Using XTOL

Discussion in 'B&W: Film, Paper, Chemistry' started by GeneW, Oct 11, 2005.

  1. GeneW

    GeneW Member

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    I shoot mostly Tri-X, Neopan 400 and HP5+ and am thinking of trying XTOL. My current developers are HC-110, D-76 and Rodinal. Because I scan my negatives, I want to keep the grain in check. I get good results from my current developers, but they're all a little on the grainy side in terms of scanning.

    I've searched and read most of the XTOL threads, but there's one I can't find again. A member here talked about using XTOL full strength and developing 6 rolls per bottle, then pitching the solution. With this method, do you need to increase developing time for each subsequent roll, or if does it stay consistent up to six rolls?

    Because I use D-76 1:1, I'd be comfortable using XTOL that way -- same basic storage requirements -- but I've read that stock solution XTOL produces slightly finer grain.

    Gene
     
  2. Neal

    Neal Subscriber

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    Dear Gene,

    According to the Xtol data sheet, 5 rolls in the same liter can be developed without time compensation. Having said that, I would like to pass on some sage advice that was given to me years ago. "Film is expensive, developer is cheap. Don't re-use it." Admittedly, repleneshed systems work very well but if you are working in small batches and at irregular intervals I consider it good advice.

    Neal Wydra
     
  3. srs5694

    srs5694 Member

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    You might also check Kodak's data sheet on XTOL; it's available from their Web site as a PDF, but I don't have a direct link bookmarked, so you'll have to rummage for it. The data sheet describes replenishment systems for XTOL (it acts as its own replenisher), but the description is probably geared towards commercial photofinishers and their automated systems rather than smaller setups like yours.
     
  4. GeneW

    GeneW Member

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    Thanks for the info! Neal, sage advice indeed. I don't mind using XTOL as a one-shot developer diluted 1:1 the way I currently use D-76.

    Gene
     
  5. noblebeast

    noblebeast Member

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    Another way to go is to mix up your own XTOL-like developer from the raw ingredients. I've been doing this since I first got the recipe from our good friend Maine-iac and have been very pleased with the results and the ease of use. You mix it up as a one shot, use the same developing times as XTOL stock (as a starting point, anyway) and it's always consistent. Something to think about. And I'm not one of the "mad scientist" types who likes to mix up different formulas and variations just to see what happens, so if I find mixing my own from scratch easy and painless, you can be sure it is. PM me if you'd like the recipe.

    Joe
     
  6. Jordan

    Jordan Member

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    I've used both MYTOL (a sodium sulfite-containing XTOL clone) and Pat Gainer's PC-Glycol (an earlier version of PC-TEA). They both work well with HP5 Plus, but if you are looking for the absolute minimum grain for neg-scanning, I'm not sure that either will be a "magic bullet" with these 400-speed B&W films. You may not find that XTOL gives more scannable negs than, say, stock D-76.

    If anything, the only developer I've tried that gives a bit of an advantage for scanning HP5 Plus is Perceptol. But "YMMV", as they say.
     
  7. GeneW

    GeneW Member

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    Not looking for a magic bullet, though one would be nice :smile: Just looking to keep the grain tamed, especially in skies. My scanner exaggerates grain if it's too pronounced. Nothing against grain -- I like it. I use Rodinal fairly often, even for scanning.

    Gene
     
  8. hortense

    hortense Member

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    I have found that this method allows retention of Acros' full asa 400 speed.
    Development: Xtol 1+1, 70°F.
    N=0 10 1/2 min @ 70°F.
    N-1 8 1/2 min. (≈ 19%)
    N+1 Se intensification
    Agitate (i.e., fast inversion) first 30 sec, 5-sec every minute thereafter.
     
  9. Neal

    Neal Subscriber

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    Dear Gene,

    I toss Xtol even when used full strength. I minimize the volume by using Jobo rotary tanks and a home made driver. A trip to the Jobo web site http://www.jobousadarkroom.com/index1.html will give you the details.

    Neal Wydra
     
  10. MikeSeb

    MikeSeb Member

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    a plug for Xtol....

    I have standardized on Xtol as my developer of choice for the kind of shooting I do. I am very pleased with it and have encountered none of the exhaustion problems that were attributed to the 1 L packages in the past. I store it in multiple small bottles after mixing.

    It is the best off-the-shelf developer I've used in many years of film processing. I tend to use it stock or 1:1 for conventional-grain films, and 1:2 or 1:3 for T-grain films. Of course, more dilute means some compensating effect and edge effects; more concentrated means finer grain, speaking generally. (I shoot mostly medium format and develop in a Jobo automatic processor.) I never reuse--even if this were an option in a Jobo--it isn't--i wouldn't do it; developer's too cheap to risk an irreplaceable image. I don't mind a little grain, and I love the beautiful silky tonality I get with the conventional grain films. Principally, those are Tri-X, HP5+, FP4+, and, more recently, Plus-X. I have also used it with MacoORT25c orthochromatic film, Efke, Bergger (HUGE GRAIN), and Agfa. It does the job for me.

    I am considering transitioning to Mytol as a replacement against the day that Kodak decides to pull the plug on Xtol; who knows if, or when, that will happen.
     
  11. GeneW

    GeneW Member

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    Again, thanks for all the info and tips!

    Mytol ??

    Gene
     
  12. waynecrider

    waynecrider Member

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    I would clip test a section at 1:1 and see what you think. In MF to LF I generally use it 1:2 and even 1:3. I don't scan.
     
  13. Daniel Lawton

    Daniel Lawton Member

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    I find that Xtol is a pretty decent developer for pushing film since it gives good shadow detail and finer grain, but not significantly better than using D76 stock. As a general purpose developer I think there are better choices. Although Xtol produces high resolution and fine grain, it is these characteristics that make the images actually appear soft and unsharp. With other developers like D76 you can negate this effect by using higher dilutions for greater edge effects. With Xtol however, I've used it at 1:3 and didn't see any great increase in acutance as I would in other developers and then you have to be concerned with Xtol's tendency to fail when used at high dilutions. You can always use larger volumes of it to be safe but Kodak no longer publishes times for Xtol above 1:1 so that shows you the confidence they have in it. In short I think that if for some reason you need the finest-grained images possible then go for it, otherwise you can get better results with another developer.
     
  14. Jordan

    Jordan Member

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    Gene -- Mytol is a scratch-mix developer that is similar or identical in composition to XTOL. The formula can be found in the Chemistry Recipes section of this site, under the non-staining film developers category. By comments on XTOL are based on my use of MYTOL.

    Skies are always tricky with grain. Be careful not to over-sharpen your skies. Maybe try D-76 stock to see if that solves any of your problems.
     
  15. GeneW

    GeneW Member

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    Thanks for the Mytol info. I ran my last two rolls through D-76 stock and the skies were smoother, but the rest of the photos was not as crisp as I like. I'll give XTOL 1:1 a try, as soon as I get down to the camera store for a package.

    Gene
     
  16. fschifano

    fschifano Member

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    Funny, I've been using XTOL at 1+3 for a long time and never had an exhaustion problem because of it. I really think that Kodak stopped recommending the 1+3 dilution because many people were using that dilution to make up only enough working solution to cover 1 35mm reel in a small tank. In that case, you don't have enough stock solution in the mix to meet the minimum requirement of 100ml stock for an 80 sq. in. roll of film. Naturally, the developer poops out before the film is completely done. When I use that dilution, I'm limited to a single roll of film in a 2 reel tank and the tank is quite full of developer.
     
  17. timeUnit

    timeUnit Member

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    I use XTOL and scan with nice results. Compared to the T-Max deveoper I used before, the results are better.

    IMO, a factor not to be overseen when scanning BW negs is density. Normal to slightly thin negs are easier to scan and get less grain than slightly dense or very dense negs. At least on my Epson 4990 and Nikon Coolscan V ED scanners. Personally, I find it to be the opposite when wet printing...

    Here are some XTOL and scanning examples:

    http://blog.hform.se/article/132/setting-star

    http://blog.hform.se/article/119/we-loved-you-very-much-ellen

    http://blog.hform.se/article/105/perfectly-still

    http://blog.hform.se/article/98/stop-shooting

    When wet printing, I find XTOL to produce too fine grain on medium format Fuji Acros and Ilford PanF+, even on Tri-X. I'm now experimenting with Rodinal for that purpose.
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Oct 12, 2005
  18. df cardwell

    df cardwell Subscriber

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    XTOL suggestions

    Think of it as the ultimate version of D76. Conceptually, it is.

    More speed ( 1/2 stop ), finer grain ( almost absent with Neopan 400 ).
    Like D76, more speed and sharpness 1+1 than straight. You DO see an extra zone in the shadows with XTOL.

    No question, I'd suggest mixing XTOL in distilled water, decant it in small bottles, use it 1+1. Use Kodak's times and EI as a guide, they are very accurate.

    have fun
    .
     
  19. GeneW

    GeneW Member

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    Thanks. That puts it in perspective. And I've always liked D76 so I think I'll like XTOL.

    Gene
     
  20. srs5694

    srs5694 Member

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    Be careful with those high dilutions. One of many suggested explanations for "XTOL sudden failure" problems is using too high a dilution, particularly with T-grain films. Kodak recommends at least 100ml of stock solution per 36-exposure roll of 35mm film, and you're likely to exceed that with 1:3 and maybe even 1:2 dilution if you use just enough diluted solution to cover your film in your tank. If you want to keep using these dilutions, I'd recommend at least performing a snip test before each roll -- cut off a bit of the leader and develop it, in full light, to be sure it darkens completely. (OTOH, I'm not sure how effective this test would be if the developer simply "konks out" partway through developing the roll.) Using 100ml of stock solution with 200ml or 300ml of water, even for a single roll, would also be a good precaution. (Obviously, increase these values if you need more than 300ml or 400ml of solution.)