Massive Film Development Chart - The Most Useless Thing On The Web

2001_034_04.jpgI had a reader ask me a question about film development. Specifically what my development times were for a particular film/developer combination. The reason he asked was he "liked" the way one of my images looked but he had issues with a development time/temp he got from "The Massive Development Chart".

Hmmmm…. well that depends on a lot of things. The most gigantic thing is YOU and YOUR process and how tight YOUR controls are and… To a much much lesser extent it has to do with water quality. Take one look at the massive development chart with virtually any film and developer combination and you can probably tell that it is a useless resource. Heck the times given for the same film shot at the same speed with NOTES that describe the same procedure vary so wildly it is not even funny. Sometimes processes claiming to be the same in terms of method/dilution/agitation give the time and temp that differ by 100%. That is why this resource is almost useless.

That is also why I don't publish specific development times. Kodak does, Ilford does, and if you follow their recommend processing guidelines to the letter and your process has reasonably tight controls you will be in the ballpark of reproducing the exact contrast index that they were targeting - if that is what you really want. So what to do if those recommendations don't cover what you need? Try anything based on a guess from previous experience, film type, general developer activity, whatever and modify what you did from that point. It's not brain surgery - really. I can almost assure you you can get it to "what you were looking for" inside 3 or 4 tries and know a heck of a lot more about what you want under what conditions even from your total failures than you will ever learn from the massive development chart.

So say you have some degree of consistency down and your hard won knowledge of one film in one developer buy either want to use another film or need to use another film. What do you do then? Guess! yep just guess. You will probably get close if you have some rationale - every once in a while you will get a nasty surprise but you will probably get where you want to get on the next try. I am going to do something that I almost never ever do and list some specifics for films that I know well assuming you want to print on a modern VC paper at grade 2. I am not going to list times, I am going to give some relationships that I have found for "normal" development that I have found to be true for films that I have used for a long long time in a wide variety of developer formulations. All of them are Kodak. I could give similar relationships for other brands but I am not confident that they will hold true over a wide variety of conditions - they probably would based on my more limited experience and that is where I would start my guesses at but I am only going to list things that I am certain of.

Kodak TMAX 100 (TMX) takes about the same time/temp in a given development process as Kodak TRI-X 400 does. No kidding. TMX changes more quickly one way or another but normal is about the same time.

Kodak TRI-X 320 (TXP) takes a lot longer than Kodak TRI-X 400 (10%-35%) more time depending on developer.

Kodak PLUS-X (PX and PXP) take much shorter times than Kodak TMX (20-25%)

I have a lot of other data like this but these things are true over a ton of different developers I have used. I hope this is useful at all to the 5 people still shooting and processing their own film. Your milage may vary from my exact times but I do not believe the relationships I have listed will.


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