Old bag of Dektol

Discussion in 'B&W: Film, Paper, Chemistry' started by BetterSense, Mar 24, 2009.

  1. BetterSense

    BetterSense Member

    Messages:
    3,126
    Joined:
    Aug 16, 2008
    Location:
    North Caroli
    Shooter:
    35mm
    I got an old bag of Dektol in a bunch of darkroom stuff I got off craigslist. It's one of those paper-looking bags, and not the newer plastic-potato-chip-type bags.

    I'm running low so I just decided to mix it up. But as soon as it started coming out of the bag, I realized something was very wrong. The powder was deep brown, and turned the liquid opaque. I figured this means it was bad so I poured it all down the drain, and it looked like strong truck-stop coffee. I would have never guessed it would change color so radically.

    The thing is, I also have a bag of Microdol-x and a package of fixer, probably about the same age. Can I tell by the looks of the Microdol if it's gone bad? I'd hate to waste a roll finding out. I suppose I can test the fixer to see if it works by using a film leader.
     
  2. domaz

    domaz Member

    Messages:
    560
    Joined:
    Nov 2, 2007
    Location:
    Tacoma, WA
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    The paper bags seem to get exposed to moisture after a while and it seeps in and ruins things. The new bags seem to be a plastic material so I bet they would last longer.
     
  3. cmacd123

    cmacd123 Subscriber

    Messages:
    1,469
    Joined:
    May 24, 2007
    Location:
    Stittsville, Ontario
    Shooter:
    35mm
    Old trick is to use the leader of a roll of 35mm to test the suspect developer. Just plop it in for the normal time, then fix the scrap of film and compare it to a previous negative on the lightbox. Since the leader has been "WELL" exposed, it should look as dark os the sarkest part of an existing negative. If not the microdol is weak.

    Fixer can also be checked the same way, again a scrap of film, put a drop of fixer on it, and wait for half the advertised time. film that was exposed to fixer should be clear.
     
  4. Vaughn

    Vaughn Subscriber

    Messages:
    5,307
    Joined:
    Dec 13, 2006
    Location:
    Humboldt Co.
    Shooter:
    8x10 Format
    I disagree with the test for film developer -- Film "should" be developed as consistantly as possible. If there is any chance that the developer is significantly weaker than it normally is, it should be tossed out. It is not just a matter of developing highlights to be as dark as fresh developer, but other factors as well -- such as mid-tone development and precise timing for getting the contrast one wants in the negative.

    One can use old developer if the negatives are not very important -- but then, why spend the mental and physical energy in the first place if it is not "important".
     
  5. Removed Account

    Removed Account Member

    Messages:
    907
    Joined:
    Apr 6, 2007
    Location:
    Nanaimo, Bri
    Shooter:
    35mm
    I once helped a friend set up a darkroom using some equipment she bought from a retired fellow that included a can (yes can, not bag) of Dektol powder. We didn't have any other paper developer so we mixed it up. It was a kind of light brown colour, sort of like silty pond water, but when we made some prints it seemed to work just as well as any freshly mixed developer! If the developer isn't noticeable weaker there's no need to pour out good stuff, but as Vaughn said if you have doubt it's probably best not to risk it.
     
  6. Vaughn

    Vaughn Subscriber

    Messages:
    5,307
    Joined:
    Dec 13, 2006
    Location:
    Humboldt Co.
    Shooter:
    8x10 Format
    Justin, I would be more willing to give old print developer a try, but film is entirely a different matter. vaughn
     
  7. wogster

    wogster Member

    Messages:
    1,267
    Joined:
    Nov 10, 2008
    Location:
    Bruce Penins
    Shooter:
    35mm
    I always use film developer one shot, and if there is any doubt as to the quality, it gets tossed, if one wants long lasting film developer, Rodinol and the HC developers would do it. If it's not important it gets shot using the d*****l camera :D

    Prints are less of an issue, because you can always reprint, you can't always reshoot. Best test for paper developer, take a scrap of paper, under the safelight, put a piece of blank processed film in the enlarger, set the enlarger for an 8x10 sheet, and the aperture at F/8, put a black card over the paper, expose 1/5th for 5 seconds, then expose another 1/5th, so you have one a 5 seconds, one at 10 seconds, keep going until all sections have been exposed. Develop and fix. You should have a black section, and several grey sections. If it's all grey, then your developer has probably seen better days....