Right now, I have settled on Kodak HC-110 to be my one and only black and white film developer.
It’s practical, as it is a liquid as opposed to a powder developer. That means, at any time I can quickly make a dilution for a development session straight from the bottle1. And I only have to store this one one-litre bottle that HC-110 comes in.
With XTOL on the other hand, I periodically had to make a stock solution from the powder first. And then I had these five litres of stock, which I had to put somewhere2.
HC-110 also stores very well for long periods of time without going bad3.
It’s also practical as I can develop HP5 and APX in the same tank if I need or want to (more on this later).
It’s also pretty cheap. A 1 litre bottle currently costs me €32. I can approximately develop 91 films with that one litre, which gives me a per-roll price of €0,35. I think the only developer that’s cheaper is Rodinal.
It works well
And most importantly it gives great results for all the films I regularly shoot 4. Even when push-processing.
A word on HP5 development times
One problem I had in the beginning with HC-110 was that HP5 negatives came out of the development tank too thin for my liking. But I found, that when using the development times of Ilfotec HC (Ilford’s HC-110 equivalent) instead of the official Kodak HC-110 times, it gives me the results I want.
So I currently develop HP5 at box speed (ISO 400) with a 1+31 dilution for 6.5 minutes, instead of the official 5 minutes.
And I develop APX 400 for 7 minutes. Which means this is close enough to the 6.5 minutes for HP5, that I’m comfortable to develop those two films in the same tank if I want to.
So overall I’m very happy with HC-110 and I don’t see a need to use anything else for the foreseeable future.
I usually use “Dilution B” (1+31), or “Dilution A” (1+15) when pushing more than 2 stops. ↩
Kodak XTOL is the developer that I used almost exclusively for a long time. But at some point I was annoyed with that initial mixing from powder and having to store 5 litres of stock solution, which made me look for something else. But apart from this impracticality, it’s a great developer. And I used Rodinal a lot, too. Mainly because I somehow always got another bottle from a friend. And I like Rodinal, but only for slow-speed films, which disqualifies it for me to be my allround developer. ↩
Not that I tested this myself, but this seems to be the consensus on this internet. I had no problems using an opened bottle for over a year. ↩
I mainly shoot Ilford HP5 and Agfa APX 400 in 35mm and HP5 and Fomapan 100 in 120. ↩