Is chlorine ruining my developer mixtures?

Discussion in 'B&W: Film, Paper, Chemistry' started by tbm, Feb 4, 2005.

  1. tbm

    tbm Member

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    I live in Los Angeles, and the city's water contains chlorine. Two days ago I developed a roll of Fuji Acros 100 with faucet water and Microdol-X 1:3 at 75 degrees for 16 minutes and got gorgeous negatives. Yesterday I developed the same film with faucet water and Photographers' Formulary D-76 substitute, TD-16, and the negatives were horribly under-developed and mostly lacked tonality. Today I developed a third roll of the same film with faucet water and Paterson's FX-50 developer and got the same horrid under-developed results.

    I spoke with Bud at Photographers' Formulary late yesterday and he blamed the TD-16 problem on chlorinated water, adding that, unlike Kodak's developers, the Formulary's developers contain no buffers and must be mixed with distilled, not faucet, water. I now infer that, if he is correct (and I believe he is), since FX-50 is made in England, it, too, contains no buffers and must be mixed with distilled water. However, the instructions in the box do not mention this.

    Have any of you experienced this anomaly before and, if so, did you rectify it by mixing your developers with distilled water? Thanks immensely for your clarification!

    Terry
     
  2. Tom Hoskinson

    Tom Hoskinson Member

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    The problem could be your tap water, on the other hand, it may be the developer.

    If you boil the tap water and let it cool, that will get rid of the dissolved oxygen (which may cause problems) and it should also get rid of some of the chlorine.

    On the other hand your water may have a low pH (i.e. on the acid side) and that will slow or stop development. You could test your water if you have litmus paper or an aquarium pH meter available to you.

    IMHO, the simplest explanation of your problem is that your developer (TD-76 and FX-50) is going bad.
     
  3. tbm

    tbm Member

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    No, my developers were not going bad. The TD-16 was freshly mixed from previously unopened powder packages and the FX-50 was freshly mixed from previously unopened small plastic containers it was shipped in. Additionally, I do not have this problem with Xtol, Microdol-X, HC-110, Acufine, Diafine, and others. Thus my assumption that Bud at Photographer's Formulary was correct in stating it is a chlorine problem.
     
  4. Kirk Keyes

    Kirk Keyes Member

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    Chlorine is not going to affect your buffers - the buffers react to the acidity/alkalinity of your water. Not chlorine.

    Municiple water supplies typically have around 1 mg/L free chlorine in them, they are allowed up to 4 mg/L in the US. That's 1/1000 gram in one liter of water. That is not a whole lot. If you developer has any sulfite in it, it will react with the chlorine and neutralize it. And I think your developer has some sulfite. So I would look elsewhere other than chlorine.

    If you developer doesn't have much buffering, then look at the alkalinity of the water. You can check with your local water bureau to find out what the typical values are for your city.

    If you are in Los Angeles County, not City, look here:
    http://ladpw.org/wsm/waterqualityrpt.cfm
    For example, the City of Lomita has an alkalinity of 92 in 2003, not too high, but not low. pH of 8.2. That level would have no affect on a low pH developer like XTOL. Chlorine level was 2.5 mg/L. So not very high.

    I suggest you look to other causes.
     
  5. Kirk Keyes

    Kirk Keyes Member

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    And even though it is a powerful oxidizer, there just isn't much in municipal water supplies.
     
  6. Bob F.

    Bob F. Member

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    By coincidence, I used FX-50 for the 1st time yesterday with London tap water (chlorine, fluorine, chunks of calcium, godknowswhatelse) and the negs were fine. I think it unlikely that any commercial "big-name" developer will be effected by the levels of chlorine found in normal drinking water. If it was, I'm sure they would say to use distilled. On the other hand, one simple test is to do your next film with distilled and see what you get.

    Cheers, Bob.
     
  7. gainer

    gainer Subscriber

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    Does your water have much iron? IIRC, FX-50 is an ascorbate developer that has been known to fail without notice. Ryuji Suzuki has done some research that shows ferrous (I think) iron in the water can hasten failure of ascorbate developers and uses salicylic acid as a chelating agent in his formulations. I don't know if that would affect the D-76 clone.
     
  8. mikepry

    mikepry Subscriber

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    I have a well for my house and have an abundance of iron in my water and use it for my D-76 with no problems at all. I plotted curves with a wedge using both distilled and well water and they where mirror images of each other.
     
  9. tbm

    tbm Member

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    I just woke up and thus haven't performed a distilled water test. Nevertheless, with a fresh mind this morning, I now have to suspect that both the TD-16 and the FX-50 (powders and liquids, respectively) are going bad. Stay tuned.
     
  10. tbm

    tbm Member

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    Pursuant to Geoffrey Crawley's recommendation on the Paterson Web site, I again exposed a roll of Acros 100 with an exposure index of 200 rather than 100 and processed it in FX-50 (20 ml of bottle A and 20 ml of bottle B with enough distilled water to create 300 ml). A change I made this time was to add two minutes to his time recommendation of 9 minutes, and after processing it for 11 minutes I can now see more tonality and density but not quite enough.

    Yesterday I ordered another FX-50 box from B&H. When it arrives, I will again expose the Acros 100 at EI 200 and develop it for 14 minutes instead of 11 and analyze the results. If there is another gradual favorable tonality increase, I suppose I can assume that the existing bottles are not going bad (and they show no discoloration to indicate that) and for some strange reason Geoffrey's recommendation of 9 minutes simply is insufficient.
     
  11. tbm

    tbm Member

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  12. gainer

    gainer Subscriber

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    Color is not a reliable indication of the condition of an ascorbate developer. In a PQ developer it is the hydroquinone that oxidizes to the red-brown color. I think dehydroascorbic acid is clear. I could be wrong. There's a first time for everything. I'm not, however, claiming that it would be my first time.
     
  13. Ian Grant

    Ian Grant Subscriber

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    Don't you think that 3 different developers in 3 days is overkill :smile:

    And why deliberately under expose your Ilford film, (they manufacture the B&W for Fuji), most users would actually cut the Ilford ISO rating to get better tonality.

    So your probably under exposing by almost 2 stops.
     
  14. Ian Grant

    Ian Grant Subscriber

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    That's a very sweeping statement, as until last year Ilford & Kodak manufactured chemicals here, and Ilford may again. Knowing Crawleys concoctions you're probably right though.

    If you boil your water any dissolved Chlorine will disapate
     
  15. Grunthos

    Grunthos Member

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    From reading what you have posted here and in other threads, I think that a big part of yer problem is that you jump around from one film and developer combination to the next without taking the time to learn what your materials are capable of. How can you expect to get good results when you don't know what your materials are doing. Why not stick with one developer and one or two films and get to know them inside and out, and then go out and shoot those awsome photos waiting out there for the photographer who has his technique nailed down.

    Grunt
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Feb 6, 2005
  16. gainer

    gainer Subscriber

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    Yes, indeed. Remember the lesson of Maury Amsterdam, cellist and comedian. He was playing the same note on his cello over and over. Someone asked him why he did that when all the other cellists played lots of different notes. He said "All those other guys are looking for the right note. I found it."