Kodak XTOL... Thin negatives and sprocket numbers!

Discussion in 'B&W: Film, Paper, Chemistry' started by jm94, Feb 6, 2013.

  1. jm94

    jm94 Member

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    I have recently tried XTOL on two test rolls, and have had very disappointing results.

    First off was a roll of Tmax 100 shot at 100, developed in XTOL 1+1 for 14 minutes. Negatives are thin, as are the numbers by the sprocket holes.
    Same with ilford PAN 100, developed for 13 minutes. I used times from the massive dev chart and threw on a couple of minutes for each, so i could start working with my process from there. But the results are poor, and I am not sure if i just have a bad batch or something else is up!

    Any advice would be appreciated, i have never had such problems developing B/W before these are the worst two rolls i have ever processed! Good thing they were not critical ones.

    Or have i experienced the dreaded XTOL failure? I mixed it a week ago exactly, in a 5L PET container with butane gas to protect it, as i do with all my B/W and colour chemicals. I have had no problems with home-made ascorbate developers, or am i missing something?

    Advice would be appreciated!
     
  2. Terry Christian

    Terry Christian Subscriber

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    It sounds like you're WAY overdeveloping. According to the Massive Dev Chart, both films should be developed in XTOL 1+1 for around 9:15 to 9:30. No wonder your negs are anemic -- you're effectively pushing the film several stops by adding on extra time.

    And the fabled XTOL sudden death syndrome is much over-hyped. It was a product of the discontinued 1L packets. I just finished off a batch of 5L that was over a year old and worked as well as the day it was first mixed.
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Feb 6, 2013
  3. SuzanneR

    SuzanneR Moderator Staff Member Moderator

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    Wouldn't overdeveloped negs be generally darker not thinner? When you mixed the x-tol, did you dilute it then, and then possibly dilute it again when you prepared to process the film? Also, how often did you agitate the film? Just thinking out loud...
     
  4. ParkerSmithPhoto

    ParkerSmithPhoto Subscriber

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    Those are times I use for XTOL 1:3, so they are plenty. I bet you have a problem with your camera.

    Always decant your developers into smaller bottles; 500mL is very practical. I do this and XTOL lasts more than a year, although I'm embarrassed that it takes me that long! The whole XTOL fail thing is more urban legend than reality.
     
  5. pgomena

    pgomena Member

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    Camera exposure won't affect the sprocket numbering. It's a developing issue.
     
  6. Wolfeye

    Wolfeye Subscriber

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    Even with correct time, there needs to be 100ml of the undiluted Xtol in the mix. Be sure you follow that. If your tank needs 250ml per roll to cover the film, and you did Xtol 1+3, you'd think you only need 250/4 = 62.5ml of Xtol and the rest in water. You'd not have enough Xtol to do the development.

    Trust me on that one :smile:
     
  7. pentaxuser

    pentaxuser Subscriber

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    With these times and mixed a week ago I cannot see how it can be a developing issue. What the OP doesn't say but we are inferring, rightly or wrongly is that he has used Xtol at these times in the past with TMax 100 and Ilford Pan without the problem.

    Maybe he can say if the combination of Xtol and Tmax is new to him. Has he tried to do any darkroom prints and if so are the negs a problem to print?

    I had my first experience of TMax 400 this week and with Xtol 1+1 at 9.25 mins(official Kodak time) the negs looked thin and very grey compared to both Ilford and Fuji Acros films but the prints were fine.

    It is the prints that count and until an attempt at printing has been made then I don't believe the OP can conclude that there is a problem

    We need to know more before we can help him or decide if indeed he needs any help

    pentaxuser
     
  8. michael_r

    michael_r Subscriber

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    Just as a frame of reference, my normal time for 35mm TMax 100 in XTOL 1+1 is 12 minutes @ 68F. I have never had XTOL fail on me - ever. And that includes 1+3 dilutions.

    Developer or developing tank contamination perhaps? How much developer volume was used? What was the agitation scheme? Temperature too cold?
     
  9. Fred Aspen

    Fred Aspen Member

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    This happened to me several times until I realized that my stirring when mixing the powders was stirring in WAY too much oxygen. My efforts lasted anywhere from a week to 3 weeks, depending on how much stirring I was doing. Very frustrating! The last batch was mixed with virtually no stirring and was decanted into smaller bottles and it lasted several months with full activity.

    With the recommended colder water temperatures (compared to D-76) there is the tendency to 'stir it up a bit' to get the powder to dissolve.

    How much stirring were you doing while mixing? What was the water temperature? You need to adhere to the temps recommended on the package. Warm water will zap it also.

    After discovering this tidbit, the last batch of D-76 was prepared without stirring; I simply poured the chemicals into a distilled water bottle at room temp, swirled the bottle several times and put it away. The next day it was completely dissolved. I am going to try this with Xtol next time around.
     
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  10. pentaxuser

    pentaxuser Subscriber

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    I may have been lucky but when I mix 5L I stir quite vigorously and have never had a problem. I decant into two 3L wineboxes and have recently developed TMax400 ( this week in fact) in Xtol that is now 18 months old

    pentaxuser
     
  11. albada

    albada Member

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    You didn't mention what your water-quality is. I suggest making two changes:

    1. Mix a new batch of XTOL using distilled or DI water. I shake it to dissolve in a *capped* 5L container (with say 4 or 4.5L in it) to avoid adding more oxygen. Top it off to 5L after dissolving.

    2. Pre-soak the film for 4 minutes before developing. I find a pre-soak gives Tmax-400 more density, and maybe that'll help Tmax-100 too. I doubt it would make a difference with the Ilford film though.

    Good luck,

    Mark Overton
     
  12. Gerald C Koch

    Gerald C Koch Member

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    People seem to have trouble with the MDC all the time. Check the folllowing site for development times and other information on Xtol.

    www.covingtoninnovations.com/xtol

    BTW, Kodak no longer recommends any higher dilution than 1+1 for this developer because of inconsistant results.
     
  13. jm94

    jm94 Member

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    It is definitely not an exposure issue, due to the thin sprocket numbers, and an ISO 100 ektar 100 home processed C41 film was shot just before this one which came out stunning, photos of squirrels which have become a final for this college project i am on and i printed duplicates (RA4) tonight along side my B/W printing. I 'over developed' with extra time as that is how i have introduced myself to new developers as i wanted a bit more contrast in these photos photos, i then adjust times to suit. So the fact i have added an extra 3 minutes and got this indicates a serious problem that had i developed normally the negatives would be even more unprintable than they are now, they are garbage!

    I attempted to print the negatives, tried all grades, starting from 5, too under developed to be of any use.

    I mixed the developer as directed on the packet, 4L of water in a 5L container, added part A, shook like mad and let it sit for 20 minutes until all was dissolved, added part B then added an extra L of water to make it 5, then shook like mad again until that was dissolved, then capped the bottle where it has sat until now.

    I used 500ml stock solution from this bottle and 500ml of water to make 1L of 1+1, 500ml for a 500ml tank per roll as i developed two as stated, both with the same outcome.

    The only thing i cannot rule out it seems apart from a dodgy batch would be water as someone here has stated, but the problem there is it has been fine for C41, and E6 chemicals and RA4 chemicals, all of which have been fine and i have superb negatives, prints and slides from developed films. Not had a single one go wrong using this tap water.

    I want to try the solution stock but am scared of ruining another roll, it seems a waste.

    Personally i have never used a pre-soak with tmax, it seems to have good density anyway when D76 or rodinal is used, but i prefer D76 1+1 for Tmax and TMZ. I have a second 5L batch still in its packets, i ordered two lots, both are from the same batch
     
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  15. Fred Aspen

    Fred Aspen Member

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    How does the leader look? It should be solid black (virtually opaque with a brownish tinge). If it wasn't max black, I would be pitching the developer out. I think perhaps you were bitten by the same bug that I was, namely, the over zealous mixing process.

    You can also do a snip test: put a piece of film (leader) exposed to daylight in 50ml of stock developer and wait 6-7 minutes. You should be able to see it start to turn black in about 2-3 minutes and then proceed to opaque in 8-9 minutes. My dodgy developer never did turn pitch black even after 12 minutes. Good luck.

    PS. If you used tap water, some water supplies contain a great deal of dissolved oxygen which will kill it also. Excess iron/minerals in your tap water will also compromise the activity of Xtol. Best to always use distilled water or DI water.
     
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  16. pentaxuser

    pentaxuser Subscriber

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    So it appears you are saying that you are new to Xtol? Are you new to TMax as well? What other B&W developers have you successfully used with what other B&W films, if any?

    We need photographic chemists to contribute but what it is about Xtol that makes it susceptible to the water quality that doesn't affect C41 and E6 films?

    Have you tried printing? We still need to know more to get to the cause

    pentaxuser
     
  17. john_s

    john_s Subscriber

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    It affected some users and not others. The original 1Litre packaging was part of the problem. The other part of the problem is that ascorbate developers don't keep as well as most others, and are probably more sensitive to water impurities than others. For those that it affected, it was not an urban legend, whatever that may be.
     
  18. YBFOTO

    YBFOTO Member

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    Hello everyone I am just joined...Hi Hi, just like to say I use XTOL almost exclusively besides ADOX Adonal, and I recently got a bad batch of XTOL. Not less than a week old and had the negs come out super thin. I thought it was handler error, but did a test a half a roll in Adonal and the other half in XTOL. XTOL again produced thin negs. So chucked it made a new batch and everything was fine....To OP if you have another developer you are used to then just do a test roll and you will know if you screwed the pooch or got a bad batch....I absolutely love XTOL, especially for pushing film so dont let it discourage you. Also consider if it is an important roll do a snip test first.
     
  19. YBFOTO

    YBFOTO Member

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    also like to add I have been using XTOL for close 7 years and this is the first bad batch I have ever gotten..
     
  20. albada

    albada Member

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    Welcome to apug!

    To both of you who had these problems:
    The front right bottom of the bag for part B has an expiration-date and other codes printed sideways on it. Could you post that info?
    My bag from 6 months ago has this on it: EXP DATE 2015-05 1218 B1 0066900

    Mark Overton
     
  21. YBFOTO

    YBFOTO Member

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    I dont have the bags i toss em after mixing.
     
  22. RidingWaves

    RidingWaves Member

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    jm94
    "Shaking Like Mad" is most assurable adding in a whole lot of potential Oxygen. Combine that with even a bit of iron in the tap water and yeah, you'd get thin negs. Mix it again that way and you'll probably get thin negs again.
    Stirring fairly vigorously with an small paddle *without making too many bubbles* its the best way, not too hot. Oh and try distilled or carbon filtered next time.
     
  23. jm94

    jm94 Member

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    I use Tmax quite a bit, when i want 'smooth' sharp pictures, usually i use D76 1+1 for that. Other films i use are agfa APX 100 which i have loads of, and ilford FP4+ in D76 1+1 or rodinal if i fancy grit. and HP5 pushed to 800 in D76 1+1 for atmospheric, grainy but pleasant portraits.
    I used to use TMZ alot but as i always shot it at 1600 I now use TMY as TMZ was discontinued but there seems to be loads of stock for when i want the extra shadow detail.

    Never knew XTOL was so sensitive to oxygen, as i have mixed my own ascorbate developers before. Unless it is to do with the phenidone, but i have used plenty of them before too.

    I do still have the packets, the exp. date was 2015-11 so well within date, 12 - 11 - 207 was the number above that.

    I mixed it at 20C if that makes a difference, i assumed hot water would cause damage.

    My main reason for switching to XTOL was to do my bit for the environment, but i really do need reliability, which D76 and ID11 have both proved themselves to me as being very robust; as i shoot personal and family moments on film and many of which are not repeatable. These test rolls were unprintable, but might just be scannable. But as i am all analog failure is not an option. I had D76 go on me once, but that was user error it was an air leak in the bottle i had used, but luckily them negs (christmas, one of which was a portrait that has since been blown up to 12x16) were printable and gave a lovely, low contrast, gritty atmospheric portrait that i was able to replicate by reducing the time 25%, so that worked out in my favour in the end as it produced a lovely portrait and i have used the technique a few time since. (it was ilford HP5, at 800). I usually run clip tests first... The black where the leader is is not completely black on these tests, it is opaque (somewhat) but is much less dense than it should be.
     
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  24. RidingWaves

    RidingWaves Member

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    Xtol is far from "so sensitive" to Oxygen, but not following the mixing directions on the label you shouldn't be too surprised that you got thin negs. Mixing with regular tap water at 20C and pouring the whole bag into a jug and shaking it 'like mad' until dissolved is just plain Wrong and Incorrect. BAD. Don't do it again. If you want to use Xtol learn how to mix it, its not D-76 or Rodinal, there is lots of proper guidance on APUG.
    I've used Xtol for more than 10 years, for unrepeatable wedding photography so I value highly consistency and reliability.
     
  25. jm94

    jm94 Member

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    I mixed the second batch with distilled water, and used that to dilute 1+1, let it sit for 30 minutes before using. Test strip came out perfect with boosted contrast as to be expected from increasing the times. Used tap water to mix 1+1 as an experiment, let it sit for 30 minutes and then tried it. Thin negatives from a second test were the result. Not as thin as the botched ones but the sprocket numbers were thinner than they should be, as were the images. I used the same time as i had for the botched rolls for both these tests. I always do a test before anything mission critical anyway, so all that got lost was developer and a couple of test rolls, not anything crucial! A bummer at £10 a packet but hard lesson learned. I tested with filtered water, that test strip came out fine as well. I wonder what it is in the tap water that harmed XTOL but has allowed me to use C41, E6, RA4 and many other film developers without a problem. The test negatives from the under developed ones were printable, and the first ones printed nicely as well, it seems a bit sharper than D76 at 1+1 or is it just my eyes? I mixed this batch more gently as well. I will be mixing all chemicals from filtered or distilled water from this point.
     
  26. jm94

    jm94 Member

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    I have always been quite vigorous in stirring chemicals as well,
    thanks for the advice though guys, never had a failure of developer in this way before!