Saturday, September 19, 2009

App Review: Massive Dev Chart for iPhone

For as long as I've been developing my own black & white film, I've been consulting the huge cheat-sheet and database known as The Massive Dev Chart. I'm sure many of you already know what an incredible tool this is for looking up suggested developing times and such for practically any film/developer combination. There are films and developers I've never even heard of.

Now, in the past, I'd been clumsily logging on to the Massive Dev Chart via a Safari browser window on my iPhone while in the darkroom; totally ignorant of the fact that there's an app for that. (There, I said it. I'm one of those obnoxious iPhone fanboys that gets to say, "Oh yeah, there's an app for that.")

Now, I've downloaded a bunch of apps, and most of them are used for about 2 days before being ignored, forgotten and eventually deleted by me. This app, however, fills a niche so perfectly that you can count me as one of it's biggest fans, and this review is an attempt to explain why.

First off, when you load the app for the first time, you're presented with a large alphabetical list of b&w films. Some popular and well known, and others... Not so much. Going down the list I found some of my fav 35mm films, as well as my perennial favorite 120 film for the Holga, Freestyle's Arista EDU Ultra. There are buttons along the top to select between 35mm, 120, and sheet film.

You can also change the ISO of some films if you plan on push/pull processing.

After selecting your film of choice, you're presented with a list of developers that have been tested to work with your film and with which there exists data for development times/ratios/temperatures.

The next screen after selecting your developer is the timer screen, where a breakdown of film, developer, and time and temp. are all listed in the top half. The lower half of the screen shows a bar graph, that once you start the timer, gives a visual representation of how much time is left in each step of the process. Also, audio reminders tell you when each step is completed, and it does not mess with iTunes if you're listening to music from your iPhone, it just chimes over it.

I'd also like to point out that when the timer is not active, you can edit each step of the process with custom times, inversion cycles, and rinse and stop bath settings, overriding the default presets suggested by the app. You can also change the temperature of the developer solution, which according to the authors, will automatically adjust the development times using something called a "bilinear interpolation algorithm", which, to be quite frank, is getting a little too deep in the dork forest even for me.

You can even add notes to each process if you have any special reminders you'd like to jot down for next time.

Moving on to the favorites button, you can add film/developer combinations that you use frequently, and once you save it, you can edit the development settings and notes they'll stay there for you! Just click the "+" button along the top of the favorites menu, and by following the simple steps above, you can have convenient access to your most used processes.

In conclusion, I've found this app to be not only a great convenience in the darkroom (it is much more elegant and consistent that fumbling around with paper notes and trying to look up development times online), but also a solidly built and extremely well thought out app. Everything works in an extremely intuitive manner, and the audio reminders are extremely helpful.

I can honestly say that at $5.99, this is the best value of any app I own, and one that is used by me constantly. Go ahead and pick up a copy over at the iTunes App Store!!!

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