Like many analogue photographers, from time to time, we experiment with a new film stock. I say “from time to time”, because many photographers I know use a different film stock for each day of the week. That is certainly healthy, and ensures a good overall awareness of what each film emulsion on the market can deliver for your photographic needs. However, for me, it’s not typically something I do that often at all. In a given period time, I typically use Kodak Tri-X 400 or Kodak T-Max for black and white (and Fuji Acros before it was discontinued, though it is rumored to be coming back later in 2019), and Kodak Portra 400 for colour human shots, and Fuji Provia 100 for colour landscapes. I seldom deviate from that. I know what I will get, I know how to use it, and I know how they handle various light. I don’t like losing what might have been great shots by experimenting.
However, I read some months ago about Adox Silvermax 100, and also some of their other films. The company has an interesting history back to 1860, and many of their films are rumored to have the highest level of detail though sadly, few are available in 120 format. But, there is a minor snag in addition to them being mostly 35mm only, and that is that in order to achieve that finest level of detail, Adox have a propitiatory developer which you are encouraged to use to develop the film. Again, nothing wrong with that in my view. If you make a car that is designed to work best with high performance fuel, you’re not going to get the best out of it using economy fuel. And most of the developers by Kodak or Ilford are actually engineered for their own product lines. But as a photographer who might only use a particular film stock for very specific occasions, I don’t want to buy and store a special developer that might go out of date before I get chance to use it all. So I did some Googling to see what is possible when developing this film with other developers.
I was pleasantly surprised to read that people have had a lot of success using a myriad of other common developers. But, I didn’t find one article (though that is not to say it, or they, do not exist) that described the use of my preferred developer, which is Ilford Ilfotec DD-X, with Adox Silvermax 100.
I use Ilford Ilfotec DD-X for everything (black and white). It never ever fails me, and I have achieved some wonderful results with it. I was hoping to get a steer from others who might have used it with Adox Silvermax 100 with regard to temperature and timings, but alas, no steer was found. Even the Massive Dev chart did not have such an entry. So, in traditional analogue style, I took a chance and hoped for the best. This roll was only one of about 7 black and white rolls I shot on a holiday trip, so they weren’t critical photographs, but obviously I wanted them to come out right if possible.
So I mixed the DD-X at my usual ratio of 1:4. So 300ml of water and 100ml of developer, and did my usual pre-soak to make sure all the surface muck was washed off and the film was brought to the temperature of around 20 degrees. Measured the temp of the developer mixture, and it was a little high at 24 degrees. So I waited a few minutes, and it dropped to about 23, but at that point I got bored! So I just went for it. Out went the pre-soak and in went the developer.
Next was timings. At about 23 degrees, should I have gone for 8 minutes, 10 minutes, 12 minutes? Bearing in mind I shot it at EI100 which is its box speed, so no pushing was required. So I just went for 10 minutes, given the water was slightly warmer and given that I do quite like fairly bold images.
Regular agitations every minute, and after ten minutes, out it went, and in went the stop, and then after that, the fixer for 8 minutes.
A good rinse, and I took out the film, expecting, to be honest, not a lot. But I was very pleased with what I found. The few pictures below are few samples. The not so great images were due more to my exposure I think, rather than anything to do with the development.
The photos below were captured with a Nikon F5 with manual 105mm AI lens and centre weighted metering. The light was a bright sunny day on the beach so I’ve not got the measurements quite right on the metering aspects. The film typically creates nicer images than I have posted below, from the samples I have seen of it. But then I wasn’t trying that hard either; it was just a set of family holiday snaps. But that aside, what do you think? Have you had any experience developing this film with Ilford Ilfotec DD-X? If so, please do share your experiences with us in the comments.