Xtol

Discussion in 'B&W: Film, Paper, Chemistry' started by Jack Lusted, Mar 1, 2006.

  1. Jack Lusted

    Jack Lusted Member

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    I've been using R09 for a little while now, it's very nice but I fancy a brew with a less grainy look, so I've been thinking of trying Xtol.
    However I understand that it has had problems wrt storage and 'sudden death'.
    Are there still problems with Xtol?
    Is Xtol worth the bother?
    I don't want to waste time, money or film, but I've also heard that it is very good.

    Thank you.
     
  2. Peter Schrager

    Peter Schrager Subscriber

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    Jack-no offense to you but this has been hashed out as recently as last week or the week before. Answers:no;no and no So go buy a package and find out why it is one of the best developers around.I've been using it since it came out. Oh yeah-definately check the archives for more info...
    Again no offense meant but sometimes it pays to look...
    Best, Peter
     
  3. Gerald Koch

    Gerald Koch Member

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    There may be a few dissenters but most recommend using distilled/de-ionized water for mixing the stock solution. The problem seems to be related to the presence of iron III and copper II ions in tap water.
     
  4. Jack Lusted

    Jack Lusted Member

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    Peter,
    You are quite right - as a Lenten penance I'll roll in some broken beer bottles!!!
    Don't quite understand how I missed that particular thread.
    Any how, having discovered it, and having had the Xtol 'problems' put in perspective, I'll take your advice and and give it a whirl.
     
  5. Peter Schrager

    Peter Schrager Subscriber

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    Xtol continued

    Jack-you may very well want to give Pyrocat and maybe Jays 510 pyro a whirl too. Reason being that they basically keep forever and that counts for alot. I use 'em all and love em all. Your tools mark you as a photographer. Don't be afraid to try something new and if you have questioms about the Xtol please ask anytime!!
    Best, Peter
     
  6. srs5694

    srs5694 Member

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    I only spotted two questions by Jack:

    You provided three "no" answers, but given the tone of the rest of your post, I suspect you meant "no; yes." If so, I think the "no" in response to the first question is too strong. People have reported problems with XTOL since Kodak's reputed fixes to the packaging. These problems seem to be rare, but judging absolute frequencies from posts on online forums is impossible, so it's hard to say just how common the XTOL failure problem is. I'd advise taking extra precautions in mixing, storage, and use to address some of the suspected causes, such as using distilled/de-ionized water to mix the stock solution; heating the water slightly (to ~35C, IIRC) in a non-metallic container when mixing the stock solution; storing XTOL in full glass bottles; and ensuring you've got at least 100ml of stock solution per 36-exposure 35mm roll, particularly with T-Max 100 film.

    XTOL is a good developer and is, IMHO, worth trying. It certainly produces finer grain than Rodinal/R09, which is what Jack says he wants. Of course, there are also lots of other good developers out there, and to a large extent, judging developer quality is subjective; you'll find people who do and do not like just about anything that can be used to develop film. Ultimately and IMHO, the best approach is to try various developers to get a feel for what several of them can do. Unfortunately, this is a time-consuming process.
     
  7. tbm

    tbm Member

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    I mixed a full package of Xtol one year ago, in March of 2005, and put the liquid in 150 ml amber glass bottles and sealed them with Saran Wrap before screwing the plastic caps on. Two weeks ago I exposed some film, pulled one of the Xtol bottles out of my darkroom in my garage, and saw that there was no color change. So I developed the roll of film and it was beautiful. I say this only to show you that as long as you seal the top of the bottle with the original Saran Wrap and screw the cap over that, Xtol will last a heck of a long time! Don't use any other plastic wrap--they won't work. This technique was given to me by physicist/photographer Ctein.

    Terry
     
  8. srs5694

    srs5694 Member

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    First, XTOL doesn't change color or develop an odor when it goes bad. This is a huge part of the problem with the "XTOL sudden death" syndrome -- unlike most developers, you've got no clues that the developer's bad until it's ruined some film.

    Second, your experience is one data point; it proves nothing. As I noted in my earlier post, XTOL failures seem to be rare, so the fact that one person successfully used XTOL mixed a year ago doesn't mean that another person will have the same success, even if the second person uses the same storage technique. There are dozens or hundreds of other variables that could cause problems, such as the water used to mix the XTOL, the films used, the dilutions used, etc.

    I don't mean to rain on your parade, and I'm certainly not in the "XTOL-is-garbage" camp. I just think that XTOL users (and that includes me) should be aware of the risk of sudden failure and take extra precautions.
     
  9. Jim Chinn

    Jim Chinn Member

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    I have been using XTOL for about 6 years and had one failure. This was due to having the stock on the shelf to long (about 4 months). I have also used it with a 1-3 dillution at times and had no problems.

    Mix with distilled water at the minimum temperature. Use within 90 days. I have used it up to the 90 days and if I have stock remaining I toss it out. So if you only do a few rolls or sheets in that time it does not make sense.

    If you go to unblinkingeye.com There is an article by Patrick Gainer (an APUGer) on how to mix your own XTOL.
     
  10. fschifano

    fschifano Member

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    I think you're going to like XTOL. Not only will you get some apparent grain relief, you'll find that sharpness won't suffer that much either. Those qualities, and the slight boost I get over box speed with this developer are what makes this one of my favorite developers. Of the three developers I normally keep in my darkroom, Xtol, D-76, and Rodinal, XTOL is the one I go to more often than anything else. Works great with traditional B&W films and is better than the other two for films in the TMax and Delta class.

    About the "sudden death" syndrome so many have reported about in the past. It is largely a thing of the past. Some of the research I've done seems to indicate that the presence of iron in the mixing water is responsible for many of the the current problems, so perhaps de-ionized water is called for in some cases. I'm not at all sure that distilled water is necessary; I've never used it and have had XTOL stored in completely full bottles last well beyond is expiration date. The water just needs to be clean. All my mixing water is filtered through an inline carbon canister filter obtained at the local Home Depot.

    While Kodak no longer publishes development information for using the developer at anything more than a 1+1 dilution, it can be done succesfully as long as you use a minimum of 100 ml of stock solution for each 80 sq. in. of film. For safety's sake, I make that 125 ml. and have never had a problem using it at dilutions up to 1+3.
     
  11. srs5694

    srs5694 Member

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    You might be thinking of this article. It doesn't describe a home-made XTOL per se, but is about Gainer's early experiments with phenidone/vitamin C ("PC") developers. (Note that it was published in 1994, two years before XTOL was released.) I've not experimented with these specific formulas, but I'd guess they wouldn't last long in storage. Gainer went on to formulate PC-Glycol and PC-TEA, which should be very stable for long-term storage. I don't know of any Web site which is dedicated to these developers; they were published in Photo Techniques magazine. This APUG post presents the formulas, though (they've also been posted in various other messages here and elsewhere).

    Paul Lewis's Mytol seems to be pretty close to XTOL, based on Kodak's patent application. Mytol lacks some of the preservatives, though, so it might not last as long as XTOL once mixed. IANAL, but my understanding is that re-creating XTOL too closely can be legally dangerous if you then try to sell photos you developed in your re-created soup.

    There are various other mix-it-yourself PC developers, such as Ryuji Suzuki's DS-10 and Chris Patton's E-76. In other words, there's lots of stuff to play with if you like PC developers and are willing to mix them yourself.
     
  12. Ryuji

    Ryuji Member

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    DS-10 is a bit more specialized for fine grain application, whereas XTOL is more of a general purpose developer. The main difference is the pH. DS-10 is 8.00, and XTOL is 8.20. You can adjust the amount of boric acid to make a XTOL clone for which you can use published XTOL time pretty closely. The development time for DS-10 is about 1.2x the published XTOL time for the same dilution, except DS-10 won't work well for certain films. Films known not to work well are APX100 and Pan F Plus. However, DS-10 works very well with several films, including TMX, Plus-X, Tri-X, TMY, Neopan Acros, Neopan 400, Delta 400, Delta 3200, HP5 Plus, etc. and DS-10 is my choice for these films when fine details of the image and good enlargeability is essential. I have another developer that works perfectly well with APX25, APX100, Pan F Plus and also give good accutance without grain no worse than diluted D-76. The formula for this developer is not public yet. I also have improved DS-10, which isn't publicly available yet.
     
  13. fschifano

    fschifano Member

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    You're kidding right? How would anyone be able to prove it, let alone be able to tell what you used to develop your negatives by looking at a print?
     
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  15. Ryuji

    Ryuji Member

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    This problem is entirely solvable. My current ascorbate developers all discolor when they are oxidized by air during storage.
     
  16. Ryuji

    Ryuji Member

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    I am very familiar with the patent process, and if you are referring the XTOL patent, I can tell you that I can formulate developers that are photographically identical to XTOL patent formula without infringing the patent. However, even if Eastman Kodak paid the maintenance fee in full, that patent will expire pretty soon, and that would allow anyone to sell the product identical to what's disclosed in the patent.

    However, I don't see a point of doing it in 2006, when we have ways to improve XTOL.
     
  17. gainer

    gainer Subscriber

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    Sometimes I don't even remember myself. Many patents nowadays are so broad as to be unenforcable. They seldom give exact compositions of a marketable product. It's like trying to get a patent on "a developer solution containing one or more organic or inorganic chemical compounds, one or more alkaline substances, and dissolved in a solute that may be water or any organic or inorganic liquid." Anyway, I'm not keeping anything secret unless it's really, really good.
     
  18. craigclu

    craigclu Subscriber

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    You're teasing us, Ryuji! I have had very good experiences with your DS-10 and the Delta films and your DS-14 has become my go-to paper developer. What is your timing on going public with these new developers? Can you drop a post in APUG when the time comes?
     
  19. Ryuji

    Ryuji Member

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    I know, I know, I've been trying to keep quiet but sometimes I can't help seeing XTOL bashing and associated unfounded criticism that ascorbate developers can't be made stable and reliable for practical purposes.

    One problem with the formulae I am using myself is that they call for ingredients that are not readily available from Johnny Deiure (and the new business who took over), Formulary or Digitaltruth. They are not toxic, expensive, controlled, or any of these things, and they are indeed widely used in industry, but they aren't just easy to buy like that. I'll have to do something about the supplier issue or find an alternative solution...

    Anyway, you'll hear when it's ready to go.
     
  20. Ryuji

    Ryuji Member

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    You should study how patent system works before publicly posting your personal opinion. You'll be embarrased when you learn that I can patent almost anything.

    And if you have criticism about photographically relevant patents, please cite the patent by number. There are lots of perfectly valid patents that give you very little details and make broad claims. They are exactly how good patent applications should be written. It takes great skill to write good patent applications and get them approved by the examiner.
     
  21. craigclu

    craigclu Subscriber

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    My work includes product development activities for my company and even though I'm around constant patent application situations and should get accustomed to it, I'm truly amazed at what I/we've been able to get patented (especially application patents). Those are situations where a known product or method is applied to some new duties or industry. It seems as if the patent office will lean toward a liberal interpretation of your application, letting a protesting competitor do the work of contesting the validity of the application if they see fit. At the same time, an incredible amount of legal resources are applied to the projects and every word, line and concept is tortured over for the most advantageous language while simultaneously protecting the nuances of some of the key elements for aping of the patent.
     
  22. gainer

    gainer Subscriber

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    I will henceforth try not to be humorous when I know Ryuji is around.

    Why should I be embarrassed? That you could patent almost anything was exactly the point I was trying to make.

    I know that one cannot patent the laws of nature, only the ways they are used. One cannot patent a device or process that would inevitably have been arrived at by a competent engineer or scientist in the course of doing his work. One cannot patent a process or device that has been commonly known or used, even if that process or device had never before been patented.

    I had dealings with NASA's patent lawyers while I was employed at the Langley Research Center. I have read many, many patents. The U. S. Patent office allowed at least 4 logarithmic amplifiers to be patented that used the exponential voltage-time curve of a capacitor being charged through a fixed resistor by a fixed voltage. The differences among them were that each used a slightly different mechanization.

    Approval of the examiner does not keep one from having to defend it in court.
     
  23. sanking

    sanking Member

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    In fact, this is a huge problem. There are many "patent trolls" out there who have done no R&D writing vague patents that give little detail and making vague clams." And when they find a company that violates one of their "broad claims" they litigate. And they nearly always win something from the litigation because in most cases it is better to settle a legal issue out of court than to go to trial. In the long run this kind of activity subverts the intent of laws that protect intellectual property rights. But that won't matter to the intellectual whores who do this kind of work and subvert the intent of the law, now will it?

    Sandy
     
  24. Ryuji

    Ryuji Member

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    Your complaints about the patent system (or particular patents) didn't sound humorous at all.
     
  25. Ryuji

    Ryuji Member

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    Sandy, you are looking at just one aspect of the patent system. The patent system has side effects, and the US Patent system has some serious problems, but the kind of criticisms that you mentioned apply to only some patents granted by the patent office. One problem is that the US uses very different system in determining the priority compared to Japan and Europe, so USPTO can't really benefit from other countries patent examiners work if the patent was applied simultaneously. Another problem is that USPTO doesn't have enough examiners to look at each case closely, yet they handle more cases and in shorter turnaround time compared to Japan and Europe. So there are many faulty patents granted by USPTO and many of them get famous. A very good example of really stupid patent is USP 6368227. The patent was granted first btu it was stupid enough it became very famous. So USPTO had to re-examine and invalidate the patent (See 6368227 C1). Another example of funny patent is 6004596. As far as I know this is also very famous but still a valid patent. Wanna see a really, really creative patent? Try 6293874. Another piece of joke? Check out 6718554. This kind of system is widely used for infants and little kids in Japan, but of course they were beyond imagination to the USPTO examiner. Other classic silly patents include: 5443036, 58511117, 5761857, 5616089, 5965809, and so on.

    Entertainment industry is really big in the US and I can see there is some entertaining elements in the USPTO as well, but I am not saying that these are the proper aspect of the patent system.

    On the other hand, suppose I came up with a magical compound X and hundreds of its chemical derivatives that share some aspects of the chemistry. It can be added to XTOL, D-76, Microphen, DD-X, Rodinal, Pyrocat-HD, Dektol, Neutol, almost any developer to do something useful, say increase the photographic speed by more than 1/2 stop. Say this compound can be added at around 1g/L for best results but can be used from anywhere between 10mg and 200g/L, whether it's practical or beneficial or not. Say I know the chemistry but can't really enumerate ALL compounds derived from X and still be useful, but can describe them in more general terms. Then how do you think I should write my patent? I'm going to make a few very broad claims to make my patent to cover as wide range as possible without overlapping with the prior art, and this should be accepted as long as I say that 1g/L of compound X is most preferrably added to D-76, or otherwise the best known method of implementation known to me.

    Anyway, there are lots of reasons why good patents should include both very broad claims and some specifics of best implementation known to the inventor. However, the patent is concerned about the invention, and not about the product, so there is no need to disclose anything about the product in the patent. It often happened in the past that the developer formulae appeared in Kodak patents were identical or pretty close to the product formula, particularly in the case of XTOL.

    However, the emulsion patnets are usually much more vague and less specific. It's really easy to criticize things that don't affect you directly, but to me, those patents are of good value worthy of the government giving them the exclusionary right. I would have much less information about the current emulsion technology if they didn't patent their emulsions and rather kept them all secret.

    Of course, there are lots of useless patents given to Kodak (as well as Ilford and others). I won't name them here, but there are some pretty bad ones. Some of them make me think that those guys had to get patents for promotion or something. But they're costing their corporation and not me. They are usually harmless patents, or something that I can easily come up with a firm evidence that nullifies the patent in court, if necessary.

    Yes you may infringe a patent if you make a sandwitch whose all sides are sealed, and you can get sued. It's silly. But at the same time corporations are more motivated to spend more resources for their r&d because of adequate protection provided by the patent system. And if they know that the invention can be implemented by any one of many many ways, then they should get a patent that covers the many many ways to implement it. And they should be preventing from others getting a new patent for some of the ways that are already known to the original inventor (this is called defensive rights of patent). That's fair.

    On the other hand, copyright protection is way too excessive and I think is a bigger source of social problems. I won't recite too many things here, but just search for Sonny Bono Mickey Mouse Protection Act.

    Finally, for the good aspect of the patent system, check out classic US Patents: 0223898 and 0226503.
     
  26. gainer

    gainer Subscriber

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    That's your problem, not mine. Perhaps you should study humor. All reductions to the absurd should be taken as humor unless proven otherwise. If the previous statement is absurd, then you should laugh at it. You really should come visit me sometime. You might learn that I am quite different from your apparent concept of me and mine. I would hope that I would find the same about you.

    Actually, I think it was better when one had to supply a working model.

    If I have an idea and a mechanization for a device or a process that, through my ignorance of the literature I think is original, I must do a patent search to determine if I am infringing on another's patent rights before I can make any commercial use of my idea, for fear of being sued for infringement. I found out long ago that such searches are tedious and sometimes end in erroneous conclusions, one way or the other.