Most people seem to advocate the use of ABC Pyro for contact printing.
Since I am trying to keep things very simple, which is one of many reasons I have chosen to start making contact prints, would Kodak's D-23 formula be a viable option to make prints on AZO? It would certainly be much easier to work with and handle. Or is the ABC far and above to best way to get prints that "sing" as far as the negative is concerned?
Brian this is only my opnion and I am sure many will disagree with me, but I would venture to say that just about any high acutance developer would be good for contact printing.
I use ABC pyro and have increased the sulfite just enough so that I get minimal stain, the effect is such than my highlights get the benefit of the pyro stain but just barely and the rest of the negative looks almost like one developed in a regular developer. With TMY 400 I get almost no b+f and very nice deep shadows....but then I have tailored this for printing in pt. Maybe for azo it is not such a good idea.....When I moved to Mexico I had no access to all the chemicals so I used HC110 dilution B at 1:30 and got very nice results....you might want to try this.
My experience/opinion with azo / amidol is that only a pyro neg will really have enough scale to print on number two AZO. Making a negative that prints on number 3 doesn't require any special developers, and is probably easier for a beginner to get good results with. I never really believed the pyro thing myself, but I reprinted what appeared to be a high contrast d76 negative on #2 AZO and the negative was pretty flat, even though the eyeball contrast seemed greater than a good pyro neg.
Don't skimp on using amidol though, it is essential. You can get it premixed from www.artcraftchemicals.com.
Call Michael Smith at http://www.michaelandpaula.com, this is the only place you can get a 100 sheet box of #3 AZO.
I've got many 8X10" negs that were developed in a split D-23 developer. About 1/3 of them have the necessary contrast to print well on number 2 Azo, the other 2/3 need grade 3.
One of my best images, and prints is from a D23 neg printed on grade 2 Azo. It prints like a dream...
It certainly can be done, but if someone is doing time and temperature development in their bathtub, doing normal or +1 development and printing on azo 3 is easiest. I have heard complaints from people about AZO because they were getting dull prints and poor results, the simplest explanation (to me) is that their negatives were too flat.
Keep in mind that learning to mix and use pyro, develop by inspection,make long scale negatives, and printing on azo with amidol all at once can be daunting. This is coming from someone that has been into photography for only one year..
Of the 4 major variables we've all been discussing (film, film developer, paper, print developer), I think the film makes the least difference followed by the film developer. The paper makes the most difference followed by the choice of paper developer; specifically, amidol. I have relatively flat Polaroid negatives which print well on grade 3 Azo and I have utterly bulletproof ABC pyro negatives which, while difficult to print, can render beautiful prints when made on grade 2 Azo and developed with a water bath. And I have everything in between. Even my old foggy PMK negs print much better on Azo than on any other paper. If I'm ever forced to change anything, let it be the film first. Then ABC pyro. Then amidol (although at that point I'd consider giving up photography). If Azo goes I give up photography.
</span><table border='0' align='center' width='95%' cellpadding='3' cellspacing='1'><tr><td>QUOTE (c6h6o3 @ Dec 1 2002, 10:32 PM)</td></tr><tr><td id='QUOTE'>If Azo goes I give up photography.</td></tr></table><span id='postcolor'>
I hope you are kidding, right!?
Perhaps I wax a trifle dramatic. But after about 40 years of beating my head to a bloody pulp against the brick wall of frustration, I can finally produce expressive prints. For most of that time, I thought it was me. It's not. It's the materials and techniques. To take away the one material that finally makes photography a fulfilling experience would be pretty devastating at this point.
There's no way I'd go back to enlarging. Probably easier to just accumulate a lifetime supply of Azo.
After all the talk about ABC pyro in the michaelandpaula.com Azo forum I gave it a try. It is indeed a very good developer for contact printing with alt processes and azo. But I think that Pyrocat-HD negs give very comparable results with both Pd/Pt and Azo. Not a super scientific study, simply 2 identically exposed negs, both developers, and subjective evaluation of the “best” print from both negs. The reason I'm usually inclined to go with Pyrocat is that I prefer to use rotary development. The classic ABC developer gave awful streaking and uneven staining when I tried it rotary style. Pyrocat has never given me any streaking with rotary development, something I cannot say even about Rollo Pyro (supposedly specially for rotary). That said, I now do occasionally break out the trays and use ABC for some diversion and added experience with this developer.
</span><table border='0' align='center' width='95%' cellpadding='3' cellspacing='1'><tr><td>QUOTE (kudzma @ Dec 3 2002, 10:32 AM)</td></tr><tr><td id='QUOTE'>But I think that Pyrocat-HD negs give very comparable results with both Pd/Pt and Azo.
The reason I'm usually inclined to go with Pyrocat is that I prefer to use rotary development.
Pyrocat has never given me any streaking with rotary development</td></tr></table><span id='postcolor'>
I'd have to agree on all of these, although I haven't yet tried Pt/Pd with it (only the cheapo alt processes so far). I love not having to use gloves or anything by developing it in my rotary drum, and I've never seen streaking.
It's very easy and forgiving to use, predictable, and consistent. I use it for all my sheet film these days. Only problem for me is, due to my lacking fancy/sophisticated (ie expensive) equipment, I have to run more batches of developing than I would using a tray if I were using ABC, where I could do more at once. Check out the articles at unblinkingeye.com if interested.