Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Dennis O'Connor on Hypercat 2-bath


Film Ilford Legacy 400 ASA. Film exposed at 400 ASA.

Camera was a Nikon F90X. The exposure method was 'manual' using 'matrix' metering. The lens was a Sigma 28 - 200. My 'standard' working temperature is <> 22 deg C. My film developing tank sits in a thermostatically controlled water bath. The developing chemicals are also in this water bath. My 'film tank' is a paterson 'twiddle stick' type with plastic film reel holders. But my

method should work with s/steel tanks also. By also keeping the water for the chemicals in the water bath I can and do mix the two separate solutions just before I process.NO pre-soaking is used.

Stock Solution 'A'' = Ascorbic acid 1g. Catechol 10g. Propylene glycol 100ml.

Stock Solution 'B' = Sodium Hydroxide 10 grams in 100ml of filtered water.

Hypercat 2 Bath Process. Solution 'A'. 30ml in 300ml filtered water. Solution 'B'. 30ml in 300ml filtered water.

Times are. Solution 'A' = 6'. Then drain off (I prefer to use my developers as one-shot as the mixed solutions have a short usage life).

Pour in solution 'B' and develop for 6'. Contrary to normal 2 bath procedure I agitage in 'Both' baths.

When you dump solution 'B' it will have some discolouration.

Agitation sequence for both baths: Initial 30" then 10" (approximately 4 twists of the stick, alternating the direction) every minute.

Agitation = 30" - 1'30" - 2' 30" - 3' 30" - 4' 30" - 5' 30". That means I give a final agitation 30" before I dump the chemicals.

I use two plain filtered water stop baths of 30" each

I use a Rapid fix for 2' followed by washing for 10' (this is from my sink tap so the temperature is going to be below the fixing temperature. I have not noticed any film problems using this method during the summer here in the U.K. In the winter I would use water stored in my darkroom and give probably 10 changes of water using constant agitation as described by Ilford to save water).

I finish-off with a 1' soak in filtered water with a couple of drops of 'Dishwasher Detergent' added. Drying by hanging the strip in my darkroom.

I have an LPL C7700 colour head enlarger. When I started printing monochrome negatives only, using my colour head filtration. I was never very happy with the results. They were OK, but just OK. I tried the under the lens filters and things improved. I thought there was a problem with the filtration. So that is how I used to print using these U/Lens filters. However. When I got interested with stained negatives things started to go wrong, quality wise. As I said in my previous email my prints always looked flat. So I started experimenting with different tanning developers including Windisch and DiXactol. Always looking for the 'magic bullet'.

I purchased an R. H. Designs 'Analyser Pro'. Once calibrated this gives me a Time/Grade suggestion readout as well as a 'greyscale' guide. It does not do anything to the enlarger except switch it on or off. You have to manually set the suggested filter grade. Things improved again enough to make me think I had arrived at my best shot! However then came 510 Pyro and Hypercat! These developers seemed to behave differently to the other staining developers I had previously tried. They were both simpler to formulate, had very good storage times, and of course they were very cost effective.

This when I started to contact you. You will be aware of the questions/answers in the various emails. To cut a long story short today, after completing a short series of printing tests with single filters in my colour head on MG IV paper I have found my 'magic bullet' (I think).

I found that when using a Hypercat developed negative that gave a suggested grade 2 and specific time on the analyser. Ilford recommend '0' filtration for this grade, all I had to do was add + 5 magenta filtration in my colour head. This minute variation from my previous attempts resulted in prints that were no longer 'flat' in appearance and had lovely contrast.

So impressed was I that this morning I used Hypercat 2 Bath (30ml/300 A and 30ml/300 B) to process a valuable film I exposed last week at a 'National Trust' stately home garden here in the UK. The negatives have tremendous stain, which concerened me at first. But when I printed a couple of them, to say I was delighted with the results is an understatement.

I have attached three negatives and three scans of the resulting prints, the prints actually look much better than the scans suggest. These results, after very many hours of frustrated testing, has renewed my enthusiasm, and for that I have to thank you. I have not modified the images in any way, other than to reduce their resolution and size to send them to you.Negatives from each process were scanned using my Epson Perfection 4490 flatbed scanner in 'transparency' mode. I had to scan the negatives as 'Slides' and then convert them into grescale using computer software. This due to the stain confusing the scanner, when monochrome scanning is selected.It is nice to be able to contribute to your web site Jay, rather than just learning from it.

I appreciate that 'tanned' negatives are not to everyones liking. But I now have standardised on Hypercat and 510 Pyro. I feel that other developers I have mixed, including 'Quick Clear Rodinal', will stay in their bottles on the shelf.

All the best.


Sunday, May 23, 2010

Jim Byers on Hypercat

Jim Byers has become a valued resource and contributor to my developer blogs. Jim's testing methodology is straightforward and unflinching; if there's a way for Jim to get what he wants out of a developer, he'll find it. I recommended a 1:10:300 dilution of Hypercat as a standard dilution for processing most films to normal contrast in a normal development time. Jim found this scheme didn't give him the kind of negatives he wants, so rather than turn his back and proclaim the developer doesn't work as it should, Jim went about making it work for him by adjusting the ratio of part A to part B to 1:5 instead of 1:10. This tactic seems to be working for Jim, as evidenced by the photos below.

Thanks again, Jim, for contributing to the small reservoir of knowledge about these developers.

Jim’s comments:

My main interest in Hypercat is it’s sharpness. But I also want the fine grain of a Pyro developer. Hypercat has delivered both for me.

I originally tried for high sharpness using a 1:10:300 dilution of Hypercat, agitating every 3 minutes. While the sharpness was extremely good, I found that I was losing highlight detail and the negatives were coming out with too much contrast. Jay suggested I try reducing the solution B concentration to a 1:5:300 dilution and extending the development time. This has produced excellent results. The negatives are sharp with very good tones. There is nice highlight and shadow detail.

The recommended high sharpness/acutance starting point is to use a 1:5:300 dilution of Hypercat with a development time that is 1.25x 510-Pyro’s development time. Use continuous inversions for the first 30 seconds and then 10 second agitations every 3 minutes.

I really like this developer. It has a nice crispness while still maintaining a small grain size.

Here is an example with Tri-X 400:

Film: Tri-X 400

EI: 400

Format: 35mm

Developer: Hypercat

Dilution: 1:5:300

Time: 9 min

Temp: 21C/70F

Agitation: Continuous inversions for the first 30 seconds and then 10 seconds agitation every 3 minutes Presoak: 3 minute water presoak

Fixer: TF-4

Here is a Fomapan 200 example:

Film: Fomapan 200

EI: 200

Format: 35mm

Camera/Lens – Fed2/Jupiter-12

Developer: Hypercat

Dilution: 1:5:300

Time: 7.5 min

Temp: 21C/70F

Agitation: Continuous inversions for the first 30 seconds and then 10 seconds agitation every 3 minutes Presoak: 3 minute water presoak

Fixer: TF-4

Monday, April 19, 2010


Julia and I have been experimenting with using Hypercat as a two-bath developer. Initial results are very promising. I have some truly crackpot ideas I want to test, for developing high contrast materials. My interest in two-bath development is inspired by scanning negatives, and the advantages of thin, low contrast negatives, but the negatives we've produced so far are well suited to printing in a dark room, as well. We'll keep you posted!

Thursday, March 11, 2010

More Pan F+

My Juliet

This is from a walk at Lake Lowell, as the sun was setting. I'm really loving this film/developer combination for 35mm. I think I could make a very nice 9x12 print from this negative.

Camera: Minolta XD-11
Lens: Minolta PG 58mm f1.2
Film: Ilford Pan F +
Format: 35mm
EI: 50
Developer: Hypercat
Dilution: 1:10:300
Time: 12 min
Temp: 70F
Agitation: 1 minute initial, 10 sec/min
Scanner: Epson 4490
Scan type: negative

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

The Darkroom Cookbook, Third Edition

Hypercat has been published in the third edition of The Darkroom Cookbook, by Steve Anchell, thanks to editor, Mark Booth. I'm honored to have my formula included in this indispensable darkroom reference book.