MF: PMK/Pyrocat-HD versus Kodak76/ID-11

Discussion in 'Darkroom Equipment' started by fred, Aug 15, 2004.

  1. fred

    fred Member

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    Hello,

    As there is many expertise on the Apug forum...
    Maybe, someone can explain what advantages a PMK or Pyrocat-HD developer can give for a "Mediumformat (rollfilm) and Multigrade silverprinting"- user?
    Comparing it with for example ID-11(Kodak D76), what will the "win and lost"?

    What about toxiticity?
    What about consistency?

    What would I win?

    Many thanks!

    Fred
     
  2. Tom Hoskinson

    Tom Hoskinson Member

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    "What about toxicity?"

    As wet chemistry, they are all about the same. Meaning don't drink them, don't get them on your skin, on your mucous membranes, in or on your eyes. Always practice chemical safety!

    As dry chemistry - don't breathe the dust associated with any of these!

    "What about consistency?"

    They are all capable of producing consistent results. It depends on how you use them.

    I personally use Pyrocat-HD for the following reasons:

    I make Azo contact prints of nature subjects, so I need a staining and tanning developer.

    I like one-shot developing chemistry with a long shelf life.

    Pyrocat-HD gives me very good results with Efke 100, J&C New Classic 400 and Kodak TMY 400.
     
  3. Donald Miller

    Donald Miller Member

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    What you will gain by using a proportional stain generating developer is better highlight tonal separation. The reason for this is that the proportional stain density becomes greater in higher silver density regions.

    I prefer Pyrocat over PMK since Pyrocat generates a tan or brown proportional stain which will tend to be neutral insofar as it's effects on filtration in variable contrast printing. PMK imparts a yellow-greenish stain which would tend to compress highlight separation since those colors are used to lower contrast.

    I find that my results are quite consistant and I would not personally be concerned regarding toxicity when tank developing. In tray development (with direct hand exposure) I would use nitrile gloves.
     
  4. David A. Goldfarb

    David A. Goldfarb Moderator Staff Member Moderator

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    Better highlight detail is the strongest attraction for me with PMK.

    Other qualities ascribed to PMK are better sharpness compared to developers with a strong solvent component like D-76, and grain masking due to the stain--which to some degree offsets the usual tradeoff between sharpness and grain with non-staining developers. I would say that these qualities are present, but not as important for me. Grain masking is a reason to use PMK rather than, say, ABC pyro for smaller formats, but not necessarily a reason to use PMK rather than D-76.

    There's a certain convenience with D-76 in that you can pick it up at a photo store just about anywhere, but the PMK stock solutions are long lasting and easy to mix up in any quantity you need, so they offer a different kind of convenience--the working solution is always fresh, which will give you potentially greater consistency than D-76, if you go for long periods between processing sessions.

    Try it out. That will tell you more than the responses you can read in internet forums.
     
  5. jovo

    jovo Membership Council Council

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    Having just returned from a trip to Florida with, heheh...solid gold...(I wish), I've just emerged from the darkroom having tray developed six 4x5 negatives in ID11. I can't describe how much I enjoy tray developing negatives. I never thought I'd be able to do it well let alone enjoy it, but after a score or more sessions, I'm not scratching negatives or fouling up the process at all any more. I really enjoy the tactile experience. So....I need to ask....what are nitrile gloves? Where can I get them and how will I know they're nitrile and not some lesser material? How much or little is lost of the tactile esperience viz a viz gloveless processing? I purchased a PMK kit several years ago (including Gordon Hutchings' book) and have just not gotten around to using it. I'm eager to give it a go, and like fred, am willing to be an eager accolyte (Jorge seems to have made that term ubiquitous here). No intent to hijack this thread, but merely amplify it a bit.
     
  6. papagene

    papagene Membership Council Council

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    I like the sharpness I get from PMK Pyro developed negs (HP5+ & FP4+) over what I used to get from D76. And like David said, better highlight detail.
    As for toxicity, with MF film you will be tank developing so there is less chance of physical contact. But as with any chemical, a good dose of common sense goes a long way.
    Good luck.
    gene
     
  7. galyons

    galyons Member

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    John,
    Nitrile gloves have a high resistance to high solvency liquids such as ethylene dichloride, chloroform, cellusolve and various perfluorinated solvents. In addition to the high solvency organics, the nitrile gloves are also highly resistant to strong acids such as hydrochloric acid (HCl), chromic acid and hydrofluoric acid (HF). They also offer good protection against sodium hydroxide. Nitrile glove are also used to prevent skin contact exposure to methyl ethyl ketone (MEK), nitrobenzene, benzene, toluene, styrene, or THF. This pretty much covers most photo chemicals. Most developer reducing agents are benzenes.

    Forget the tactile experience. You'll be wearing gloves. This is about not playing "splash splash" in soup of benzene rings. Nitrile gloves are typically light to medium blue and the box will say Nitrile. Nitrile gloves tend to not cause the same allergic sensitivity, over extended use, that powdered latex gloves are known to cause to some folks. Nitrile gloves are available at drug stores, auto parts stores, chem stores, etc.

    Cheers,
    Geary
    (Spent 4 winters, 3 years in Pittsford, NY! Miss Genessee Cream Ale!)
     
  8. jovo

    jovo Membership Council Council

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    Thanks Geary. If one can adapt to condoms, I guess nitrile gloves can't even be part of the same conversation ;-)
     
  9. c6h6o3

    c6h6o3 Member

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    You'd win 1) a longer, gentler scale that's much easier to match to the paper you're using and 2) an inherently compensating effect which is why you tend to get better highlight detail.

    Of all the pyrogallol based developers I like PMK the least (because of the green stain - a brown stain gives me much better prints; I don't know why) but if you try it be sure to try it with Ilford Pan F+. If they made it in sheets that's all I would use. It's the only film I like anywhere nearly as much as 400TMax.
     
  10. fred

    fred Member

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    Better highlight detail...I'm wondering if pre-flashing the paper doesn't have the same result...

    But anyway...
    I'll give it a try.
    And then I think about Pan F in the first place.

    Many thanks for all the answers!

    Fred
     
  11. Donald Miller

    Donald Miller Member

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    Preflashing paper will accomplish a compression of highlight tonal scale in order to compress overall negative contrast. A proportional staining developer will expand highlight tonal scale with very little effect on shadow tonal rendition.
     
  12. WarEaglemtn

    WarEaglemtn Member

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    It is the cool name. Who wants to be known as a D76er when they can be a Pyrocat???

    Almost better than being a hepcat.
     
  13. DrPhil

    DrPhil Member

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    I have gone round and round with the pyrocat vs D76 debate. Recently I shot several scenes twice and developed one negative in both d76 and pyrocat. In all honesty I can't see any differences. Both work really well; however, IMHO they have their advantages and disadvantages.

    D76 1:1 is a developer that I have used for a long time. It is simple, easy to use, and you always know what you are going to get.

    Pyrocat doesn't show any great improvments for someone who is enlarging their film. (I speak as someone who rarely enlarges their 4x5 images above 11x14). I was initially interested in the dual use properties of pyrocat. This is where I see pyrocat as a big winner. As I start experimenting with Pt/Pd I can produce negatives for enlargement and Pt/Pd. Another advantage that I see is that the staining developers can have shorter developing times (Your experience may differ here) over D76.

    One qualm I currently have with pyrocat is judging the stained negatives. I have looked at D76 negatives for so long that the stained negatives don't look "right". However, many of them do print quite well. I am sure that over time I will get used to looking at stained negatives. Okay, I know this is just my eyes getting used to something new. The brown stain is quite neat though!!
     
  14. Poco

    Poco Member

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    " an inherently compensating effect which is why you tend to get better highlight detail. "

    That's the piece of the pyro argument I don't get. Compensation requires compression of upper scale tonalities, doesn't it? ...and yet the highlight detail is supposed to be better? I wish someone would take a crack at explaining this to me.
     
  15. c6h6o3

    c6h6o3 Member

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    There is less density due to reduction of silver. That's the compensating effect. However, the stain acts as density in place of reduced silver but less so than the reduced silver would. I'm not sure of the physics involved, but it seems to yield a negative which prints better delineation of highlights without blowing them out.

    I think in general it's the compensating effect which makes pyro developers so rewarding and not so much the stain. I've been using a non-pyro, very soft working developer which yields almost no stain. I find the scale just a little bit easier to match to my paper than with ABC pyro, my second choice.

    But in the end, I think what Jay said is probably correct: it really doesn't make all that much difference.