Panatomic X developer

Discussion in 'B&W: Film, Paper, Chemistry' started by Oldtimer Jay, Jul 31, 2005.

  1. Oldtimer Jay

    Oldtimer Jay Member

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    Hi All,

    In the past year I aquired quite a bit of 35mm Panatomic X dated from 1985 to 1991 which is credibly reported to have been frozen from new. I have tested it in a variety of developers including Xtol, Rodinal, FX 15, D76, Acutol, Aculux 2 and Microdol X. The resolution, acutance and tonality are excellent in most developers and I have had no problems with reduced film speed or fog. However, all developers show significantly more grain in 11X14 prints than do my 40 year old negatives shot and processed in D76 from fresh Panatomic X. Microdol X 1:1 for 10.5 min @ 68 is clearly the best developer for my "fossil film", but grain is only about on a par with fresh Ilford Pan F in Xtol, while grain in my old negatives was considerably less, with excellent acutance as well.

    I process carefully (perhaps obsessively) with precise temperature control, distilled water and standardized agitation just as I did in the Sixties, so processing variables are seemingly constant.

    Another Panatomic X fan has observed similar results. My question is: Has anyone out there found a developer or statedgy that can reduce grain without reducing acutance for this fossil film?

    Thanks in advance,

    Jay
     
  2. Rick Jones

    Rick Jones Subscriber

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    I have had exactly the same experience as you when developing and printing expired 35mm Panatomic. When compared to my old prints the new prints made from expired X were simply unacceptable. Right or wrong I concluded if the expired film wouldn't process satisfactorily in D76 I wasn't going to waste my time and abandoned further experimenting. I'll be watching for others obtaining different results as I have held more expired rolls for nostalgic reasons.
     
  3. John Cook

    John Cook Member

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    In my experience, there are perhaps two ways to describe grain.

    First is how distinct it appears. High acutance developers produce crystal-like hard-edged grain which is more visible. Low acutance, so-called fine grain, developers produce mushy grain which is therefore difficult to distinguish.

    But there is a second phenomenon, sometimes referred to as grain clumping. It is common knowledge that grain size is mostly a product of how the film was manufactured. But diluting the developer sometimes seems to me to make the distinct tack-sharp little grain particles much smaller. The difference between Rodinal @ 1:25 vs. 1:100 is a good example.

    Your grain problem may be some mystery function/peculiarity of old film. But the best way to minimize it would likely be to further dilute the developer.

    Back when Panatomic 35mm was still manufactured, I had excellent results with Ethol T.E.C. liquid in 4 ounce bottles, diluted 1:15. I was even able to make four-foot murals from 35mm Tri-X with grain no coarser than a period on this page. Very visible, but salt-and-pepper tiny. Just like a fine pencil sketch.

    Only one caveat, Ethol T.E.C. has a very short shelf life once opened. The bottle should be kept in the refrigerator and probably used in less than a month.

    My current source for this developer is Freestyle.
     
  4. David A. Goldfarb

    David A. Goldfarb Moderator Staff Member

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    Given that acutance and fine grain are competing objectives, you might try Rodinal and add sulfite until you find a happy medium (or since you're a multi-format shooter, just shoot a larger format and give the bulk Pan-X to someone who only shoots 35mm).
     
  5. Tom Hoskinson

    Tom Hoskinson Member

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    For Panatomic-X, Rodinal 1:50 or Rodinal 1:100. Add ascorbic acid (per Pat Gainer) until you are happy with the grain.

    I have never liked the look of sulfited Rodinal.
     
  6. garryl

    garryl Member

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    Ah, but there's nothing like the smell of Rodinal in the morning!:cool:
     
  7. Gerald Koch

    Gerald Koch Member

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    Back when Pan-X was still being manufactured, I developed it in the Beutler formula and used a chrome alum stop bath to harden the film and prevent reticulation and grain-clumping. Prints from the negatives looked really nice. You might try using such a stop bath. You can buy chrome alum from several of the companies that sell photo chemicals.
     
  8. moose10101

    moose10101 Member

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    That should be sodium ascorbate, not ascorbic acid.
     
  9. Tom Hoskinson

    Tom Hoskinson Member

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    Or ascorbic acid plus the alkali of your choice (recall that Rodinal contains Potassium Hydroxide).