5 Frames… Of ILFORD HP5 PLUS developed in Cinestill Df96 Monobath (35mm / EI 400 / Nikon FM2) – by Mitch Walker

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The staying indoors because of the COVID-19 pandemic has allowed me to work on several projects that I been neglecting for several months now. This time, I decided to develop some film I’ve been neglecting for several years.

Originally I’ve ether been sending my film off for processing, or developing it myself. I’ve been rather lazy about doing it myself again at home, although I have been developing my own black and white and color film for 50 years now. I did some processing two years ago and now with the stay at home order, I decided to do some more. I discovered Cinestill’s DF96 Monobath single-step solution. I heard about this developer/fixer combination a couple of years ago, but I was a little sceptical on the results. This time around I decided to try it.


My Nikon FM kit, Mitch Walker

I loaded my Nikon FM2 with a 36 exposure roll of ILFORD HP5 PLUS. I shot indoors in available light and bright sun outdoors. I decided to stick to basics: 50mm Nikkor lens with a light green filter attached. After processing the film following the directions, I was surprised by the results. The tonality was good and I learned that a number of photographers who used this developer had problems with detail in the shadows area. I was prepared for this but discovered that I had no loss of detail at all and yielded excellent blacks after scanning.

After my test, I went on to process six rolls of film. I got various results daily because of the various brands of film and the age of the rolls. I’m a little afraid to try push processing without doing some testing. I was also concerned about the archival qualities but if I followed the instructions properly, I should have no problems.

I was happy with the results and will continue to use this solution for standard processing of most of my B&W film. I do recommend this developer for beginners and traveler who want to process this film while on the road. Somewhere down the line I will experiment with push processing to see what kind of results I can achieve

~ Mitch

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2 thoughts on “5 Frames… Of ILFORD HP5 PLUS developed in Cinestill Df96 Monobath (35mm / EI 400 / Nikon FM2) – by Mitch Walker”

  1. Nice images, sharp with contrast, but with enhanced grain that may put off some users. I initially thought that your first image was Robert de Niro! If anyone has any lingering doubts about archival properties well, I suppose a quick dunk in a simple fixer such as hypo should do the trick.

    I recall that going back decades monobath developers were available e.g. Ilford had Monophen (I think) and there was one from Tetenal. Whilst they had some practical uses they were never mainstream as they weren’t that universal in that they worked best with a limited number of emulsions and, coming to a point you’ve touched upon, left little in the way of experimentation.

    The issue, as I understood it back then, was the fact that the hobbyist photographer had no control, it was a process to completion. Developing times couldn’t be pulled or pushed and this is why it should be interesting how you will get on with push processing as you won’t be able to affect the development time as the fixing component kicking in is pre-determined.

    Reply
    • Thanks Terry for your response. This developer is unique and I didn’t know that monobath type developers existed before the DF96. Since writing this article, I played with it some more and definitely plan to return to conventional processing with D76. One problem I am discovering with this chemical is that I am getting streaks on my 120 negatives. I find this very annoying and can’t figure out how to prevent this. I though that pre-soaking the film would be the solution, but it didn’t’ help. So, I do not recommend this for any medium to large format film. It does work beautifully with the Eastman Double-X Black-and-White Negative Film 5222 which I think it was designed for. As I stated before, this chemical’s great for quick development but pushing’s a hassle because you have to deal with upping your temperature with unexpected results.

      Reply

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