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Jack Lusted
03-01-2006, 09:16 AM
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.

Peter Schrager
03-01-2006, 09:53 AM
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

Gerald Koch
03-01-2006, 10:02 AM
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.

Jack Lusted
03-01-2006, 10:35 AM
Jack-no offense to you but this has been hashed out as recently as last week or the week before.
Best, Peter

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.

Peter Schrager
03-01-2006, 11:03 AM
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

srs5694
03-01-2006, 11:46 AM
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 only spotted two questions by Jack:



Are there still problems with Xtol?
Is Xtol worth the bother?


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.

tbm
03-02-2006, 08:53 AM
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

srs5694
03-02-2006, 09:04 AM
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!

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.

Jim Chinn
03-02-2006, 09:20 AM
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.

fschifano
03-02-2006, 12:22 PM
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.

srs5694
03-02-2006, 12:45 PM
If you go to unblinkingeye.com There is an article by Patrick Gainer (an APUGer) on how to mix your own XTOL.

You might be thinking of this article. (http://unblinkingeye.com/Articles/VitC/vitc.html) 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 (http://www.apug.org/forums/showthread.php?p=255352) presents the formulas, though (they've also been posted in various other messages here and elsewhere).

Paul Lewis's Mytol (http://www.jackspcs.com/mytol.htm) 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 (http://silvergrain.org/Photo-Tech/film-dev-recommend.html) and Chris Patton's E-76. (http://www.jackspcs.com/e76.htm) In other words, there's lots of stuff to play with if you like PC developers and are willing to mix them yourself.

Ryuji
03-02-2006, 02:10 PM
There are various other mix-it-yourself PC developers, such as Ryuji Suzuki's DS-10 (http://silvergrain.org/Photo-Tech/film-dev-recommend.html) and Chris Patton's E-76. (http://www.jackspcs.com/e76.htm) In other words, there's lots of stuff to play with if you like PC developers and are willing to mix them yourself.

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.

fschifano
03-02-2006, 03:21 PM
...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.

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?

Ryuji
03-02-2006, 03:42 PM
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.


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

Ryuji
03-02-2006, 03:47 PM
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.


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.

gainer
03-02-2006, 03:50 PM
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.

craigclu
03-02-2006, 04:42 PM
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.

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?

Ryuji
03-02-2006, 06:51 PM
You're teasing us, Ryuji!

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.

Ryuji
03-02-2006, 06:56 PM
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.

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.

craigclu
03-02-2006, 09:16 PM
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.