Finding a good starting point for developing B&W film in common developers is usually not a problem. So I was surprised when, after multiple internet searches, I could not find a development time for Fuji Neopan 400 in Microdol-X 1:3 dilution. I found lots of references to this film and the undiluted, stock solution of Microdol, but nothing about the dilute solution.
I’ve developed several rolls of Neopan 400 in Microdol-X 1:3 over the last few days, and feel comfortable making a recommendation for development times, specifically:
15.5 minutes at 22 C. (Note that this is 2 C warmer than most developer recommendations). Microdol-X diluted 1:3. Continuous agitation for the first 30 seconds, then vigorous agitation 10 seconds per minute thereafter. Continuous but very gentle agitation for the last 30 seconds. I always pre-soak film for 2 minutes before developing. Stop, fix, rinse as usual of course. This film does have some dye based sensitizers in it, so a round of hypo clearing agent is a good idea to remove the pink tint.
For scanning the film this has worked out well. Objectively, the negs are a bit thin and possibly could do with another minute of development, but for scanning they work out well. Shadow detail is good, and even with that last bit of agitation, highlights are not blocked up. An alternative would be to adopt the Kodak style of agitation, and agitate every 30 seconds.
I’m a bit worried since Neopan no longer appears on the fujifilm.com product list. Maybe I’m missing it, maybe another film bites the dust.
I avoided this film for a while because I interpreted the name – Neopan – to suggest that it was a new fangled tabular grain film. (Neo = new Pan = panchromatic film). It really is a very fine traditional film. Nothing against tabular grained films, btw, I just prefer the look, feel, and usage of traditional films.
Update: August 2, 2008: I haven't had a chance to do much with the Neopan and Microdol-X combination since posting this. The biggest problem has been the low volume of film that I shoot. The few batches of Microdol that I have mixed up in the last couple of years, have generally wound up going down the drain when they expired.
I have a project coming up and plan on shooting a lot Neopan 400. I decided to re-check the development time in this post. A few days ago I developed a fresh roll of 35mm Neopan 400 in Microdol X, 1:3, at 22C for 15.5 minutes. It worked great - so I'm happy to affirm the recommendation in the post from 2006.