DiXactol Ultra (type) Developer
Stock Solution A
Sodium Sulphite 3 g
Glycin 2 g
Pyrocatechin 10 g
Phenidone 0.2 g
Sodium Metabisulphite 5 g
Water to 100 ml
Stock Solution B
Sodium Hydroxide 10 g
Distilled water to make 100ml
To make a standard working solution, mix 1 part A with 1 part B with 100 parts water.
Develop: 6 mins @ 20ºC
Many thanks for this formula and I think I would be tempted to try it out once I've finished the Prescysol I'm currently using. A couple of points come to mind, however, and I'd appreciate your thoughts on them.
The first concerns the 20c temperature compared to 24c for the original DiXactol Ultra (and Prescysol) and I'm wondering whether you have found much difference in times or results with a change in temperature?
The second concerns agitation and I'm wondering what agitation regime you are using for the 6 minute time, plus whether you have a time for semi-stand development also?
Many thanks again, Peter
Has anyone done any work with this developer?
I have just had a surprising experience (I wish I did not have it) processing film with the Dixactol homebrew formula. It has been working well and giving me excellent results. Until yesterday! I am using HP5+ @400 asa. Suddenly a film I processed, exactly the same way as previous ones, does not have any stain! The negative is well developed but definitely does not have any stain. I have compared it with other negatives of the same film type and scene.
Out of curiosity, and frustration, I made up a fresh batch of Dixactol type homebrew. I put a film through it and it worked perfectly! What I cannot understand is that during the processing sequence this developer appears to behave the way it should, e.g. when I add part 'B' (sodium hydroxide) to part 'A' it immediately changes colour. When I dump it after development it has changed to a very dark 'tea' colour (which it should).
I only use a water stop bath and an alkaline fix. What is confusing is that the negatives are developing. I would have thought that any contamination of either stock solution would result in no or very little development! I wonder if this developer has 'died', but I only made it about two weeks ago. It is stored in minimal air space dark glass bottles containing marbles. Has anyone any possible suggestions as to the cause of this problem.
Yes, this developer will die on you and suddenly at that. I had that happen even with the commercial version of it. Once you mix up a batch, you can use it one-shot or as a two bath developer. If you get the B bath into the A bath, the A bath dies. If you drain off A bath, then add B bath to tank, then B bath is still good. I have used B bath for up to 4 rolls of 120 film and it still does good. I usually use A bath for only up to 2 but sometimes 3 rolls of 120 before I throw it out.
I like this developer and have only had one roll fail to develop using it. I may have contaminated that chemistry but it may have been a temperature problem. I still can't decide. But since then, I have used it almost exclusively - almost everyone that sees my negatives think that I use Sepia to tone them with. They have never seen a staining developer at work before.
I have used this for maybe, 2 and 1/2 years and am very happy with it.
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I used the PF commercial mix of DiXactol for the past several years until recently switching to Pyrocat. During that time I never had any fail, even when the A bottle was getting close to a year old and was pretty severely discolored. I question how the developer could "die" yet still develop film adequately, if without stain. I recall from the instructions that if an acid fixer is used the spent developer should be poured back in for a couple of minutes after fixing to enhance the stain. I realize that the OP states he uses alkaline fixer, but perhaps something in the fixer interfered with the staining?
I don't think it has to be an acid fixer in order to use part B after fixing. I have been using part A, no water rinse, then part B. Then a water stop is used because I don't have an alkaline stop. After that, fix the film, pour part B back into the tank and it will stain the film more. Then wash as normal. I have had great results using this. Part A gets dark but doesn't 'die' on me, like you said, up to a year old for an open container. If you use it for more than one roll of 120, which I do, you can tell when it starts to die because it will turn green. When that happens, I make a new A batch. I use part B maybe 2 or 2.5 times longer than I use part A. I love the stuff really. Everyone thinks I have sepia-toned my negatives which kinda tickles me.
Guys. I have just seen your replies. Thanks for the information. When I said it 'died' what I meant was that it was not producing the stained negative as it should. I made a new batch as I stated in my original post. I did a clip test with it yesterday and it is still good, at almost 6 weeks old. This version was based on some 'Windisch developer' I had. I increased the cetahol by 2 grams and added the phenidone. BUT I left out the metabisulphite, as it did not appear in the Windisch formula and I think is only a preservative. I also like this developer but I also use 510 Pyro, which has never given me any problems. I will keep testing at intervals to see if it lasts.
Des, the Metabisulphite is necessary in Part A of these developers as a preservative to prevent the oxidation of the Pyrocatechhin during storage, it breaks down to Sulphite in the presence of Sodium Hydroxire or Carbonate. Windisch himself recommended making up the Pyrocatechin developers shortly before use.
I think I have found the answer to the 'non-tanning' problem. I was clearing out one of my folders in which I keep interesting articles I have read and I came across the following.
Darkroom User 1996 #2. "Cetahol... A new way to use it" Author: Maxim Muir. I quote from the article. "You will note the Sodium Sulphite level in the original stock 'A' is quite low because an excess of sulphite in the final working solution. This will nulify the tanning/staining action of the cetahol". End of quote.
He was comparing the original 'Windisch' formula. In his modified version. He used no Sodium Sulphite but replaced it with Sodium Metabisulphite. So it appears to me that the sulphite is the culprit. I hope someone else finds this useful.
NB: What a pity that Darkroom User ceased publication. I have yet to find a magazine that replaces it.