Nearest thing to Amidol/Catechol?

Discussion in 'B&W: Film, Paper, Chemistry' started by bwakel, Feb 18, 2007.

  1. bwakel

    bwakel Subscriber

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    I've just finished developing using Moersch's two-bath Amidol/Catechol paper developer and I love the tonality that this combination creates, particularly with Adox Polywarmtone FB paper. The blacks are deep but the best part is the smooth transition from mid-tones to highlights and the extended dynamic range.

    There're just a couple of issues:

    I've been reading about the health hazards of Amidol and it's scared the life out of me.

    The Moersch two-bath pack is mighty expensive and there's only enough to create two batches of the stuff and each batch only lasts 2-3 days in an air-tight container.

    Is there another developer or combination of developers that are safer, easy to get hold of and somewhat less expensive but which produce similar results to Amidol/Catechol? I've read that Dektol can produce similar results to Amidol on certain papers. Is this the case and does anyone know which papers?

    Thanks for your help

    Barry
     
  2. Jim Fitzgerald

    Jim Fitzgerald Member

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    Barry, Try Donald Millers formula for PPPD developer. It is a pyo developer and is very nice with Azo, Kentmere Bromide, Forte Polygrade and the J&C polywarmtone. You have to mix it from scratch but it gives very good tonal gradation. I use it as my standard paper developer. You can adjust the warmth by increasing the Bromide in the mix. The formula is on one of the old posts. Just use caution with the dry powders and you should have no problems. It is very cost effective.

    Jim
     
  3. Tom Hoskinson

    Tom Hoskinson Member

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    Barry, you can find the latest version of Don Miller's PPPD formulation here:

    http://www.apug.org/forums/forum37/23097-update-pyro-plus-paper-developer.html?highlight=PPPD

    Don't breathe the dry powders and/or dust from Pyrogallol or Pyrocatechol, they are mucous membrane irritants. Once these chems are in solution, they are not a problem. Get yourself a filter/respirator mask.

    Working under a vented chemical hood, I made up stock solutions of Pyrogallol, Pyrocatechol and Phenidone all dissolved in Propylene Glycol. I've also made stock solutions of Amidol and Metol using Pat Gainer's method.

    These stock concentrates allow me to mix a lot of different developers while minimizing any handling of dry chems.
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Feb 18, 2007
  4. Alex Hawley

    Alex Hawley Member

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    I'll put in a third nod for PPPD. Its active enough that a water bath can be used to reduce contrast on graded papers. You can also vary the ratio of catechol and pyrogallol as long as you keep the combined amount of the two at 20 grams. For example, if you want a colder tone, try 15 grams of catechol with 5 grams of pyrogallol.
     
  5. jovo

    jovo Membership Council Council

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    Is there someone or several people who could help you 'blind test' the results of prints made in other developers? I know it's heresy here, but the Amidol prints I've seen, though excellent, don't blow me away in the least compared to other prints made with other developers. See if it really makes a difference. Test the reality against what may be the myth.
     
  6. JBrunner

    JBrunner Moderator Staff Member Moderator

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    There are some hold that Ansco 130 is the nearest thing to Amidol, giving the near the same performance, but unfortunately not as controllable with graded papers, as it doesn't really respond to a water bath.

    It does, however, keep really well, so is less hassle, and has excellent blacks and great micro contrast in the highlights depending of course, on the paper, and tends to be a neutral factor in toning prints, again following the paper attributes.

    It is an easy first choice developer for VC fiber.
     
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  7. Colin Graham

    Colin Graham Member

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    Yeah, ansco 130 is excellent. You can two-bath with 120 for more contrast control w/ graded papers.
     
  8. Ole

    Ole Moderator Staff Member Moderator

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    I don't think there is any one "replacement" for the Moersch two-bath Amidol/Cathecol developer.

    I have used Ansco 130 and many other developers, but to even begin to get close you absolutely need a two-bath developer - one very very soft and one very hard. I just haven't found anything even remotely close.

    So in my case I'll be experimenting a bit to see if I can make an ultra-soft developer with the Amidol I have. I have a couple of super-hard negatives which I think would print nicely on grade -1, if there were such a thing...
     
  9. fhovie

    fhovie Subscriber

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    Amidol really shines when used with silver chloride papers. For rc prints it is likely no better than PC-TEA or D-72. I only use it on AZO - and whatever the new M&P substitute will be. ALL darkroom chems need to be treated with respect - but not feared - you DO pump your own gas? It contains MBTE? There are a lot of toxins we deal with each day that make photo chems look tame. Just be careful ... Nitrile gloves and dust mask - work well ventilated.

    Different paper developers influence tone, contrast and highlight control. Amidol is king for some of these - if you like COLD Tones and water bath highlight control. Amidol makes great blacks. I have found that PC-TEA is also a great paper developer for the following reasons - It makes great blacks - It is almost safe enough to drink made from vitamin C. And it is really inexpensive compared with Amidol of Ansco 130. - Glycin is also expensive. Varying the chemistry can change the tonality a little - I go for the cold tones initially - Selinium toning warms things up for Forte papers. You can go nuts with developers - I have settled on 2 for paper - Amidol and PC-TEA. So far, other developers just don't warrant the trouble or expense for me.
     
  10. dwross

    dwross Member

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    I have good luck with Defender 55-D Professional Portrait Developer ( from "The Darkroom Cookbook", Stephen Anchell) with 14 g KBR and 30 ml 2% benzotriazole, finished with a light selenium toning.