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Leica Two-Bath developer formula


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I'm new here so I hope I'm posting in the right place to discuss developers.

I've been experimenting with the Leica/Leitz Two-Bath developer from the 1950s.

For those unfamiliar with two-bath developer it splits the developer into two solutions: A, the developing agent (metol) and B, the activating agent (an alkali). You soak the film in A where  little development occurs. You then transfer to B and the developer that has soaked into the emulsion is activated. The developer in the highlight areas exhausts sooner than that in the shadow areas and so you don't get blown out highlights i.e. it has self correcting contrast. All the benefits of the Zone system without a beard 😄. I think this is how they got those lovely clouds in so many Leica photos from that period.

This sounds exciting but my experiments produce pretty thin negs with modern films and are certainly no better than just using a modern developer. Half a century of film technology plus multigrade papers made this approach less necessary. That doesn't stop me playing! (I also use it for my home made plates where it definitely is useful and means I have it to hand.)

I got my first version of the developer from the Film Developer Cookbook. It suggests development times of 3 minutes for each bath. I have just come across another version of the formula in the 1959 British Journal of Photography Almanac which is slightly different and suggests much longer in the first bath "according to class of film". It gives the source of the formula as "Leica News". I might revisit my earlier experiments and soak in bath A for much longer.

I'd really like to see a copy of that original article. Does anyone have a copy of Leica News from the 1950's with it in? Any suggestions where I might get it? I'm not a collector of Leica ephemera I just want to see what is says.

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Hi Roger, and welcome to the forum.

The Stockler two bath developer was discussed some time ago (2012) with 19 replies.  Have a look there for some more information.

There are a couple of formulae given in Ansel Adams' Basic Photography Series, the second one being an update.



Stockler's 2-bath developer

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