What DON'T you like about MQ developers?

Discussion in 'B&W: Film, Paper, Chemistry' started by David Lyga, Dec 18, 2013.

  1. David Lyga

    David Lyga Subscriber

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    I have rarely ventured past the safe, secure, pervasive genre of standard metol-hydroquinone developers because they are so good and dependable. I might tweak the MQ ratio, add some more carbonate or bromide, but rarely use other reduction chemicals like Phenidone, Amidol, etc.

    Yet, there are those who swear by such alternatives. I, we, all, just might like to know why? And for prints or negatives do you choose other developers?

    Perhaps the best way to approach this discussion might be to elucidate the reasons that MQ might fall short of optimal development in certain (or all?) cases. - David Lyga
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Dec 18, 2013
  2. michael_r

    michael_r Subscriber

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    David, your recent posts with questions on the characteristics of developers and developer constituents suggest you need to invest in a good book on the subject. There are several, and also some decent starter books. I say this because most of the answers you'll get to questions like this will be at best incomplete, and mostly incorrect, lacking any objective data or even a reasonable basis in most cases. These aberrations will be most pronounced concerning the attributes of compounds such as Amidol, Pyrogallol, PPD, etc. So with all due respect, when you ask people "why", be prepared for bad information. In my experience the people who swear by certain compounds usually have no idea what they are talking about.

    In fact, the very premise of your question needs modification, as there are as many PQ formulas falling under the categorizations of safe, secure and pervasive.

    A good book on the subject will help you sort out some of the important differences between developing agents - eg: how active they are at a given pH, what types of oxidation products they produce, how sensitive they are to bromide and other reaction products at different pH values, superadditivity, resistance to oxidation etc. All these things have effects not only on the working characteristics of the compounds, but on the feasibility of commercial packaging/shelf life. In addition, as has been said before, one cannot realistically discuss the working characteristics of any developing agent without discussing the rest of the developer formula. The makeup of the solution (concentration of preservative, pH, buffering, alkali choice, restrainer(s), and the presence of other developing agents) has as much, if not more to do with how the developer will work in terms of speed, grain, "sharpness", and characteristic curve shape.

    So, while there are some general characterizations of developing agents on their own which can be made, these can fall away when the rest of the developer formula is added to the picture. On illustrative example of the complexity:

    Phenidone (and deriviatives): on its own is a very low contrast agent, but very active (depending on pH), and poorly preserved by sulfite in solution. However add some hydroquinone or pyrogallol or even ascorbic acid, usually some bromide etc., and you can make a general purpose developer with good speed. Since Phenidone is typically less sensitive to bromide than Metol, it is said to be more difficult to formulate a "sharp" Phenidone developer, though this is not a rule.

    Aside from a few attributes, generalizing about the working characteristics of any specific developer ingredient is problematic. Often the chemists/engineers themselves can't agree on what is going on.
     
  3. David Allen

    David Allen Member

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    For film development, I use Barry Thornton's two-bath which just has Metol and Sodium. It is the perfect developer for my way of working - simple, reliable and cheap. As it has worked so well for me for so long, I have not found the need to try Phenidone, Amidol, etc.

    Bests,

    David
    www.dsallen.de
     
  4. David Lyga

    David Lyga Subscriber

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    I guess I should have asked 'why' rather than 'what'. And, Michael, your proper admonition about how I should be reading up on this causes, again, 'why?' If it ain't broke, why fix it? I wonder what I am missing by staying with the MQ type? I wanted to see if others found their respective formulas better in some way. And, Michael, you are probably right in saying that 'bad information' just might be endemic to all this quest, as pride and prejudice is concomitant with loyalties, some of which are built upon mere hearsay. (Witness the fine grain craze of the 1930s). And, David Allen, I guess I was tacitly including types like D-23, metol only. Thanks. - David Lyga
     
  5. Thomas Bertilsson

    Thomas Bertilsson Subscriber

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    If your pictures are good you are not missing anything.
     
  6. michael_r

    michael_r Subscriber

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    What I'd say is instead of asking "I wonder what I am missing by staying with the MQ type?", it would be more appropriate to talk about a specific formula, or at least a type of MQ developer (solvent, non-solvent etc.), or overall type of developer (general purpose, tanning/staining, etc.). Simply characterizing the type as "MQ" is too broad.

    Apologies for challenging you on this - it's just too hard to answer without providing more caveats than answers. For example, generally speaking, PQ solvent developers are said to offer slightly higher film speed than their MQ counterparts. Well, ok that is sort of true in some cases, but not all. It depends. Kodak TMax developer is a PQ formulation giving more shadow detail than D-76 (MQ). At the same time, Kodak HC-110 is a PQ formulation giving less shadow detail than D-76.

    There are so many variables - including the film (this is often overlooked).
     
  7. David Lyga

    David Lyga Subscriber

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    OK, perhaps I was too broad with my enquiry. I have always wondered, and even tried some developers like HC-110 and Microphen; I really did not see any difference. I was wondering whether there were factors other than image quality that mattered here. I love my MQ developers too much to abandon them: ie, D-76 types but maybe with differentiation with MQ ratios instead of the '2' to '5' ratio that that developer uses. I have also used DK-50 which uses a '1' to '1' MQ ratio and even used Dektol diluted (D-72, which uses more HQ than normal for film developers: '3' to '12' ratio), however the huge amount of carbonate necessitates much dilution. - David Lyga
     
  8. BradS

    BradS Member

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    What do I not like about MQ?

    Very simply, I do not like the temperature sensitivity of Hydroquinone. This is why I have dropped the old standards, like D76 and ID-68 and moved almost entirely to D23 and occasionally, Suzuki's DS8.
     
  9. Xmas

    Xmas Member

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    Some people get skin problems with metol I have difficult allergy problems anyway so don't take the risk normally.

    When printing with trays I use inspection gloves.

    C41 dev all the time.

    I normally temper at 20C from dev to final wash.

    Not really detected any differences between D76, Microphen and ID68, and I like the grain in Rodinal type soup.

    When I make up D76 I use a boric acid/borax buffer if Im using a stock bottle otherwise 1 to 3.
     
  10. RPC

    RPC Member

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    Developers with hydroquinone can change activity over time. I don't see too many complaints on APUG about this, but I have experienced this myself and so tend to avoid such developers. For film. I like D-23 and for paper the variant of Ansco 130 without hydroquinone. Of course, there are others probably as good or better.
     
  11. Xmas

    Xmas Member

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    The ID11 and D76 published formula can change with use or time the factory packages seem to be better but you still need to one shot or stick to the stock rules.

    I use a concertina bottle and discard a month after mix.

    Rodinal keeps forever...
     
  12. David Lyga

    David Lyga Subscriber

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    What many people do not know is that with 'metol only' you can achieve considerable contrast, even excessive contrast, if the accelerator is sufficiently potent. - David Lyga
     
  13. jnanian

    jnanian Advertiser Advertiser

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    i don't like their TOXICITY and that is why i use COFFEE instead
     
  14. michael_r

    michael_r Subscriber

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    You don't even need a potent accelerator. Contrast depends mostly on the concentration of developing agent and preservative. Contrary to what many people say, D-23 for example is not a low contrast developer. It can produce as much contrast as you want, and alkalinity is provided by Sulfite alone.
     
  15. David Lyga

    David Lyga Subscriber

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    Right Michael, and thanks for the clarification. I wonder why 'metol only' cannot be used for prints... or can it with success? - David Lyga
     
  16. michael_r

    michael_r Subscriber

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    It can, although these formulas (Ansco 120, Ilford ID-3, etc.) were typically used to give a somewhat lower contrast print and/or a different print colour. These types of print developers offered an extra control of contrast with graded papers, and were often used in conjunction with a higher contrast developer for added control, either by direct mixing (eg: Beers formula) or in a two bath regime. People have also modified MQ developers in similar ways - for example Adams's version of Ansco 130 (granted, a MQ-Glycin formula, but anyway).

    Presumably a normal contrast print developer could be formulated with Metol alone, but it would require longer development times than a MQ formulation and may also require a different alkali-restrainer balance to avoid fog.

    This sort of thing can be more complicated with print developers than with film developers because there are additional attributes to consider vs film - namely print colour and fog. For example one could formulate a Metol-only print developer to give the same sensitometric characteristics (paper speed, contrast, curve shape) as a given MQ developer but the final print colour may not be the same (warmer, cooler, etc.).
     
  17. dpurdy

    dpurdy Member

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    Coincidentally I have recently decided to stop using Xtol after nearly 20 years for custom processing. I want to use something I can mix myself. So I decided to do a side by side comparison of Beutlers and D76. So far my tests have been only with 120 fuji Acros. But the results have surprised me in that they are nearly indistinguishable. The grain looks the same and the sharpness looks the same (which I didn't expect). The only difference I can see is that the D76 processed film has very slightly less density in the shadows. So at least for this film I see no reason to use any more chemistry to process the film than is required for the very dilute, Metol only Beutlers formula. Next I run the same tests on Hp5. Maybe there I will see a difference.
    Dennis
     
  18. JW PHOTO

    JW PHOTO Subscriber

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    I had the same problem with Acros. I ran it through Beutlers, Xtol 1:3, homebrew FX37 and Rodinal 1:100 semi-stand and had a devil of a time seeing much difference. The scene was exactly the same, camera the same, exposure the same and 120 film was used. I came to the conclusion that this film was pretty darn friendly to most of the developers I've used. HP5+ might be a better test. JohnW
     
  19. grommi

    grommi Member

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    "What DON'T you like about MQ developers?"

    The Q. It's not as toxic as catechol, but much more than P, M and Vit-C, not to speak of coffee. So easy. Here it's very difficult in the meantime to buy Q exactly for this reason.
     
  20. Xmas

    Xmas Member

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    If you have not got any Q...

    D-89 nearly:

    metol 3g
    sulfite 100g
    borax 5g
    pot bromide 1/2 g

    Use the same times and dilutions as packaged D-76. Or D-96, but with less fog than D76.
     
  21. michael_r

    michael_r Subscriber

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    There are many Metol-only solvent developers. If the goal is to replicate the characteristics of D-76 as closely as possible without Hydroquinone, Haist's modification to D-76 does this with only a small increase in Metol. Or just use D-23, which was formulated as a stable alternative to D-76.