Barry Thornton's Perceptol 1+2, 1+3

Discussion in 'B&W: Film, Paper, Chemistry' started by pierods, May 1, 2008.

  1. pierods

    pierods Member

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    What do you guys make of Barry Thornton's suggestion that Perceptol 1+2, 1+3 is the silver bullet of developers?

    I also cannot understand from the his Edge of Darkness book why the pyros he developed (dixactol, exactol etc) are better.

    They're better for landscapes? They give more acutance?

    If grain doesn't matter, as he explains, then why the Perceptol and not just his pyros, or the other pyros?

    I personally think that he stopped short of explaining the difference when he realized he should have published the formula of dixactol.

    But maybe I did not understand well.
     
  2. Ian Grant

    Ian Grant Subscriber

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    I've been reading Edge of Darkness and you're right he really doesn't quite explain himself properly. My conclusion is that despite the books cult status there's little of importance. After all Sandy King's Pyrocat is just as good as Dixactol and the formula published.

    BTW there is a DiXactol Ultra "type" formulae published.

    Ian
     
  3. Rich Ullsmith

    Rich Ullsmith Subscriber

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    I would say silver bullet if the stock solution had the shelf life of pyro. I guess if you homebrew, that's not an issue.
     
  4. Alan Johnson

    Alan Johnson Subscriber

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    He liked metol without hydroquinone. I have stand developed film in dilute hydroquinone based lith developer,it has very low sharpness. He could be right.
    I believe one reason he liked the pyros was their longer tonal range.
     
  5. janjohansson

    janjohansson Member

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    It is some time since i read Edge of Darkness, but i think the advantage of
    his pyro over perceptol was not grain, or other such factors but rather
    that you use the same dev-time for all films.

    Other than that i think that i can not remember him mentioning any other advantage
    over perceptol. however, over other non cathecol-based pyro-devs the colour of
    the stain is the advantage.

    -J
     
  6. pierods

    pierods Member

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    Thanks!
     
  7. Leon

    Leon Member

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    and I seem to remember him saying that, actually, grain does matter - it's been a while since I read it, but I'm sure he compared a very fine grain film with a less fine (FP4+ or similar) and concluded that the grainier film gave a better impression of sharpness .. no surprises there though.

    My impression of him from his books were initially good and helpful, Elements has some great advice to those getting into the art of fine print making, but seemed to eventually become a salesman, and the majority of Edge of Darkness was just an advert for DiXactol - that's not to say it didnt have some good points also though. I guess that, as with Peter Hogans Precyscol, if he wanted to make money from his formula (which I think was pretty much a pyrocat type with glycin added somewhere in the mix) he was well in his rights not release the formula. That said, I am convinced that his Exactol Lux was in fact a Metol version of Pyrocat - although that is just my opinion of course.
     
  8. Muihlinn

    Muihlinn Member

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    He did his statement about what he thought a fine print was very early in the book and he kept going *his process* to achieve it, indeed he talked about his developer, but IIRC he did it as his own way of getting good acutance, flexibility, sharpness and stain to avoid most dodging and burning, that was the advantage over perceptol for him, of course you can take it as an ad, but I never saw it that way, more like honestity, if I were writting a book I wouldn't talk about what I'm not using to follow a process.

    IMHO, that book is more a travel about what it could be an endless process is if you're looking for the ultimate anything what you're looking for out of your photography, and little more. It didn't much technically to me, but I learned a whole lot about my own photography after reading it.
     
  9. Eric Mac

    Eric Mac Member

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    I found Barry's book very interesting. While I am still a bit baffled by the different ideas of developers not having time to try them all myself, I remember the book was filled with a lot of commonsense ideas about making sure you know your equipment is in good working order such as focusing correctly to the steadiness of your tripod.


    Eric
     
  10. Michel Hardy-Vallée

    Michel Hardy-Vallée Membership Council Council

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    I did an experiment once to compare Perceptol 1+3 with DD-23 and XTOL 1+1, on 35mm tri-x, after reading Edge of Darkness.

    Dilute Perceptol and divided D-23 gave nearly identical results; after all they are essentially metol developers, giving fine and sharp grain. XTOL gives smoother grain, and a slightly different tonality.

    In the end, I would say that metol devs gave a "dry grain" look, and XTOL a "wet grain" look. But it did not make me swoon in ecstasy. Different devs, different results.

    I'm a fan of the XTOL look in 35mm, so I stick with it. If you're a fan of the "drier" grain, I would say go with D-23, divided or not. It will give you the same results without the ludicrously long developing times of dilute Perceptol.
     
  11. el wacho

    el wacho Member

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    i don't get it. better than what?


    i don't think he was asserting silver bullet style statements - not the impression i got anyway.

    being a user of both metol only and catechol developers i find his book accurate. at the end of the developer section he states that he uses both types according to what he prefers. his section on drag bleaching was very interesting. he's also quite clear as to the benefits of tanning/staining, inhibition of silver migration through tanning - the hardening of the gelatin etc. just my thoughts...
     
  12. pierods

    pierods Member

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    Interesting - I meant to say, better than each other.

    What are your thoughts on metol only versus pyro/stain/catechol? I am very interested.

    thanks

    piero
     
  13. Dan Henderson

    Dan Henderson Member

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    I bought "Edge of Darkness" to help me through what were to me unsatisfyingly "unsharp" photographs. As others have said, it included a number of things that photographers could do to ensure sharp images. Each chapter took on a different subject and covered it in detail. I changed many of my techniques, including switching to DiXactol, and my photographs satisfy my eye much more now. Yes, several of the latter chapters of the book tout DiXactol, which is a developer that he...er, developed, so why shouldn't he have spent the ink describing it? It is our job as photographers to try different things to achieve our vision, keep those that work for us, and discard those that do not. In that regard Thornton's book helped me as much as any book I have ever read.
     
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  15. jim appleyard

    jim appleyard Member

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    I find (casual observation only, no scientific tests, just what looks good) that with a metol-only dev, you can soup any film in it and get rather predictable results. I find that with staining devs, that they seem to like some films over others. I find that the Agfa films really shine with a staining dev, however, I get only fair results with Pan-F in Pyrocat HD, but, I get super negs with Pan-F and D-23 1+3 or Microdol-X, 1+3

    Agfa films show a good, solid stain where the Pan-F does not. IMO, the amount of stain is what sets the pyro's apart. I get controlled highlights and great midtones with Agfa films in staining devs, but ordinary negs with Pan-F. I have read that the amount of stain does not matter, but I have yet to see that. Again, just casual observations.
     
  16. Stoo Batchelor

    Stoo Batchelor Member

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    Would you mind pointing me in the direction of this published formulae please Ian.

    Thank You

    Stoo
     
  17. el wacho

    el wacho Member

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    hi Piero,

    i think they are very good.

    from my point of view, technique is governed/informed by one's aesthetics. i would shoot crawley's fx1 all day long if clouds and skies were not involved - the micro contrast is amazing ( as well as beutler as a two bath - bath A metol 6.5g/L + sodium sulfite 35g/L bath B sodium carbonate 35g/L 4min+4min this would be a kind of perceptol 1:2 A bath with a carbonate B bath) .

    the best quality about mr King's pyrocat HD ( i use the metol version; the dilution i use is 1.5:0.4:200 ) is the acutance and it's tonality - clouds and skies are rendered beautifully.

    if you haven't tried any of the aforementioned developers then you must. seeing is believing
    in regards to meaningful comparisons, i was looking at some of my earlier negs which were processed in xtol 1:3 - diluted metol or diluted pyrocat hd using the same agitation ( partial stand dev. 3inv per 3-4 min ) appear as sharper ( using zeiss/nikkor optics, tripod etc )

    ps. i reread the chapters on developing agents and his logic for recommending metol is clear. his criteria were enhanced sharpness and fine grain. i think his reference to perceptol ( and microdol x ) was a way of not excluding anyone that was not prepared to mix their own. hope this helps.
     
  18. Ian Grant

    Ian Grant Subscriber

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    I've posted it in the formulae section.

    This is a formulae I was given a year or so ago, and is supposed to give very similar results to DiXactol Ultra.

    Ian
     
  19. bill spears

    bill spears Member

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    Some years back when I was having a struggle with my photography and desparately trying to achieve the 'Fine Print' I came across Elements. It seemed to breathe new life into my work. The explanation of the zone system is particularly thorough (although personally I'm not a zone system worker!). I did though, follow his enthusiasm for dilute perceptol and still do for 90% of my work. 120 Pan F in pcptl 1:2 gives beautiful sharpness AND fine grain. FP4 and HP5 work great too. I've not had much experience with any of the Pyro formulations and I think this may be my next venture but to be honest I've never been left wanting from these combinations and thats a pretty rare occurrence for me ! Perhaps the only downside is the low EI rating especially with Pan F at ISO 12.

    However !! having said all this and after reading 'Edge of Darkness' and viewing the images I came to the conclusion that all this scientific precision and never ending knowledge of film structure, developing agents, sharpness, grain, acutance etc etc etc, doesn"t necessarily make for a stimulating picture.
    All the lovely Holga pictures posted on this site add proof to this.

    Bill
     
  20. Stoo Batchelor

    Stoo Batchelor Member

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    Thanks

    Stoo
     
  21. Leon

    Leon Member

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    good luck finding the Glycin Stoo :wink:
     
  22. pierods

    pierods Member

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    Have you tried perceptol 1+3 ?
     
  23. bill spears

    bill spears Member

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    I think I did use the 1:3 dilution a few times but for some reason tended to stick with 1:2, probably because of the long dev time. In theory the 1:3 should give even greater sharpness ? Think I might try this again sometime.
     
  24. Leon

    Leon Member

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    1:3 used to be my standard with perceptol - I used it at 24 degrees and was getting times of around 14 minutes for delta 100 at ei 80. very smooth tones, virtually grain free and knife sharp edges.
     
  25. pierods

    pierods Member

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    Great!

    And why is it not your standard any longer?
     
  26. Leon

    Leon Member

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    Personal taste more than anything else. I prefer a slightly grainier/ traditional look.

    I found the delta 100/ perceptol mix almost looked like a mono water colour or dare I say it ... prints from a digital camera with no noise added, than silver photography and despite to-ing and fro-ing between tan/stain developers and non T/S ones, I'm pretty much settled on FP4+ / hp5+ and a metol/catechol developer - there is something about the way highlight tones are rendered using a T/S stain that I dont get from perceptol. I'm sure there'll be a million people who say that is "nonsense and with good technique and d-76 exactly the same results could be gained etc etc", but from my subjective experience, that is the way I like it to be.