Kodak D-76 gives a classic look to black-and-white films. Clayton’s F76 Plus is designed to give results similar to D-76. The two developers are quite different in formulation, with D-76 using metol and hydroquinone, and F76 Plus using phenidone, as the developing agents. Yet the consensus out there appears to be that F76 does indeed generally give “that D-76 look.”
I tried Ilford ID-11 (a D-76 clone) a while back and liked it. I didn’t love mixing the powder, however, and I worried about shelf life. F76 Plus comes as a liquid, and is said to last for months after being opened. Freestyle Photo sells it in a 12-ounce bottle under their house Arista brand — a small enough quantity that it’s likely to stay good through to the end given the rate at which I develop film. When I recently needed to order a new bottle of fixer, I threw in a bottle of this developer too.
I had recently shot a roll of Kodak T-Max 100 in my Nikon FE (review forthcoming) with my 50mm f/2 AI Nikkor lens attached. I diluted the F76 Plus to 1+9. Clayton advises 7 minutes at 20° C, but the Massive Dev Chart disagrees, advising 12 minutes. The Massive Dev Chart has yet to let me down, so I went with its timing. Because my diluted developer measured 22.5°, I worked the ratios and developed for 9 minutes and 48 seconds. I gently inverted continuously for the first minute, then three times every minute thereafter.
I’m very pleased with the results, which have wonderful tonality and good sharpness. Contrast is balanced and shadow detail is good. The scanned negatives were easy to work with in Photoshop.
Clayton F76 Plus sure seems to be good stuff. I’m eager to try it on a few other b/w films to see if I keep thinking so.
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