Identifying "failed" Xtol before you use it.

Discussion in 'B&W: Film, Paper, Chemistry' started by Dave Krueger, Jun 15, 2008.

  1. Dave Krueger

    Dave Krueger Member

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    Is there a quick clip test that I can do to make sure my Xtol hasn't gone dead before I use it? To be honest, I have been skeptical that Xtol even goes bad in the sense that people have described it, so I intentionally kept an almost empty bottle of the stock for over a year until it turned the color of beer. You'll never guess what came out on the test film I developed in it. Nothing. Completely clear. No frame numbers, even.

    Unfortunately, I threw the remainder of it away, so I am not able to experiment to find out of there is any quick way of identifying it's demise short pf developing a test film in it.

    Today I put some out in an uncovered dish to see if I could accelerate the failure mode and experiment a bit, but I'd be interested in hearing from anyone who might have already developed a quick test. I assume that the developer does not lose all it's potency at once, but I can tolerate thin negatives a lot better than clear negatives.
     
  2. Kevin Caulfield

    Kevin Caulfield Subscriber

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    From what people here have posted, it seems that Xtol does lose all its potency if not at once then over a very short period of time. That scares me. I use FX39 which is reputed to have a short lifetime, but I've never had that problem with it.
     
  3. Photo Engineer

    Photo Engineer Subscriber

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    Dave;

    There are a number of tests we used at Kodak to determine the lifetime or capacity of a developer. They are not too hard, but it takes practice to evaluate them.

    Basically, you are on the right track, but the test was much too severe. Usually a test of one month or 2 week intervals is more useful in things like this.

    PE
     
  4. df cardwell

    df cardwell Subscriber

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    I have a 100% sure way of determining whether any developer is good.

    Ready ?

    I develop a short roll of film in it.
     
  5. Tom Duffy

    Tom Duffy Member

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    the one time I had a problem with xtol exhaustion (my fault it was very old), it turned slightly yellow before it failed.
     
  6. Dave Krueger

    Dave Krueger Member

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    I've seen the slight yellow color shift and still got good results with it. I suppose I could get all systematic about it and do a clip test of some kind every time I use it and record the time it takes for the film to show some measurable change (like turn black). I fooled around with a strip of MGIV paper just to see how long it took to go black thinking that could be used as a measurable test. If the developer fails to make the strip go black within the allotted time, I would know it was bad. Not exactly a precision instrument, but I'm only looking to identify that complete failure mode. It really pisses me off that I threw that bad stuff away. :sad:
     
  7. Kirk Keyes

    Kirk Keyes Member

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    I pour some out and put a bit of exposed film in it. If it turns black in a minute or two, then I use it.

    I've never had any fail and I've used it over a year old.
     
  8. RidingWaves

    RidingWaves Member

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    The only case of mild failure I had was at least 8-9 years ago, when Kodak was still making it in 1 liter bags. One of the Part A's was a bit moist, rather than pure dry powder, and I mixed it up anyway, to have some slightly thin negs on a batch one week later. Quite possible it was in addition to the fact that I was much less stringent on mixing containers then, using a bucket that was 'multi use' and had a bit of oxidation on the metal handle, all of which I think contributed. Kodak has since been thru a few packaging changes, as well as balancing out the amounts of Parts A and B. I have a Xtol only bucket and funnel, filtered water and Saran wrap, no failures. If you're used to D-76 or Dektol 'dump it and go' you might want to tighten up the process. Its a fine developer, very flexible: Higher dilutions, high temps, straight, pushing, replenished.
     
  9. Dave Krueger

    Dave Krueger Member

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    Kirk, that hits the nail on the head. I was thinking of a fairly quick and dirty test that would save me from complete failure.

    RidingWaves, aside from the one batch I intentionally kept around in a near empty bottle, I have had no failures either. But, there have been a lot of stories on the web about problems and I do tend to let me chemicals get older than many people simply because I don't do much volume. I did read about the packaging issue that led Kodak to stop doing the 1 liter packages. In fact, I looked up the Mytol formula the other day thinking I might do better if I mix up smaller quantities. Mytol is reputedly very similar to Xtol and I could mix it up by the liter. It takes me a considerable amount of time to get through 5 liters of Xtol. And, of course, I don't have the forumla for Xtol, so I couldn't mix that myself.
     
  10. Trask

    Trask Subscriber

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    One alternative might be Foma's "Excel" developer, available from Freestyle (though I just bought my own packet in Prague at just about what Freestyle charges). Excel is supposed to be an Xtol clone, but comes in 1 liter packaging. OK, the cost of two 1-liter packages is about 80% of the cost of a Kokak 5-liter package, but it's like buying stuff at Sam's Club -- who needs a two gallon jar of mayonnaise?

    I last used Xtol years ago, so when I develop some film later this week in Excel I won't have anything to compare to. It would be of interest of someone who used Xtol regularly were to run a comparison text between Xtol and Excel.
     
  11. Kirk Keyes

    Kirk Keyes Member

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    Well, glad you liked it. I started doing that after the reports of failure started to come out. I've always used the 5 litre packages, so it seems I've never been at risk. But is seems like a quick and easy thing to do, so better safe than sorry...
     
  12. RidingWaves

    RidingWaves Member

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    Oh sorry, I was tired and forget what I was rambling on about. It took a few years but now I actually have Trust that the Xtol will work as expected, no test snip needed. I know its a 'leap' but after the mixing refinements and the obvious improvements in packaging and several years of use, hey, I just use it.
     
  13. Dave Krueger

    Dave Krueger Member

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    I will look into that. This is the first time I've heard of Excel.
     
  14. Neil Souch

    Neil Souch Subscriber

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    I have been using XTOL since it came out and have never had any problems. Over a recent move when every thing was packed away for 2 years a full 2 litre bottle of stock XTOL worked fine and I went on to use it over a further 4 month period without any problems. Mind having said that I certainly wouldn't recommend using XTOL if it has turned a funny colour.

    Cheers, Neil.