Factory-made or home-made chemicals?
Old 12-10-2015   #1
tho60
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Factory-made or home-made chemicals?

I wonder whether you prefer using factory-made chemicals or brewing the solutions on your own. Of course, I started with factory-made chemicals (Foma products), but about a month ago I purchased raw chemicals and produced a lot of developers and fixers. However, I did not abandon using Foma chemicals at all. I have brewed five developers: KT-74 (a Rodinal-like, M.Q. based developer, my own formula), Kalogen (a Rodinal-clone from 1917), PaR-09 (Parodinal, paracetamol-based concentrate), a fine-grain developer “Tildy” (named after Zoltán Tildy, a Hungarian photographer), and a “retro” developer ST-2 (the Soviet equivalent of Agfa-12). I also mixed two hardening fixers: FF-10 with alum and vinegar, Agfa 309 with formaldehyde; both are very malodorous and irritant. Tildy developer requires a hardening fixer. I am trying to find the best matching developers and fixers for Fomapan films. In short term, this effort might lead to confusion, but in long term, I will discover a lot of opportunities at a very low price. For example, PaR-09 or Parodinal costs about the 25% of Fomadon R09’s price. Although I had to make a bigger investment to enjoy this advantage (scales, bottles, chemicals etc.). I have found great pleasure in mixing the solutions and experimenting. What is your opinion?
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Old 12-10-2015   #2
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Some of the developers I am interested in using can only be mixed from raw chemicals. And I also enjoy the mixing part. And in time it is much more reasonable in price than buying fabricated commercial developers. But some can only be bought from the stores. An example that comes to mind is HC-110.

So I use both types.
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Old 12-10-2015   #3
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I'm good using factory stuff when it comes to developing negs...but I might be willing to do something crazy when printing...not saying I have but I'd be more willing there...
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Old 12-10-2015   #4
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My films are too important for me to conduct experiments with home-brew chemicals. I leave it there the experienced companies to give me products that deliver consistent results. I admit, though, that I read a book about alternative processes that I find intriguing.
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Old 12-10-2015   #5
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No factory type replacement, but I have been very pleased experimenting with Caffenol and its variants. I really like the low volatility and low noxiousness that it has offered, not to mention the results.
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Old 12-10-2015   #6
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There was a time in Korea when I enjoyed experimenting with mixing my own chemicals of different types. It was kind of fun, made me feel like I knew a lot, and gave me acceptable to good results. I don't have time to take photos like I want anymore, much less to mix my own chemicals. I envy you that.
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Old 12-10-2015   #7
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I tried mixing my own paper developer but honestly didn't see too much of a difference worth enough to continue. Since the amount of chemicals I bought will last me about 100 sessions I still manually mix it but as soon as they run out I'll go back to liquid based developers that only need to be diluted. Much simpler.

The reason I gave this a go was that I wanted to get higher contrast out of my prints (non variable grade paper) but it didn't work.

For negative development I wouldn't even bother.
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Old 12-10-2015   #8
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I generally use HC-110 but recently have been using D96 with Eastman 5222. This is not available prepackaged, so I bought the individual chemicals from Photographer's Formulary. Otherwise, I don't think it pays to spend the time to mix your own, although it only takes about 1/2 an hour to mix up 2 liters of the developer.
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Old 12-10-2015   #9
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I happily use home-brew Caffenol as my sole developer. Once you dial it in, it's just as consistent as any other developer.
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Old 12-10-2015   #10
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As of now Kodak, Ilford and some small production (ECN2) for me.
But at some point I would have to figure out how to mix...
I have done Caffenol already.
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Old 12-10-2015   #11
Tom A
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The idea of "factory mixed" chemistry is actually fairly recent. In the old days. you mixed your own. There are advantages and dis-advantages to "brew your own" or pre-packaged. It is quite easy to make your own and once the initial investment is done - it is considerably cheaper. You also have the advantage that you can dial in a specific film and developer to your liking - rather than relying on what the manufacturer is intending. An other factor is that most pre-packaged developers are designed to sit on a store shelf for a long time and is formulated for this purpose.
I don't think I have bought a pre-packaged developer for the last 25-30 years. at least not in any quantity (Rodinal/VC 110 are exceptions - those are easier to buy than to mix on your own).
Once you got the hang of it - it is easy.
At the moment I am on a Pyrocat HD kick - great developer and very cheap to use (around $0,10/roll) and also Beutler which I don't think is available commercially - and works extremely well with slower films.
Just get Anchell/Koops "The Film developing Cook book" and start the process.
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Old 12-10-2015   #12
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7.5 grams of Metol, 100 grams of sodium sulphite and 1 liter of distilled water. It is hardly more difficult to mix this up when I get ready to develop than it is to mix up pre-packaged developers.

I know exactly what is in the mix every time. One less variable to worry about; I have enough of those already. I am not concerned that the manufacturer has changed something and neglected to let me know.

However, I do love HP5+ in Rodinal so I will most likely continue to buy this when I need it.

I have the formulas and chemicals to mix up my own emulsions. That is the next step.
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Old 12-10-2015   #13
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Homebrew D-76, D-23 and FX-1 is all I use. I mix them just a bit before I need them and they always deliver me the expected result. This also provides me the luxury to adjust the formulas being used to get closer to what I am having in my mind.
Pyro developers are next for me, but that will wait until I get the chemicals needed.
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Old 12-11-2015   #14
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I have the Darkroom Cookbook and went nuts, went so far as to make my own hypo check. I got into tinkering with different boosters in the developer but found the shelf life on the developer was too short to make it worthwhile. I came into a stockpile of D-76 at a garage sale and that will last a few years. But I still mix up the hypo and paper developer, pretty simple.
The Darkroom Cookbook has recipes for every known chemistry and like the previous poster noted, once you make the investment it is a lot cheaper and if it is one thing photographers like us relish, it is saving money.
Also, I mix a citric acid-based fixer, a lot friendlier than the nasty-ass acetic.
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Old 12-11-2015   #15
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I've mixed my own developers for years---mostly only D76 and Dektol---for two reasons. It's cheaper that way, for one, and the other is that I never run out. One "package" of each ingredient makes years worth of developer. There's no risk at all--I don't understand that fear, except that it reflects success by large companies to program us to think we can't do anything ourselves and must buy their overpriced products and overprocessed foods.

A half hour to measure five ingredients rather than dumping one into a container? Someone's being VERY inefficient! Mixing D76 takes me a couple of minutes at the most.
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Old 12-11-2015   #16
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If you make 1 liter of Parodinal, it be be enough for a long time even you make prints, for a fraction of price compared to factory-made Rodinal. Second advantage: you can mix such chemicals what you can purchase very rarely. E.g. St-2 developer.
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Old 12-12-2015   #17
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R09/Rodinal and HC-110 type developer are a bit more difficult to make and these developers are relative cheap to buy. Some special developers are not very difficult to make yourself. Some populair type developers like Pyrocat-HD, PC-TEA, Diafine type 2-bath, ID-68 type (Microphen), Beutler, Windisch W665 I am offering commercially but there is not so many interest in these type products. Partially they are made under lab circumstances in Odessa, Ukraine and shipped to the Netherlands. Together with the special 35mm film from Ukraine there is even a new brand for it in BeNeLux. Oher regular type developers are coming from Foma, Czech Republic in fact the Foton factory in Poland. Fomadon P W37 (ID11/D76 compatible) and Fomadon Excel W27 an Xtol clone. Easy for small users in a 1 ltr. powder packing and not heavy in transport like the Fomapan films. For Eur. 3,80 incl. 21% VAT you can not mix much cheaper yourself, the same for the Beutler, even cheaper: Eur. 3,50. But of course when being a larger and heavy user mixing yourself is always cheaper, especially when buying Sodiumcarbonate for less then Eur. 0,70ct / kg.
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Old 12-12-2015   #18
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It really depends on where you live - if there is a raw photochemicals dealer within your range, both shipping restrictions and customs wise, it is quite easy. If you cannot get hold of photo quality components without hassle (and having white powders mailed to you from abroad can mean serious trouble in the wrong parts of the world), you'd be much better served with ready-made chemicals.
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Old 12-12-2015   #19
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Ordering R09/Rodinal Compard in Germany in 5 ltr. cans the price of the product will be around Eur. 5,00 / liter excl. German 19% VAT. But then you have a volume for approx. 1000 B&W films. Use it up within 5 years it is still 200 films each year for R09/Rodinal only development. Too much for most analogue photographers .....
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Old 12-13-2015   #20
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Most developers can be mixed from scratch for less money. Rapid fixers, though, are best off the shelf as ammonium thiosulfate doesn't keep well in powder form. Of course, one can always use sodium based fixers.
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Old 12-13-2015   #21
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Quote:
Originally Posted by sevo View Post
It really depends on where you live - ......
Here at the end of the Earth (Australia), some items have become unavailable (e.g. HC-110), so to become somewhat independent, I make up two film developers, Pyrocat-HD for nearly everything and ID-68 for available light photos. ID-78 is the only paper developer I'll ever need. I buy fixer (Kodak Flexicolor or Fujifilm equivalent) but am close to buying 25kg of sodium thiosulphate and some more sodium sulphite to make paper fixer as the C-41 chems are becoming hard to get (and priced to match their scarcity).
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Old 12-13-2015   #22
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My supplier in Ukraine does the same. Pyrocat-HD in Glycol, ID-68, ID-78 warm tone paper developer. In fixer TF-2 (Alkaline) and OrWo/Agfa 304 (Acid) so it is already available for export. He can also offer self made R09 but the Compard Rodinal/R09 I think the product in bulk is made by Tetenal now, they are selling it themselves under Paranol-S (S=Sharp). On the other hand Tetenal stopped making powder type product under their own label, like Emofin 2-bath. This original formulae is from 1929. Also new their "environment friendly" Eukobrom AC, Hydroquinone free, based on Ascorbic Acid however the product is "finished" in my Nova vertical processor within 2 1/2 weeks and above ID-78 can stay 5 weeks, Dektol D-72 even 6 weeks. So not every change is always better ......
Further any Hydroquinone type (paper) developer you can replenish after 4-5 weeks which seems to be impossible with that Eukobrom AC. When making it yourself, yes more then 20x cheaper then the ready made Tetenal product then.
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Old 12-13-2015   #23
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For the past five years, I've been using D-23. Simple to mix, reliable, and not available commercially. I also mix, and use, Beutler on occasion. Normal workflow is Tri-X and D-23 - two to six rolls a week. I know what this combination will, and will not, do. As to mixing time, the longest part of the process is heating distilled water.
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Old 12-13-2015   #24
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You can dissolve chemicals very easily in an ultrasonic bath. Today you can buy such a device for less then Eur. 25,- or so. The same for an electronic 100mg balance, same price or less.

But in general I can agree it depends where you live. I would do the same when I was living in Australia. Maybe import my own films from the USA or Europe or buy in one packet cheap but good quality cine film from OrWo Filmotec (UN54-N74+) or Kodak (Double-X) in 122m/400ft cans. In worst case you can fix in concentrated Sea water.
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Old 12-14-2015   #25
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Fotohuis View Post
Ordering R09/Rodinal Compard in Germany in 5 ltr. cans the price of the product will be around Eur. 5,00 / liter excl. German 19% VAT. But then you have a volume for approx. 1000 B&W films. Use it up within 5 years it is still 200 films each year for R09/Rodinal only development. Too much for most analogue photographers .....
It is a matter of calculation. If you take into account the necessary investment (scales, vessels, funnels, chemicals etc.) at the beginning, you are right. But after this, home-made chemicals are cheaper. I have spent about 130 US dollars for starting, and now I mix Parodinal at 1/4th price. In addition, mixing chemicals is a great joy for me.
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Old 12-14-2015   #26
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The practical problem with making R09 (Calbe) yourself is that you have a step where you have to cool down the chemicals due to the exothermic reaction of the KOH.
It is like making Nitroglycerin, if you don't cool it down it will explode.

Further the ingredients for R09 are not very cheap. So the cost saving is less then other type developers which you can make yourself.
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Old 12-14-2015   #27
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Making p-aminophenol developers (Rodinal) from scratch is not worth it IMO. Many Rodinal-like brews are available for cheap, although I fear none has the quality of the Leverkusen original anymore.
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Old 12-18-2015   #28
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Quote:
Originally Posted by miha View Post
Making p-aminophenol developers (Rodinal) from scratch is not worth it IMO. Many Rodinal-like brews are available for cheap, although I fear none has the quality of the Leverkusen original anymore.
Zorkikat has been mixing Parodinal (a paracetamol-based Rodinal clone) for many years. In his opinion, there is no real difference. See his post here (the last one)
http://www.rangefinderforum.com/foru...ad.php?t=68806
I have little experience since I mixed my version not long ago.
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Old 12-18-2015   #29
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I still have some reference original Rodinal, 125ml Agfa Photo (end 2003) and 125ml Agfa (1999) and given 1/2 year ago an unopened Agfa Rodinal 500ml around 1975.

There are some very small differences even with Rodinal and Rodinal 5 years old which I have done a sensiometric test around 2007 with APX-100 (Agfa Leverkusen).
I also tested at that time R09/Calbe Fomadon R09. The differences are very small in grain Calbe a tick more grain then the original Rodinal (Agfa).

If you have interest I can publish the original R09 Calbe version for making yourself. It is published in the Udo Raffay German language famous book Fotografischer Rezepte.
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Old 12-19-2015   #30
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I have one of the earliest Rollei R09 One Shot bottles presumably still made in Veihingen-Enz, later they transferred the production to Tetenal as did Adox. Adox claim their Adonal is Rodinal. Compard R09 One Shot should be similar, the msds for the two developers are not identical though. None is bottled under inert gas as was the case with Rodinal. I agree that results should be close if not the same to the untrained eye - I don't have a densitometer FWIW.
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Old 12-19-2015   #31
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First A&O took the chemical plant in Vaihingen-Enz. Then CPP&S an UK company. Now the R09/Rodinal is made by Tetenal, they introduced their own Paranol-S (Rodinal) too. Correct about the Nitrogen refilling which was done by Agfa (Photo) and A&O/CPP&S.
But again: The differences are small, just measurable with a densitometer. In my Flickr stream you can see the differences, enlarged from 35mm and 2x extra enlarged on the photos/scanner to see the grain differences. The R09/Rodinal in a good bottle, Paranol-S or R09 Compard is still cheap.
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Old 12-20-2015   #32
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What is R09/Rodinal?
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Old 12-20-2015   #33
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Mix own. Always fresh. Can mix liter of D76 for $1 and toss it if it goes bad.

I used to mix Leica two part that worked well before they went to thin emulsion films.
Since given up on it
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Old 12-20-2015   #34
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The reasons given for mixing your own are all valid and admirable, and I do plan to try a few things myself, but it seems to be something of a double edged sword. When we say that factory developers are "overpriced", we are really only saying "cost more than I feel like paying". They are not "overpriced". If they were, other manufacturers would be rushing in as new competitors to take advantage of this earnings bonanza. I look at it as the film side of production and sales supporting the continued existence of the chemical side, and vice versa. It is in my best interest to support the manufacturers by buying their products; I'm not doing that to help them, I'm doing it to help me.
If a company is profitable enough to remain in business by making and providing both film and chemicals, and then tomorrow nobody bought chemicals from them, they must do one of two things, either raise the prices of their film stocks, as we have seen, or go out of business entirely. There is no free lunch..if they can't make money on one side of the business, they need to raise the prices on the goods on the other side, it is not unrelated.
I'm not shilling for Kodak, Fuji, or Ilford, but we can't complain --and we do--about the rising costs of film, or the loss of certain emulsion, if we don't support them; and they need our money, not our moral support, in order to continue to be there for us.
Please understand, I'm not disagreeing with anyone here, just mentioning what goes through my mind when I place an order for D-76 or HC-110, which isn't even all that expensive to begin with, given what I can do with it.
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Old 12-20-2015   #35
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Hate to tell you this but Kodak hasn't made any chemicals in years neither has Ilford. Fuji makes some chemicals but they are rarely sold outside of Japan. So if you wan to support the chemical side support Moersch,Tetenal and Champion.

Also people mix chemicals because the developer they want or need are no longer made by the original manufacturer or were never available as premade product.

Kodak, Ilford, Agfa, etc... used to publish their formulas, premade chemicals are a fairly new (still a few decades) thing.

If you want to support film mfg. buy film everything else isn't made by the film companies anymore. So no relation between film prices and chemicals.
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Old 12-20-2015   #36
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Hate to tell you this but Kodak hasn't made any chemicals in years neither has Ilford. <snip>

If you want to support film mfg. buy film everything else isn't made by the film companies anymore. So no relation between film prices and chemicals.
I am well aware of where the actual manufacturing is done, so I might have been more clear. None of that changes the fact that when you buy D-76 it supports the film manufacturing side of Kodak, because it supports Kodak. There's no way around that. But, whatever.
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Old 12-20-2015   #37
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What is R09/Rodinal?
I might have been unclear here. I don't see Maco offering their Rodinal variant anymore. Everything is labeled Compard now.
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Old 12-20-2015   #38
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It is still the same. Compard KG is a company of the son of Hartmuth Schroeder. He was till 2012 CEO of Maco Photo products. L.P. Labor Partner was his former commercial name together with the German Photo chemist Udo Raffay. Raffay made the CG-512 (R.L.S. now); Film Low Gamma (R.L.C. now) and other products like the Rollei wetting agent. Further an OEM agreement with the Dutch Amaloco Photochemical factory, Ommen, the Nertherlands. All very good photo products for a reasonable price. L.P. Supergrain was AM74, a very populair Amaloco film developer. Later also in the Rollei assortment.
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Old 12-20-2015   #39
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Thanks for clarifying this for me. Suddenly a lot of things make sense.
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Old 12-21-2015   #40
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I agree with the poster above that once you have a stock of chemicals you don't run out. That makes it much more convenient than ordering pre-packaged. No special tools needed. I use a cheap pocket scale and mix in a plastic measuring cup. I buy the distilled water from the grocery store because the chemicals seem to keep better than with my well water.

I'm mostly using D-76 but when I was printing I liked to mix D-52 for warmtone papers. That one hasn't been made for years.

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