Hmm, good discussion.
I tested a number of developer and film combinations a number of years ago, and landed on PMK Pyro for for most of my personal developing (mainly, but not exclusively, sheet films), though I rarely see any of the vaunted claims other than "fine grain". Hutchings claims the big advantage to it is that you can "let the highlights go", getting some 8 or 9 zones (I participated in a Pyro workshop with him early this century). I don't particularly like handling the stuff, the negs can be trying to print through, and I find them exasperatingly difficult to judge for fine art print potential until proofed. But when it works, it works spectacularly.
I now regret not testing XTOL at that time, as I had not used it for many years. But I know it as an excellent general purpose developer, which I think I may have short-changed. I am going to try it again and compare directly to PMK.
To what extent and in what ways does the stain mask grain.
My prof was a 4x5 shooter and he always expounded the masking capability for grain and also the "edge effects" that enhanced sharpness? ? ?
I've only used PMK so far, mostly for 120 but I sure love what it does for caucasian skintones with TriX
Are pyro based developers suitable for rotary development?
I know oxidation is an issue. And I know rotary exposes far more surfaced area to air and does so continuously. But how fast does a pyro based developer oxodize?
Assuming you have everything ready, then prep the developer immediately before use and begin as soon as the developer is ready is there enough time?
Or would the rotary process wreck the accutance?
Enquiring minds want to know.
If I recall correctly, Pyrocat MC has a variant that is great for rotary. I've always done stand development with Pyrocat HD and PMK for my 120, but a buddy of mine swore by pyrocat MC and his rotary unit.
I believe "Rollo Pyro" was designed/formulated for rotary.
I'm not up on what has been done for the oxidation but I 'm sure it is on the PF page in the product description.
Obviously to get the best edge effect you want minimal agitation.
Originally Posted by michaelbsc
I use pyro in both trays tanks (120) and BTZS tubes. I have seen no 'visible' deleterious effects with any of my methods.
There are so many variables that matters, agitation method, temperature and dilution. I got tired of testing developers, I settled on Xtol dilution 1:2 in my Jobo rotary system and do not plan to test more. I would rather experiment more with papers and paper developers, I believe there you will find the most visible variables.
Personally speaking, bearing in mind nearly 30 years of B&W silver printing and vastly more failures than successes the above approach is correct for long term success, IMHO.
Originally Posted by StigHagen
Settle on one film, chemistry and regime of doing things, paying no attention to your neighbor until you can make educated assessments from your own experiences and results.
Consider this, when I / many of us began B&W negative making and printing there was no internet, no network of like photographers other than those in our circle of immediate friends with similar interests. We were left to figure things out for ourselves or take workshops with Masters who shared knowledge in that forum.
In today's world with the internet at everyone's finger tips and dare I say a host of photographers who like to expound about areas of photo they have only passing knowledge I think it especially prudent of those asking in general "which is better questions" leave themselves open to no real resolution as the general answers with run just as this thread has, everywhere.
2 cents, Cheers
Part of my interest is for the hardening, specifically for Efke.
Originally Posted by brucemuir
Lastly, I have never looked through a microscope at any negative, I have however seen tests done on Tri X & FP 4 developed with HC 110 and the Pyrocat HD. THese tests were conducted by a respected moderator on the LF Forum and bare out with striking clarity the thoughts I shared above.
This makes sense and is what I would expect to see. However I would add that XTOL is quite different than HC110. Although XTOL does contain a significant amount of sulfite and is still a solvent developer, it is both sharper and finer grained than HC110.