Looking for liquid concentrate developer with good shelf life.

Discussion in 'B&W: Film, Paper, Chemistry' started by Cybertrash, Apr 3, 2013.

  1. Cybertrash

    Cybertrash Member

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    Unfortunately I find myself doing film processing more and more infrequently (other things taking up time), and I fear that the Xtol I've been using may not hold up very well sitting unused for too long (I keep the working solution in an accordion bottle), when I did my last roll the developer was slightly yellow-ish and the negs came out a bit on the thin side, which I fear may be due to the developers age (I mixed it sometime in November). I've enjoyed the results I got with Xtol, but I fear that I may need something that will keep longer. I've heard that liquid concentrate developers generally last longer, as you can mix smaller batches of working solution at a time, the most oft-cited example being Rodinal, but I fear that Rodinal may result in a bit too much grain for me. I tend to shoot a variety of subjects (landscapes, portraits, 'street' etc.), and I oftentimes do push-processing and I use both traditional and modern 't-grain' films.

    I've searched the internet and found people recommending Ilford DD-X (as it supposedly is somewhat similar to Xtol), which unfortunately is difficult to find around these parts, but I've also read about 'Studional' or 'R09 Spezial' which supposedly is like Rodinal, but with finer grain (and it is more readily available here), but I am unsure about the other qualities of it (tonality, speed etc). There seems to be a lot of other alternatives as well but I'm not quite about their various characteristics.
     
  2. dpurdy

    dpurdy Subscriber

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    A lot of people like Kodak's HC110 which is very concentrated and last a very long time. It is a bit grainier than Xtol as is most everything but it does give nice tonality.
     
  3. Alan W

    Alan W Subscriber

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    As dpurdy says-it lasts a long,long time.I've heard reports of hc 110 outliving the bottle it came in.
     
  4. cjbecker

    cjbecker Member

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    Hc110 for sure, it's by far my favorite developer, its the one I've standardized on.

    Liquidol for paper.
     
  5. jp498

    jp498 Member

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    pyrocat-hd, pmk, hc110.
     
  6. Red Tractors

    Red Tractors Member

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    HC-110, Rodinal
     
  7. noacronym

    noacronym Member

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    Is HC 110 grainier than D-76?
     
  8. PhotoJim

    PhotoJim Member

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    PMK is nearly immortal. Stock solution lasts many years (at least six in my experience). It works best on non-T-grain films in my experience. I use it about 90% of the time on such films. Caveat: it contains pyrogallol so one should wear gloves while using it. The staining it causes on negatives makes them easier to print, in my opinion, since the stain is proportional to image density.

    Rodinal is nearly immortal too. It's grainier than many developers so I don't think it suits all films, but for some it's terrific.

    HC-110 is quite long-lived. It results in lower quality negatives than XTOL or D-76 do but it's very convenient. It's more suitable to T-grain films than PMK is.

    Another option is to switch to something simple like D-76/ID-11, that you can mix from scratch. That way you can mix up the exact quantities you need, e.g. 2 litres for the next 3 months. It can also be bought in one-litre packs but costs more this way than mixing from scratch.
     
  9. PhotoJim

    PhotoJim Member

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    That depends on the dilution. Both developers are solvent developers. Higher dilution will reduce the solvent effect, increasing grain and sharpness both.

    All things equal D-76 is slightly higher quality (sharpness at a given level of graininess is higher) but you can't really get rid of grain without getting rid of sharpness (unless you minimize enlargement or go with slower films of course).
     
  10. Konical

    Konical Subscriber

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    Good Evening Cybertrash,

    Ditto on the HC-110. Kodak T-Max also last well; hope it's available where you are.

    Konical
     
  11. Gerald C Koch

    Gerald C Koch Member

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    according to Kodak "Compared to D-76, this chart indicates that HC-110 (dilution B) produces:

    Slightly less shadow detail or true film speed;
    Slightly finer grain;
    Slightly lower acutance. "
     
  12. pentaxuser

    pentaxuser Subscriber

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    If you feel you must move from Xtol then far be it from me to dissuade you but my Xtol is now 18 months old and still in perfect condition. I mix up the 5L stock solution then decant it into winebags.

    pentaxuser
     
  13. zsas

    zsas Member

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    What about HC-110 for normal outdoor work and Diafine with Tri-X when a push is needed (eg indoor avail light)? Both solutions will last forever....
     
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  15. jwd722

    jwd722 Subscriber

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    If it was good enough for Ansel Adams...
     
  16. Patrick Robert James

    Patrick Robert James Subscriber

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    There are ways to mitigate the grain with Rodinal. I use table salt from time to time (NaCl) non iodized. It works to reduce the grain but there is a bit of a speed penalty sometimes. It may also work with HC-110 but I have never tried it. Others have mixed Rodinal with Vitamin C or Sodium Sulfite to reduce the grain.

    If you are looking for a replacement for X-Tol, your best bet in my opinion would be Pyrocat or PMK. Pyrocat mixed in Glycol lasts a long time, a couple years at least. I had a bottle of PMK for 10 years and it was still good.
     
  17. Ronald Moravec

    Ronald Moravec Member

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    Grain will be markedly reduced by exposing at 1/2 box speed and cutting development 20%. You get fabulous shadow detail, sharp negs that print well. The grain reduction is roughly equal to moving up one format in negative size.

    Some believe keeping the shutter speed up is more important. Their loss. Others like to push film which looses shadow detail, boosts grain and that results in a nasty looking print.

    Pull process shows up well in scanning also.
     
  18. Athiril

    Athiril Subscriber

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    Perceived acutance may be higher, but resolution appears to increase with solvency I've found from experience. Acutance is something you can give in the dark room, and in scanning.

    In any case, here is Kodak's chart

    [​IMG]
     
  19. noacronym

    noacronym Member

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    This is amazing information about film developers that I have gleaned in my short time on APUG. And in all categories, each has a nuance of advantage. Mind-boggling, actually.yet, for roll-film, I have yet to see any advantage or combination of same that there's anything any better than Microdol-X, 1:3. I'm speaking of roll film now, as the limited experience with it as a sheet film developer is something I would not recommend, as I have found it to be a developer prone to stain unpredictably. But in roll film there's nothing like it. For what it's worth, 41 years of using it has convinced me.
     
  20. Jesper

    Jesper Subscriber

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    Rodinal
     
  21. bdial

    bdial Subscriber

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    Keep the xtol if you like it, and ditch the accordion bottle. I use xtol replenished, like Pentaxuser's my base stock is over a year old, works fine.
     
  22. michael_r

    michael_r Subscriber

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    Just be careful what you read...

     
  23. dorff

    dorff Member

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    Rodinal for slow and medium speed films (50-100), specifically PanF+, Acros and TMax 100. Parodinal is a clone made from paracetamol (acetaminophen), and works just the same.
    HC-110 for ISO 400 films. No clone available, and chemicals are rather difficult to obtain. The exact formula is also a trade secret.
    Some swear by Ilford DD-X. It is expensive compared to the above alternatives. I think it is a PQ developer, and could be replicated if you can get hold of Dimezone S and hydroquinone. But don't hold me to that one.
    There are a few "open-source" options, e.g. PC-TEA, but only if you know what you are doing when working with chemicals, and can source the raw materials.

    If I had to settle on only one, it would be HC-110, used as single-shot dilution H (1:64). However, it seems to be going up and down in availability. B&H currently lists it as discontinued, don't know if that is permanent or not. A 500 ml bottle will develop a hoard of film, so it may be all you need for three or more years. I am also using TMax Developer quite often, and it is a rather easy and excellent developer overall. It is great at shadow detail, and worth having for that reason alone. I tend to think that it is not possible to combine fine grain with high acutance and good shadow detail. If you pick two, the other one will suffer. For slow and fine-grained medium speed films such as Acros, no matter which developer you use the grain will be fine enough. So it makes sense to choose the developer that gives you the best tone curve for what you typically want to photograph, according to your taste.

    As you are in Europe, you could maybe find what you are looking for at Maco Direct or one of the other web-based suppliers. We have ordered from Maco to South Africa, and the shipping was quite reasonable.
     
  24. Eric Rose

    Eric Rose Subscriber

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  25. PhotoJim

    PhotoJim Member

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    Kodak has changed the packaging. If I understand what I read, HC-110 will now be the same syrup around the world. Up to now, the North American concentrate has been much denser and was designed for US measure dilution (e.g. 1:15, 1:31, etc.). The "overseas" version was designed for metric dilution (1:9 etc.). Now there will just be one version.
     
  26. Bundesphotograph

    Bundesphotograph Member

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    Last edited by a moderator: Apr 4, 2013