MQ Base is a three-part photographic paper developer based on metol and hydroquinone (MQ). The developer is in three parts to maximize its flexibility. Follow the instructions below to mix the stock solutions. Then combine varying amounts of MQ Base, carbonate, bromide and water to make these tray-strength developers:
- Kodak D-72 (a.k.a. Dektol)
- Kodak D-52 (a.k.a. Selectol)
- Defender 55-D (a warmtone developer)
- SA Warm-tone (another warm tone developer from Steve Anchell)
Separating the accelerator (carbonate) means that MQ Base can also be used for divided development.
Prepare the following three stock solutions and store them in separate bottles. A liter of MQ Base stock keeps for at least 3 months in a brown glass bottle. The carbonate and bromide solutions keep indefinitely.
Distilled water at 125F/52C: 800ml Metol: 3g Sodium sulfite, anhydrous: 45g Hydroquinone: 12g Distilled water to make: 1000ml
6% carbonate solution
Distilled water: 750ml Sodium carbonate, monohydrated: 60g Distilled water to make: 1000ml
10% bromide solution
Distilled water: 400ml Potassium bromide, anhydrous: 50g Distilled water to make: 500ml
Working strength dilutions
Dilute the MQ Base solutions as follows. Each dilution yields 1 liter of working developer.
MQ Base stock: 333ml 6% carbonate: 444ml 10% bromide: 7ml Distilled water: 216ml
MQ Base stock: 167ml 6% carbonate: 95ml 10% bromide: 5ml Distilled water: 733ml
MQ Base stock: 278ml 6% carbonate: 250ml 10% bromide: 43ml Distilled water: 429ml
As 1:1 dilution:
MQ Base stock: 250ml 6% carbonate: 127.5ml 10% bromide: 5ml Distilled water: 617.5ml
As 1:3 dilution:
MQ Base stock: 125ml 6% carbonate: 64ml 10% bromide: 3ml Distilled water: 808ml
Note: This is not an exact match for Anchell’s SA Warm-tone. SA Warmtone has a teensy bit more hydroquinone (4.2 grams per gram of metol) than MQ Base (4.0 grams per gram of metol.) In 1:1 working solution, this difference amounts to 5% less hydroquinone.
Get in touch
If you try MQ Base, please let me know how it goes for you.
When formulating MQ Base, I used the recipes for Kodak D-72, Kodak D-52, and Defender 55-D from Steve Anchell’s The Darkroom Cookbook. The recipe for SA Warm-tone came from Anchell’s Variable Contrast Printing Manual. Special thanks to Mr. Anchell for preserving and sharing these formulas (and many others!)