The secret to Hypercat’s effectiveness is in its simplicity. Hypercat is a tanning/staining developer, making it rare among film developers, but it is also a single-agent developer, and the only single-agent, tanning/staining developer formulated for modern, thin emulsion films, which makes it unique. Hypercat contains no sulfites or bromides, and no secondary developing agent to regenerate the developer and reduce sharpness, or prevent adjacency effects and compensation. The result is a developer that delivers the maximum acutance potential of any film. This type of simple developer is not new, its benefits are well established, and have been prized by photographers who demand the ultimate in sharpness since early in the last century. The problems with this type of developer have historically been of preservation and convenience, and these problems have kept this kind of simple developer out of the mainstream market. Few have been willing to stock the constituent chemicals, weigh out and compound a developer for each use, but these problems have been entirely eliminated in the formulation of Hypercat, which takes the form of two highly concentrated stock solutions of indefinite shelf life, that are combined and diluted with water to make a working solution.
Hypercat exhibits some interesting properties due to its simplicity. Since Hypercat contains no sulfites or secondary developing agents to regenerate the developer in solution, it exhibits all of the characteristics of a true acutance developer. The tanning of the emulsion and local exhaustion of the developer in areas of high density combine to produce adjacency effects, and compensation effects, for increased apparent sharpness, and a boost in film speed, with controlled highlight rendition. Hypercat produces adjacency effects and compensation with normal, intermittent agitation for 10 seconds/minute, but these effects can be increased to any desired degree by further reduction of agitation. The effects can become extreme, and streaking can occur with inadequate agitation, so some experimentation is required to find the level of effect that best suits one’s taste. I consider 10 seconds agitation every third minute a practical minimum.
Hypercat is ideally suited to slow and medium speed, fine grain films that build contrast quickly. The tanning action and local exhaustion of developer in the highlight regions tames contrast, and improves film speed and sharpness without increasing the appearance of grain. In fact, since development takes place almost entirely at the surface, and the image stain makes up a large part of the highlight printing density, where grain is most apparent, grain is effectively minimized.