View Full Version : Developing in warm temperatures without AC

06-28-2010, 10:50
Hey everyone,

Now that it's summer, temperatures have been rising. This has been causing me a bunch of developing problems. I don't have a darkroom or a room with air conditioning so the "coolest" room I can find is 76-78 degrees (for now, probably warmer as the summer continues).

I've been forced to combat this by starting the developing cycle at around 64 degrees and letting it increase. I use rodinal 1-90 for 18 minutes, but lately ive been having a ton of problems.

Does anyone have any suggestions on how I can control the temperature of developer? Maybe leave it in water that is 68 degrees?


06-28-2010, 10:56
First off I envy you, I'm lucky to keep the house at 78 deg in the summer WITH air conditioning.

Get a small tub, like those used for washing dishes, fill it with water cooled by ice cubes. My tap water is 80 degrees so I always need to do this. I cool both the developer and fixer. After the developing tank is filled leave it the tub of water except when agitating. If you're using SS tanks the body heat from your hands will raise the developer temperature slightly so keeping it in the water bath will help keep the developer temperature constant. Washing the film with warmer tap water is OK.

Wear shorts and get a fan for controlling your temperature. Putting your bare feet in a water bath also helps-:)

Ronald M
06-28-2010, 11:36
Store chems in coolest place you can find.

Assume 8 oz for a run, so place 8 oz in bottles , one each dev and fix. place in refrig with dial thermometer in developer . Observe and remove whem dial hits 69 or 21. The cool bottle will get it rest of the way. This takes 15 minutes depending.

I have be known to drop an ice cube into developer and fix to cool them down rapidly, then use 68/21 deg water to make working solution. Cool that water with cubes for refrig water. Works just fine.

Prepare a water bath with ice water or a combination of refrig water and tap.

Put a towel under the bath to minimise heat transfer.

Load film and place in tank and put tank in water bath for 5 minutes to get everything to 68/20. Also developer and fix bottles. Keep a few ice cubes to keep the bath at steady temp.

Develope, fix and wash with Ilford method using tempereded water. About a liter and half is all you need. No need for running water.

I never use stop. I never reuse fix because silver precipitates stick to next film and cause you fits.

A clear bottle for fix and colored for developer so you NEVER mix them up. Trust me.

A one or two liter water bath is more than sufficient. I use a ribbed bottom 5x7 tray.

Use up the fix on test prints or toss it. Fix is cheap. To quote old Fred Picker of Zone 6, never pour anything back into a bottle. He is correct.

Now you know how to do it without running water anytime summer or winter.

If you home is cold in winter, use your microwave or water bath to heat chems and keep a jug of hot water to maintain the water bath. Keep a thermometer in the water and add a bit of hot occasionally

Follow my instructions and you will have no problems, guaranteed. Been doing it that way for decades.

Forget the drift thru method. you can`t control it properly.

06-28-2010, 11:43
It's easier to adjust development time to the ambient temperature.
This only gets dicey with very short development times...


Roger Hicks
06-28-2010, 12:10
Waterbath (bucket, 2-5 gallons, 10-20 litres) @ 75F/24C. Temperature change is slow.

Remember that as temperature changes, so does tonality at the ISO speed if you are using a developer with two developing agents (e.g. MQ, PQ). At 18-25C, 65-77F, the effects are normally minimal but they are more and more obvious outside that range.



06-28-2010, 12:35
if it's just 35mm you'll hardly notice a difference with that slight difference in temp.

Roger Hicks
06-28-2010, 12:40
if it's just 35mm you'll hardly notice a difference with that slight difference in temp.

The key word is 'slight'. Outside the 65-75F/18-24C 'comfort zone' it's another matter.

I'd also suggest that the smaller the format, the easier the differences are to see.



06-28-2010, 13:30
Use ice cubes in plastic sandwich baggies floating in the chemical baths to bring down the temps.

07-05-2010, 05:30

i have been developing with tap water of 31C with Tri-x and Ilford XP-2. Here are my developing times:

Trix 35mm HC110 at 6 mins at 31C at Dilution H ei. 400
Trix 35mm HC110 at 8 mins at 31C at Dilution H ei. 1600
Trix Rodinal (1+50) at 9mins at 31C ei. 1600
XP-2 stand development for 01 hour (1+100)

My rule of thumb is that 20 -> 30C = half the development time.


07-05-2010, 05:59
80F are still well below 30C - fast processes with less than 5 minutes development might even run within specs without making any adjustments there.

The water temperature will rise slow and linear enough that we don't need to take curves into account - air is a pretty good isolator. Given that, a slowly rising temperature regime is not that hard, by adjusting development times to half way between start and end temperature.

If it is really hot, I'd do a simulated run with water at 20C and the regular time and inversion pattern, and measure the developer temperature increase by the end of the development time - if it has risen to about 24C, develop with the times specified for 22C, if it has gone to 28, with those for 24C.

Most developers have time tables or at least factors for up to 24C, and I haven't ever had my developer go past 28C final temperature, so that should cover you in a moderate climate. With prolonged processes or living in a extremely hot place, you might need tables that run hotter - at which point you might have to pick a developer for which a wider range of temperatures has been published.

You might want to stay away from stainless steel tanks and spirals - their temperature capacity is high enough that you might have to factor it in, while the temperature carried into the process by plastic tanks can generally be disregarded.


Brad Buszard
07-05-2010, 06:24
The temps you describe are right in the ballpark for Xtol. I switched to 1:1 Xtol a couple of years ago and have found it very adaptable to summers in SE Virginia. Our 100 year old house with A.C. is around 80, so that's the temperature of the stock solution. I just use a couple of ice cubes in a water bath to get the mix water down to 70, combine it with the stock solution, and presto. The temp of the developer doesn't shift appreciably in the 6 1/2 minute soup time. A spare steel tank speeds up the temperature adjustments immensely.

In the winter I just use warmer tap water. Even easier.

07-05-2010, 06:38
Investigate shooting to develop with Diafine.

Diafine has a very wide range of usable temperatures with no need for adjustments in your process. (Mid 60s to mid 80s F if my memory is correct)

It works well with TriX shot at 1000 or 1250 and PlusX shot at 320. There are other films which work well with it too if you want to shoot at a slower speed.

Other than that, I have reverted to water and ice baths when necessary.

07-05-2010, 07:24
You might consider a completion-process such as diafine.

07-05-2010, 07:31
As others have mentioned, a water bath works well.

Ilford also came up with a "temperature compensating chart" years ago that shows times at several different temperatures. Within a few degrees of 20 degrees C it seems to works fine. You can download the PDF here:


Jim B.

07-05-2010, 10:35
My a/c broke last week, the temp this morning inside was 83 F, outside it is 94 right now and I just ordered a new furnace and A/C for the house at the price of an M9.

I need an ice bath for myself not to mention the chemicals

07-06-2010, 02:42
I just checked a Diafine box. It states it can be used in a temperature range of 70-85 degrees F.

martin s
07-06-2010, 02:48
Don't yet consider steps as drastic as Diafine - there's hope. I'd get the developing time down to somewhere around 6 minutes (XTOL, D76, ... undiluted) and work with colder baths to keep the temperature stable.

Having the temperature increase over the course of development seems difficult to reproduce, thus difficult to keep the outcome predictable.


martin s
07-06-2010, 02:50
My a/c broke last week, the temp this morning inside was 83 F, outside it is 94 right now and I just ordered a new furnace and A/C for the house at the price of an M9.

I need an ice bath for myself not to mention the chemicals

My exact words (minus the new A/C), but then I moved from San Diego to Germany.

Not worth it.