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  1. #1

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    Very interested in X-Tol, but have a few questions

    Hey all, I've been doing some thinking recently and I realized that I want to try a different, more specialized developer. I shoot mostly old-style emulsions (usually Tri-X) and tend to push one or two stops a lot of the time because I like to have the available speed. The two developers I've been using have been D-76 and Rodinal. I've played around with Rodinal stand developing [for pushing] and while I like the results a lot of the time, I don't like the inconsistency of it as it seems to be a voodoo science more than a standardized developing method. I've also used D-76 a lot for pushing and while I am happy with it in most respects, I am not always completely satisfied with the tonality/contrast of the negs. I've been pushing Tri-X with one-shot stock D-76 and have found that to be my favorite combination so far.

    Basically, I push my film most of the time. I like contrast to be on the higher end and I very much enjoy grain, so I don't particularly care if it's there or not (I love Rodinal grain with higher ISOs for example) and I'm not very concerned about shadow detail most of the time. I also want to experiment with even larger pushes such as Tri-X @ 3200.

    I've been very interested in X-Tol and after doing some general reading I think that it's something that I want to try. My one main question is with regards to the various dilutions for the working solution. I read that Kodak used to recommend 1:2 and 1:3, but no longer does and now only recommends 1:1 for one-shot use in the official documentation. Can anyone give me a rundown on the benefits of using stock solution versus the different dilutions? Is there any benefit to using the replenished method? I would probably be more inclined to just use it as one-shot.

    Also, I'd be very interested to hear what anyone has to say about this developer, especially with regards to anything that I mentioned in my post. Thanks!

  2. #2
    brian steinberger's Avatar
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    If you enjoy the grain and don't care about shadow detail don't go with Xtol. I'd stick with what you're doing. I push Tri-x regularly in ID-11 1:1 (D-76), and enjoy the results very much. I used Xtol for years and years but mostly with Neopan 400 when it was still available. I loved that combo. Now that Neopan is gone I've moved to ID-11 for all my film developing.

  3. #3
    ROL
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    Not pushed, but here's a recent comparison between XTOL and Pyro using FP4+ on LFPF.

  4. #4
    Mark Fisher's Avatar
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    I think you'll find xtol similar to D76 but with a little more speed and a little finer grain. I use it at 1:2 when I use it and I've never had a problem with it over the five years I've used it. If you like Rodinal and big, sharp grain, why not use Rodinal at 1:50? Maybe HC110? HC110 used to be the mainstay of a lot of newspaper darkrooms. digitaltruth.com has starting points for big pushes with TriX in both of these developers. If you really want to shoot that fast regularly, though, you should try using something like Delta or Tmax3200. That way you'll only need to push about one stop (they are really closer to 1600 from what I understand) and can get reasonable shadow detail if you want it. When I shot 35mm, I used a fair amount of Fuji's Neopan 1600 and it was pretty amazing and I suspect that Ilford's and Kodak's offerings are equally good.

  5. #5

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    HC-110 will produce a little more grain than D-76. Considering your desire for higher than normal contrast and grain I would not recommend Xtol. Kodak no longer recommends Xtol at higher dilutions than 1+1 becasue of unpredictable results. Many people are not aware that D-72/Dektol was once listed by Kodak as a universal developer for film and paper. You could try it diluted 1+7 or 1+9 for more grain and contrast.
    A rock pile ceases to be a rock pile the moment a single man contemplates it, bearing within him the image of a cathedral.

    ~Antoine de Saint-Exupery

  6. #6

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    Give Diafine a try.

  7. #7
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    If you think you should give it a try, then give it a try. It only costs two rolls of film to buy a 5L bag! Assuming you're not replenishing, then 1+1 is generally how it's used, while 1+2 and 1+3 are possible, that can lead to developer failure which is why Kodak no longer recommends it. I have personally experienced developer failure at higher dilutions but found it 100% reliable at 1+1.

    If you "don't care about shadow detail" then of course what you're saying is you don't care about real film speed and you can happily push it to higher EIs and not care about the black holes in your images. In that case, using a speed-increasing developer like Xtol (definitely an improvement over D76 IMHO), you can get maybe an extra stop of speed over what you were getting with D76 and have it look just as good.

    My thoughts on XTOL from my FAQ.

  8. #8

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    Thanks for the advice, everyone! I may have over-exaggerated a bit earlier as I obviously care about shadow detail. What I probably meant to say was that I would like to have a wider latitude/contrast range when pushing into the high ISOs (as the detail in the very dark areas aren't crucial to me most of the time). While I like pushing with Rodinal stand developing, I find that the negs can get thin and the transition from total black to total white is a bit quick sometimes, if that makes sense.

    Either way, I got some X-Tol last week and will probably be mixing it up within the next week as I won't have anything to develop until the upcoming weekend. I'll make sure to update this thread after I try it out.

    EDIT: Polyglot, I just went over your small X-Tol FAQ and found it to be a good overview. Thanks! However, reading about the X-Tol death got me worried. I plan to mix it and store it in several glass bottles, but I will probably have one for active use. How long is it safe to keep it exposed to in-bottle air before seeing any adverse effects?
    Last edited by Dr.Pain-MD; 01-10-2012 at 12:31 AM. Click to view previous post history.

  9. #9

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    Mix in distilled water, store it in 2 liter soda bottles, squeeze the air out and it lasts a very long time. Well all my chems do anyways.
    Bob

  10. #10

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    Alright, basically the same drill as my C-41 chems then. I'll keep that in mind, thanks.

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