ansco 130

about 15 years ago i used a can of what was called GAF UNIVERSAL DEVELOPER.  it was propping up a broken window sash in a loft i was renting.  it was an old can, a red can and it seemed to be full of developer powder.  i mixed it as it said on the can and made 5 gallons of developer.  it was a HOT summer that summer, and   i had to do my best to use up the developer before it went bad in the summer heat i didn’t have AC, it was a brick building, and my space was under a black membrane roof, so i shot hundreds of rolls of film and processed+printed as often as i could, usually in the middle of the night because it was the coolest time of the day.  the bricks retained heat, but that was OK at least the sun wasn’t up.

i had never used a universal developer before.  i had only really used dektol, selectal (soft ) and sprint print developers.  and for film, well, i had used sprint film developer ( which i still use on occasion ) DK50, and Tmax RS.  i used the DK50 when i was the darkroom person for a portrait photographer in providence that was a few years before, and i had used tmax rs a, a few bottles worth, but i didn’t like it, not to mention it stained my film with a green metalic fog.  so i used this GAF stuff.  it said “1:6 films 6 minutes, 1:1, 1:2 prints”  so i used it, and used it, and used it. and eventually ran out of developer.  it made nice films that some told me were “snappy and crispa friend and printer told me about xtol soon after i ran out of the GAF stuff, but it wasn’t the same.  it didn’t really give me contrast i liked, and was kind of BLAAAH.  so i went back to sprint developer for a few years after that.  i used to talk to jc welch at equinox photographic on the phone once in a while when i was buying oddball photo things and he suggested that the GAF universal was probably ansco130.  its kind of a long story but agfa turned into agfa ansco after ww2, and eventually just ansco, and eventually gaf , so it seemed like it might be true.  the problem is that the developer numbers were not the same between agfa, ansco-agfa, ansco and gaf, so it is still to this day a mystery what this developer might have been.  i was happy to use ansco 130 though, and it became one of the only developers i would use for the next 10-15 years.  i started small and only purchased a gallon at a time, so i could process film with it, and see how it seemed to work.  the films looked good.  i was still using the dilutions on the can of GAF UNIVERSAL because the ansco 130 packaging said nothing about being a film developer.

i wrote in a few threads on and maybe about it.  and might have converted few people here and there.

ansco 130 is a simple formula but a great developer

water ( 750ml )
metol (2.2g )
sodium sulfite (50g )
hydroquinone (11g )
sodium carbonate (78g )
potassium bromide (5.5g )
glycin (11g )
water to make 1L

i’ve used it as a film developer lots of different ways … replenished it, used it as a stand and semi stand developer  in a unicolor drum, in trays, in small tanks …  it really never let me down.  it does work with sheet film the best though.  with roll film i have to dilute it instead of 1:6 usually to 1:10.  and instead of 6 mins as recommended on the can of GAF i usually extend development to around 8-8.5 mins.  years ago i was in touch with the good folks at the photo lab index ( morgan / morgan )
and when i asked them about the developer, they put me in touch with their chemist, a person by the name of jerry katz.  jerry and i were going to do the same sort of work up with ansco 130 as he did with nearly ever developer in the index.  together we were going to work on an article for publication with text and photographs of grain structures &c, but unfortunately  jerry passed away a few months later, and i was never able to follow through with our plan.


a few photographs

35mm film ansco 130 1:6 @72ºF for 8mins


120 film, mamiya folder (post war), ansco 130 1:6-8mins


tmx, 4×5 sheet, 1:6 tray shuffle 8.5 mins,



currently i use ansco 130 to make prints, and i have reverted at least half way back to using it for films.  for 7 long years, or maybe 8 years i converted my film processing to using caffenol c film developer.  i have always put in a small amount  – 15-20 cc – of stock ansco 130 developer to boost the contrast  and smooth out the  rough grainy patches i used to get by using straight caffenol c.  but these days, instead of developing in straight ansco 130, or straight sumatranol 130 …

i developer for half the time in ansco ( so it is 4 mins ) agitate normally, and then 4 mins constant agitation in sumatranol 130 …  it is my own version of a split developer, and it seems to work great

rolliecord + expired film + split develop ansco 130 + sumatranol 130


Author: jnanian

I am a Freelance Photographer in Rhode Island. I make photographs using a variety of methods with and without a camera. I make photo emulsions from scratch, I coat my own photo paper and make cyanotypes too. I am a huge fan of Caffenol, and instead of instant coffee, I roast my own beans and sell them. I also sell silver recovery products.