Vitamin-C film developer

Discussion in 'B&W: Film, Paper, Chemistry' started by Jennifer, Dec 5, 2004.

  1. Jennifer

    Jennifer Member

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    Hi,
    I am planing to use Vit-c for paper developer. For film Microdol-X, I would like to use Vit-c for film, but am worried about the "sudden Death" like Xtol can have. I seen where just Vit-c and carbonate will work. So it comes down to this.

    1 - How reliable, no sudden death

    2 - formula that will give results of Microdol-X 1:3

    3 - Consistent results

    4 - NO Metol - Hydroquinone - Lye - Pyro, well you get the idea


    So what's your thoughts....


    Jennifer
     
  2. Nick Zentena

    Nick Zentena Member

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    If you make up your developer fresh for each batch [Easy enough if you make your own] then you shouldn't have to worry about sudden death. But I'd look for a developer that worked the way I wanted not one that avoided a list of chemicals. Why are you avoiding metol?
     
  3. jim appleyard

    jim appleyard Member

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    I'm not sure, but I don't think Vit. C will develop film on it's own. I think you will have to throw in metol, etc., to make a superadditive dev. Perhaps Patrick Gainer will spot this and comment.
     
  4. Jordan

    Jordan Member

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    Vitamin C will not develop film well on its own -- it needs another developing agent as well. For most of us using Patrick Gainer's Vitamin C formulas, that other developing agent is phenidone, although some people use a metol-Vitamin C formula instead.

    Quite possibly the simplest of Patrick's Vitamin C developers to compound is as follows (this is a working-strength solution that should be used immediately):

    Warm water .... 250 ml
    Ascorbic acid .... 2 g
    Phenidone 1% .... 2 ml
    Sodium carbonate .... 5 g
    Water to make .... 1 L

    The "Phenidone 1%" is a 1% solution of phenidone in isopropyl alcohol. I use a formula equivalent to this and develop HP5+ for about 7' at 21C.

    There are a whole bunch of different variations on this formula that involve dissolving the ascorbic acid and phenidone in propylene glycol (PG) or triethanolamine (TEA) for longer keeping and that use different bases as the accelerator. The PG version is what I currently use and my existing batch has lasted for over a year with no signs of deterioration. TEA acts similarly and also acts as an accelerator so no sodium carbonate need be added.

    This is not an ultra-fine-grain developer (at least in the form I have posted) but the grain is fine enough, but tight and extremely crisp. It's almost like a finer-grained Rodinal (if I can be so bold!)
     
  5. Jennifer

    Jennifer Member

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    Hi,
    Jordan, that sounds hopeful. I wonder what would make it a bit finer grain,
    with those qualitys ?. One thing is developing time, longer would be better, for doing "N-" times. Diluting ?. Capacity of developer per ltr ?. Questions, questions. Perhaps Mr. Gainer could give some more insights.

    On the chemical list...."HQ" is bad stuff, and it would not surprise me if it makes it to a EPA hit list in the future. I'm more, in my older age bothered by chemical things in general, and if ?, I could get the same results with a non-metol developer, all the better. I'm just trying to think ahead, that's scarey, and use non-hazmat formulas, or store bought things that are less toxic. I'm not a enviromental nut, but it's better for us, the animals, plants.

    Jennifer
     
  6. gainer

    gainer Subscriber

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    Phenidone is less toxic than metol, though allergies cannot always be predicted. An amount of phenidone is equivalent to about 10 times that amount of metol, so not only is it less likely to be allergenic but there is much less of it.

    I doubt hydroquinone will make it to such a list. It is a valuable chemical in medical laboratories and other worthwhile uses. It will not leap out and grab you, so if you don't rub it on your body or eat it or inhale it, you can join the rest of us who have used it for years, 65 in my case, without harm. Well, some might disagree whose brains run on a different track, but I trace that to my parents, who were not photograpers.

    Vitamin C or its common isomer isoascorbic acid have some advantages. They do not need sulfite to activate the synergism with phenidone or metol. Here again, sulfite is not such a bad thing for health as we use it, but I have found that for many photographic purposes the less the better. Personally, I think it's fun to be able to get most of what you need to develop film at a grocery store an/or a hardware store, and get high quality negatives as well.

    Long development times to high contrast are a good source of graniness. I have not found grain from my formulas to be any worse than from D-76. I have to enlarge HP5+ more than 10 times to see the grain with reading glasses.

    Look at it this way: how much could it cost to try it for yourself? What you don't use, you can eat as vitamin C and use in your laundry. 10 grams of phenidone will last a very long time, and other formulas use it as well.
     
  7. Tom Hoskinson

    Tom Hoskinson Member

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    Jennifer, If you dilute PC-TEA 1:10 or 1:15 it does a good job developing paper. This developer can be replenished, if needed, by adding a little Ascorbic Acid.

    BTW, I recommend Trader Joe's pure food grade Ascorbic Acid (about $6.00 a pound).

    The image color can be modified (warmer)by adding about a gram of potassium bromide (KBr) to the working developer. KBr will also reduce the activity of the developer.

    The image color can be modified (colder) by adding .2% Benzotriazole solution to the working developer. Try adding 10 ml of the .2% Benzo solution per liter of working developer as a starting point. This will also reduce the activity of the developer.
     
  8. gainer

    gainer Subscriber

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    Now if you want scary, look at the contents of bottles of such things as hair dye (p-phenylene diamine), dandruff medicine, wart remover, etc. Don't forget laundry detergents.
     
  9. sanking

    sanking Member

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    If you add 0.2g of potassium bromide to the above stock solution you will reduce B+F significantly without altering developer activity.

    We alternative printers just abhor any unnecessary density because it adds so much time to our printing.

    Sandy
     
  10. zenrhino

    zenrhino Member

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    Let's go over this in small words for the benefit of my finals week-addled brain.

    Where can one buy phenidone?
    How does one measure out 2ml? A pipette?
    Is the 2ml of the 1% solution or is it 2ml of phenidone in an unspecified amount of isopropyl?
    Will EtOH work? We always have some high-test rum hanging out here it seems. :D
     
  11. Justin Low

    Justin Low Member

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    Jay, thanks for the formula. I live in Singapore and would probably have to mail order these chemicals. Would you have any suggestions on where to get them? Also, any chance that customs would think they would be used for nefarious purposes?

    Justin
     
  12. gainer

    gainer Subscriber

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    Ascorbic acid is Vitamin C, although not all vitamin C is sold in the acid form. It should not be on anyone's list of dangerous chemicals.

    Triethanolamine may be looked upon with suspicion as some explosives have the tri- prefix, like trinitroglycerine, trinitrotoluene, etc. It is used in some personal higeine products. You may see it listed as an ingredient in many places where you might not expect it.

    A satisfactory stock solution may be made by using propylene glycol as solvent in place of the TEA and adding an alkali to the working solution. Some are using sodium carbonate, others are using a mixture of borax and carbonate. I get good results from the glycol stock diluted 1+50 with water with 1 teaspoon of sodium carbonate and one teaspoon of borax per liter added.
     
  13. Jordan

    Jordan Member

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    You're in Minnesota, so it shouldn't take long to get chemicals from the Photographer's Formulary (Google them -- they are in Montana), who sell everything you will need. Phenidone is a solid and is used in such small quantities in these developers that it is easier to make up a dilute stock solution in alcohol (it has limited water solubility) and prepare working solutions from that. In this case 2ml means 2ml of a 1% stock solution of as high a concentration of alcohol as you can get. Use a syringe or volumetric pipette to measure it. Don't use rum -- use neat isopropanol from the drugstore.

    As Patrick and others mention, you can also make up the phenidone and ascorbic acid in a single stock solution at higher concentrations in propylene glycol or triethanolamine, in which case the stock solution will last a LONG time. With triethanolamine all you have to do is dilute it and go because the solvent is a strong enough base to activate the developing agents. With propylene glycol stock solutions you add the activator of your choice. The latter method is what I currently use -- I dilute the propylene glycol stock 1+50 in water to which I add 5g/L of sodium carbonate. This simple developer works well.

    There are many, many permutations of Patrick's developers, differing mostly in the nature of the activator and what the stock solution/s is/are made up in. Search here and photo.net and you will be inundated with options.
     
  14. Justin Low

    Justin Low Member

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    Thanks Jay! I hope to be able to try PC-TEA soon. I've heard many great things about it.

    I'll probably start off with the smallest quantities sold, since it looks like the formula needs so little of each chemical.
     
  15. Maine-iac

    Maine-iac Member

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    I want to second most of what has been said in response to Jennifer's questions. Will just add a tip or two.

    I have used with great success, a simple Gainer-inspired formula.

    For Delta 400 or Fuji Neopan 400:

    1/2 tsp. Vit. C powder (from any health food store, even if it has rose hips, makes no diffference)
    1 tsp. Kodalk (sodium metaborate)
    4 ml. 1% Phenidone (1 g Phenidone dissolved in 90% alcohol, available in any supermarket or drugstore)
    1 liter of water

    Develop for about 6-7 minutes at 70 F. (experiment to find your right time/film speed)

    For Delta 100 or Fuji ACROS 100, substitute Sodium Carbonate (Arm & Hammer Washing soda) for the Sodium Metaborate to increase the activity and keep the development times relatively the same. Otherwise, the metaborate will work fine, but times will increase to about 9-10 minutes for the slower film.

    I mix this up fresh each time (except for the Phenidone/alcohol stock). It takes hardly any more time to throw in the Vitamin C and metaborate than it does to measure and dilute a stock solution.

    I get very fine grain with this formula--so fine I can barely focus with my grain focuser when printing.


    You can use Propylene glycol (available at Formulary or Chemistry Store online) as a preservative for the Phenidone/Vitamin C and make a stock solution. It apparently will preserve the Phenidone longer than alcohol, but I've never had a problem with the alcohol.

    Drugstores all sell a 5 ml plastic dropper for measuring medicine and giving it to babies. They cost $1-2 and work fine for measuring out the Phenidone stock.

    Larry
     
  16. psvensson

    psvensson Member

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    To get results closer to the Microdol you're used to, you may want to use Larry's formula above but substitute 2 tbsps sodium sulfite for the metaborate. That's for 1l of water, BTW. You can mix it up just before using it.

    A lot of people will say that the sulfite is unnecessary, expensive, etches the grains, reduces speed, sharpness etc. etc. They may be right. I'm just saying that you may prefer the look the sulfite gives.