Ansco 70 Lith Print Developer

Ansco 70 Lith Print Developer

When I first came across the lith process I was intrigued. All the pictures I found on the internet looked different (in a good way) from the usual black and white prints. The colors and sense of unpredictability inherent to the process appealed to me. But in the Czech Republic, where I live, no commercial lith developer was (or is) easily available. If I wanted to try the process I had to mix my own developer. After some research I settled on the Ansco 70.

The formula calls for common and inexpensive chemicals and does not contain formaldehyde. It is capable of deep blacks, rich midtones, and when used with the Foma Fomatone paper also of warm tones for which the lith process is justly famous.

Prague Bridges - a lith print using the Ansco 70 developer

At first I tried the developer in recommended dilution 1 part A + 1 part B + 17 parts water. After some practice I found the warm colors of slow development easier to obtain when using a more diluted developer.

Now I use a nearly homeopathic dilution of 1 part A and B to some 50 or 60 parts warm water. When printing on size 18×24 cm paper this means 15 ml A + 15 ml B + 800 ml water and 50 ml of Old Brown. Such heavily diluted developer needs to be replenished often – after processing two prints or so I add 10 ml of A and B.

Daisies - a lith print using the Ansco 70 developer

Ansco 70 recipe:

The published formula of Ansco 70 is usually calculated to mix 1 liter of the solutions A and B. The solutions have working life of several months, but considering the high dilution I work with one liter of stock solution is too much for me to use up before it goes bad. The chemicals are not expensive, but I don’t like the idea of throwing away good developer. I found it better policy to prepare only 500 ml at a time.

Solution A:

  1. Water 375 ml
  2. Hydroquinone 12,5 g
  3. Potassium Metabisulfite 12,5 g
  4. Potassium Bromide 12,5 g
  5. Cold water to make 500 ml

Solution B:

  1. Cold Water 375 ml
  2. Sodium Hydroxide 18 g
  3. Cold water to make 500 ml

Dissolving Sodium Hydroxide is strongly exothermic reaction, best performed with caution and wearing protective glasses.

A selection of my lithprints made with the Ansco 70 developer can be found in my lithprint gallery.


    1. perca

      I believe replacing the two metabisulfites is in principle possible. As per Steve Anchell’s Darkroom Cookbook they can be replaced weight for weight.
      I have never tried it though…

    1. perca

      Hi, and thanks for your kind words!

      The A solution takes a bit of stirring, as it does not dissolve easily. Hot water helps.

      The original recipe asked for 50°C water, I usually don’t measure it too carefully and just pour in some leftover water from my electric kettle.

  1. Gustavo Lemos

    Hey there!

    I appreciate very much the suggestions regarding dilution. Im gonna try lith printing for the 1st time and i intend to use your dilution.

    Id like to ask you about the range of developing times it requires. I understand it may vary a lot, but it would be nice to know how much, minimum, maximum.

    Again, thanks a lot!

    1. perca

      “old brown” is a colloquial term for old developer saved from a previous developing session – very expired, and thus brown in color. It will not work develop by itself anymore, but it does contain some semiquinone and bromide, which will work together with the fresh developer. You will find conflicting opinions about the utility of this – but many (including myself) printer swear by it. If only as a confidence builder…

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