Only with Xtol

Discussion in 'B&W: Film, Paper, Chemistry' started by padraigm, Mar 14, 2011.

  1. padraigm

    padraigm Member

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    Recently (4-5 months) I have been using Xtol stock and 1:1 dilutions for much of my film developing. At first I was pretty happy with it, with higher ISO films I liked the finer grain and I was clearly getting a speed increase over D-76. As I began to use it more I did notice what many others have experienced and that is fairly flat negatives. I changed my agitation from 2-3 inversions every minute to 2 inversions every 30 secs and with little extra development time. That has moved me in the right direction but I am not entirely happy yet.

    However the bigger problem I am having lately is uneven development. Yesterday I developed two 120 rolls of TMAX 400, one roll each of Neopan 1600 and TMAX 3200 and in most cases there was evidence of some uneven development. These were also three different development events using stock for Tmax 400 and Neopan 1600 and 1:1 for Tmax 3200. I also changed different Xtol batches. Same results.

    In parallel to this I developed two rolls of tri-x 120 with PMK pyro using the same reels and tank and had no problems whatsoever.

    So I dunno, I have never had a problem like this with any other developer. Is there something obvious I am missing, anyone with a similar experience with a solution?

    Thanks

    Patrick
     
  2. brucemuir

    brucemuir Member

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    Is your Xtol stock getting tired?

    How fresh was it?
     
  3. jp498

    jp498 Member

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    Did you re-use the xtol or dump it after each use? I use it 1+1 or 1+2 and it does produce flatter/thinner results if I use it a second time rather than one-shot. I use distilled water to make the 5L stock, and then dillute it with tap water when I'm ready to use it. I use PMK too and find that is a good developer too, but it's a lot different than xtol and not great for everything.

    You might also double check your thermometer, or up your temp a couple degrees if you can't check the thermometer.

    I have found xtol to be very consistent if you use it consistently for one-shot developer. It is always perfectly even. I use patterson reels/tank for 35/120, combiplan for 4x5 and tray for 8x10.

    Since you are using tmax films, be sure the film gets plenty of time in the fixer; that could reduce contrast as well if they are not fully fixed.
     
  4. Thomas Bertilsson

    Thomas Bertilsson Subscriber

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    Xtol is in its element when you use it with subject matter where the sun falls directly on it. In flat lighting it will produce somewhat flat negatives. The cure for this is under-exposure.
    With Xtol 1:1 I regularly shoot Acros at EI 200 and 400, overdevelop, and get the contrast that I want; it looks very similar to Kodak Tri-X 320. I also shoot TMax 400 at 800 and 1600 in order to change its characteristic and get more of an s-shaped film curve, which looks great for portraits.

    About uneven development - there are a couple of things to consider:
    1. Developer age; already pointed out by brucemuir. I think six months is the 'safe' duration of storage.
    2. Developer storage. Store it in containers that have all the air evacuated. Or else the aging process is sped up due to oxidation.

    I use it both as single shot at 1:1, as well as replenished, which is stock solution, but activity more reminiscent of 1:1 or so. You lose about 1/2 stop of speed with replenished developer, but it does give some very beautiful highlight tonality.
    Most of all, it has been extremely consistent for me for the last three years; no bloopers that wasn't my own fault.

    - Thomas
     
  5. padraigm

    padraigm Member

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    Thanks Guys.
    One of the developments was done with older Xtol. The Tmax film was all using fresh just mixed developer at stock...I was also using formulary TF-4 fixer. I fixed to the point where there was no magenta stain. This only happens to me with Xtol and I am racking my brain for a reason. I keep the tank in a regulated temp bath so I think I am OK there. To be more specific of the effect it seems that are 2-3 different subtle but noticeable layers, with the top part of the neg having a flatter more 'mottled" gray tone. I also see this with three different cameras.
     
  6. Thomas Bertilsson

    Thomas Bertilsson Subscriber

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    Uneven development even with fresh developer... Strange.

    Is there a way you could take a picture of one of your negs up against a white background?

    - Thomas
     
  7. michael_r

    michael_r Subscriber

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    What is the volume of solution and tank you are using? And how vigorous is your agitation. I might not be properly understanding what you mean by layers, but if you mean that you are seeing a band of mottle and underdevelopment on the part of the film nearest to the top of the tank, perhaps that part of the film is in contact with a foamy layer on top of the developer. Certain developer/film combinations are more prone to foaming and I have heard alot of people say XTOL tends to generally foam more than say D76. The solution would be to increase the total volume of solution so that it is well above the top of the film. That way if foam develops it is further above the film and the entire surface of the film is therefore always in contact with the solution.
     
  8. Brandon D.

    Brandon D. Member

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    Wow! I've been contemplating the exact same issue myself. I've normally used Ilford Delta 100 @ EI 125 and develop it with XTOL 1:1. And, I have been seriously considering bumping up to EI 400 for the same reasons you mentioned. I can't wait to give it a try! :tongue:
     
  9. waynecrider

    waynecrider Member

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    Make sure you drag out your development time. I've never had a problem with stock 6 months old and more but I do find flat negs with Tmax films. I use min 170-200ml per roll of 35mm/120.
     
  10. Thomas Bertilsson

    Thomas Bertilsson Subscriber

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    I'm sorry, but I cannot just stand by and look when somebody gives TMax film a categorically 'flat' verdict.
    All of the attached pics are TMax 100 and 400 film.
    They are not flat, because I took time to understand TMax film, how to properly expose and process them. All in replenished Xtol. You control contrast via exposure and development, and if you can't get enough contrast from the film, or as much contrast as you WANT, don't blame the film.

    Back on track. Sorry to deviate from the original topic.
     

    Attached Files:

  11. jp498

    jp498 Member

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    The film is versatile and Thomas is right.

    I use Xtol 1+1 for contrast, and PMK when I want to tame the contrast.

    If the lack of contrast and flat diagnosis is from scanning, that means you are not completing the computer process which involves shaping the curve in image editing software. Raw scans look a little flat, but it's easy to fix. The same negatives print wonderful though in the darkroom. Then it's clearly a computer process issue rather than a film or chemical issue.

    I have no idea what caused bands/layers for the OP without looking at the negs.
     
  12. Pasto

    Pasto Member

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    I had similar problems (i.e., negative contrast) early on in my calibration with Xtol undiluted and TMY. No more problems (EI 320, Xtol straight, 6:15 continuouse agitation in a JOBO at 20C). Now that I'm starting out with TMX, I'm getting relatively thin and flat negatives. It took me about 6-7 months with the TMY/Xtol combination (and about 80 rolls of 120) before figuring it out. I expect the same learnig curve with TMX...isn't this fun :smile:
     
  13. pentaxuser

    pentaxuser Subscriber

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    Well the cat looks flat, Thomas, in the sense of a certain worldly "ennui" that only cats can manage in portraits and they never charge extra for it.

    It's a great look. No training required


    pentaxuser
     
  14. mike c

    mike c Subscriber

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    If you add foto flo to the tank for the last step before drying,and don't scrub the tank and reel after,that would cause foaming with the developer on next use.

    Mike
     
  15. Trask

    Trask Subscriber

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    Thomas,

    That's a great shot of the boy. Grainless, crispy black and white in the shirt, perfect skin tone. Just great.
     
  16. Thomas Bertilsson

    Thomas Bertilsson Subscriber

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    Thanks! That one's Pentax 35mm TMX in replenished Xtol. The other two are Hasselblad. Kitten is TMX and wedding is TMY.
     
  17. waynecrider

    waynecrider Member

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    Sorry forgot to add (and I was actually thinking about it believe it or not) that my results were per chart recommendations. I do know, as probably everyone else has read over the years, that Tmax films respond to shorter changes in developing regime and that all films are variable in developing. But really, thanks for jumping on my ass about it. I don't want to give out bad info to the newbies.
     
  18. ianstamatic

    ianstamatic Member

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    I use xtol in my phototherm 1:1 and straight and love it. I dilute it in a 3 lite soda bottle and mix as needed. Awesome results from 400 iso film esp

    Sent from my SGH-T959 using Tapatalk
     
  19. Sirius Glass

    Sirius Glass Subscriber

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    If you dilute XTOL, then the solution is a one shot developer PERIOD. Read the data sheet.

    If you use XTOL full strength, then increase the development time per the instruction sheet.

    I recommend that you start with a fresh batch of XTOL and replenish with 170ml per roll after time that you develop with it. The tonality is much better. See previous threads on this subject of APUG. Also see the data sheet.

    Steve
     
  20. MattKing

    MattKing Subscriber

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  21. Sirius Glass

    Sirius Glass Subscriber

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  22. Thomas Bertilsson

    Thomas Bertilsson Subscriber

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  23. Paterson

    Paterson Member

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    When your film is uneven,the developer is getting exhausted, follow the replenishment instructions from Kodak. You are also finding your negs flat, increase the temperature of the developer to shorten your development time, agitate ten seconds for every minute of development. With Tmax 100 or 400, use a yellow number 8 filter on your lens, this really helps with the contrast. Uneven negatives can also be caused by inadequate agitation, so focus on being consistent with this aspect of development.

    P