TMax100 in Xtol trouble?

Discussion in 'B&W: Film, Paper, Chemistry' started by jimrs, Jan 9, 2007.

  1. jimrs

    jimrs Member

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    I have been forced to move and no longer have my darkroom. I therefore am developing at the kitchen sink, scanning and printing by that (other method). To facilitate the change I switched from shooting LF/4x5, TriX souped in HC110 to shooting 645/120, TMax100 processed in Patterson FX39 in small Nikor tanks, a combination I had success with in 35mm. Alas FX39 has poofed and I picked up Xtol.

    I print to 16x20 at times. For this the TMax100/FX39 seemed OK but I just ran into trouble with the TMax100/Xtol. I have had a processing batch come out very thin. I processed 4 rolls of 120 Tmax100 rated at 100 ISO with Xtol 1:2 for 14 mins at 68º, agitation 4 inversions every min. The Xtol was mixed just 45 days ago and kept in a full container. I always run one shot.

    I realized I don’t really understand this developer and ran a speed test first. I changed to the Kodak recommendation of dilution 1:1 @ 68º for 9.5 mins. agitation 4 inversions every 30 secs. Test showed good zone 1 density at ISO 100 and could be rated at ISO125. I then ran a test to determine expansion /compression capabilities. Shooting a stucco wall I exposed frames from zone 1 to 9 with zone 5 at the ISO 100 on 2 rolls of film for N and N+1 processing and ISO 80 for N-1 processing. Results were disturbing.

    N processing was same as film speed test Xtol 1:1, 9.5 mins., agitation 4 inversions/30 secs. Looks good except I noticed slight uneven development noticeable mainly in the higher zones.
    N+1 processing was Xtol 1:1, 11.5 mins., agitation 5 inversions/30 secs. Looks good with move of zone 5 to 6.
    N-1 processing was Xtol 1:1, 7.5 mins., agitation 3 inversions/30 secs. Looks terrible with very uneven development everywhere. Zone 7 moved to 5.

    So I am in a pickle. I just lost 4 rolls from an important shoot with 14 more rolls waiting processing. I threw out the Xtol. Subsequent reading indicated it can be finicky. I don’t know if I mismixed it or if it is just not capable of plus/minus development. I want plus/minus capability. While it may not be that useful for scanning, I may (hopefully) build a darkroom again and want to be able to print current negs, in an enlarger. To tell the truth, I am not all that thrilled with my digital B&W prints, but love the color.

    I am not in love with TMax100 either. The grain is very fine but just doesn’t have the snap I am used to. I also do not like the pink base. Sometimes it fixes out, most times not. So I am open to suggestions of where to go from here. I should mention I photograph natural and man made subject details and smaller landscapes.

    Thanks for any help, Jim
     
  2. RidingWaves

    RidingWaves Member

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    Yep, Xtol can be finicky. I've been up and down this developer and done just about everything that can be done with it, and yet I still love it and what it does.
    First off, if you don't feel you really can get comfortable with this developer, I reccommend not using it. There's a lot of other good ones to use and give great results.
    IF you feel like you can do Xtol, do it right. Distilled water on mixing, use Only plastic mixing tools and containers, store in dark glass bottles, with Saran wrap sealing tops.
    Then, there are a few quirks that make Xtol different. Just as agitation for Rodinal works different than D-76, Xtol is different as well. I've found that active, consistent, random agitation for the first Whole Minute works to eliminate any uneven development. As well, adding more agitation doesn't add an extreme amount of grain, so my regular agitation is pretty active as well.
    As well, the Kodak website on Xtol has a ton of info about it. You need to really figure out the numbers correctly, I was getting thinner negs than I liked for one roll until I saw that I was using the wrong grouping, I was using the number for small tank rather than the *replenished* deep tank number, and now that film is perfect. The Kodak numbers are quite comprehensive, and provide contrast index so you can adjust to them.
    Most people seem to dislike Xtol, some actively hate. I've used it consistently since it came out, and love it, and will continue to use it.
     
  3. Paul Howell

    Paul Howell Member

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    I used Xtol and liked it, but I experianced a sudden death of a gallon or 5 liters when Kodak stopped making it in quarts, my stock was only a couple of months old when it died. From what I understand, from current users, Kodak may have taken care of the sudden death issue, but if you had a older packet it may have been on its way out. If this is an important project I would consider using TMAX or DDX, but first shoot a test roll to fine tune your times.
     
  4. Edwardv

    Edwardv Member

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    After the film dries expose the strip to sunshine for 15-30 minutes or more to remvoe the pink/magenta. You can do this to any other film that has a color cast to it. Good luck solving your other problem.

    :D
     
  5. Ian Grant

    Ian Grant Subscriber

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    Sounds like underexposure and under development.

    I've been using Tmax100 since it was release and it's a great 50 ISO film, but at 100 ISO lacks shadow detail. I use Xtol at FS and replenish my working solution, and use a dev time of 9mins at 20C.

    So 14 mins @100 ISO in Xtol 1+2 seem far to short a time.

    Ian
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Jan 10, 2007
  6. Thomas Bertilsson

    Thomas Bertilsson Subscriber

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    I have seen gorgeous prints made from that combination. I'm afraid Xtol has a reputation for being problematic with exhaustion, and unless you test it on a regular basis with test strips or similar, it could give you a nasty surprise here and there. I much prefer one-shot developers simply because it seems more dependable. My three favorite developers for Tmax is FA-1027 (from Fine Art Photo Supply), Rodinal (not fine grain like Xtol), and Pyrocat-HD (not fine grain either, but is staining, so some of the grain is masked). The FA-1027 is very clean working which may work to your advantage using the "other method".

    - Thom
     
  7. srs5694

    srs5694 Member

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    FWIW, some of the discussions of "XTOL sudden death" have focused on the combination of T-Max (100 more than 400, IIRC) with XTOL (particularly when diluted more than 1+1). My impression is that this is a somewhat risky combination -- but then again, XTOL failure is a subject that generates more speculation than cold hard facts, and I guess I'm not contributing much to the cold hard facts in this paragraph.

    I can say that I like T-Max 100 in DS-12, which is a mix-it-yourself metol/ascorbic acid developer. This developer does tend to go bad quickly when stored in half-full bottles, but when mixed fresh or stored in full bottles, it works quite nicely with T-Max 100, IMHO. I mixed my latest batch at 5x concentration, which has helped its keeping qualities.
     
  8. Tom Hoskinson

    Tom Hoskinson Member

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    In my experience Pyrocat - MC also works great with TMAX-100.

    Pyrocat - MC is Pyrocatechol/Metol/Ascorbate. The stock A solution, mixed in propylene glycol, has an extremely long shelf life (years). The B solution is Sodium Carbonate and water
     
  9. Tom Hoskinson

    Tom Hoskinson Member

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  10. jimrs

    jimrs Member

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    Thanks to all who have written. I am going to try and work further with TMax/Xtol because the negs that have come out are really very good at least to my inexperienced eye. Looking at my original post I see how frustrated I was. It's a new day.

    Ridewaves - I will be more careful in mixing and storing Xtol and increase agitation at the beginning of dev. I think lack of agtation may be part of the problem.

    Ian Grant - I agree I probably underdeveloped. I was extrapolating from a recommendation from someone using continuous agitation processing and I must have missed. I now don't believe the dev. was exausted, just improper processing on my part. But 9 mins a FS seems long to me based on my N and N+1 test. 9.5 mins at 1:1 seemed to have good shadow detail, just a small amount of uneven dev. As far as underexposure, even though I rate my TMax at ISO 100, I expose important shadows at zone IV so I guess I'm shooting at ISO 50.

    Edwardv - Never heard of sun bleaching the pink. Will try it.

    Thanks again, Jim
     
  11. RidingWaves

    RidingWaves Member

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    jimrs, I've recently had great results with Tmax 100 at 100 in Xtol straight. I'm running replenished Xtol right now, so my times will be different, but the results in 35mm were so smooth, this combination is on my to shoot list in 120 and 4x5, very 'Panatomic-X' like.
    One thing I've noted with Xtol and in particular using with tmax is that its seems almost impossible to get a too dense neg. In dialing in the above tmax 100 I did a test with bracketed frames and multiple rolls at 2 min increases. End result gave me the times and EI for the result that I wanted to see, but some of the 'off' frames, where there was 3 or 4 or even 5 stops over exposure coupled with over-development that would put it so far over 'normal', and yet, when I contact printed or printed thru and corrected the contrast, the image still was far above 'acceptable', bordering on 'excellent'. I'll be keeping those times and EI's in my notebook as well. Have fun, and do the testing.
     
  12. Fred Aspen

    Fred Aspen Member

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  13. Early Riser

    Early Riser Subscriber

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    I have not had any problems with X-tol and T-max 100 in quite some time.
    Early in the production of xtol the 1 liter packages had problems with the A component going bad. The new packaging and the elimination of the 1 liter size has eliminated this problem.

    The most common problem that people have when using xtol is over dilution. Xtol requires at least 100ml of straight xtol per roll of 120 film.
    My normal use in a Jobo, with 4 120 rolls is 500ml xtol + 500 ml distilled water.
    I do not have any problems with this. I have also used it with 5 rolls but that is when I do my dual developer technique.

    I find that xtol stays quite long in an air evacuation bottle. It safely lasts for months.

    A few general tips:
    I mix all developers with distilled water.
    I buy developer in large batches, usually at least 10 packets of the same lot. I buy the longest expiration date I can find and I put the date of the purchase on the packet.
    I buy film in large batches, usually 400 rolls at a time, all the same emulsion. I also buy by the longest expiration date.
    I then test a roll of the new film with a batch of the new developer BEFORE I go out and shoot. This way I know that my film is ok and that my developer is ok.
    When I come back from a long trip, and I usually have 125 rolls to do plus another 50 sheets of Tmax 100 ready load, I take the film that I consider most expendable, or I shoot some dedicated test rolls while i'm on the trip, and I process that stuff first. When I mix a new batch of developer, even if it is from the same batch I have been using, I always process the most expendable film first.

    Do not process film that you consider to have any real value to you in untested developer or with a different process than you usually do. People who complain that they lost irreplaceable images unfortunately have no one to blame but themselves. Hope for the best but assume for the worst. Test everything. If you buy a new lens or put on a new GG, test it before you go out and shoot something important. Shoot some film with it under realistic circumstances, process the film and examine it carefully. Learn from your tests, learn from your mistakes.

    Pulling film , N minus, is not recommended with any film especially tmax films. Minus processing kills your local contrast. Either rely on the extended dynamic range of tmax 100 or preflash (a zone I or I 1/2 is usually enough)

    As for pushing film, you may be better off processing normally and then using selenium toner to intensify the negative. You can get an N+1 using selenium toner without increasing grain and you can also view the extent of the toning and the contrast increase while you do it. You have more control of the contrast increase this way. If you need to go N+2, then you may have to develope for N+1 and then use selenium to take you the rest of the way.

    Test, test, test.
     
  14. CJBo001

    CJBo001 Member

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    Not enough active developer?

    If you developed 4 rolls of 120 simultaneously, isn't it possible there wasn't enough developer (diluted 1:2, I think you said) in the tank for this much film?