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FX-55 Crawley’s Ascorbic Developer!

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Photograph developed with 510-pyro
An unusual but excellent vitamin C developer! Better than Xtol, safer than pyro. This is fast becoming my go to developer. I really like the results.

Part A of the developer is the usual liquid stock solution but contains no developing agents and should last pretty well indefinitely, at least for a few years. 

Part B is made of the developing agents sodium ascorbate and phenidone in dry form or, documented below, made up with propylene glycol for a very long lasting part B liquid. Note: I have modified the Gainer version to better balance the acid with the TEA.

Once the working developer has been made from stock it keeps for about 36 hours.

To Make 1 Ltr working developer:

Dilute Part A 1+9 with water to make 1 Ltr. Then add and dissolve the dry chemicals of Part B to this 1 Ltr to make the working developer.
This working developer lasts 36 hours in a stoppered bottle.

I happily make 500ml working developer by diluting 50ml Part A and make up to 500ml with water. Then adding 0.7g sodium ascorbate powder (my scale doesn't measure more accurately than 0.1g) and 5ml of a 1% phenidone solution (in propylene glycol). I use a syringe to measure the 5ml which is very accurate.

FX-55 is an
excellent developer with a broad tonal range. It is sharp and fine grained with none of the mushiness of high sulphite developers like D76. It's also a lot safer when you want to keep away from metol, hydroquinone and pyro.

FX-55 Part A Stock

This is a long lasting concentrated stock. It is to be diluted 1+9 with water to make a working solution (a 10% working solution from stock). To this working solution we add the dry chemicals below.

Warm water 700 ml
Potassium carbonate* 20g
Sodium bicarbonate 1.5g
Sodium sulphite Anhyd. 25g
Sodium metabisulphite 12g
Water to make 1 ltr

FX-55 Part B

To be added and dissolved just before use to the 1 Ltr of 10% working solution of Part A above.

Sodium ascorbate** 1.3g
Phenidone 0.1g

* For Sodium carbonate anhydrous use 15.4g

** Note: Sodium ascorbate is NOT the same as ascorbic acid. Do not confuse the two.

To make the Gainer Mod, which will keep indefinitely:

FX-55 Part B Gainer Mod Updated by me to better balance the TEA with the acid.

Propylene Glycol 50C 150ml
Ascorbic acid 12g
Triethanolamine (TEA) 30g - easier to weigh*
Phenidone 1g
Propylene glycol up to 200ml

* Updated to 30g from the original 10g. Use 30ml if it's easier.

To Use:

For 1000ml working developer (which keeps 36 hours in a stoppered bottle)

- 100ml Part A made up to 900ml with water. Add 20ml part B. Then finish making up to 1 Ltr.

For 500ml working developer:

- 50ml part A made up to 450ml with water. Add 10ml part B. Make up to 500ml.

Ratio for use: 50+10+ 440

Developing Times

The following developing times were given by Crawley on release of the formula. Times in minutes.


  • PanF: Plus 7
  • FP4 Plus: 8.5
  • HP5 Plus: 13.5
  • Delta 100: 10
  • Delta 400: 12.5
  • Delta 3200: 12.5
  • SFX: 14


  • Tri-X Pan: 12.5
  • T-Max 100: 13
  • T-Max 400: 14.5
  • T-Max 3200: 17.5
  • Tech Pan: 6

For scanning Crawley stated that negatives for scanning benifit from slightly more contrast. This can be achieved, using the same development times, by lowering the sodium metabisulphite amount in A to 10g. Alternately, he said, add 10% to the developing time.

  • I use Ilford films and I have found my personal developing times are slightly less than these, by around 10%. The developer gives me an increase in film speed, above box, of around 2/3 stop.

Using FX55 as a Two Bath

FX55 can be used effectivey as a two bath developer utilizing straight FX55 as the A bath and a 1% sodium metaborate solution as bath B. I found that 5 + 5 minutes gave excellent results with a slight increase in sharpness and definitely finer grain. There was also some compensation of the highlights. Remember, do not wash or stop the film between the two baths.

Bath B can be used multiple times - probably up to ten.

Using FX55 diluted

I have tested FX55 diluted 1 + 1 with water. At this half strength an approximate:

  • 75% increase in personal development time was very good for darkroom printing. Improved tonality, acutance, and micro-contrast.
  • 50% increase in personal development time for better scanned negatives.

These estimates should get you right in the ballpark for your own testing.

The results of 1+1 were remarkable. Greater tonality and sharpness with about the same fine grain as regular FX55, maybe a tad finer.

Stacks Image 5

Acros at 80ISO developed in FX-55 6 mins 24degC - very slightly over developed. Use 5:30 as below. Nevertheless, the clouds have been rendered very faithfully showing an element of developer compensation.

Stacks Image 9

The grain from the picture above. This is a tiny section just above the tall tree. You can see the stunning detail that this combination has captured, the micro-contrast is excellent.

Stacks Image 54
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