How to restart my replenished Xtol?

Discussion in 'B&W: Film, Paper, Chemistry' started by Dave in Kansas, Jul 16, 2012.

  1. Dave in Kansas

    Dave in Kansas Member

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    Last November, I mixed up a new batch of Xtol and developed a number of rolls through the winter months using the replenishing option, and was very satisfied with the results. For some reason, my film shooting and developing came to a near halt during the spring months when I shot only a few rolls of Pan F that I developed in Rodinal. So my replenished Xtol has been sitting untouched since mid-February.

    My Xtol stock solution and 1/2 gal. jug of working (replenished) solution are now well out of date and I need to mix a new batch of stock solution. I would like to continue using my 1/2 gal. Xtol replenished solution, but don't know how much of that should first be discarded and and refilled with newly mixed stock solution to start the replenished process going again.

    Any suggestions?

    Dave
     
  2. jordanstarr

    jordanstarr Member

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    Dave....I used seasoned HC-110 developer and unless it's completely spoiled, I would start with discarding 25-50% if you haven't touched it in a long time, assuming it's the 1 gallon jugs. I do not have a scientific reason for this. You would have to run a test strip through it though to accurately measure the developing time.
     
  3. Ian Grant

    Ian Grant Subscriber

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    25% should be sufficient, I was leaving Xtol part replenished for 6 month spels here in the UK while I was living in Turkey and that was fine. I usually developed less important images as a check to make sure.

    Ian
     
  4. Thomas Bertilsson

    Thomas Bertilsson Subscriber

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    Yep. It would be OK to dump about 25% and add fresh Xtol to bring activity back up. See, the reason you use a replenished developer, in addition to economy, is that the byproducts from developing is what gives the developer its unique characteristics, compared to just diluted stock. And the good news is that these byproducts remain in the developer, even if it's very old. If you have a batch of developer that's very old, you can use it as 'starter' for a new replenished system, as it effectively adds those byproducts, (which act as restrainers), directly to the developer so there will be no need to season the batch.

    Taken well care of, making sure it doesn't get contaminated, a replenished batch can last years or decades.

    For your information, if you don't use your replenished Xtol batch for about two weeks, replenish 100ml fresh developer anyway. Do this every two weeks, and activity will remain stable. I've come to do this with my own 2 liter working solution, and it works great. If you have a much larger working solution, like 5 liter, or 10 liter, you will need to replenish more solution. Do your own testing to see how much you need.
     
  5. Dave in Kansas

    Dave in Kansas Member

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    Thanks for the replies. I was concerned that I might need to dump much more than that.

    Dave
     
  6. Leigh B

    Leigh B Member

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    How much does it cost to buy and shoot a roll of film, which might be ruined by a dead developer,
    compared with the cost of just mixing fresh developer?

    This is a no-brainer.

    - Leigh
     
  7. Dave in Kansas

    Dave in Kansas Member

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    Leigh,

    I agree that developer is cheap compared to ruined film, but if I start over from the beginning with new working solution, it takes around 10 rolls to season the working solution and get it to the point it was when I stopped using it in February. If the experts here fell that by adding only 25% fresh Xtol to my existing working solution I can get the process going where I left off, then that is a good way to go. My first roll will be one of less importance just to be safe.

    Dave
     
  8. Leigh B

    Leigh B Member

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    ?? season it ??

    If your tenth roll doesn't come out exactly the same as your first, there's something seriously wrong with your process.

    - Leigh
     
  9. Dave in Kansas

    Dave in Kansas Member

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    Leigh,

    When using Xtol as a replenished developer it tends to acquire a somewhat different look after about 10 rolls have gone through it. It becomes "seasoned" or "mellows" after that. If you have time, do a search on Xtol replenishing. Thomas Bertilsson, who posted above, has posted quite a bit about it along with others. He could more accurately describe the difference between fresh and "seasoned" Xtol.

    Dave
     
  10. Leigh B

    Leigh B Member

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    That violates the most basic tenet of b&w film processing... consistency.

    This appears to be an excellent example of the old marketing ploy: "If you can't fix it, feature it".

    The underlying concept being that if you can't make something work properly,
    put a spin on it to make gullible customers think what they observe is "normal".

    - Leigh
     
  11. Ian Grant

    Ian Grant Subscriber

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    You obviously don't appreciate the benefits of replenishment which gives excellent consistency and these developers give the best results when seasoned.

    I've used replenished developers for over 40 years and it's the professional way of working, also ideal in many amateur darkrooms. I've used replenishment in both commercial darkrooms shared by 3 photographers and at home with no problems in all that time. . It's simple and highly cost effective.

    Ian
     
  12. Leigh B

    Leigh B Member

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    Yes, Ian, replenished developers are used in commercial darkrooms and in amateur environments
    where the volume of work and day-to-day uniform workload make that approach reasonable.

    It's certainly not appropriate for highly inconsistent usage such as the OP describes.

    As I said before, if the first roll and the tenth (or twentieth) are not identical there's a major problem,
    and that fact is not altered by Kodak's advertising budget or marketing hype.

    My opinions are based on 57 years of using one-shot developers, with absolute uniformity and consistency.

    - Leigh
     
  13. Sirius Glass

    Sirius Glass Subscriber

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    Echoing Dave and Ian, replenished XTOL gives much better results than either one shot XTOL [diluted] or non-replenished XTOL. I have been using replenished XTOL for years.

    Steve
     
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  15. Leigh B

    Leigh B Member

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    Then as I said before... You have a major process problem.

    No pile of recommendations can rebut the fact that the first roll (i.e. one-shot Xtol) should be identical with the tenth roll.

    - Leigh
     
  16. Roger Cole

    Roger Cole Subscriber

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    They are saying that the 100th (or whatever where N>10) roll will be the same as the 11th roll but it takes the byproducts of 1-10 to get to that point and stabilized.

    I've never used replenishment but I do understand the point.
     
  17. Leigh B

    Leigh B Member

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    Hi Roger,

    I understand what they're saying. It makes sense in a commercial lab running 50-100 rolls per day five or six days a week.
    In that environment replenishment can represent a major reduction in processing costs.

    It makes absolutely no sense for an amateur doing occasional development.

    Replenishment is a slippery slope, varying with rate of oxidation among other factors.

    - Leigh
     
  18. Thomas Bertilsson

    Thomas Bertilsson Subscriber

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    The biproducts resulting from the developed film, which is contained in the developer due to replenishing, yields a negative of finer grain, higher sharpness, and a tonality that's different (and to some, more pleasing). It's only the first ten rolls that are needed for seasoning. After that a batch is kept alive for years or decades WITH completely consistent results.
    If you don't know how these developers work, then try not being so abrasive about them, at least until you try it for your self. Why are you so negative about something you obviously know little about?
     
  19. Leigh B

    Leigh B Member

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    If the fresh developer is lacking some constituents that improve the negative, they should have been added at the factory,
    not through an imprecise "seasoning" process in the field in uncontrolled conditions.

    Of course you can keep solutions in constant use in a commercial lab for years. It's like the solera vintage of brandy.
    It may have been based on a solera from 1812, but there's blessed little of that brandy left in today's bottle.

    My statement about consistency has not yet been rebutted.

    Consistency and uniformity of process are the absolute foundation of proper darkroom work.

    You're right, I don't know about the "seasoning" process with Xtol since I've never used it,
    and have never encountered any other developer that required such a process.

    I'm concerned that some well-intentioned newbie will get caught up in this Xtol mystique,
    and get totally frustrated before doing the first ten rolls of film, not to mention wasting the
    time and money required to shoot those rolls.

    I've read a number of threads extolling the virtues of Xtol over the years, but this is the first
    to mention any "seasoning" process, or inconsistency of early rolls.

    - Leigh
     
  20. Sirius Glass

    Sirius Glass Subscriber

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    Basically you do not understand replenishment nor the purpose of replenishment.

    XTOL and other developer were developed to be used replenished, one shot, or unreplenished to give the user the option to get the exact consistent resulted desired.

    Labs then tend not use replenishment because the typical customer would not understand the difference nor the advantages.
     
  21. Lyn Arnold

    Lyn Arnold Subscriber

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    I was a newbie (questionable if well-intentioned) to pick up on the replenished X-tol mystique.

    I'm so glad I did!

    Lyn
     
  22. Sirius Glass

    Sirius Glass Subscriber

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    I suggest that you shoot and develop five rolls without replenishment.
    Then replenish the developer for the five rolls.
    Next shoot ten rolls and develop with replenishment.
    Compare the rolls and decide for yourself.

    I like the improve tonality resulting in smoother ranges of tonality while retaining the definition, contrast, and edge sharpness. YMMV.

    Steve
     
  23. Leigh B

    Leigh B Member

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    Thank you, Steve. I do understand replenishment.

    In fact I use it with Diafine.

    With that developer the results are absolutely consistent for roll #1 or #100,
    regardless of whether the developer is freshly-mixed or two years old.

    That's what I expect from any reasonable developer choice.

    - Leigh
     
  24. Thomas Bertilsson

    Thomas Bertilsson Subscriber

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    And I have had exactly the same results with replenished Xtol, using the same batch since 2008, simply replenishing 80ml every roll I run through. That about 1,000 rolls.
    I didn't even have to sacrifice the first ten. I just exposed some expired film to daylight and ran it through.
    See, replenished systems are incredibly stable, if you treat them right.
     
  25. Leigh B

    Leigh B Member

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    I said previously that replenished systems work fine when there's a reasonably constant work flow, about 5 rolls/week in your case.

    That's not true of the OP, who let the developer sit unused for 5 months.

    I guess you take solace in having discarded _only_ ten rolls of film. I've never discarded any.

    - Leigh
     
  26. Roger Cole

    Roger Cole Subscriber

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    If you perceive a benefit and want to start it up, just buy a bulk roll of the cheapest, expired if possible, black and white film you can find, expose it and run it through. I suppose it shouldn't be totally exposed as in to daylight as that would probably be different from a roll of average exposures, but just put the rolls in a camera with a winder, point at a normal scene and hold the button down. Freestyle has their rebranded Foma for $33.99. Ten rolls is just over half the roll. (You can almost certainly find some expired cheaper.) That's about 20 bucks. That plus a five liter package of Xtol is less expensive than a gallon of Diafine (or a quart anywhere I found it - it's almost as much as the gallons, when you can find quarts.)

    Might be a little wasteful but if I wanted to try this I'd do something like that. It's not absurd, but does add a bit of cost to the start up.

    A quick look on ebay turned up four 36x rolls of expired TMX for $4.20. Buck a roll - find 10 rolls and use that. Cheap enough.