Stand Development Tutorial Ilfotec DD-X & Fomapan 400

Jan 16, 2017
6 min read

The World of analog photography keeps surprising me every day a bit more! I recently read about a technique called Stand Development so I have decided to try it myself. For those of who never heard of it before, let me explain you the differences between a normal development process.

When developing, as recommended by manufacturers, we are supposed to make regular agitations to ensure that the exposed film is always in contact with fresh developer. This is because the developer exhausts itself after a while and is no longer able to transform the particles of silver on the emulsion. Agitations also ensure that all the tonalities are evenly revealed.

Stand Development Tutorial Ilfotec DD-X Fomapan 400 Hasselblad Xpan Samples

On the contrary, stand development consists in letting the developer sit inside the tank with only one minute of agitation at the very beginning. Without movement, the areas that require more development quickly exhaust all the developing agent whilst it keeps acting on the less exposed areas that don’t weaken the developer so much. This has for effect to preserve highlights and reveals more details in the shadows.

3 Benefits of Stand Development

On top of that, I see three other advantages that are directly linked with this lack of movement in the developing tank:

High Contrast

This is a question of tastes but I tend to prefer my pictures to be more contrasty, especially for black and white. I believe that it gives more character and help to drag attention on the subject. This is, of course, a personal opinion and it may not work with all styles of photography. The pictures that you are going to see next, barely received any adjustments and came out naturally contrasty. Fomapan is not known for having contrasty films, it’s more the opposite, they tend to be more of a flat look.

Stand Development Tutorial Ilfotec DD-X Fomapan 400 Hasselblad Xpan Samples

Fine details

Because the developer is not moving, the acutance is very high. If acutance is a new word for you too, check out the definition here on Wikipedia. It makes edges very sharp between dark and bright areas, hence the increased sharpness. I was already very satisfied with the quality of the glass on my Hasselblad Xpan but, as you will see below, the amount of details that came out from my last roll is insane…I feel like I have a new lens!

Stand Development Tutorial Ilfotec DD-X Fomapan 400 Hasselblad Xpan Samples

It’s Cheap

Another advantage is that it’s a low dilution process. With normal development, the dilutions are usually between 1+1 and 1+4. Here we are using a very low dilution so you can save a lot of developer. Depending on the developer, you can dilute up to 1+50. This means that for 1 litre of pure developer, you can do 50 litres of developing solution!! Considering that one roll of 35mm needs more or less 300ml of solution, you could develop up to 150 rolls… Knowing that one litre of developer cost in average 18 $ so it would less than 0.12 $ of chemical to develop per roll !!

How I Stand Develop My Film

Before we end with the math lesson, let me share with you in details how to reproduce this at home.

You will need :

The Recipe :

Step 1 – Prepare the developer

To get enough developing solution for 1 roll of 35mm you need 300ml of solution. The dilution of the Ilfotec should be 1+9, which translate into 1 dose of developer for 9 doses of water. So here we need 30ml of developer and 270ml of water, it should be around 20 degrees Celcius(°C) or 68 Fahrenheit (°F). Put these two together into a jar and stir well.

Step 2 – Develop the film

Pour the solution into the developing tank. Then I agitated for the first minute, tapped the tank on the table 3 or 4 times to remove all the air bubbles from the surface of the film and let it sit for 45 minutes. Once time is over, empty the tank and get rid of the developer as it is a one time use.

Step 3 – Stop the development

Put the stop bath into the tank and agitate for 1 minute. For better results, I use Ilfostop from Ilford but you can also use water. FYI stop bath is reusable so keep it for later.

Step 4 – Fix the film

Last but not least, you have to fix the film so it can be revealed to the light. Put the fixer into the tank for 3 minutes, agitate 10 seconds at beginning of every minutes. I use Ilford Rapid Fixer but any other fixer will do the job. Likewise, you can also reuse the fixer.

Step 6 – Wash the film

At this stage you can open the tank, your film is no longer sensible to light. You have now to wash it with clear water. This last step ensures that all chemicals are removed from the surface of your negatives. It takes 5 minutes with running water to completely clean it. Once this is done, hang your film and let it dry in the dry and quiet place for 1 hour. It’s important to find a place without too much movement otherwise dust will stick on the film while drying.

Enough talk and math for today, let me show you a few more images to thank you for reading until here!

As soon as I saw the negatives, I knew that these images would turn good (for my taste at least). I have developed a few rolls already but never saw a negative so dense and contrasty. Sometimes it’s hard to differentiate the shapes but here everything was clearly distinct and sharp. The comparison with a normal negative of Fomapan 400 is unbelievable, it looks like I shot a completely different film.

The only downside I have found so far is the time it takes. Some stand development can take one hour and more so you have to be patient. But it’s the perfect opportunity to learn how to scan negatives for example. You can also read that some people experienced uneven development or the apparition of streaks due to a chemical reaction that falls at the bottom of the tank. This can be avoided by making one or two inversions mid-development, in this case we talk about semi-stand development. Personally, I didn’t notice anything strange, but it might have something to do with the low dilution I used, comparing to what it should be with Rodinal for instance.

Last Tip Before You Go

Another important point to mention: With this process, you can mix in the same tank two films that are rated at different speeds. This also lets me think that it doesn’t matter too much if you pushed your film, but I am not sure about this and will have to make some tests to determine if you need to extend the time when pushing film.

I feel like I have just opened another door that will lead me towards more adventures into the film photography experience! It’s like I am playing with Russian Dolls 😉

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