I tried developing Ilford FP4 Plus in Ilford ID-11 recently.

Zeiss Ikon Contessa LK

I had shot a roll of film in my Zeiss Ikon Contessa LK, an early-1960s viewfinder camera with a coupled light meter. I enjoy using this camera for its big, bright viewfinder and smooth controls that all fall right to hand.

Its one fault is that rewinding can be challenging, and I’ve torn two rolls of film now, including this one. I’m sure this isn’t endemic to the camera line; it must be something wrong with mine specifically.

Union Station doors

I had mixed results from this combo. I can’t tell whether the Contessa is overexposing, or I underdeveloped. The negatives have good density. And an old selenium meter tends to grow weaker with age, leading to underexposure.

The Slippery Noodle

There are so many variables in getting an image. When one doesn’t turn out, I can hardly tell what went wrong. It’s kind of frustrating. My Contessa isn’t getting any younger and may be showing signs of failure. Or I could have miscalculated the development time given that my developer was 22.4° Celsius thanks to the ambient temperature of my warm master bathroom.

On South Meridian Street

I got okay tonality and sharpness with this film in ID-11. After I dialed in my development techniques, I got more pleasing results from HC-110. I like how HC-110 keeps for a good long time, and how little of the concentrate you need to develop a roll.


ID-11, and its Kodak analog D-76, is the developer most people start with and stay with, however. I can see why. Let’s say I left these in the developer for a little too little time. I still got images I could use. HC-110 and Rodinal have much shorter development times, which means it’s much more important to get the time right.

Harry & Izzy's

I bought a 1L packet of ID-11 and I’m burning through it quickly. I haven’t had enough time with this developer to evaluate it well. But I have fresh bottles of HC-110 and Rodinal waiting their turns. I have enough ID-11 to develop about one more roll, and after that it’s back to those other two developers.

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25 responses to “Ilford FP4 Plus in Ilford ID-11”

  1. Andy Umbo Avatar
    Andy Umbo

    Have to say ID-11/D-76 with FP-4 was a winner combo for me, even more so with Verichrome Pan, when it was around and “fresh”.

    I recommend, as I always have, to use it “straight”, and if you have volume, use a replenisher. Since neither ID-11 or D-76 has a replenisher any more, it seems like the only substitute is to use the Photographers Formulary TD-16, which can be ordered with replenisher. It’s a new improved version of D-76 which has a mixed shelf life of 6 months. Since I do very little developing anymore, until I can get a new space, I just use it straight, once, and dump it, it still gives me 8 rolls of 120.

    I will say, back in the dawn of time, I read all kinds of “artist” based processing stories where people were recommending diluting straight D-76 1:1, 1:3, and all kinds of dilutions, to add sharpness etc. (never for economy). But I religiously followed their instructions and film ratings, etc., and never seemed to get the results I wanted, that I thought were superior to D-76 straight. The dilution methods always seem to give me weak shadow details, especially in overcast conditions, and negs a little thinner than I wanted, since I always printed on a diffusion head enlarger.

    I will say nothing wrong with HC-110! I used it for years with Tri-X sheet film, no problems, except for length of processing times always seem too short to really guard against streaking, and it was certainly “full grain”. I will also suggest to follow good processing practice and mix HC-110 down to the stock solution, before you mix it to Dilution B, as opposed to mixing it 1:31 out of the straight bottle. This will increase the chance that a minor misreading of a graduated cylinder won’t end up having developer that’s “too hot”, and of course, use distilled water; even I haven’t drunk tap water since 1987!

    I will say that if you like liquid developers for convenience, that a full look at the on-line catalog of Photographers Formulary and Free Style might show you a liquid developer that has longer development times than HC-110, and characteristics more like D-76/ID-11, or maybe even fantastic for your chosen film! So much I haven’t looked at since focusing on D-76/ID-11, but back in the day, I used to test all the time. That’s part of the fun of film!

    1. Jim Grey Avatar

      I’m sure I’ll try ID-11 or D-76 again one day, and I’ll use it full strength and investigate how many rolls I can do before I get to exhaustion.

      On the other hand, I am not terribly interested in too much testing. I want the films and developers I always use and can count on.

      1. Andy Umbo Avatar
        Andy Umbo

        Just a quick look at Freestyle shows 41 listed liquid film developers!

        1. Andy Umbo Avatar
          Andy Umbo

          Also, if you’re going to use D-76/ID-11 full strength, without replenisher, use it once and dump it, do NOT use it and put it back in the bottle and then use it until “exhaustion”. I’ve never advocated that. Even a gallon of ID-11, using one-and-dump full strength, gives you 16 rolls of 35mm!

        2. Jim Grey Avatar

          I think you’ve given me this advice before. Here’s hoping I remember it when I need it!

    2. matt Avatar

      Interesting. I started using D-76 with a 1:1 dilution for the economy; but I liked the results, so I kept using it that way. That isn’t to say they’re the sharpest photos ever (and I’m still not sure about my scanner, though I figure any goofs are mine and not the tool); maybe I should run another roll through a stock solution and see what happens.

      1. Jim Grey Avatar

        Worth a try. Then you’ll know. I just remembered that I developed one other roll of FP4 in ID-11 and it was perfect. So maybe I messed something up with this roll.

    3. retrocrank Avatar

      Another vote for FP-4 in D76 1:1 at rated exposure and time/temp. Easy and consistent with very satisfying results for the images I like to make.

      1. Jim Grey Avatar

        Glad to know it works for you!

  2. Mike Connealy Avatar

    A couple of those shots look perfect to me in regard to exposure and tonal values. There are a lot of variables to consider in addition to the choice of developers and dilutions.
    It is not uncommon for old selenium meters to be right on for some light levels and a stop or two off at others.
    Tweaking the scan parameters can be important. Using Silverfast for my scans along with Photoshop I often try different film profiles to get the best results. I also always make small adjustments to contrast, levels, brightness, highlights, shadows and mid-tone contrast.

    1. Jim Grey Avatar

      I was relying on FP4’s exposure latitude to make up for any issues with the meter.

      I’ve been using VueScan for the last few years. I used to use Silverfast with my old scanner and enjoyed its film profiles. VueScan has some, but they’re not very comprehensive. I’ve considered going back to Silverfast, but I always hedge because it’s one more cost and it’s scanner specific; I’d need a license for my CanoScan and a license for my ScanDual.

  3. Greg Clawson Avatar
    Greg Clawson

    Jim, i have been using Parodinal for my B&W processing. I have only used it with Arista Edu 100 at 1:50 for 8 min.
    It’s very easy make and less than a dollar per liter.
    I may have to try some HC110, you get very good results.

    1. Jim Grey Avatar

      I’m not familiar with Parodinal. I’ll look it up.

  4. Khürt Williams Avatar

    When one doesn’t turn out, I can hardly tell what went wrong. It’s kind of frustrating.

    It’s one of the many reasons I gave up on 35mm film in the late 1990s and switched to digital cameras. I don’t miss the darkroom at all. Now when I expose a roll of film it’s for a bit of nostalgia, mostly for the gear, and I outsource the film developing.

    1. Jim Grey Avatar

      I thought by now I’d have everything down so that I was getting consistent results. That’s all I want.

      1. Khürt Williams Avatar

        Same here.

  5. Andy Umbo Avatar
    Andy Umbo

    Last summer I went over all my negatives and transparencies from forty-five years, in four filing cabinet drawers, to make sure everything was properly stored in the correct archival material. While looking through 4X5 and 8X10 sheet film from the mid-70’s, to 120 roll film from 2010, I was struck by how consistent the results were, and how great film looked, even the early 70’s era sheet films. The consistency of process was the number one thing learned in Photo Chemistry class in 1973, as well as record keeping.

    I always mixed in distilled water, especially since in the mid-80’s, when I moved my studio and lab across town, within a mile of the water works, and had a huge variation in processing due to the tap water quality. Whatever chemicals they put in the water to “clean it” was also influencing the processing, and was not diffused enough through the system that close to the “works”. I continued to test developer and film combinations, but focused on D-76/ID-11 for my day-to-day work, and most importantly, dumped everything and mixed new, when I either got to the end of the month, or got to the point where all the replenisher was used up, which ever came first. In January of every year, I just bought 12 gallon packages of ID-11, and 12 gallon packages of ID-11 replenisher, for the year. I also tracked all usage in a spiral notebook.

    I think most variations of development today come from people who do not understand the process. Storing developer in a bottle that is mostly air, waiting 3 or 4 weeks between processing and thinking the chemistry will be the “same”. Not getting a consistent and repeatable film agitation style. Not getting a stock solution/dilution method decided on, etc. etc. it goes on. I remember testing Rodinal once and the film showing a marked difference between chemistry I mixed and used right away, and one I mixed and then took a 30 minute phone call (but hey, that’s Rodinal).

    I’m glad I was from a generation where these types of things were taught. It’s not as simple as the amateur crowd on the internet makes it out to be, if you want repeatable results. There’s no “undo” button on a film tank!

    1. Jim Grey Avatar

      You put your finger on something important. I may never get the consistent results I seek because of my low volume. I’m probably close to eliminating rookie errors in my practices, but I can’t get past how old my developer might be every time I use it, which introduces variability.

      1. Andy Umbo Avatar
        Andy Umbo

        Jim, I swear to God I saw a package of “one shot” 16 ounce developer and fix, pre-packaged in “snip-able” blister packs, somewhere online, but I looked today and can’t find them. These would be perfect for doing a roll here and there. Everything the same, every time you did it! I’ll keep looking….

        1. Andy Umbo Avatar
          Andy Umbo

          And here it IS! Since fix lasts a long time, I would think you could get a bunch of these developers, good for 16 ounces, and just keep using the big gallon of fixer!

        2. Andy Umbo Avatar
          Andy Umbo

          Data Sheet says contains Ilfosol 3 and highly recommended for FP-4 Plus!

        3. Jim Grey Avatar

          This is worth trying. It’s far more expensive than buying a giant bottle of HC-110 and using it until it’s gone, though.

  6. Kevin Allan Avatar

    I’ve been using HC110 long enough (about two years I think, and just close to finishing my first bottle) that when I see the longer development times for other developers, I think they must be wrong somehow. I use HC110 for everything except Adox HR50 – I use Adox HRDEV for that.

    1. Jim Grey Avatar

      I know what you mean about the dev times seeming so long with other developers!

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