I started developing my own films about a year ago and I am having a lot of fun, but it is also quite confusing.

When I shoot black and white, I use mainly Kodak T-Max film, and some Ilford Delta 3200. I usually use Ilford Ilfosol 3 developer. I bought some Ilford Ilfotec LC 29 because I could not find which durations I should use to develop my Delta 3200 with Ilfosol 3. I sometimes push my films 1-2 stops to get more contrast.

Now just looking at the Ilford range of products, I get lost. Which developer should I use? Is there much difference? There is so many to choose from! Should I use Kodak developer if I use Kodak films?

At the moment I don't even know what to look for. And product descriptions are too confusing ...

  • somewhat off topic but I've had an enormous amount of fun with Efke (Croatia) 25, 50 & 100 films and D76 developer (sometimes Ilford ID-11 or Microdol). Efke is manufactured using the ADOX formulas introduced in 1950s - lots of silver and a very broad exposure latitude to experiment with - excellent for push processing.
    – kloucks
    Feb 21, 2011 at 17:33
  • check this fact sheet from Ilford ilfordphoto.com/Webfiles/200621612182416.pdf
    – kloucks
    Feb 21, 2011 at 18:56
  • and check this fact sheet on liquid developers ilfordphoto.com/Webfiles/20073211236917.pdf
    – kloucks
    Feb 21, 2011 at 19:01

3 Answers 3


There are massive differences in film developers & techniques. You have a large topic to cover, my friend. Back in the day, film development was the most important step in getting good prints. It's also really freaking hard. If you are serious about learning about film development, then at some point you should start trying the various Pyro formulas. Pyrogallic-based developers are in a class all their own. They have been around since the bad old days--old masters (Stichen, Strand, Steglitz, etc) waxed poetically about them. I believe Ansel Adams used pyro as well but I can't remember.

Anyhow, Pyro interacts with both the silver halides AND the film gel the halides are suspended in. It 'tans' the gel in proportion to the exposure, giving it a odd yellow-green cast which can make the most wonderful prints with subtle contrast gradients people swoon over. It's totally a singular experience in film development, and by the sounds of it, you like to experiment, so give Pyro a spin. There's plenty of info about the various Pyro formulas and techniques on the web. Point google at it.

The last years of shooting film (for use to make platinum prints), I developed with a Jobo autolab using Pyro exclusively. I can't get digital negatives anywhere close in terms of local contrast and subtle luminosity (which might say as much as my incompetence with digital negative crafting as much as the strength of Pyro).

You can get premix pyro at http://www.bostick-sullivan.com/cart/home.php?cat=406

or a photographers formulary I bet.

  • Pyro's also what took a lot of people out of the darkroom -- you can develop a really severe allergy to it. And Ansel Adams was an HC-110 kind of guy later in life.
    – user2719
    Feb 22, 2011 at 7:01
  • @Stan: good point. I forgot about that. I got allergic film in general b4 Pyro bugged me ;-)
    – Kevin Won
    Feb 22, 2011 at 18:44

Experimenting with a wide range of developers is one of the really fun things about film photography. But it's good to have a base of several reliable, versatile developers to compare results against and to rely on when you have to get it right the first time. I have used Ilfosol 3, and had pretty good results as a general-purpose developer, but personally, I use Kodak D-76 for as my base developer. It's cheap, easy to get, very consistent, and works well when pushing or pulling. Nothing flashy, but it gets the job done. It works well for Delta 3200, but the grain is pretty intense. Personally, I've had better results pushing Tri-X to 3200 with D-76 that using Delta 3200.

I also turn to Rodinal (now called ADONAL) when I want to do stand developing or want its very sharp grain. One nice thing about it is that it, like Ilfosol 3, is a liquid developer, so you only have to mix what you need, and you don't have to worry about dissolving powders or pre-mixed developer going bad before you have time to use it. Here is an example developed in Rodinal. A bottle of Rodinal lasts forever, since you use very small dilutions and it doesn't go bad in the bottle.

You can use a manufacturer's developers with films from other companies. Times to start out with can usually be found on the Massive Dev Chart. Of course these times are just a starting point. You'll probably spent some time tweaking them to get exactly what you want.

  • +1 for rodinal being all around bulletproof and economical. Jun 6, 2014 at 12:55
  • I love me some Rodinal and stand dev as well but OP specifically mentions using Delta3200 and pushing it. Rodinal wouldn't be my first suggestion for his case specifically, as the grain will be...intense...
    – OnBreak.
    May 16, 2019 at 18:23

if you use ilford it's better to use ilford deveolper.there are different ilford developer for diff. use. but for normal work ID11 is excellent and for push film they offer ILFORD MICROPHEN .... you can see ilford developer here : http://www.ilfordphoto.com/products/producttype.asp?n=6&t=Film+Developers

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