As my regular followers know, I go to Japan once a year to visit friends and hang around in Tokyo.
I usually swing by Yodobashi Camera to pick up some Fuji Acros and other Japan only films. There’s not much left out there, but I have previously picked up som Japan only developers. One of the two I have is Super Prodol or SPD, made by Fuji camera.
Not much is know about it in the west. It is quite expensive to buy unless you pick it up yourself, but if you do it’s very cheap. I think I paid 290 yen for a liters worth of developer. That is something like $2,50USD.
Rummaging around on the interwebs I found this short description:
"Super Prodol (SPD) is a rapid processing, push process developer provided in dry powder package. The developing agent listed is hydroquinone (3.9%) which is probably augmented with phenidone or its derivative. The developer contains 70-90% of sodium sulfite, and buffered with metaboric acid (3.4%) and sodium carbonate (3-7%). This formula resembles Crawley's FX-37. This developer is likely to contain bromide restrainer or possibly other antifoggant."
I have never heard of, or used FX37 in the past, so that’s interesting..
I also found that as a baseline for development times, you can look at HC-110 dil. B for the stock solution and dil. H for 1+1. I have tried both stock and 1+1, and can’t say I find much difference. Not that I have yet developed a lot of rolls, I think it’s just 4 at this time.
I have found that pushing HP5 two stops to 1600, and developed in SPD 1+1 in 20c for 15 minutes gives great results. I also tried pushing HP5 three stops to 3200 and developed in SPD stock (20c) for 11 minutes gave great results. I think SPD is a really good developer for pushing.
Neopan 400 looked also great, but my Neopan 1600 was a little aged and I think it got more base fog than it deserved in SPD.
Here are some sample pictures. First off Neopan 400 shot at ISO320, it was developed in SPD 1+1 for 7min in 20c.
Here is HP5 pushed 2 stops to 1600, developed in SPD1+1 for 15 minutes in 20c.
Here is Neopan 1600, slightly expired. Shot at box speed, developed in SPD 1+1 for 6,5 min in 20c.
Lastly, here is HP5 pushed three stops to ISO3200. Developed in SPD stock for 11 minutes, 20c.
I think SPD works great for medium speed films, 400 ISO. Both HP5 and Neopan 400 look just fine. I can’t say it looks much different than say, D76. But it really does come into its own when pushing film. There seems to be more shadow detail, the grain feels controlled.. I am not sure, but it does feel alright.
I mixed up this liter back in October, it is now late January and the developer looks to be totally fine. It has changed color from a clear liquid into a very light yellow one. So shelf life seems to be fine. It comes in powder form, in sealed packages, and based on my experience these will last forever.
When it comes to developers, there is usually quite little difference between them. People would like to think that there is more difference than there actually is, because it is one of these things analog photographers like to quibble about, and have heated arguments about Rodinal and which developer is the best for pushing film. But I have used a dozen different developers and I can barely see any difference between them, really. And whatever the differences might be, you need to use that developer for a long time before you can really see what it is all about. I’ve done something like 5 rolls now in SPD and that is just not enough for a proper review. But I like writing these posts, for my own sake if nothing else. And finding the development times can be tricky for this one, so maybe it will help someone.
Alright, write in comments below if you have any questions. Until next time!