If you ask 10 film shooter how to develop black and white film you will get 12-20 different answers. All the developing has it’s own scientific rules but people threat it more like magic or religion. There are many tricks and tips that people use even though others claim that you cant get good result with those tricks and tips.
I started developing my black and white negatives sometime during the year 2012. I brought all the necessary gear second hand from an messaging board, it was all the gear needed to develop film and make prints. The printing was an extra and the set was pretty cheap. The enlarging i did try few times a bit later but it was too much hassle for my small bathroom so i have been concentrating on scanning my negatives.
After much of trial and error i have managed to find the simple, easy and consistent workflow. For starters i use Paterson developing tanks, they are nice and easy to use. I have used AP-branded tanks earlier but they use a bit more developer and reels seem to scratch the negatives bit easier than Paterson ones. I have two tanks one for 2 rolls of 35mm and another for 3 rolls, the later I use more often so i can get three rolls with same effort.
For the developer i use Kodak HC-110 for faster films and pushing and Agfa Rodinal for lower film speeds. I have tried few other developers and gotten to conclusion that i want a one-shot developer because of the consistence so i don’t have to count how many times i have used developer or worry that it might be depleted. Both developers have an amazing self life especially Rodinal. I have managed to find few bottles of original Afga branded one that is supposed to keep forever. The new iterations of the same developer keep well but not forever. Both are also economical and can be used with different dilutions, which gives few more options to consider.
Most times with HC-110 i use dilution B or H when the films are shot on box speed. With push processing i use dilution A to save some time.
With Rodinal i use most times 1+50 dilution.
For stop bath i use water with a splash of vinegar. Many people argue over the dedicated fixer but i want to be able to pour my stop bath down the drain and not worry about carrying it somewhere with used developers and fixers. Speaking of fixer i use is Ilford rapid fixer, i mix 1 liter of the solution so i can fill the bigger tank completely.
After washing the film i dip it in the Ilford Ilfotol-wetting agent so the film dries faster and gets less dust particles.