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Revised 3 Part RA4-Compatible Developer Formula (3/2007) by Steven Keirstead

Downloadable PDF for Printing

This is a revised formula with pH of 10.3 slightly more basic than the Kodak standard of 10.1-10.2 for RA developers. It is made in three relatively stable concentrates that can be made ahead of time. I have noticed adding 10% Ethanol to part B reduces the chances that microorganisms will grow in it and speeds CD3 dissolution. This is similar to Kodak's RA-4 developer but has different concentrations (to increase developer activity), and does not have an optical brightener. This formula produces best results with Fujicolor Crystal Archive Type P and C with good colors and dynamic range from black to cool white base, and very good results with Kodak Endura Portra, Supra and Ultra papers, with good blacks and a slightly warm white base. I have not tested it on other papers yet. Keep in mind that color balances with this recipe will probably be different than with a commercial formula, I find I need additional Magenta and Yellow filtration compared to Kodak RA Developer.

Most of the chemicals are available from Artcraft Chemicals or You may be able to buy Etidronic acid, Diethylhydroxylamine and Lithium polystyrene sulfonate from Sigma-Aldrich Chemicals or other suppliers.

This formula is "open source," so feel free to use or modify it at your own risk.

Developer Part A - for 10 X 1.85 Liter batches:

1) Water, Deionized or Distilled
2) Triethanolamine CAS# 102-71-6
3) Lithium polystyrene sulfonate (30%) CAS# 9016-91-5
4) N, N'-Diethylhydroxylamine, 85% Aqueous solution CAS# 3710-84-7
5) Etidronic acid, 60% Aqueous solution CAS# 2809-21-4
6) Water, Deionized or Distilled
to 1000mL

Developer Part B - for 10 X 1.85 Liter batches

Pre-Mix without CD-3
1) Water, Deionized or Distilled
2) Lithium Sulfate CAS# 10377-48-7
3) Sodium Sulfite CAS# 7757-83-7
4) Ethanol, 100%* CAS# 64-17-5
5) Water, Deionized or Distilled
to 500mL
* If you can't get pure ethanol, do not use denatured alcohol, which contains chemicals that may adversely effect developer activity. Subtitute Everclear or other 190 proof, 95% alcohol, 105.2mL. Alcohol acts as a preservative and speeds CD-3 dissolution. Shake well before continuing if you see any precipitate.

Complete Part B: Add CD-3 when making working batch.
1) Water, Deionized or Distilled
2) Part B Pre- Mix from Above
3) CD-3 Developing Agent CAS# 25646-71-3

Developer Part C - for 10 X 1.85 Liter batches:

1) Water, Deionized or Distilled, Boiling
2) Sodium Carbonate, Anhydrous
Note: if Sodium Carbonate Monohydrate use: 514g
CAS# 497-19-8


3) Sodium Bicarbonate CAS# 144-55-8
4) Sodium chloride (ACS or Technical grade,
Not Iodized)
For substituting Lithium Chloride use 17g dissolved in 100mL pure water.
LiCl will not dissolve in basic solutions! However it will stay in solution if added as liquid solution to this mixture.
Keep LiCl salt dry, tightly capped in a very dry place.
CAS# 7647-14-5 (for NaCl)

CAS# 7447-41-8 (for LiCl)

3) Potassium Bromide (0.7% or 7g/L Solution) CAS# 7758-02-3
5) Water, Deionized or Distilled
to 2000mL

Note: Part C may start to grow microorganisms after a few weeks. It helps to disinfect the containers used by treating them with boiling water or microwaving for a few minutes
with a small amount of water inside and a loosely attached cap. You may want to make smaller batched of Part C

For 1.85 Liter of Working Strength Developer, mix:

Water, Deionized or Distilled, 20-25˚C
Part A
Pale Golden Clear Solution.
Part B - Complete With CD-3
Mauve Purple Transparent Solution.
Part C
Light Pink/Light Tan Solution.
Water, Deionized or Distilled
to 1850mL
To scale up, multiply to obtain desired volume of working developer.

Some people use a 2% Acetic acid stop bath between the Developer and Blix to minimize mid-tone staining on Kodak RA4 papers, but I have not found this to be needed in my roller transport machine. So long as the Blix is slightly acidic (it should be pH 6.5-6.3, no lower, according to an expert) I do not get staining. If you have trouble with staining, try Developer in Bath 1, 2% Acetic acid stop bath in Bath 2 and Blix in Bath 3. For tube and tray processing or Nova processors, I would recommend the use of a stop bath.

RA4-Compatible Bleach Fix- for 1.85 Liters of working strength:

This formula is also "open source." Use or modify it at your own risk.

1) Water, Filtered from a Brita Pitcher or similar, or Distilled or Deionized
2) Ammonium Thiosulfate, 60% Aqueous solution CAS# 7783-18-8
3) Sodium Sulfite CAS# 7757-83-7
4) Sodium Bisulfite CAS# 7681-57-4 or 7631-90-5
5) Ferric Ammonium EDTA, 52% Aqueous solution CAS# 21265-50-9
4) Acetic Acid, Glacial (100%) CAS# 64-19-7
6) Adjust pH to 6.5 - 6.3, if needed (Add Ammonia for Higher pH, Acetic Acid for Lower pH)
7) Water, Filtered from a Brita Pitcher or similar, or Distilled or Deionized
to 1850mL

Adjust pH to 6.5-6.3, if needed. This Blix lasts fairly well, and can be replenished with itself. I generally use 25% new + 75% old blix for a day's printing session of 20-50 8-10" prints. If you are heavily using, replenish 50% new + 50% old Blix. Be careful to not let the solution get saturated with silver or silver metal flakes will precipitate onto your paper and equipment, and it's a royal pain to clean up. After 4 to 6 day-sessions of use, I start an all new batch of Blix. I use Blix at 37˚ C, but it should work at lower temps too.

Steven Keirstead Hac Facit MMVII, Copyright 2007, Text and Formulas: Re-use with Attribution Allowed.