Amidol with Benzotriazole as the only restrainer?

Discussion in 'B&W: Film, Paper, Chemistry' started by Jarin Blaschke, May 31, 2013.

  1. Jarin Blaschke

    Jarin Blaschke Member

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    I am about to return to printing after something of an absence. I have historically used Ansco 130 with benzo substituted for Kbr, and now want to try Amidol now that I'm a better printer, and have been perusing formulae for a starting point. I prefer cool-toned images, and have been curious about trying benzotriazole as the only restrainer in an amidol formula, but seem to find conflicting information about it's compatibility. I have found Fein's Amidol formula of course, which has no bromide at all, just benzo - BUT I've also read (Darkroom Cookbook) that Benzo does not function at the mild ph of an Amidol developer. Is Fein's poorly formulated? Or does the extra Sulfite bring up the ph enough to activate the benzo? ... but then again what about all that citric acid added?

    Can someone straighten out this conflicting information for me? - I'd love to omit the Potassium Bromide for the coldest tones, but would like to find an effective starting point for a formula before squandering precious Amidol!

    Thanks!!
     
  2. Gerald C Koch

    Gerald C Koch Member

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    If you are just returning to printing I would suggest you stick with the Ansco formula. Amidol is tricky and has some drawbacks. It is very toxic, unstable, expensive, and stains everything, clothes, hands, everything. Both the stock and working solutions have a very short life compared to other developing agents.

    Amidol is not very sensitive toward bromide. It is the only developing agent that will work in acid solution. To help the problem of oxidation the stock solution may be acidified with lactic or citric acid which also act as restrainers. If formulated properly an amidol developer will produce a pure black tone. However a properly formulated developer using other developing agents can do the same thing. Considering all the downsides to amidol I would suggest not using it. There are several well known developers which will produce a cool black tone if that is your desire. Suggested formulas are Kodak D-73 and D-158, Foma FV-112 and Gervaert G.252. They use the more common developing agents metol and hydroquinone.
     
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  3. StigHagen

    StigHagen Member

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    I use Amidol. I just love it! Amidol and Ilford WT is the most beautiful combination I have seen for enlarging paper. I use it with Lodima for contact printing as well. If you visit the website michaelandpaula.com you will find articles, recipes and a forum with a lot of Amidol information.

    http://www.artcraftchemicals.com/products/ have everything you need.
     
  4. Jarin Blaschke

    Jarin Blaschke Member

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    It's great that people have such different opinions about amidol, but does anyone have a response to the question?

    J
     
  5. Gerald C Koch

    Gerald C Koch Member

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    You don't say which paper you intend to use. Most Amidol developers are formulated for slow chloride contact papers such as the much loved Kodak Azo. IIRC correctly there is only two companies (Foma and Lodima) still making such papers.
     
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  6. Michael R 1974

    Michael R 1974 Subscriber

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    Jarin - it is going to be difficult to get a solid answer since many Amidol formulas seem to be person-specific tweaks and such.

    One suggestion Formulary makes regarding its "Weston" Amidol kit is to start with a very small amount of KBr, test carefully for fog and increase the concentration slowly until there is no fog. BZT could probably be added but again - you will really have to test for yourself with your paper and your developing times etc. and determine what the effects are.

    Among other things the cold/warm tone will depend on the paper and also the developing time. For example, typically longer development times will result in slightly cooler tones.

    I agree with StigHagen you may be best off looking at michaelandpaula.com for information on how people are using Amidol developers.

    Wanting to try Amidol because you are a better printer seems like strange reasoning, but I'm all for people trying stuff so just be careful. As Gerald pointed out this stuff is toxic and nasty. It also has a very short tray life.

    Note the strongest proponents of Amidol are generally contact printers using graded chloride-type papers.
     
  7. Gerald C Koch

    Gerald C Koch Member

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    Several people on APUG have recommend Ethol LPD for its ability to produce cool tones.
     
  8. GregW

    GregW Member

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    Photographer's Formulary have a short paragraph about this appended to the spec sheet for TAF-1- a similar organic restrainer, It's pretty adamant about not using an organic restrainer like benzo* with Amidol.

    http://stores.photoformulary.com/images/store_version1/03-0147.pdf

    the reference is to Weston's Amidol's BB compound which supposedly contained benzo.
     
  9. nworth

    nworth Subscriber

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    I've used amidol a couple of times, and I found no magic in it. There are formulations that work very well with enlarging papers. A literature search would be worthwhile before settling in a formula. The last time a bought amidol, the material was quite impure. Commercial 2,4-diaminophenol is available for about $100 per 100 grams. That would be cleaner, but i doubt that it is worth the expense. Amidol developers deteriorate quickly, and a liter will generally not last the printing session. My experience was that the developer badly stained everything except the image (which was clean and quite nice), but that may have been largely due to the impure material. It has been many years since I tried LPD, but my recollection is that the image was quite close to amidol. It's also expensive, but it might be a good alternative.
     
  10. c6h6o3

    c6h6o3 Member

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    If citric acid is part of the formula for amidol working solution, you get great tray life out of it. The solution will be gone from carryover loss before it becomes depleted.

    Most people who use amidol mix it from dry chemicals for each use. You don't need to keep a stock solution. Michael Smith is still using amidol that was put in jars in 1903.

    Yes, it stains like crazy. You also must use a plain hypo (sodium thiosulfate) fixer or you risk turning the prints pink. If the amidol is from the big group purchase of Chinese chemistry we bought some years ago, it's very impure and stains even worse than the English amidol you get from Artcraft. And, it ruins the fixer so you have to one shot that. Still, it's worth all the trouble to me because of the excellent dmax I get.

    Try M.A. Smith's formula and you'll see that the short tray life myth is just that.

    Benzo as a substitute for KBr? I have no idea. However, if you like cold toned prints, amidol is probably not for you in the first place. It shines at producing warm tones which can be adjusted by varying the KBr.
     
  11. Michael A. Smith

    Michael A. Smith Subscriber

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    So weird, the erroneous information that continues to continue to be put forth on these forums. I would bet that those who say that Amidol has a short tray life have never used it. Or if they used it, used a bad formula. When I mix up Amidol it lasts all day--up to 12 hours--and I have even used it the following morning after having it sit in an open tray all night.

    Yes, there are many Amidol formulas. Most are worthless for modern paper.

    Amidol will work just fine with Benzotriazole. It is the choice for those who want cold-tone prints rather than warm tone prints. As for the amount to use, you will have to experiment. I last did it so long ago that I have forgotten how much I used of a 1% solution.

    Amidol does not stain everything. I think that myth started when, as Jim mentioned, the Chinese Amidol appeared. That Amidol does stain everything.

    When we originally tested the Chinese Amidol it was like the English Amidol. We recommended that the purchaser go to China and test the actual Amidol he was buying. We even arranged for a darkroom there. Sadly, that did not happen. The Chinese switched out the finer Amidol we had tested and gave him the impure stuff. It works, gives great black tones, but it does stain.

    Michael A. Smith
     
  12. Peter Schrager

    Peter Schrager Subscriber

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    Funny this should come up...i work w the chinese amidol quite well...it can stain but on the back...i recently tried some of the formulary amidol and had a staining problem as well...solution is i use an idustrial mesh strainer and extra water trays at the end of the tray line...after making my yest prints i usually top off the amidol so prints dont touch bottom of the tray....

    Sent from my SAMSUNG-SGH-I997 using Tapatalk 2
     
  13. Gerald C Koch

    Gerald C Koch Member

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    There is a famous photograph of Edward Weston showing his black fingernails. He used Amidol and refused to use tongs when developing prints. It doesn't matter where the Amidol comes from, get it on your clothes and they are permanently stained. Spill it on the floor same thing. As a solid and as a solution it will stain any material it touches. This caveat does not apply to properly processed prints since the developing agent is washed out before it can stain.

    Amidol is the standard developing agent for nuclear emulsions because it develops the bottom of the emulsion first. When I used it my lab coat was covered with black stains.

    Speaking of Edward Weston, some attribute the neurological problem he suffered in later life to his chronic exposure to Amidol rather than to Parkinson's disease. One should always use appropriate precautions when working with Amidol.
     
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  14. Jarin Blaschke

    Jarin Blaschke Member

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    Wow - a lot of conflicting information regarding benzo and Amidol. Michael insists that it can be used alone, and yet the afformentioned Formulary product sheet clearly conflicts this (http://stores.photoformulary.com/images/store_version1/03-0147.pdf), as well as Anchell's book.

    I am seeking a true Bromide paper to try with Amidol. Are there any options out there anymore aside from the Kentmere paper? Any other broader paper recommendations for enlarging with amidol? Good tonality is of paramount concern over image color. Is it worth trying with Seagull with either Fein's or MAS' amidol, my go-to paper with Anscoi 130?

    J
     
  15. Michael A. Smith

    Michael A. Smith Subscriber

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    The Amidol from Photographers Formulary is the Chinese Amidol, which is why is stains so badly.

    Michael A. Smith
     
  16. nworth

    nworth Subscriber

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    I used one of your formulas and the aforementioned Chinese amidol. As stated above, I suspect the impurities in that amidol were the cause of much (if not all) of the staining. They could also have affected the life, although there are many reports from the time of amidol's heyday that suggest a life of about 3 - 4 hours in tray. My experience was in the 4 hour range. I have used practical grade amidol in the distant past for things other than developers, and it was clean and very well behaved.
     
  17. Rich Ullsmith

    Rich Ullsmith Subscriber

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    My limited experience with amidol is with the M&P formula. Michael, your formula was written on my darkroom wall until recently, and I painted over it as we were selling the house and I am sure the buyers would not understand.

    Yes, an M&P solution of amidol developer lasts a long time. Over night in the tray, no problem.

    It is no magic potion. But it certainly is different. Blacker.

    The stuff I have was culled from a darkroom garage sale, way pre-chinese, and it does stain fingers and toes and anything else it touches.

    As stated above, the chloro-bromo papers stand up best in amidol. Ektalure is very nice in amidol.

    In any event, about the benzotriazole. It's good to have on hand. As a restrainer, it remains constant in solution, whereas bromide levels build. It is most helpful in lith printing.
     
  18. Michael R 1974

    Michael R 1974 Subscriber

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    Blacker?
     
  19. resident K

    resident K Member

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    I`ve used Fein`s amidol several times and can say that BZT works in it reducing fog on some old papers. In addition I printed for two days without signs of decay(formula gives evident cold-tones on bromide papers and fat blacks), moreover, after 1 month of shelf life it worked(!!!) only with the loss of d-max. Also developer didn`t stained at all(I used Amidol from 70`th). Unfortunately I have very limited amount of amidol to work more intensive.
    From my experience in some way similar results(cold-tone on bromide papers) from a range of non-amidol developers gives Maxim Muir dev-r.
     
  20. c6h6o3

    c6h6o3 Member

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    I should mention that the Chinese amidol does have shorter tray life than Artcraft amidol. If you leave it out overnight you can't use it the next morning. 4 hours is maximum tray life for the working solution in my experience. However, I've used the same tray of Artcraft amidol for as long as 3 days and gotten beautiful prints from it.