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  #1  
Old 18th January 2017, 05:18 PM
Svend Svend is offline
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Default Any Microphen fans here?

I have recently been given several packs of Microphen and, not wanting to toss it, I am trying to get a handle on how to get the best out of it wrt. film pairing, general use, etc.. I have never used it before, being happy with my standard developers and not really needing the extra speed boost that Microphen is known for.

So my questions are...:
1) Disregarding the speed boost thing, how does it perform as a general-use developer? Say, compared to ID-11, Xtol, etc.? Is it capable of good image quality, in context of a general-use dev? If so, are there any tricks to get the most out of it? (eg. dilution, non-std. agitation).
2) What films does it work best with? Regular grain (FP4, HP5) or tabular (Delta, Tmax)?
3) How would you describe it's overall character? Sp. the usual parameters - sharpness, gradation, shadows/highlights?

There seems to be little comment about its properties out there in the wider web, other than its speed increase. Anchell and Troop don't seem too keen on it; likewise neither was Thornton, if I recall; but neither elaborate more than a brief comment or two. I've looked extensively for some further insight, and although it seems to have its adherents, I haven't found anyone who has really described its character thoroughly. Looking at posted image examples (Flickr, Ipernity, etc.) shows very few images that really shine; most seem rather drab, to be honest, which is a bit discouraging. Surely there must be a film combo and technique that make it sing? I'm curious to experiment a bit with it, and I'd be happy if it gave me as good image quality as, say, ID-11 or Perceptol (my daily drivers). Or should I just hang on to it until I shoot a bunch of film in low light and need the extra speed?

Any insight most welcomed. Thanks in advance!

Best,
Svend

Last edited by Svend; 18th January 2017 at 05:46 PM.
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  #2  
Old 18th January 2017, 10:00 PM
alexmuir alexmuir is offline
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I am by no means an expert on Microphen, but I have used it, most recently last week.
I have used it on a few occasions in the past when uprating HP5 to 1600 or 3200. It worked well for that purpose.
Last week, however, I was developing some Delta 3200 that I was rating at 6400. I also had a roll of HP5 rated at 6400 which I wanted to develop at the same time. Again, the results were good. Having made up a litre, I decided to also use it for a roll of Delta 400 that I was using to test a flash unit. I rated the film at 200, but developed it for the time given for 400. The results were very good. The images had a full range of tones, but also very fine grain, even in quite big enlargements. I'm planning more tests, and will use the Microphen until it's exhausted (10 films).
I don't know exactly what qualities you are looking for, but I would be inclined to give it a try and see how you get on. It comes from a quality manufacturer, and has certainly given me acceptable results. The grain in the Delta 400 negatives was surprisingly fine.
Let us know how you get on with it.
Alex.
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Old 18th January 2017, 11:29 PM
Mike O'Pray Mike O'Pray is offline
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I haven't used it but a friend here on FADU by the name of Argentum gave details in a post or series of posts about its speed increasing ability. If I recall he said that of a series of developers he had tried only Microphen gave D3200 its box speed of 3200 which is quite remarkable, given that its true speed is said to be 1000 and Microphen's speed increasing power is said by most to be about half a stop so say 1600.

I think the thread/posts are here on FADU. Have a search. He gave a fairly detailed write-up.

Combined with Alex's findings it sounds to have speed without the golf-ball grain usually associated with speed increasing developers.

Unfortunately Argentum hasn't been on the forum since May last year. I hope nothing has happened to him

Mike
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Old 19th January 2017, 02:54 AM
Svend Svend is offline
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Thanks guys -- that is helpful. It sounds like it has some good qualities as a general purpose developer for medium speed films, as well as working exceedingly well with high speed film (esp. D3200). I have since looked a bit deeper into this question, and found an Ilford newsletter from many years ago containing an article that Roger Hicks and Frances Shultz wrote about Delta 3200. In it they show example images of this film in Microphen, and they look very fine indeed. Confirms what Alex said about it. Nice!

Some of the best images I've seen with it on photo hosting sites and blogs seem to be with the faster films. HP5, Delta 400 and TMY appear to really have a glow and a smoothness of tone that is very pleasing. This said with the usual caveats in mind, of course - scanned images, digital editing..., but there does seem to be a common trait there.

I recall reading somewhere that it is outstanding with PanF, and that it tames the contrast nicely. I will try to find that article again. Sounds like an interesting combination.

Still, it is surprising how little is written about this developer. There is plenty of ink about Rodinal, D-76, Xtol, the Pyro formulas, etc., but Microphen seems to be somewhat under the radar.

Alex....do let me know how your upcoming films turn out with Microphen. I expect you'll be all done with that before I even mix my first batch -- I still have some ID-11 stock to work through with some TMY before I start experimenting with anything else. Will you be using it for box speed processing of medium speed films? Or push processing and high speed stuff again?

Mike - I did a search on FADU for Microphen but didn't find much in way of descriptions of use, character, etc. Probably me just being impatient and not looking long enough. I will try again.... And yes, I hope Argentum is still here and all is well with him.

Cheers,
Svend
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  #5  
Old 19th January 2017, 02:37 PM
Svend Svend is offline
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Alex - another quick question, if you don't mind: Your recent films in Microphen, did you use "by the book" std. times and methods as per Ilford? Or did you modify anything? In other words, what did you do to get the results that you were happy with?

From your note re. use it 'til exhaustion, I'm assuming you used it full strength, undiluted(?).

I am tempted to give it a go with some PanF that I shot this past weekend. Winter scenes, waterfalls, overcast light...could be a very nice combination given its apparent softer contrast.

Thanks,
Svend

Last edited by Svend; 19th January 2017 at 02:53 PM.
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Old 19th January 2017, 04:16 PM
Lostlabours Lostlabours is offline
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I used Microphen (ID-68) for a while mostly for push processing HP5 (long before Delta film), it's a nice developer but with FP4 and HP5 the grain is crisper and more pronounced but that's the trade off for the increased film speed of about 2/3 of a stop. I always used it replenished but the larger sizes and replenisher were dropped a few years ago, you can make your own from the publish ID-68 and ID-68R formulae.

The reason I stopped using it was the release of XP1 which I found much better for push processing with C41 developer. It's probably better with Delta films than conventional.

Ilford did a lot of work to produce a PQ variant of ID-11/D76, these formulae have been incorrectly claimed to be Microphen, in fact it was a series that became Ilford's commercial large scale D&P fine grain developer "Autophen".

The benefits of Autophen,a PQ version of ID-11. were it's unaffected by the Bromide build up that causes ID-11/D76 to collapse with replenishment, Metol's activity drops with Bromide build up, Phenidone keeps working well to very much higher Bromide levels.

Once Autophen was marketed Ilford looked at exploiting the increased speed properties of a PQ fine grain developer dropping the Sulphite level which helps further, finally releasing Microphen (ID-68).

Ian

Last edited by Lostlabours; 19th January 2017 at 04:21 PM.
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Old 19th January 2017, 04:56 PM
Svend Svend is offline
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Thanks Ian -- very interesting feedback. It sounds like you used it primarily for its speed gain properties, as seems to be the case with most other users out there. I have come across few who say they use it as a general-purpose developer, based on its image quality merits and irrespective of speed gains.

As a general comment, I am less concerned with fine grain and sharpness, and much more interested in the tones a developer gives. As I shoot mainly medium format and don't enlarge to really big sizes, tonality becomes primary and I can afford to have slightly larger grain and a bit less sharpness for most subjects I shoot (within limits, of course ...I do like a clean sharp print, and there are some scenes which demand the utmost sharpness and fine grain). But step back from a print a bit and sharpness and grain become less important, and tonality is then its most important characteristic (other than composition, of course). But I feel I'm preaching to the choir here -- you use Pyrocat a lot, so you certainly know all about tonality and developers.

So I am interested in what Microphen can do and how to get the best out of it. There are some very fine images out there done with it, and those who use it with skill certainly are able to get a unique look to their pictures. If I can extract some tips and hints from anyone here who's used it, that would be brilliant.

Thanks again, and best regards,
Svend
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Old 19th January 2017, 06:36 PM
Svend Svend is offline
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Calling Peter Elgar! Turns out our very own Pentaxpete has some nicely-done photos on Flickr shot with PanF and Microphen. They look excellent -- lovely tones Pete. Nice work! And you used a Rolleiflex with a Planar, which I also use.

So, do tell: how do you get on with Microphen? I see your developing time for 1+3 was a bit shorter (about 20% less) than per Ilford data sheet. Any particular reason for that? Was it just adapted to suit the lighting conditions (bright sun in most shots)? Or is that your std. practice with this film/dev. combo? Any other insight and tips most welcome. Looking forward to hearing from you.

Cheers,
Svend
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  #9  
Old 19th January 2017, 06:53 PM
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pentaxpete pentaxpete is offline
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Default pentaxpete here !

pentaxpete here ! I got your message about 'Microphen'use.
Well-- I have a 13 litre pack given free years ago in my chemical cupboard but as it is just too much to mix at the moment i 'make my own' from a Formula I was given many years ago by a 'Selo Works' bloke when they closed it down in Brentwood -- but I have been told on THIS site that it is 'Autophen' not 'Microphen'. However, as I use it 1+1 or 1+3 probably cannot see the difference. I have used it with 02/2007 outdated Fuji Acros 100 and find it gives 100 ASA still but Rodinal 1+50 needs to be rated at 80 ASA. I used half a cassette of 1995 dated Kodak Tri-X and processed in the 'Liquid PROMICROL' 1+14 for time stated and got a high Fog Level and HUGE Grain -- so on the next half I used my home-made Microphen 1+1 and got a lower Fog Level and much better grain ! ALL my films are now 'outdated' as all my 'fresh' buys are outdated but 'fridge stored' -- I have found my home-made Microphen increases in activity like ID11 even with a burst of Lighter Fuel in the bottle so I give LESS dev time.
Here is a 'Link' to my 'Home-Made Microphen' photos on Flickr -- Happy Viewing !

https://www.flickr.com/search/?w=258...20Microphen%20
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Computerised and Slightly DIGITISED but FILM still RULES with ME !

Last edited by pentaxpete; 19th January 2017 at 06:57 PM.
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  #10  
Old 19th January 2017, 11:49 PM
Svend Svend is offline
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Hi Pete -- thanks for jumping in here. This morning I saw your London Bridge pic and a few others from that day of shooting with your Rolleiflex, and was really impressed by the quality of what you got from PanF and Microphen. Those ones in particular really show what this developer can do with the right film and good technique. Given the full sun that day, I'd conclude that dilute Microphen does a good job with PanF's contrast. Nice....

I will try this combo myself soon. I have quite a few rolls of PanF in the freezer and I have been looking for a suitable developer for it, as I understand it is bit finicky wrt. contrast, etc.. So this is quite timely. Presently I have a roll of it in the wash done in Rodinal, and I plan to do a few more the same (trying different agitation routines). So once I get a few of those under my belt, it will be interesting to compare it to what Microphen can do with PanF.

Appreciate your help.

Best,
Svend
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