri-X came from, but it is an error.

    1. Thank you for that information.

      I guess it stems from the fact that R3 is based on Donald's formula and that that particular monobath was tailored to Tri-X. The discussions I've seen on the net, often also tie R3 and Tri-X together. Though, I have updated the blog-text now, so it doesn't confuse or give false information. =)