Same Developer for Tmax-100, Plus-X & Tmax-400, Tri-X?

Discussion in 'B&W: Film, Paper, Chemistry' started by Jedidiah Smith, Jun 12, 2009.

  1. Jedidiah Smith

    Jedidiah Smith Member

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    It has been quite some time since I did a little film testing (shoot, it's been a long time since I shot any real B&W). But two things have occurred:
    1. Gary's brother is sending me the Minolta enlarger and ...
    2. I moved from Alaska to Southern California, and I have noticed the light is very different down here. Not just brighter, but the "color" and quality of light is just different. I'm hypothesizing this comes from the angle of the sun being so different in the extreme North compared to SoCal, but I'm not sure.

    I do know that I need to re-evaluate my films I will use, and get used to it all again when the enlarger gets here. If you couldn't tell by my recent flurry of posts, I am just a little excited to build a darkroom again! :D

    Should I use Xtol or D76 for all 4 films I will test again? I had narrowed my favorites down to Plus-X and Tri-X in D76 or Xtol in Alaska, but I also liked the fine grain of Tmax-100 for some applications. Fuji Across is a close second on that score.

    Now, I want to re-evaluate them in this new light...I would also like to try the updated Tmax-400, as I may like it better than Tri-X for a faster film when needed. The real test will be if I still like the look of Plus-X better than Tmax 100, though, as I almost always shoot low ISO film.

    I guess what I'm wondering is if there is a developer combo that will give me better result, in the sense that I would be handi-capping one film here by using all the same developer. Hopefully what I'm asking makes sense.
    Long winded question, I know. Thanks for bearing with me.
    Jed
     
  2. Christopher Walrath

    Christopher Walrath Member

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    D76 is intended as a fine grain developer. That being the case it should be a good match for all of the Kodak films you mentioned above as they are all classified from fine to extremely fine grained films. D76 and XTol are good choices indeed. HC110 is a little fast for some other films but would work as well. But if you have used and are fond of the first two then dance with who ya brung.
     
  3. Sirius Glass

    Sirius Glass Subscriber

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    I use XTOL for all the black & white films because it gives me the finest grain.

    I am planning on trying Rollo Pyro soon.

    Steve
     
  4. ic-racer

    ic-racer Member

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    A single developer will work for all those films, but a single film will work in many cases also. So, there must be some reason you are using so many film types. If it is to appreciate the differences between the films, then using different developers for each film will exaggerate the differences and may make it more worthwhile.
     
  5. Jeff L

    Jeff L Subscriber

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    The light is like that in California because it's paradise. IMO
     
  6. Sirius Glass

    Sirius Glass Subscriber

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    Yeah, we have to put up with blue skies, no clouds, temperature about the same as the day before ... really boring ... you would not like it. It is a tough life but someone has to live it.

    Steve
     
  7. Chazzy

    Chazzy Member

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    D-76 and Xtol are both excellent general purpose developers, so take your pick. I use Xtol instead of D-76 because it gives a little extra speed with increasing grain.
     
  8. jim appleyard

    jim appleyard Member

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    I met a gentleman from Arizona and he said the light here in upstate NY is "Fantastic". I also assume it's the angle of the sun. For instance, November is generally crappy here, gray and cloudy, but when the sun does shine, all your sujects are side or backlighted as the sun is so low in the sky.

    Both D-76 and X-tol are fine devs. From what I read here, X-tol gives a bit finer grain and a bit more film speed, but I think you'd have to look at prints side-by-side for several minutes to see it. x-tol is a bit more friendly to the environs.

    Cost and availability are also factors.
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Jun 12, 2009
  9. Philippe Grunchec

    Philippe Grunchec Member

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    Finer but softer: it is a question of taste!
     
  10. Jedidiah Smith

    Jedidiah Smith Member

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    Thanks guys. I will probably stick with XTOL then, unless there is a compelling reason to break out the old D76 again.

    Don't know if any of you know about the FX-50 Crawley style developer? Do they make that stuff anymore? I once read a great article by Roger Hicks about it...but then they had stopped or shifted production of it to a different supplier or something, and I never got to try it. That sounded like one amazing bottle of stuff! Any thoughts on where to get some?

    IC-Racer, I hardly ever use high ISO films - on the rare occasion that I did, I found Tri-X was the best for me, because if it was to the point that I was willing to sacrifice for a high speed film, I wanted something I could push hard, over/under expose, etc - in other words, no finessing the shot.

    This is in contrast to much of my shooting which is low ISO film, on a tripod, MLU, etc. The real test will be for Tmax-100 vs Plus-X again. I loved the tight grain of Tmax100 (seemed to enlarge with more detail), but the tonality of Plus-X was better. I don't know if this makes sense, but I could see the difference. The Plus-X had a more "old school" B&W look to it; more grey tones throughout. Longer toe, I think. But, this could all be down to my technique as well, and poor developing / printing skills. (I usually have shot slide film, so I need a lot of practice in these areas.)

    That's the reason for so many films...and I have tried nearly every Fuji, Kodak, and Ilford B&W film available - the Kodak films listed above were my favorites, w/ Fuji Neopan 100 Acros a close second to Tmax-100. For some reason, the Ilford films were a distinct third, I just did not care for the style as much. But...that was all in D76 or Xtol at box speeds and recommended developing times, so...who knows. There's so much variation! :smile:

    Jed
     
  11. jim appleyard

    jim appleyard Member

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    YES! I used to talk to my students about grain and tonality. I asked them to imagine that their work was hanging in a gallery. I asked them which they would see first when they walked into the room, grain or tonality. Tonality screams at you rfrom across the room, grain whispers from 6 inches.

    I shot globs of t-max films and never did care for them. As soon as I went back to PX/TX, everything got better!
     
  12. jim appleyard

    jim appleyard Member

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    Another point that may matter to you is the volume of dev that you have to make. D-76 is available in gallon and (still?) 1 liter sizes. X-tol is made in the 5 liter size only. You should go thru a gallon of D-76 faster than 5 liters of X-tol.
     
  13. jnanian

    jnanian Advertiser Advertiser

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    hey jed

    you can use most developers for those films.
    tmax developer is made for tmax films, and they
    suggest developing times for the other films ...
    and xtol and hc.. d76 and the other developers suggested
    work very well for all those films as well.

    have fun!

    john
     
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  15. Jedidiah Smith

    Jedidiah Smith Member

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    Jim - you know, I could never figure that out back in the day - why did Kodak choose to put X-tol in 5 Ltr. package? Who's got a "5 Ltr" jug laying around in their house in the U.S.? :smile: Not to be picky but come on... 1 gallon is easy to store.
    Have you found an appreciable difference between D76 and X-tol for your work? I know you're a good proponent of the older style films, ala plus-X, and I always have been in the past as well. I just know that I need to re-evaluate everything now that I'll have a different enlarger setup and live thousands of miles south with different light.

    Thanks to all,
    Jed
     
  16. fschifano

    fschifano Member

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    I'm a big fan of both D-76 and XTOL. There are some films for which I prefer D-76, mostly because I don't have reliable starting point data for XTOL. For Plus-X and Tri-X, of course, there is no question. Kodak has excellent data for both developers paired with either film. I use both developers one shot, and diluted 1+1 99% of the time. The results I get with these films are different in each developer, but the differences are very subtle and not something you'd really notice until you compared the same scene, taken with the same camera and lens, in the same light, side by side. That said, XTOL will deliver about 1/3 stop bit more shadow detail without blowing the highlights all to hell. In practice, it means that if you rate the film at box speed, you get a little more shadow detail. Grain is about the same; a little less noticeable with XTOL, but nothing dramatic. The same advice holds true for TMX and TMY. D-76 is good; XTOL a little bit better. I tried using TMax developer a few times, and was unimpressed. It's nothing special, except that it is a liquid and easy to mix up. It does not deliver the fine grain or slight speed boost of XTOL. HC-110 is ok for sheet film in trays, when you want short development times. It's a bit hot for tank use at the official dilutions, making it harder to control.

    You owe it to yourself to give the newly reformulated TMY-2 a try. It really is superior in every way to the old TMY. Under moderate enlargement of 4x to 5x, it's hard to distinguish grain under a grain focusing microscope. The tonality is fantastic. I'm able to get detail in very dark places, all the while holding the highlights in check. It's really that good. It doesn't replace Tri-X though, which is more punchy through the middle tones. Each has it's uses. Practice will tell you when to use each.

    Who needs a 5L jug anyway? Five 1L soda pop bottles will do the trick better. Fill 4 of them to the very top and the fifth one will come in at bit more than 1/2 full. The completely full bottles will last 6 months, The partially full one, about two.
     
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  17. jim appleyard

    jim appleyard Member

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    Hi Jed, Frank sums it up every time! Yes, you can certainly split-up X-tol into smaller bottles and the extra liter that D-76 doesn't have shouldn't make that much of a difference. I haven't noticed much, if any, difference between the two.
     
  18. jnanian

    jnanian Advertiser Advertiser

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    xtol used to be sold in 1L packages, but there were problems, just like the extreme dilutions that were recommended
    for different printing applications ... and kodak discontinued the 1L packaging and the recommendations of extreme dilutions ...

    when xtol was first introduced it was suggested that it was very difficult to get blown highlights using this developer.
    i never liked xtol ( some people swear by it ), even when over processed by 30% the negatives didn't have the "snap"
    that other developers tend to offer ( i used it for about 3 years ) ...

    have fun
     
  19. Thomas Bertilsson

    Thomas Bertilsson Subscriber

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    Jed,
    One way of using the Xtol developer that is very economical and changes the developer to yield negatives that are all but flat is to re-plenish it. And this is where the 5L packaging comes in handy.
    I use a 2L stock working solution (my largest tank likes 1,850ml full), and with each 35mm/120/8x10 equivalent area film I pour 70ml of fresh stock solution into the working solution jug before I pour back what I used during development.
    This way you can process 70+ rolls of film with one 5L package. I would recommend to use 1L bottles to store the stock replenisher so you don't oxidize it unnecessarily.

    The developer, once seasoned, is wonderful. It appears that the remains from film processing (bromide among others) seem to be good for the process. I've had a batch going for about three months now, and I aim to continue using it perpetually.

    It's a very economical and good way to use this developer.

    Also, Xtol seems to work really well in scenes with high brightness range. In flat lighting it might not be the best choice.
     
  20. rphenning

    rphenning Member

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    We are from the same town, Jedidiah. Personally I would be stoked if we had some weather once in a while. I have personally liked what I have gotten with ID11 which is Ilford's copy of D76. So there is my answer.
     
  21. R W Penn

    R W Penn Member

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    You have Clayton F76plus in Calif. It is a liquid eazy to use.comes in quarts or 1000ml 33oz jug not sure of size. Very good stuff.
     
  22. Bruce Watson

    Bruce Watson Member

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    I've used all those films but Plus-X (which they no longer offer in 5x4). XTOL is your answer IMHO. Let me tell you why.

    First, XTOL right off the bat gives me about the same level of graininess and a bit more sharpness. And at least 2/3 stop more real film speed than D-76; with XTOL I can always shoot at box speed. Then, XTOL can easily be diluted. So use it straight for Plus-X for that softer "old school" look, and your prints will look surprisingly similar to D-76. Then you can diluted it 1:1 to get a little more sharpness, and 1:3 to get a little more sharpness yet. And the cost in increased graininess is very small for doing this. Yes, you can dilute D-76 too, at least to 1:1. But I think the XTOL dilutions superior to the D-76 ones. Of course YMMV.

    I've used XTOL 1:3 with Tri-X and TMY-2. I liked the results very much with Tri-X. Then I tried TMY-2 and loved it. I liked the tonality better, the graininess is considerably better, and the reciprocity characteristics are way better (this matters to LFers more than others of course). So Tri-X is history for me. Again, YMMV.

    I'm just sayin' I used D-76 for like 20 years. Some HC-110 for a while. But since I tried XTOL there's been no looking back. And one more time: YMMV.
     
  23. Lee L

    Lee L Member

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    For clarity's sake: It appears that you are mostly talking about sheet film. Are you discussing Tri-X, or TXP? That would make a difference when you're talking about tonal characteristics.

    Thanks,
    Lee
     
  24. Bruce Watson

    Bruce Watson Member

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    Sheet film -- the only camera I own is my 5x4.
     
  25. Lee L

    Lee L Member

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    So is it correct that your observations apply to TXP, not to Tri-X?

    Lee
     
  26. Jedidiah Smith

    Jedidiah Smith Member

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    Thanks for all the input, and especially to Frank and Bruce for the summaries of years of use. That's what I love about this place. I could pay for all the chems and spend a bunch of time doing a very limited test in my own house, but I can get so many years worth of experience in the answers from all of you. Definitely shows the Internet could be GOOD for photography!
    I will probably try with X-tol first and see if I like it again. A note about the Clayton developer - yes, I see they are down here. I always wanted to try that dev. when I was in Alaska, but shipping was crazy for some reason. So, maybe at some point I'll give that a try as well.

    Did anyone ever find any information on that Paterson FX-50 "Crawley" developer? That stuff sounds like the bomb, but I've never used it...so might just be hype. Don't know. I will start first with X-tol as a base-line, and go from there.
    Jed