FP4+ and Acutol were my favourite, ideas suggestions?

Discussion in 'B&W: Film, Paper, Chemistry' started by steven_e007, Jun 3, 2009.

  1. steven_e007

    steven_e007 Member

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    Hi,

    I have been 'doing other things' recently and haven't done my own developing and printing for a while.

    A nephew of mine recently asked my advice about buying a camera. He wanted one of those Nikon digital SLRs that everyoine is raving about.

    I started a half hour rant about why I HATED digital SLRs and everything about digital photography, after which he went out and bought one. I think it was a case of, "well if Uncle Steve really hates them, they must be cool" :rolleyes:

    Anyway, to get to the point. My wife pointed out that whilst defending traditional film photography with gusto, I wasn't actually doing any...

    Well, not much anyway. Suitably atired in my hair-shirt, sack cloth and camera bag I am currently carrying three film cameras with me everywhere. That is the beauty of digital, if you dislike it enough it can be really motivating!

    Over the years I have tried many, many film and developer combinations - experimenting when I should have been photographing :sad:

    I spent a while looking at my black and white photo albums. There is one 'look' that stood out. They were sharp, contrasy images with quite noticeable mackie lines. I prefer medium format so grain is a bit less of a consideration. I looked up the processing details in my notes and in every case it was FP4+ in dilute Acutol.

    I've tried Rodinol and other developers, but always found that they didn't shift FP4+ much, acutance-wise. Easy to gain grain, but I think that because it is already a high acutance film it doesn't move much more in that direction, maybe? Take a soft fine grain 'modern technology' film and the effect is usually more noticeable, I reckon. Just my own personal experience. For me, dilute Acutol seemed to be the one combination that really did shove FP4+ a bit further in this direction. I remember I got nice easy to print negatives, too.

    So, the question is, now that Acutol is no longer with us, can anyone point me in the right direction for a high acutance / prominent mackie line type film / developer combination? I know I am libel to get imersed in the 'lets test 50 different film developer combinations' trap if I'm not careful :surprised:

    I see from searching the site for ideas that FX-15 is said to be Acutol-S, but mixing my own developers is also something I have a lot of experience of doing... instead of taking pictures! I'd really like to stick to off the shelf at least at the moment, lest I get stuck in that trap, too. Maybe after I've got a good few dozen new films under my belt.

    Thanks.
     
  2. bill spears

    bill spears Member

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    Dilute Perceptol always works good for me.

    Bill
     
  3. Anscojohn

    Anscojohn Subscriber

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    Try Beutler's.
     
  4. BradS

    BradS Member

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    Well, I was going to suggest Beutler's but I see that you have tentatively ruled out home brew. Is Tetenal Neofin Blue available over there?
     
  5. dynachrome

    dynachrome Member

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    FP4+

    FP4+ looks good in just about any developer. Microdol-X/Perceptol 1:3 or D-76/ID11 1:1 or X-tol 1:1 will will give you a look similar to Acutol. Microphen 1:1 will also work well and if it is available where you are, Edwal FG-7 1:15 with plain water (no added ss). I liked the look of FP4+ in AMALOCO AM74 1:15 the last time I used it.
     
  6. Ian Grant

    Ian Grant Subscriber

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    My suggestion is Pyrocat HD it's a remarkably good developer and gives excellent acutance and very fine grain with great tonality, but at the moment in the UK you can't buy it of the shelf.

    You could try Paterson FX-39 Crawley's newer developer it's suppoed to give sharp, high definition negatives .

    Ian
     
  7. takef586

    takef586 Member

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    Try Prescysol EF, you can get it from Paul Hogan monochromephotography site. I use it for high acutance and great tonality. Some say it is remarkably similar to Pyrocat HD. For more of a traditional high acutance look FX39 is also great.
     
  8. Mark Antony

    Mark Antony Member

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  9. Tom Kershaw

    Tom Kershaw Subscriber

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    Pyrocat-HD works well with Jobo development as well.

    Tom.
     
  10. RobertV

    RobertV Member

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    Concerning your story and high acutance:
    Beutler, Neofin Blau/Blue (Tetenal).

    Both will give very high acutance but I am not sure both are available in the UK.
    About self mixing: Beutler has only three components and when using Beutler A+B (the divided form) it's so simple you can not go wrong.

    AM74 (Amaloco) is a Phenidone - Hydroquinone developer. It's a semi-compensating developer but fits good with FP4+. It's sharp but it's not a high definition high acutance developer like Beutler or Neofin Blau/Blue.
     
  11. steven_e007

    steven_e007 Member

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    Hi, thanks for all the suggestion.

    Tetenal always was available in the UK, years ago. I have bought Tetenal chemistry before, in the past. I doubt it would be very easy to find in a high street stockist (because these days it would be hard to find a high street stockist in the first place...) but I'll give Silverprint a try...

    I have no problem with mixing Beutler's - I have mixed dozen's of developers before and still have a lot of chemicals. The Metol might have oxidised after this time, but I have lots of everything else available. My worry with chemicals is that I quite enjoy it and tend to get engrossed very easily. It is a lot of fun, but I found last time that I tended to neglect other aspects of the hobby - like actually taking some pictures!

    The effect I got with the Acutol that I liked so much was pronounced Mackie lines. I took some figure studies where it almost looked like the model had been cut out of a dark background with a very accurate scalpel and pasted onto a backdrop - real pencil round the edges stuff. I've never managed to achieve this with Rodinal, despite it's reputation for Acutance.
     
  12. Ian Grant

    Ian Grant Subscriber

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    Metol keeps well, I have some that's over 40 years old :D

    Ian
     
  13. RobertV

    RobertV Member

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    Well in that case instead of ordering pre-mix I can only recommend Beutler to replace the Acutol.

    Metol keeps very well BTW.

    Solution A:
    1g Metol
    5g Sodiumsulfite (sicc.)

    Fill up till 100ml with demi-water

    Solution B:
    5g Sodiumcarbonate (sicc.) or
    14,6g Household soda (Sodiumcabonate . 10 H2O)

    Fill up till 100ml with demi-water

    Use it 1+1+10 e.g. 25ml A + 25ml B fill up till 250ml
    I do not have FP4+ data available because I am not using Ilford films.

    Three combinations I am using: Acros 100, Efke 25 and Rollei Pan 25 with Beutler.
     
  14. gainer

    gainer Subscriber

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    Excuse me for butting in, but there is one thing to keep in mind about Mackie Lines. The human eye makes them also. You may see the effect at any sharp edge of high contrast. A high quality magnifier will show that this line will appear to vary in width, or even disappear at a near enough viewing distance. I have one photo in particular that shows this effect.

    A fellow photographer once sent me a photo that he said had this edge effect due to use of Acutol. When I looked at it magnified what I saw was a very sharp edge, but no appreciable Mackie line. However, the unaided eye did see the line.

    All I'm saying is to be sure that the Mackie line you see is in the object and not (at least not all) in your eye.
     
  15. clayne

    clayne Member

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    And this, folks, is one of the many reasons I keep coming back to APUG. :smile:
     
  16. Matt5791

    Matt5791 Subscriber

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    I notice that the Film Developing Cookbook (note: the sister publication to the Darkroom cookbook) gives the formula for Acutol S, or FX15 as Crawley dubbed it. When Paterson discontinued it, Crawley published the formula, which is apparently:

    Metol 3.5g
    Sodium Sulphate anhydrous 100g
    Phenidone 0.1g
    Hydroquinone 2.25g
    Sodium Bisulphate 0.5g
    Borax 2.5g
    Sodium corbonate anhydrous 1g
    Potassium Bromide 1.5g
    Water to make 1L

    Maybe someone can confim this.

    Matt
     
  17. Ian Grant

    Ian Grant Subscriber

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    There's another thread about Crawley developers and Acutol-S at the moment. It's a different developer and gives much more pronounced acutance and edge effects compared to Acutol but at the expense of grain & tonality.

    All Paterson developers have an FX number, Acutol is FX-14 and hasn't yet been published, presumably because it could be re-introduced.

    Ian
     
  18. gainer

    gainer Subscriber

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    How do you tell if the Metol is only, say, 10% oxidized when the first thing you mix with it is sulfite? The oxidized Metol is converted to the sulfonate, from what I have read, which is somewhat weaker than metol, but better than oxidized Metol which is an inhibitor of development, or so I have read. If in fact sodium ascorbate will regenerate oxidized Metol, as I have read, why not add some to the Metol solution before adding the sulfite and hydroquinone of D-76? In fact, why not substitute 8 g. of sodium ascorbate in place of the 5 g. of Q?

    Just curious.
     
  19. Ian Grant

    Ian Grant Subscriber

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    Usually I forget to add the pinch of Sulphite :smile: so if the Metol was partially oxidised I'd see that from the colour as it dissolves. The old Metol I've got (a few KG) works as well as the fresh Metol I also have so I don't think there's a problem. In truth I now mainly use Phenidone based developers as they have better keeping properties, maybe it's time I off-loaded some of the Metol & the few Kg of Pyrogallol :D

    I'm loathe to tamper with a formula, so unless I'm adapting or designing a new one for a specific purpose I wouldn't put ascorbate in. Ascorbate/Ascorbic acid & derivative based developers have been around for a long time, they are in Kodak (1947) & Ilford (56 & 57) patents, unfortunately the Patents probably aren't available online, the Kodak Rather one is French & the Ilford one British. (I only just found the referances a few minutes ago).

    I think what surprises me is just how much work was done on developers using Ascorbates and how until Xtol most of us didn't contemplate using it. There's a Swedish company who patented (USP) an Xtol style developer in the 60's so nothings that new.

    Ian
     
  20. semeuse

    semeuse Member

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    someone else here already suggested Prescysol - with semi-stand development, I have found the same effects you are describing with Acutol - you may wish to give it a try
     
  21. gainer

    gainer Subscriber

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    Of course, I wouldn't have suggested it if I hadn't tried it.:wink: My first published ascorbate developer was an accident that I published in Darkroom & Creative Camera Techniques in 1994, before XTOL was made public. I was looking for a substitute for sulfite because ascorbic acid was available close by while sulfite was not, and both are antioxidants. Needless to say, it was sulfite free, simple and quickly made a liter at a time. Metol or Phenidone, ascorbic acid and sodium carbonate. You can see that article reprinted at www.unblinkingeye.com. It's whimsically entitled "Non-chromogenic Antiscorbutic Developers for Black & White."
     
  22. Tom Stanworth

    Tom Stanworth Member

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    For small negs:

    FX-39 - very sharp, but can be rough with faster films.
    Pyrocat HD is the best all round dev for acutance and grain IMO
    Xtol 1+3 is fairly decent acutance wise, but with moderatelt fine grain.

    For larger formats or when using modern slow eumulsions Xtol 1+2 or 3 with some rodinal added works nicely.