DIY Black & White Film Developing in China

Since I brought my Mamiya RZ67 back to China with me I have been shooting a lot more film. Because of the shoddy quality I have received from the labs here (some times it looks like they haven’t even washed the negs, but were just pulled out of the machine and thrown in a corner to dry), I have been mostly sticking to traditional black and white so I can develop it myself. I had been using a bottle of Rodinal (blazenol actually) that I brought from Canada. But lately I have been shooting at night a lot with delta 3200, and  Rodinol is not really a suitable developer for this film. So I needed to find something different.

What to do. My choices at my local supplier are somewhat limited and to get the good stuff, TMax Or DDX, I have to pay Chinese film developer.more than I would back home. So the girl behind the counter suggested this 派森 Pisen BW- 60.   I didn’t know what it was or how to use it, but I figured “what the hell”. A bottle costs only 30 RMB, about 5 Canadian dollars.

I can read the Chinese, but still the instructions on the bottle are vague. For those of you that can’t read it, it says:

mix it with water at a 1:9 ratio

develop for 8-12 minutes

use 20 degree water

agitate for 4 seconds every minute

If you have ever developed BW film before you know that every film type and iso rating require different time. Eight to twelve minutes is not the precise instruction I was looking for. I asked if she had a data sheet from the manufacture but she didn’t. I figured I could look it up online, so home I went to give it a test run. Googling Paisen doesn’t yield many results, especially in China where Google is blocked most days. So over I went to Bing and Yahoo, and even China’s own Baidu to search for  派森. Unfortunately there wasn’t much but I did learn that the formula is supposedly the equivalent of Kodak D-76. Of course D-76 is a powder developer and this Piasen is not, but at least it gave me a better starting point. I also found it recommended in a few places that it was better to use at 1:19 dilution instead of the 1:9 indicated on the bottle.

Now what about the temperature? Your average summer day in Guangzhou is about thirty degrees. We’ve got air conditioning inside but that doesn’t work on the tap water. Even if I let it run for a while, I’m lucky if it goes down to twenty five, still much too warm for a developer that asks for 20°.  The solution is ice. Ice in the water to cool it down and then an ice bath for the developing tank to keep it at 20°.

After developing, fixing and washing, etc. I’m left with some decent results. At first my negs were a bit too thin but I made some time adjustments and the results are better.  Have a look at a few of the scans.




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