Why are my developers failing?
I just mixed up another 5 litres of XTOL using distilled water, and dev'd a roll of Tmax-400 (TMY2). I first did a leader-test, which came out with acceptable density. The roll was dev'd in 220 ml of undiluted XTOL in a stainless steel tank for 6-1/2 minutes at 20C.
But the leader of the roll has considerably lower density than the test-leader, and the roll is thin. The developer was yellow when poured out. Any idea why new XTOL would fail like this? I'm also having identical failures with homebrew developers, so something is happening that's not XTOL's fault.
Some ideas I have:
- 220 ml (undiluted) is too little to develop a roll. I have a hard time believing this because folks dilute XTOL all the time, using less than 220 ml per roll.
- My distilled water has an additive secretly added by the grocery store called "DK" -- Developer Killer.
- Iron is leaching from the tank (far-fetched, as there's no corrosion).
- Somehow I'm contaminating the developer.
I have no idea. Further clues: When I dissolved XTOL packet A, the water turned orange. Does that happen to you? Dissolving packet B changed the colour to very light yellow.
I'm hoping somebody out there can offer some help.
Kodak's datasheet for X-Tol (J-109) says:
"1. Start with an amount of water that is approximately 75 percent of the total volume indicated on the package. See the table above. The water should be at normal room temperature, about 65 to 85°F (18 to 30°C).
2. With stirring, slowly add Part A. Stir until the powder is completely dissolved. At this point, the solution may appear somewhat tawny or copper-colored. This
3. Continue stirring, and slowly add Part B. Stir until the powder is completely dissolved. The coppery tint will clear from the solution as you add Part B."
I think this addresses your concern about the colour.
It also says:
"The volume of diluted XTOL Developer needed to cover the film will depend on the size of your tank or tray or the design of your rotary-tube processor. However, the minimum amount of diluted developer needed to cover the film may not contain enough active ingredients to develop the film fully in the recommended time. We recommend always starting with at least 100 mL (3.5 fluidounces) of full-strength developer to prepare the diluted solution for each 135-36 or 120 roll (or the equivalent of 80 square inches [516 square centimetres])."
I think this addresses your concern about the amount of developer used.
My thoughts would be to:
a) check that you mixed the X-Tol with the right amount of water. Is there any chance you had one of the old 1 or 2 liter packages but mixed it to 5 liters?
b) check for other sources of contamination.
With regard to b), do you have another tank (and measuring graduates) you can try?
“Photography is a complex and fluid medium, and its many factors are not applied in simple sequence. Rather, the process may be likened to the art of the juggler in keeping many balls in the air at one time!”
Ansel Adams, from the introduction to The Negative - The New Ansel Adams Photography Series / Book 2
But I used 220 ml of full strength dev, so I figured I was okay there. Thanks for pointing out the copper colour in Kodak's data-sheet.
Originally Posted by MattKing
These were new packets recently received from B&H. They are for 5 litres.
Originally Posted by MattKing
That leaves other sources of contamination. I have several tanks and graduates, and have been using various graduates, always with this result. Maybe try another tank, but I can't see what damage a tank could do. Well, who knows; it would be worth a try...
If as you say you've had problems with other developers I'd first stop using the distilled water, if it's coming from a Grocery store it's not necessarily even distilled it may well be de-ionised and even then not properly.
Also try using a plastic tank it is just possible you have hidden corrosion in the top of a stainless steel tank, unlikely but you need to find the cause of the failure.
Very odd. Colour change after part B is added is normal, your dilution is fine (100ml of full strength dev is all that is needed for a roll).
It has to be something to do with the water or tank.
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Here is one clue:
I would rule out Xtol then. The water? maybe, but unlikely.
I'm also having identical failures with homebrew developers
Could it be traced to using contaminated graduates or other vessels? Most likely fixer contaminated? Remember, it only takes a few drops of fixer to destroy a gallon of developer. The other way around is less sensitive, by design.
I have several tanks and graduates, and have been using various graduates
The color changes you describe are normal (I also use distilled water). I use Xtol almost exclusively (well over 10 years now) and find no problems with as little as 75ml of stock solution per roll. (I've actually never had a single problem even when storing it long term in those accordion bottles.) I would start with very basic questions. How good is your thermometer? How consistent is you agitation? How do you measure your developing time?
I would consider checking your film exposure Techniques and camera/meter/lens to be sure that your film is really getting exposed properly .... I went through this before ??
My thoughts in not in particular order:
220ml is plenty sufficient to process a roll per tech sheet, so it's not the volume.
Your dev time at 20c is correct per tech sheet
If your leader (from the real roll) is coming out thin, it rules out the exposure/camera issues....
How long of time has passed between your initial test and the roll that came out thin?
Do you replenish or are you using it as one-shot?
When you said "poured out yellow" do you mean out of jug or tank?
Naturally expired XTOL does not change color...
Developer out of a tank processing TMY2 should come out purplish, not yellow... huh?
Color change during mixing is normal.
Is your process repeatable? If you stick in a small piece of exposed film now, would it still turn out thin?
Develop, stop, fix.... wait.... where's my film?
you have a cross contamination problem. Wash your storage bottles ( glass cleans best ) and only use developer for developer and fix for fix even if you wash. Even the measuring grads should be separate and clean and labeled.
you mixed a package that was out of date. I had a out of date one before they were dated, it died in a week. It worked perfectly the day I mixed it, was partially dead in a week. Stored in full stoppered glass bottles.
I was informed by Kodak after I complained about the above, THERE IS NO HOME TEST FOR PROPER ACTIVITY INCLUDING THE CLIP TEST YOU DID. The problem being there may be enough developer for a small section done in a large tank, but when you add the full roll there is not activity.
I keep to developers that change color as they age.