Review: Ilford Multigrade Developer

Since I use mostly Ilford multi-grade papers I decided to try out the Ilford Multigrade developer. It is similar in chemical make up to LPD, being a Hydroquinone + EDTA acid, so I did not expect much difference. The developer comes as a liquid concentrate and is mixed 1:9 or 1:14. Working solution should last up to 50 prints for Fiber based papers which far exceeds my usual output in a single session. Ilford states the life of the working solution is optimal for 24hours if kept in a tightly sealed bottle. I have found discussion forums that indicate it may go as long as two weeks but will suddenly fail without color change. I will likely use the 1:14 mix since I rarely produce more than 15 prints in a session and will consider it a one-shot developer.

After exposure, the prints begin to emerge in the developer within 30 seconds. Full development can occur from 1:30 to 3 minutes, though I did not see much difference between 2:00 minutes and 2:30. The prints made on Ilford MGFB Warmtone paper have a nice neutral grey with good nice warm-ish lighter midtones. I used it with Kodak Stop and Ilford rapid fixer with no issues.

Pros:
Easy to use – no mixing of powders.
Economical for single or frequent printing sessions, comes in 500ML bottle
Ilford Quality, designed for their products
Reasonably priced for infrequent/low volume printers

Cons:
Short shelf life of opened bottle (6 months) and working solution (24hrs-1week) for infrequent printers.
Some hazardous chemistry

Update: I tried some 3 week old working strength developer from a not full bottle and was still able to use it for another printing session. My darkroom has been in the low sixties most of that time so stored temperature may come into play. Times were still 2-2:30 minutes for full development and no noticeable change in tone or quality. Image emerged within 30 seconds as when fresh mixed.

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