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  1. #1
    Eric Jones's Avatar
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    Thoughts on DiXactol?

    Hello,

    Does anyone have any experience or opinions of DiXactol? I was thinking of giving it a try but I am wondering if Pyrocat-HD may be a better way to go. Also, is there a U.S. supplier of DiXactol. I read that Photoformulary had it but did not find it listed on their web site.

    Thanks

  2. #2
    fhovie's Avatar
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    I used to use DiXactol. In the 2 bath configuration it usually gave me results that were N-1 or N-2 contrast - even with a condenser enlarger on graded paper. In the monobath configuration I could not tell the difference in performance between it and Pyrocat HD. It is good developer - fine grain (but not like XTOL or Microdol X) staining - but a different color than PMK. Compensating - I photographed a burning light bulb filimant with it and you can see the coils and read the label on the glass bulb. - Quite a feat! Buy some chemicals and mix up some PyrocatHD- you will save a lot of money in the long run.

  3. #3
    Helen B's Avatar
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    I think that DiXactol is no more. It was replaced by DiXactol Ultra, which then became unavailable when Barry Thornton died in late 2003. Look at Peter Hogan's website, www.monochromephotography.com for the current situation. He ships to the USA. I have no experience with his developers, so can't comment on them.

    I rather liked DiXactol, especially with the previous version of APX400 rated at EI 250, but there's no accounting for taste.

    Best,
    Helen

  4. #4
    Leon's Avatar
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    Eric - http://www.apug.org/forums/showthrea...light=dixactol

    this is an old thread that discussed your very question.

  5. #5

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    I would go for pyrocat every time. I am in the early stages of testing it (P'cat) and find that is finer grained, produces far less B+F and is about 5% of the cost. As a single bath it held an 11 stop scene, so I cannot fathon why one would need 2 bath dixactol. Dixactol produces coraser grain and is argaubly suited to modern tabular films or slow conventional ones far better than 400 speed films with which grain can be considerable. Exactol Lux is finer than pyrocat in grain terms and would be a better choice if you were using 35mm 400 speed films or possibly even fp4/apx100, if you desire fine grain. P'ct is an ideal compromise between exactol lux and dixactol. I had superb results with Acros in Dixactol, but have no reason to suspect that pyrocat will not do just as well. As acros has ridiculously small grain, dixactol was able to give great sharpness to what would otherwise be a rather mushy film. Pyrocat will do the same. Why pay £13.95 for 150ml or so when I can make litres of pyrocat for a similar amount? Just my opinion......As I shoot little 35mm and when I do, I tend to go for visible grain, I have no need for Exactol Lux or its successors. Dixactol IMHO is simply bettered by pyrocat HD in every respect. Dixactol may prioduce greater sharpenss still (I dunno), but as grain is a seriously limiting issue, I feel the drive for ultra sharpness went too far with this dev (apart from with tabular films such as acros, delta, tMax 100 etc) Pan F might be great in this dev. I tried a roll, but in 6x7 on a 10x8, you could just start to make out grain....but that was a one roll test, so dont read into it too much. Dixactol with Maco 820C produced base fog that was like a light coating of primer paint! and grain was comparable with this otherwise smooth film on an 8x10 from 6x9 to what I would expect from 35mm fp4 plus. Others may have had different results. However, I think it is great for tabular slow films and pants for the rest apart from at puny enlargements.........even making you wonder what you bother shooting 5x4 only to get that grain......

    Tom

  6. #6
    Leon's Avatar
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    pants

    Quote Originally Posted by Tom Stanworth
    ... and pants for the rest apart from at puny enlargements ...
    lol - that is a great way of putting it Tom. I must admit I had a bit of a nightmare all round with DiXactol and grain. I never tried the new one (ultra) though. I too think that P'cat is the best of the catechol based devs that I've tried and find it is good all round for all circumstances and great for particular circumstances.

  7. #7

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    I only used the later one, Ultra, which just camer out as I placed my first order. I wondered how on earth Bary T was getting nice sharp pleasantly grained 12" prints off 6x6 HP5, as he claimed. I could see this happening if one developed using shorter times for graded papers, maybe, perhaps not looking too close. I realised how wayward things had become when I ran out and developed a few 5x4 HP5/Fp4 plus negs in ID11. Exactol Lux is another beast altogether and hard to fault. Still, Look at the price for it and the new Presyscol - about £13.95 plus 3 quid or so P&P for 100 Ml. Nothing is going to tear me away from pyrocat at those prices. I am in no doubt that I will get pyrocat really singing for me soon enough, but may use a conventional dev for low contrast scenes where there are no highlights in danger of blowing. I love the Aculux 2 as I have harped on about, but am keen to try a 'brew your own so I know I can never be caught out by manufacturers pulling products or going under. I was telling philldressser that just as I had decided to stick to APX100 in all formats, AGfa pulled it in sheet. I had ONE box of 5x4. I then decided that it would be FP4 plus...........then Ilford looked rocky just as I was expanding into 10x8 and sheet film was looking particularly precarious. As Ilford seems stable (please, please no kiss of death this time) I think I will now stick to FP4 plus but more fully explore Efke/Maco 100 too, just in case!

    Tom

  8. #8
    Baxter Bradford's Avatar
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    I think some of the above criticism is unduly harsh having achieved very pleasing results in DiXactol from a range of films, APX100, Delta 100 and 400 in both 120 and 4x5 for the first two.

    Using the recomended single bath partial stand method, I found the transition to this type of "Exotic" developer easy and beneficial and did not experience the streaking which others have reported. Prior to this, I had tried Ilfosol, ID-11 and Rodinal.

    For those who do not want to mix their own chemicals, do masses of film+developer testing or shoot relatively small amounts of B+W film such proprietary products are welcome in my book. Why shouldn't Developer developers (!) try to gain some recompense for their efforts? Allowing photographers to get out and shoot some pictures.

    I am not advocating that Dixactol is the best, but that it should not be so easily dismissed just because it is not flavour of the month. It is certainly easy to use with agitation every 2 mins a recurring thought of the good old days as I now get to do this operation every 30s.

  9. #9

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    Baxter,

    I am not dismissing Dixactol. I am of the opinion that it seemed suited to slower films, especially tabular ones, especially in larger formats, which reflects your usage of it. This is a far cry from hp5 or even fp4 plus in 35mm. I also state that I had great results from Acros 5x4 (also 120, tho only a brief test). Your Delta 400 is a very fine grained film for the speed, easily comparable to FP4 plus in terms of grain neg and you are talking 120...............

    I also appreciate that other may have had better all round results that me. However, as I have had great results from fine grained modern films, I suspect that it is not what I was doing, rather the nature of the dev. Bary admitted that these issues were why Exactol came about.......later commenting (on the benefits of Exactol Lux)that Dixactol could be rather intollerant of imperfect exposure/development . This was not what he reported in his literature (or Edge of Darkness) for Dixactol! The polar opposite in fact! Again, hat off to Barry for doing what he did (important person in revival of pyro devs) and Exactol Lux is uniquely fine grained for a pyro dev. His books are IMHO essential reading!. In terms of cost, I am not knocking them for making money. They have to to live, I appreciate this. But when I am faced by the choice of 5 packs of Diaxactol Ultra/Exactol Lux etc at total of about £80-90 inc P&P, I chose to buy digital scales (400g total - to 0.1g accurcy) at £50 and enough chems to keep me going WAY past those 5 bottles. Many of the chems I use only 2g or so at a time from a 50g pack, so the cost goes down and down after the initial buy of chems as I only need a few of the ingredients. I can understand why people do not want to mix their own, but unless you are a very low volume user, I cannot see a good reason not to. It just seems a little bizarre that the market for these ready made pyro devs is at fairly advanced users (despite what Barry thought I cannot see many newbies popping open a bottle). Such people are inclined to experiement and are more aware of alternatives............that might just results in them getting some scales

    I am absolutely not interested in flavour of the month products, only those that work. I use 'normal' film and confess to being rather fond of Aculux 2 (hardly a sexy product with a cult following). I only went to pyrocat because Barry died and his products ceased to be available. In the meantime I discovered something better for me (in all honesty expecting it to be worse!) and therefore have no reason to go back now that they are on the market again. I am glad that Dixactol produces results that you like with your films and if I do not get the acutance I need with acros from Pyrocat, I may keep a bottle in stock for when I have been overseas and used packet film. However, from what I have seen of the devs sharpness so far, Prince Harry is more likely to become King of Israel!

    Try using Dixactol for a 120 or 35mm HP5. ..............I dare ya!

    Tom

  10. #10
    Les McLean's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Tom Stanworth
    Baxter,


    Try using Dixactol for a 120 or 35mm HP5. ..............I dare ya!

    Tom

    I tested it as a 2 bath developer with 120 Ilford HP5 and Fuji Neopan 400 and produced very grainy N-1 or N-2 contrast negatives. My results were confirmed by at least two other photographers in the UK. Having said that, on workshops I have printed several negatives developed in DiXactol as a single bath that produced excellent prints with little evidence of grain.
    "Digital circuits are made from analogue parts"
    Fourtune Cookie-Brooklyn May 2006

    Website: www.lesmcleanphotography.com

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