Anyone who knows me knows that I am a fierce advocate for film. Working for the last three decades as both a photographic artist and teacher, I’ve done countless film tests in the interest of maximizing the materials at hand, for both myself and my students, always in pursuit of a better method. I was excited to hear about the introduction of Cinestill’s Df96 Mono Bath Developer, and after working with it extensively I am now decidedly a fan.
Mono bath developers in the hybrid workflow bring ease of process, negatives that scan with little effort and an introduction of film to the next generation without all the baggage of traditional film testing and trial and error. In this series of articles, I go through step by step, introduce myself and explain what CineStill Mono Bath is, how it works, why I use it, and how to use it for optimum results.
This is a mixed media article, comprising of text, images, audio and video talking about monobath developers, specifically Cinestill’s Df96 and how it works with a bunch of films.
This brief audio intro provides a breakdown of the various parts of this review, from Who is Stephen Schaub? to Conclusions on Df96 monobath developing.
Who is Stephen Schaub? (05:06)
A brief audio overview of my background working in the hybrid process: using traditional film in combination with scanning and printing technology.
I started Figital Revolution to document my switch from a traditional to hybrid process and have spent years finding the best, most effective developer for reliable scanning.
What is a monobath developer? (04:25)
A brief audio explanation of the many benefits of monobath developers. Monobath developers are not new, although recent developments may have you thinking that way. They’re simple to use and combine all of the separate development steps in a traditional darkroom process: developer, stop and fix in one chemical. In short:
There is one chemical only, which allows different films to be processed together. The development process is controlled through both agitation schemes and development time.
Processing techniques (05:53)
This video details step by step the use of Cinestill Df96 monobath. In the video, I discuss:
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- The best agitation method?
- Maintaining precision temperature and minimizing variability.
- How to easily keep and reuse monobath.
Tips and tricks with Cinestill Df96 (02:42)
This video follows up on Processing techniques above with helpful specifics on getting the most out of your monobath developer, from confirming your monobath usability to extending its life.
Processing – breaking down the PDF instructions (11:30)
Understanding the instructions created by Cinestill for Df96 is crucial. This concise guide breaks down the processing instructions and discusses:
- Pushing and pulling specific film brands.
- Dialling in your ideal negative.
- Films that require more processing time – and why.
How much does it cost? (04:56)
This audio segment compares Cinestill Df96 monobath developer to FF No.1, and breaks differences down into grain subtleties, as well as dollars and cents (that all important cost per roll).
This quick audio summation pulls it all together. From processing to final product, why choose Df96 monobath?
In short, it’s easy to use, economical and great for scanning: a great go-to developer.
Thanks for reading, watching and listening.
If you’d like to keep all the videos above in a single place, please add this YouTube playlist. I’d be interested to hear about your experiences with Df96 and any comments you might have on this article. Just leave a note in the comments section below.
~ Stephen Schaub
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Hi Stephen – Thanks so much for this brilliant introduction to the df96 Monobath Developer. I’m a relatively inexperienced photographer and a complete amateur when it comes to “home” film development. But thanks to your insightful segments the whole process now seems a great deal less intimidating. Well done and, again, thank you.
Hello Stephen, Did you already try the Art Imago monobath solution provided by the company behind the Lab Box ? Thank you in advance to share your experience …
Re.: REVIEW: CINESTILL DF96 ( By Stephen Schaub – SEPTEMBER 5, 2018 )
This article is very helpful, but I do have a question or at least would like your recommendation. I am considering purchasing a Lab-Box with both the 35mm and 120 modules and using DF96 monobath. What additional device (s) or methods do you recommend in order to keep temperature constant, bearing in mind keeping the cost from being prohibitive?
If you follow the time/ temp and agitation technique I outlined in the videos your film will be spot on—- usually it is wrong temp or improper agitation that causes issues. Regarding disposal that is different everywhere but here in the US it is quite easy—- just treat like you do any photo chemicals you use and you will be ok.
I haven’t had much luck with Df96. Must have the time and temperature incorrect for the Street Candy film I was trying to develop. Another issue is disposal of the spent developer. Doesn’t seem to be a good silver recovery facility near by.
Hi Stephen, great stuff. Thank you very much for this review. W
thanks very much for the detail in this post Stephen. It was very interesting how you explained the contrast control you can get whilst processing, using the different temperatures and agitations. I didn’t expect a monobath to give you any control over developing.
@CineStillFilm @stephenschaub Very , very interesting stuff …
Does Stephen have any preferred methods/recommendations/tips & tricks for using Df96 with 4×5 sheet film?
Hello Mark, I used the MOD54 4×5 “reel” in a Paterson tank for the Portrait on TXP included in the sample images using the exact agitation technique outlined here and it worked perfectly. Happy shooting!
@CineStillFilm @stephenschaub Love the insights here!