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Old 4th September 2013, 09:30 AM
Michael S Michael S is offline
Join Date: Jul 2012
Location: Kent
Posts: 105
Default Multigrade Developer Life Expectancy

I've been using the same 5 litre bottle of Ilford Multigrade developer for about two years and it's now the approximate colour of tea (without milk). I print on average only once a week, and now that I have a Nova processor my meagre usage could drop even further.

Obviously the stuff still works and I appreciate that ageing print developer is less problematic than ageing film developer. But I'm worried that I may be gradually compensating for changes in contrast and tone as the stuff gets older, and that when I eventually buy a fresh bottle I won't be able to match my current results.

Should I soldier on with this batch until I run out, or chuck it out and get a fresh (smaller) bottle?
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Old 4th September 2013, 09:50 AM
vincent's Avatar
vincent vincent is offline
Join Date: Dec 2008
Location: Co. Kildare Ireland
Posts: 863

I have found once the developer goes dark brown that the quality of the prints goes down. I normally work from the 1 litre bottle. I would expect to see a big difference between a recent print and the same one printed from a new bottle.

Vincent - Not afraid of the dark
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Old 4th September 2013, 11:08 AM
marty marty is offline
Join Date: Nov 2009
Location: Italy
Posts: 338

Hi, there. Certainly at the worst you will lose a sheet of paper if the developer should go bad. That said is to be seen how much important is to you the consistency and repeatability of the results, if you are making multiple copies of the same photograph, if you use to run photo projects that require a close match between each picture and so on. Then, another important consideration is whether you are doing photography as an hobby or professionally, in the second case I would dump right away any slightly suspect chemical to avoid any problem... Otherwise I am an just an amateur, I'm counting carefully my pennies, and from this point of view I would use up a print developer until I can still get a reasonably good result, even if I have to compensate either in exposure and/or in contrast...

Cheers, M.
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Old 4th September 2013, 12:24 PM
John King John King is offline
Join Date: Nov 2012
Location: County Durham
Posts: 2,131
Default Multigrade developer

The browner it gets, the poorer quality printing it will perform with less and less capacity per 1 ltre of working solution. The unit cost of a sheet of paper will work out more expensive than stale developer in the long run

I don't know why this is not done more regularly, and that is to decant stock solution out into smaller brown glass bottles. I get mine (500cc) from Boots at 25p each. (If you are a wine drinker you could always use old wine bottles as a free substitute!) 100cc bottles are about 20p

I have just decanted a new 5 litre container into 9 x 500cc bottles and 5 x 100cc bottles that I bought a few months ago when my last lot was used up. The last 100cc bottle was still a very pale straw colour and that was very nearly 18 months since it was decanted out.

The reason mainly why I buy a 5 litre container is the cost. This varies from dealer to dealer but 2 x 1ltr bottles is very nearly the cost of a 5 litre container, so it actually makes good financial sense. A 100cc bottle will make 1400cc of working solution so I can develop a 12x16 print with all the paper submerged and just extend the developing time.
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