Liquid v. Powder Developers

Discussion in 'B&W: Film, Paper, Chemistry' started by thefizz, Mar 21, 2005.

  1. thefizz

    thefizz Member

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    I have been using Tmax developer (liquid) for quite a while now but recently I have read various threads on Xtol (Powder) being an excellent fine grain developer.

    Are there big differences in general between liquid and powder developers?

    Peter
     
  2. Ronald Moravec

    Ronald Moravec Member

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    You never know how old liquids are when you buy them. Xtol can go bad and it doesn`t turn brown or discolor. Even a clip test will not confirm it is ok.

    If you want fine grain, you will be happy with D76. Do not dilute it for use. Put it small one time use bottles to keep air away from it until you use it. Exposure to air causes it to change activity in unpredictable ways. Sealed up it is perfect for 6 months.
     
  3. Tom Hoskinson

    Tom Hoskinson Member

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    Liquid developer concentrates dissolved in the right organic solvents have excellent shelf storage properties. Kodak Tmax and Kodak HC 110 are good examples.

    The concentrated developers I mix myself with either Triethanolamine (TEA) or Propylene Glycol as the solvent also have excellent shelf life (indefinitely long).

    Most dry photo chemicals have a very long shelf life (when kept dry and in the dark). Glycin appears to be an exception. Glycin apppears to keep best in solution (like Ansco 130).
     
  4. Claire Senft

    Claire Senft Member

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    Just in keeping qualities

    I do not believe that there id a great deal of difference between developers just because they are liquid or powder. If a particular developer were availble both ways I would guess they would perform very similarly.

    Unopened cans or packages of developer in powder form I would expect to have a very long shelf life.
     
  5. rbarker

    rbarker Member

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    Aside from the properties of the developer itself, the major difference, I believe, is in convenience. Personally, I dislike the stirring time required with powdered developers (there always seems to be a few pesky crystals that refuse to dissolve), so I mostly use liquid concentrates. (I admit to a degree of laziness.)

    As Phoda (the short, pointy-eared alien photographer whose brother, Yoda, got the movie part) said, "Go with the flow, Luke. Go with the flow." :wink:

    Seriously, one should probably choose a developer based on its properties, and then put up with any inconvenience that might be involved if it happens to be a powder.
     
  6. jim appleyard

    jim appleyard Member

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    Many liquids have a long shelf-life in the undiluted state. HC-110 and Rodinal are two that come to mind. A friend gave me and OLD, OLD bottle of each (they are probably decades old; the Rodinal had the rubber stopper in the bottle) and they each work just fine.
     
  7. Neal

    Neal Subscriber

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    Dear Peter,

    Xtol is an outstanding developer, but only if you are willing to prepare it and store it properly. Many people have had problems with it. I have used it almost exclusively for many years now without incident, but I make sure I mix gently at room temperature so that I don't stir air into it and I store it in individual 250ml and 500ml bottles filled to the brim. I have kept it at least a year without problem, but Kodak only recommends 6 months.

    Now that I've frightened you, mixing and storing Xtol is very easy to do as long as you follow the directions rather than borrowing methods used to mix other devlopers. It is very versatile and can give you some interesting differences by varying the dilution. My personal choice is to use it full strength for 35mm (I feel the grain reduction outweighs the acutance loss) and 1:1 for sheet film.
     
  8. thefizz

    thefizz Member

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    Thanks everyone.

    Peter
     
  9. PepMiro

    PepMiro Member

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    I always used liquid developers (mainly Ilfosol-S and T-MAX) until I discovered XTOL... Obviously, you need a little more time to mix a powder developer but, in the case of XTOL, I have to say that, if you follow exactly the instructions, there's absolutely NO problem at all... About quality, I tink XTOL is one of the best developers in the market, because is capable of combine high sharpness, very fine grain and a VERY rich scale of gray tonalities, including brigh whites and dark blacks.
     
  10. Wally H

    Wally H Member

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    One of the reasons I prefer liquid chemicals not mentioned yet is they are generally safer (all things being equal). Powders can easily become airborne and thus can pose a greater saftey risk compared to their liquid forms.
     
  11. titrisol

    titrisol Member

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    There are several liquid equivalents to powder developers, like
    DDX = Microphen,
    D76/ID11 is availabel in both forms liquid and solid,
    Rodinal is available in liquid only
    HC110 in liquid

    Powdered devs have the advantage of long life in powedered form, almost no oxidation in those aluminum foil ined packages, BUT liquids are very convenient.
    Liquid devs that have a long life include Rodinal and HC110/Ilfotec HC, they can last ages because they are made with organic solvetn and not with water

    And yes, most of the developers are different from one another
    Xtol is offered in powdered only, due to short life in liquid form

     
  12. jim appleyard

    jim appleyard Member

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    D-76 is available as a liquid? I was unaware of this.
     
  13. Tom Hoskinson

    Tom Hoskinson Member

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    True statement - But Rodinal stock concentrate is dissolved in water, not an organic solvent like HC110 and Ilfotec HC.

    Rodinal is highly concentrated and contains a lot of potassium hydroxide.
     
  14. fschifano

    fschifano Member

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    Developers sold as dry powder are generally more attractive because they are a LOT cheaper and the dry chemicals are pretty stable as long as the packages are intact. Water is heavy and most liquid developers, Rodinal ,HC110, and Ilfords HC-110 equivalent excepted, contain a lot of water and go bad shortly after you open them. You pay for shipping what can come out of your tap. Mixing from dry powders isn't all that difficult, nor is it particularly dangerous. If you feel sqeamish about a little bit of dust you can war a mask. XTOL is a very good developer. The only problem I see with it is that it will not turn color if it goes off. I have some stored now in full bottles that I mixed up, with filtered tap water, back in August '04. It is still working as advertised. The only exception I make is with rapid fixer. You can't get this stuff as a dry powder.
     
  15. jim appleyard

    jim appleyard Member

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    Sorry Frank, but I must disagree with your statement that Rodinal and HC-110 concentrates go bad quickly after opening; see my previous post.
     
  16. titrisol

    titrisol Member

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    Not from Kodak, but I've found clones (Record and others) available as liquid conc.

     
  17. Monophoto

    Monophoto Member

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    Wally raised the critical point about dusting when mixing powdered chemicals. That is the reason that I generally choose liquid concentrates.

    But you have to recognize that the essential difference between a liquid concentrate and a powder is water - and you can supply your own water at a far lower cost than you can buy it at the camera store. So expect to pay a premium price, measured in cost per unit of final product, for liquid concentrates.
     
  18. Tom Hoskinson

    Tom Hoskinson Member

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    True, unless you mix your own liquid concentrates, using Propylene Glycol or Triethanolamine as the solvent - no water!

    I weigh dangerous chemicals in a glove box and mix under a vented chemical hood so dust is not an issue.
     
  19. gainer

    gainer Subscriber

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    If we believe the usual formula for home brewed Rodinal, a lot of potassium hydroxice goes in, but so does a lot of HCl (from p-aminophenol.HCl) and a lot of potassium metabisulfite. The hydroxide part mostly gets converted to water and sodium or potassium chloride. I have never measured the pH of Rodinal working solution, nor even seen anyone else's measurement of it, but high as it might be, it is probably not buffered very well and so probably has greater variation in pH from one part of an image to another than a lot of developers.

    A highly concentrated stock, even one in water, has the advantage that it can take up quite a bit of oxygen before a sufficient percentage is oxidized to make any appreciable difference in the working solution other than color. Although we worry about oxidation, I don't think that is the primary cause of developer failure. Oxygen is about 1/5 of what is in the bottle's empty space. Has anyone done a professional analysis of what is left in a bottle of developer that died of old age?
     
  20. fschifano

    fschifano Member

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    Sorry you misinterpreted that, Jim. I meant it to be understood that Rodinal and HC-110 were the exceptions - not the rule.
     
  21. jim appleyard

    jim appleyard Member

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    You're right Frank, I missread your statement.