Developer giving highest true speed?

Discussion in 'B&W: Film, Paper, Chemistry' started by albada, Oct 29, 2011.

  1. albada

    albada Member

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    What developer gives the highest true speed with TMY-2 or TX, regardless of grain? (True speed is defined as density of 0.1 above B+F).

    I'm just getting back into developing my own film, so I've been researching developers by reading The Film Developing Cookbook, The Darkroom Cookbook, and Mason.
    Well, XTOL adds about 1/3 stop to the speed. Diafine speeds up TX by a bit over 1 stop. Anyone tried FX-37 or FX-55?

    Also, I don't mind some fog because my scanner easily scans through it, and I can mix my own developer, so I'm thinking of trying Crawley's speed-boosting FX-37 but with less restrainer in it.

    Comments and experiences will be gratefully read...

    Mark Overton
     
  2. dpgoldenberg

    dpgoldenberg Member

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    Mark,
    I have used FX-37 with TMY-2, and did my own tests. Since they are personal tests, I can't really say anything about absolute speed. But, my impression was that FX-37 didn't do any speed magic on TMY-2. I wound up using an EI of 320. On the other hand, FX-37 did seem to boost the speed of Delta 100, with a noticeable bump in the toe region of the curve, and my EI for that film/developer combination was 125, a third stop greater than the box speed. I generally liked FX-37. With respect to grain structure and sharpness, it seemed to fall somewhere between Rodinal and a more fine-grained developer (I was using Ilford DD-X at the time).

    For the last year or so, I have been using Pyrocat HD, and I like it, too. We're not really supposed to talk about this here, but, like you, I use an enlarger with a computer between the lens and the paper. As others have reported, the stain from the Pyrocat seems to minimize the appearance of grain in the scans. Or, I would say that it minimizes the enhancement of grain that often occurs with scanning. The speed with TMY-2 is about the same as with FX-37. But, my EI with Delta 100 and Pyrocat is only 80. Speed is not really my major concern, usually, so I am quite happy with both Delta 100 and TMY-2 in Pyrocat.

    I hope that helps a bit.
    David
     
  3. jp498

    jp498 Member

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    Pyrocat HD is indeed a fast developer for TMY2. I mostly use TMY2 and have tried d76, xtol, xtol 1+1, xtol 1+2, PMK, and pyrocat HD. I don't have the means to measure "true speed", but Pyrocat HD seems to be as fast as Xtol, and is faster than other pyro developers. I can shoot TMY2 with a yellow filter with my reflective meter set for ISO 400 and I get good negatives. I shoot at 320 to develop with PMK. I like Pyrocat HD as a developer with more detailed shadows and stronger contrast than PMK. PMK is what I usually use and consider a slightly lower contrast negative to be more useful in bright sun with what that developer does for the highlights. TMY2 is very versatile and can have different magic with different developers or techniques.

    Get a $15 or so kit to try it out.
     
  4. AgX

    AgX Member

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    What is True Speed?
     
  5. Ronald Moravec

    Ronald Moravec Member

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    True speed is shadow density gained over film base + fog.

    You really can`t establish a true speed unless you can measure using ISO standards. For thing thing, the shutter must be known accuracy.

    You can establish an EI, or exposure index for your conditions. Look for an increase in negative density in the darkest shadow areas of the scene. Ignore density in the highlights which you can get by developing longer.

    Try Microphen or Diafine or Acufine. None will increase shadow density substantially, perhaps up to 2/3 stop. All can gain highlight density by longer development.
     
  6. Gerald C Koch

    Gerald C Koch Member

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    This question has been discussed before ad nauseam. Therefore I must say, "Once more unto the breach, dear friends, once more." Mason on pp 144-45 makes the point that the fastest speed for films in general is obtained with a low pH, high sulfite, phenidone based developer. The pH should be 8.9 to 9.6 and the sufite content in the range of 70 to 100 g/l. Examples are Ilford ID-68, Microphen and Kodak Xtol. But the speed increase is rather modest and less than one stop.
     
  7. michael_r

    michael_r Subscriber

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    Interestingly the opposite - ie: low sulfite, relatively high pH formulas - can also give higher effective speed. Since the developing agent is relatively poorly preserved (resulting in highlight compensation), the toe has had a chance to build more density by the time a normal contrast gradient is reached. FX1 and FX2 are good examples.
     
  8. ic-racer

    ic-racer Member

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  9. albada

    albada Member

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    Gerald, What edition of Mason do you have? Mine is "Third Impression 1979" and pp 144-145 in mine lack that text. Which chapter/section mentions this? Maybe it's on another page in my edition.
    Anyway, sorry if this question is a FAQ, as I'm new to apug.org.

    From what I've been reading, pyro family is sounding more and more appealing. Maybe I'll give PMK or Pyrocat-HD a try...

    Mark Overton
     
  10. Gerald C Koch

    Gerald C Koch Member

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    My copy is 1966 and the chapter is "The Photographic Developer: Practical Considerations and Formulae.: The information is under Fine Grain Developers.
     
  11. michael_r

    michael_r Subscriber

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    Pyro formulas are not known for speed.

    I'm curious, what is OPs motivation? It could help tune the responses. It seems odd for speed to be the sole criterion in developer selection - particularly since in the grand scheme of things, with the exception of speed decreasing solvent developers, the speed differences between most general purpose developers and so-called "speed enhancers" are small at best.

    I must say in my personal experience I've never observed significant speed increases, even with developers like FX2 which are reputed to give up to a full additional stop. I would say some developers maintain speed a little better with reduced contrast development, but even then, defining true speed in traditional zone system terms (0.1 over base+fog) is not necessarily the end of the story. While "0.1 over base+fog" is a useful landmark, what we are really talking about is shadow/toe contrast. Essentially by calling zone I 0.1 over base+fog we are trying to put zone I density at a point on the characteristic curve that ensures good separations are available upward from zone I. The idea is basically to put all the important shadow exposure values past the toe, onto the straight line portion of the characteristic curve.

    But some film-developer combos produce higher low value contrast than others. XTOL is an example of a general purpose solvent developer which tends to produce relatively higher contrast in the low-middle values than some other formulas. Depending on how you develop the film, you might not necessarily find XTOL gives you a higher "speed point density" than 0.1 above base+fog, but the separations immediately upward from that point will be a little stronger than with say HC-110. You might be able to rate your TMY2 at 400 in XTOL even though your true speed point might only be 0.08 above base+fog. At the same time you might rate your TMY2 at 300 in HC-110, get a speed point of 0.11 above base+fog, and still find you don't have enough contrast in the shadows.

    Then of course, as I mentioned earlier, there's the issue of contrast. With most modern films the speed (as you've defined it) will tend to move around quite a bit depending on development time, agitation etc.
     
  12. piu58

    piu58 Member

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    Gerald Koch wrote: > fastest speed for films in general is obtained with a low pH, high sulfite, phenidone based developer

    Dear Michael, that is not true if you count speed as
    a) real density above fog
    b) you need the highlights (no blocking).

    If you use such a strong developer you lose the higlights.
     
  13. michael_r

    michael_r Subscriber

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    It is incorrect to call a developer "strong" simply based on it having a higher pH alkali. A balanced, non-staining acutance developer is also a compensating formula by definition. The highlights take longer to build density due to controlled exhaustion, which allows the lowest values more time to build density. There is usually a more gradual shoulder. This is a different mechanism than the Phenidone-high sulfite speed formula. It also explains why low pH, solvent formulas with high sulfite and a relatively high concentration of Metol (eg D23, D25, Microdol, Perceptol etc) do not give compensating results unless they are diluted to 1+3 or even more, and agitation is significantly reduced. There is simply too much developing agent and preservative for controlled exhaustion to take place. Incidentally this does not mean you "lose" the highlights, just that the shoulder is less pronounced and higher up on the curve. Not necessarily a bad thing as excellent separations are available well above zone X.
     
  14. albada

    albada Member

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    I have two reasons for the question.

    1. If negatives are scanned, a program such as Noise Ninja can reduce grain, making graininess less important, and thus making true speed more important.

    2. I have a crazy idea: Develop using two developers. Bath A would be a speed-enhancing developer, and bath B would be a super fine grain developer such as DK-20. The time in each bath would be such that final density would be correct, which means that bath A would be underdeveloped (shorter time). Bath A would build up (amplify) each photon-hit, but not enough to cause grain-clumping. Bath B would do the final amplification in a manner less prone to clumping. The goal would be box-speed plus super fine grain. Or have folks already tried this?
     
  15. Brian Legge

    Brian Legge Member

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    I'm not concerned about grain when it comes to speed - I care primarily about retaining detail in shadows. I can always step up a format if grain is a major consideration. :wink:
     
  16. Alan Johnson

    Alan Johnson Subscriber

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    I dont know about TMY or Tri-X but the highest shadow speed I obtained with Delta 100, sun/shade, average metering was EI=160. D-76 gave EI=80 .
    This was from Tetenal Emofin 2-Bath developer used according to the instructions (no push processing).However this was at the expense of the flattening of highlights,ie clouds not so well separated from sky.
     
  17. MaximusM3

    MaximusM3 Member

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    TMY2, recently tested for me by Fred Newman at The View Camera Store with 21 steps wedge and calibrated light. Developed by me with Ilford DDX 1:4, agitation of 5 initial inversions and 5 every minute at 70 degrees (not 68 as indicated on chart). Without silly gimmicks you would get more than box speed and imperceptible grain at an average gradient of 5 to 5.5. Take this for whatever it's worth, since it is my test designed to work with my technique and fit my paper in the darkroom.
     

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  18. michael_r

    michael_r Subscriber

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    This sort of thing has been done, although not exactly the same, and not to control grain (as far as I know). It has been used more as an alternative method for compensating development (ie extreme contractions) in an attempt to get a little more shadow contrast which can get very flat in extreme contractions. Bruce Barnbaum does this, but it is with one developer (HC-110). He uses a concentrated dilution for the first minute or so, to get the shadows going, and the the remaining development is in a very dilute HC-110. Of course, grain is not a concern since he's working with large format film. Personally I have my doubts as to whether this procedure makes a meaningful difference versus using highly dilute HC-110 for the entire development time with reduced agitation (as Ansel and others used it).

    I guess you could try. My guess is considerable experimentation would be involved. Although in the end, I still doubt this will make a meaninfgul difference in speed if you want super fine grain. A good developer for Bath A might be something like Ilford DD-X at a more concentrated working dilution than normal. However for Bath B I think the finest grain developers you could reasonably use would be Perceptol, or perhaps an Atomal-type formula, or some sort of modernized PPD/Glycin thing, or Crawley's FX-5. I don't think DK-20 is a good idea. It is almost certain to produce dichroic fog with modern films. It's a long outdated formula.

    One other note - regarding "grain clumping" - ie migration. With modern, hardened films, my understanding is this basically does not happen, or that at least the jury is out. We've had some lenghty threads on this in the past.

    Incidentally, my testing results with DD-X are consistent with what Max posted above. Of all the general purpose solvent, mild-pH MQ or PQ developers I've tried DD-X produces the highest speed, essentially box speed with many films.
     
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  19. MaximusM3

    MaximusM3 Member

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    ..and as a comparison, TX 120 with XTOL 1:1, 70 degrees, 5 inversions initial, and 5 ever 30 seconds. Not quite DDX but close.
     

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  20. michael_r

    michael_r Subscriber

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    ...also consistent with my findings, although even though the speed point is slightly lower with XTOL, I find XTOL favours low and mid value contrast a little more than DD-X, which is something I like. It is also slightly finer grained than DD-X. The differences are small though.
     
  21. albada

    albada Member

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    Mike, thanks for the ideas. After noticing this modification of D76 http://www.apug.org/forums/forum37/55055-d76-variation.html, it occurred to me that I can develop for half the normal time in a speed-boosting developer like XTOL (or D76 as in the link), then add 40g/litre of ammonium chloride to the developer already in the tank (pour out, add it, pour back into tank), and continue developing for much longer than usual. The goal is to give a super fine grain effect in the latter part of development, while not clobbering the fragile image-specks at the start of development which is what I speculate causes much of the speed-loss.

    So this would be a two-phase development: High sensitivity for the first phase, and high solvent (with physical development) in the second phase.

    Well, it'll be easy to waste a strip of film trying this. I still suspect it's been tried many times...

    Mark Overton