Trying Clayton F76 Plus developer

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.

On the wall
Tables and chairs
Waynetown Pizza King
Limestone wall

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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9 responses to “Trying Clayton F76 Plus developer”

  1. Andy Umbo Avatar
    Andy Umbo

    The Pizza King shot actually looks very “D-76-ish”. I’ve always found metol type developers to have marked differences to phenidone developers, hence my life long mixing of powered D-76, so Clayton must have a little more chemical voodoo going on here, because not withstanding my own tests, it would be great to find a liquid that’s this close to powered results.

    1. Jim Grey Avatar

      I found from my ID-11 experiments that I really like the D-76 look. F76 Plus is so easy to use and there’s no mixing. It might become a common developer in my stable.

  2. Kodachromeguy Avatar

    These are excellent negatives, well done. Based on your examples, I’ll retry TMax 100. But first I want to work through the pile of 35mm film already in my freezer. That mountain never seems to diminish 🤔

    1. Jim Grey Avatar

      I am right there with you on the freezer film mountain.

  3. Victor Bezrukov, photographer Avatar

    I never heard about this developer. Thank you for the recommendation!

    1. Jim Grey Avatar

      You’re welcome!

  4. tbm3fan Avatar

    I’ll have to check this one out seeing as how I have been a dedicated D-76 user since 1967. Might use Rodinal once in awhile and HC-110 even less but have them.

    1. Jim Grey Avatar

      Probably worth a try for giggles, but if you’re dedicated to D-76 I’m not sure there are significant advantages in F76+ for you, except that you don’t have to mix the powders.

      1. tbm3fan Avatar

        Exactly, not mixing would be the only attraction.

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