Final Thoughts on Diafine Developer

Audio Blog Conclusion:

Viva la Revolution- Steve

UPDATE April 11, 2019

Just to be clear…. I still stand by my original processing technique outlined here in FR years ago which does not use the pre wet and has slightly more agitation than the technique outlined above (metal reels and tanks only for the older process). If the film and agitation technique is perfect without a pre wet then go for it but I have found most modern films do benefit from the pre wet… the only downside is developer longevity and about 1/3 stop loss in speed.

10 thoughts on “Final Thoughts on Diafine Developer

  1. Great information and summary, Stephen. Thanks for doing this. I’ve never used Diafine, but it has certainly always interested me, along with other similar two-bath developers out there. To be honest, the main reason I’ve avoided it is because there are so many conflicting ideas regarding how it should and shouldn’t be used, as you very well know. If I had tons of money and time to waste figuring everything out for myself I wouldn’t care, I’d just start experimenting. But knowing how long you’ve been using this as one of your primary developers, I feel confident in your findings and may now give it a go myself at some point since I feel I now have a time-tested and verified starting point. For the time being I’m still experimenting with Caffenol. I hope you’ll do a similar post with your findings, techniques, personal recipe, and conclusions for Caffenol as well. Your results with it have always impressed me. The biggest battle I’ve been fighting with Caffenol is uneven development, along one edge of the film as well as bromide drag from the sprocket holes (I’m exclusively shooting 35mm at the moment). Sadly, nothing I’ve tried has completely eliminated this issue (pre-soak, shorter agitation intervals, etc.). Other than the uneven development I truly love the negatives that Caffenol produces (at least for scanning; I don’t have access to a darkroom right now so I can’t speak to traditional enlargements), especially the slightly finer grain of the Caffenol-C-L recipe. Anyways, thanks again for summarizing your Diafine results. Take care.

  2. Great audio article, thanks for sharing your terrific experience.
    Maybe the article would have a wider circulation if you would add a text transcript – but that’s my opinion.

  3. I’ve mentioned before my quest to reduce grain (I grew up before digital, and couldn’t afford fast lenses when I learned to develop. Fast films and grain were the result, and have led me into an ongoing search for ways to minimalise grain.) and the use of XP2 Super in HC-110. I have developed it in Diafine, but was unhappy about the grain when exposed at ISO 400. At 200, it is as smooth as butter! That was using a manual tank, but today I tried using my motorised Rondinax 35u, which turns at 40rpm with the lower half of the reel in the solution. Absolutely happy with the results. No grain, correct development, easy to scan and very little post-processing required.

  4. Thank you, thank you, thank you!!!! …. When you say “shoot Tri-X at 400” …. do you mean that you shoot at 1250 and you can overexpose by a couple of stops and use the negative; or do you mean you can shoot at 400 and still expect to get a usable negative if you overexpose by a few more stops? I find that phrase confusing. I think you’re saying that I should aim for 1250 and then expect a usable negative as long as I’m within two stops of my target.

  5. I followed your row-3 directions and just developed my first two rolls of Tri-X in Diafine!
    Negatives are drying and they look great. 1250 looks like a good target. Thanks so much for sharing what you’ve learned. I can’t wait to scan them in the morning.

    1. Wow! Compared to Tri-X in Df96, there’s some obvious differences jumping out: 1.5 stops of exposure gain; finer and better-looking grain; less exposure blow outs; flatter negative all around. I took a little more care in shaping the curve and levels at the point of scanner export, which did add some noticeable advantages inside Capture One — better grain in the highlights, for example. I’m very impressed. I think if I wanted to print big, I could scan at 10,000 (instead of 5000) and even eek out a cleaner looking grain and show sharper edges by hiding the pixels a little more. With Df96, I wasn’t that tempted to scan finer than 2500 dpi. And lots of middle-gray tones to play with! This is a welcome addition to my Figital toolbelt. I threw some massively-contrasty scenes at it; and it handled almost all of them. It looks like I have to hit my exposure target better than I do with Portra 400; but, I can shoot twice as much for about the same costs. Next up: XX in Diafine and Berrger in Df96!

      1. Just be careful with scanner resolution—- most hit far below their max and scanning beyond what film can handle just emphasizes grain….

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