What are film developers?

Film developers are a photographic chemistry that turns your exposed film into working negatives as part of a processing workflow (you will also need a stop bath and fixer - for more information on how to process your film or which chemistry to choose read our guides).

We offer a broad range of film developers that are designed to exploit the different characteristics of our films. Developers are available in either powder and liquid concentrate form and have a range of characteristics that offer photographers and lab technicians a wide range of processing options.

For example, as our black & white film emulsions have a balance of sensitivity and grain, for most photographic applications, standard developers are used to keep this optimum balance. Other developers however exploit the film’s speed by increasing it, or act on the film’s grain structure by reducing it.

Some developers are made for commercial lab equipment such as replenished deep-tanks or machine film developers. As such they need high-output, maximum economy, fast processing speed and consistent quality. For most general users, including beginners, you will need a film developer that is compatible with spiral tanks or rotary processors.

Paper developersWhen shopping for photo chemistry always check the application. We also produce stop baths, fixers, toners, wetting agents as well as paper developers. Paper developers are specifically used as part of the printing process and are not to be used on film.

We have a range of 10 developers suitable for processing films. Below is a short overview of each and what they are best suited to: 

Powder film developers

Powder developers are not as convenient as liquid concentrate developers yet typically are more economical. They are generally recommended for users who are already comfortable with using chemistry/processing films.

They have an additional advantage over liquid in that when the stock solution is initially made it can be kept for up to 6 months. It therefore works as a 'ready to use solution', or as a solution that can be further diluted for economy.

All the following powder developers are suitable for spiral tank processing, deep tank processing and rotary tank processing.

ID-11

This developer gives a best overall performance for all our film products - it is economic, versatile, enables fine grain, good sharpness, good tonal rendition, and does not result in any speed loss.  This is available in 1L and 5L items and can be used as a stock solution or at dilutions of 1+1 or 1+3.

MICROPHEN

This developer is one that can give an increase in film speed, but it does not result in any grain size increase. It is a good developer choice for push processing. This is available as a 1L item and can be used as a stock solution or at dilutions of 1+1 or 1+3.

PERCEPTOL

This developer enables extra fine grain to be attained.  This is available as a 1L item and can be used as a stock solution or at dilutions of 1+1 or 1+3.

Liquid Film developers

Our liquid concentrate developers are easy to use/mix and fit into 3 categories - those for spiral/deep tank processing, those for machine processing (as in labs), and specialist developers.

Spiral/deep tank processing developers

ILFOTEC DD-X

This developer gives a best overall performance for all our film products. It enables fine grain, good speed (no loss) and has a smooth transition with tonal range from shadow detail through to bright highlight detail.  It is also suitable for using in rotary processors. This is available as a 1L item and used at a 1+4 dilution.

ILFOSOL 3

This developer enables fine grain and excellent sharpness. It is a one-shot developer (i.e. can only be used once whereas others can be re-used). It is a developer which needs to be used relatively soon after being opened so is good for users who have a lot to develop or are regular developers. This is available as a 500ml item and used at 1+9 and 1+14 dilutions.

ILFOTEC LC29

This developer enables fine grain and good sharpness. It is also suitable for rotary processors.  It is available as a 500ml item and used at 1+9, 1+19 and 1+29 dilutions.

ILFOTEC HC

This developer is highly concentrated and can be used in spirals, deep tanks, rotary processors and in roller transport processors. It is available as a 1L item and at a variety of different dilutions: 1+11, 1+15, 1+19, 1+31, 1+39, 1+47 and 1+79.

Machine processing developers (for labs)

ILFOTEC DD

This developer is designed for use in dip and dunk replenished processors. It is used in conjunction with ILFOTEC DD starter. The chemistry can be replenished, has a long tank life and a good resistance to contamination. It is available as a 1L item, with a 5L replenisher item available too. It is used at a 1+4 dilution.

ILFOTEC RT RAPID

This developer is for use in roller transport machines and short leader card processors. It is used in conjunction with a starter. The chemistry can be replenished and is available as a 1L dev/starter item, with a 20L dev/replenisher item available too. Mixing as advised for the kit part A and B bottles - either 1+1+2, or 1+1+5.

Specialist liquid developer

PHENISOL

Used for processing scientific products such as glass plates however, it is also the optimum developer to process our Ortho Plus film product and can be used to process sheet films. Depending on development time chosen, it will enable varying contrast levels to be achieved. It is suitable for spiral tanks and trays and available as a 5L item. It is used at a 1+4 dilution.