Alternatives to Amidol

Discussion in 'Contact Printing' started by bmac, Nov 23, 2002.

  1. bmac

    bmac Member

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    I thought this was asked before on this board, but am having trouble finding the thread... I am going to attempt my first crack at 4X5 contact printing on AZO. What other developers work well with this paper? I'd like to be able to buy it locally and in small volumes. I currently have Edwal Ultra Black and Ilford PQ Universal in my darkroom.

    Thanks,
    Brian
     
  2. William Levitt

    William Levitt Member

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    Hi Brian,

    When I first got my Azo, I was waiting on the delivery of Amidol, and, as usual, had no patience to wait it out. I had often read that Agfa Neutol WA was an alternative to Amidol, so I pick up a bottle. It was certainly more economical than Amidol, but that is where the advantages over Amidol came to a screeching halt. It was only after receiving my Amidol and making the first prints that I was able to see how clearly superior Amidol (either the Michael Smith or the Peckhams Amidol/Catchetol) really is. I only wish I was able to get back the 30 or 40 sheets of Azo that I literally wasted by using the Agfa developer.

    Are there other developers out there that can be used with Azo? Probably. Are they going to get the most out of the paper the way Amidol does? Probably not.
     
  3. c6h6o3

    c6h6o3 Member

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    Although advice is generally worth about what you pay for it, here's a bargain for you. Taking heed of this will save you much wringing of hands and gnashing of teeth. Ready?

    There is no substitute for amidol.

    None. Just forget it. Order some amidol right now and don't waste a single precious sheet of Azo trying to find a substitute. All of us Smith/Chamlee groupies have been there, done that and wish that we hadn't. Next to the use of Azo itself, amidol makes more of a difference than anything else you can do.
     
  4. edbuffaloe

    edbuffaloe Member

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    I usually don't favor absolute endorsements, but I have tried Azo with Dektol and Ansco 130 and neither one gave me the quality that I get with amidol developers. I think it takes a really powerful developer to get the best gradation out of Azo, and there just isn't anything more powerful than amidol. Michael Smith encourages people to increase their exposure times and reduce development to only a minute with his formula.
     
  5. bmac

    bmac Member

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    I wasn't able to find info on Michaels Amidol on the website. Anyone have a link to info on purchasing some?
     
  6. clay

    clay Subscriber

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  7. bmac

    bmac Member

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    Thanks for the link Clay. I'll order some this evening.

    Brian
     
  8. glbeas

    glbeas Member

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  9. Michael A. Smith

    Michael A. Smith Subscriber

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    You can find information on Azo and Amidol at www.michaelandpaula.com. Look under "Azo." Our formulas are there as are links to suppliers, including Artcraft Chemicals, Inc., the best supplier of photography chemicals. You might also want to drop into the Azo Forum. Between the articles about this that I and N. Dhananjay have written, and which are on our web site, and the Azo Forum, I can't imagine there is anything about this that is left that you would need to know. On the technical side, at least.

    Michael A. Smith
     
  10. bmac

    bmac Member

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    Thanks!
     
  11. Jorge

    Jorge Inactive

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    Actually there is an alternative but you would have to do some testing. You can use pyro as a paper developer. Pyro is a very high energy developer and you would probably obtain results similar to Amidol. The advantage would be that pyro is much cheaper than amidol. So if you are willing to do some testing and are interested e mail me privately and I will give you a starting formula.
     
  12. William Levitt

    William Levitt Member

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    Hey Jorge,

    I'd be interested in reading that formula, how about justpublishing it here in the thread?
     
  13. David A. Goldfarb

    David A. Goldfarb Moderator Staff Member Moderator

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    Wouldn't pyro have a staining effect that might not be desirable for prints?
     
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  15. William Levitt

    William Levitt Member

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    Not necessarily David. I use the Peckham Amidol formula for ma Azo prints. It contains equal amounts of Amidol and Pyrocatechin. The pyrocatechin is the main ingredient in some staining film developers, but my Azo prints show no signs of staining......not yet anyways.
     
  16. Jorge

    Jorge Inactive

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    </span><table border='0' align='center' width='95%' cellpadding='3' cellspacing='1'><tr><td>QUOTE (William Levitt @ Nov 27 2002, 02:15 AM)</td></tr><tr><td id='QUOTE'>Hey Jorge,

    I'd be interested in reading that formula, how about justpublishing it here in the thread?</td></tr></table><span id='postcolor'>
    Ok WIlliam, look for it next week I am printing some pt now and have to go to Mexico city tomorrow, but will look in my files this weekend...hopefully I can find it! and will publish it here next week.
     
  17. c6h6o3

    c6h6o3 Member

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    "...use of Amidol as an intermittent developer..."

    Does that mean that it develops in fits and starts, like a traffic jam moves on the Beltway? Don't tell me that developers are finally going digital!
     
  18. Michael A. Smith

    Michael A. Smith Subscriber

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    Yes, I have used Amidol for developing film, but found that it had no advantages over using ABC Pyro 2-1-1-15 for contrasty subjects.

    Michael A. Smith
     
  19. Jorge

    Jorge Inactive

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    Ok, I had a little break and found what I have been doing with this developer.
    Stock Solutions:

    Solution A

    Pyro 20 grams
    Sodium sulfite 45 grams
    Water to make 1 liter

    Solution B

    Sodium Carbonate mono 134 grams
    potasium bromide 1 gram
    Water to make 1 liter


    Working solution:

    1 part solution A, 2 parts solution B, 1 part water

    Let me know how you like it.
     
  20. WarEaglemtn

    WarEaglemtn Member

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    Jorge,

    How does this compare with developing the same prints with Michael's Amidol formula? Any differences, improvements or shortcomings you can see between the two?
     
  21. Mongo

    Mongo Member

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    Jorge-

    Thanks for publishing this formula here. I'm going to give this a shot sometime soon, and will post anything interesting I find out here on APUG.

    Be well.
    Dave
     
  22. Jorge

    Jorge Inactive

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    woa...hold on! Dave Miller made a working formula that is far better than what I posted here. I beleive he posted it in the AZO forum. He had at one time examples of this formula in the galleries, but I think he has removed them, not sure.
    I would say you first visit the AZO site and look for the formula and contact Dave before you re invent the wheel. Since I dont use AZO I do not know how the prints compare to those developed in Amidol. OTOH the .dr5 guy mentioned other compound that might be worth a try.
     
  23. doughowk

    doughowk Subscriber

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    Donald Miller posted an article on Pyro Plus Paper Developer on the UnBlinking Eye website. I wonder if others have tried his formulae on AZO, and what were the results?
     
  24. Mongo

    Mongo Member

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    I have an order in for the chemicals I need to add to my cupboard for Donald Miller's formula...should have them early this week. One of the reasons I mentioned trying the formula Jorge was kind enough to share is that everything in his formula is also in Donal Miller's formula, so I'll have the ingredients for both. Hopefully by the end of the week or early next week I'll have had time to try them both, and the opportunity to compare and contrast them with Michael Smith's Amidol.

    I have no specific expectations of either formula, but Donald Miller's formula caught my interest a few weeks ago, and when I noticed that the formula Jorge shared with us could be made from some of the ingredients I have coming in, I figured it'd be worth a few minutes time to compare the two. For me, this isn't about finding a substitute for Amidol or for finding an easier/cheaper alternative...it's just about experimenting to add to my knowledge of things photographic. Being in the darkroom still makes me feel like a little kid inside.
     
  25. Tom Hoskinson

    Tom Hoskinson Member

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    I mixed and tested Donald Miller's formula. I mixed stock concentrates of the ingredients in propylene glycol and combined them to make the working developer.

    The developer worked well and produced good blacks. However, IMO it did not produce the 3 dimensional tonal effects that MS Amidol produces. I have not yet tried it in water bath development (the negs I've been printing don't require it).

    All in all, PPPD is a worthy developer (like Ansco 130), but for Azo contact prints, I still prefer MS Amidol.
     
  26. Alex Hawley

    Alex Hawley Member

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    I've tried it and and am using a variation it of regularly. Here's what I have determined:
    1) Agree with Tom, by itself, it does not produce the 3-D effect amidol does.
    2) If you use a water bath, you need to agitate a little bit to prevent mottling, especially in sky areas. This may really be a characteristic of the current Azo. Michael Smith has reported the same problem. Just a little slosh will prevent the mottling.
    3) I add 3 grams citric acid per liter to the mixture as a preservative. This seems to work well. I have kept a mixed solution for up to two weeks and it still worked.

    I'm having worthy results using a split bath of Agfa Neutol WA, followed by water bath, followed by PPPD using all catechol - no pyro. Hard to discern a difference between this and amidol.

    The only real reason I switched to this is because I ran out of budget money for amidol. I'd prefer amidol because its so easy to work with and produces the best results. But, this split bath combo is very very close.
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Jan 31, 2005