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Thread: Using XTOL

  1. #1

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    Using XTOL

    I shoot mostly Tri-X, Neopan 400 and HP5+ and am thinking of trying XTOL. My current developers are HC-110, D-76 and Rodinal. Because I scan my negatives, I want to keep the grain in check. I get good results from my current developers, but they're all a little on the grainy side in terms of scanning.

    I've searched and read most of the XTOL threads, but there's one I can't find again. A member here talked about using XTOL full strength and developing 6 rolls per bottle, then pitching the solution. With this method, do you need to increase developing time for each subsequent roll, or if does it stay consistent up to six rolls?

    Because I use D-76 1:1, I'd be comfortable using XTOL that way -- same basic storage requirements -- but I've read that stock solution XTOL produces slightly finer grain.

    Gene

  2. #2

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    Dear Gene,

    According to the Xtol data sheet, 5 rolls in the same liter can be developed without time compensation. Having said that, I would like to pass on some sage advice that was given to me years ago. "Film is expensive, developer is cheap. Don't re-use it." Admittedly, repleneshed systems work very well but if you are working in small batches and at irregular intervals I consider it good advice.

    Neal Wydra

  3. #3

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    You might also check Kodak's data sheet on XTOL; it's available from their Web site as a PDF, but I don't have a direct link bookmarked, so you'll have to rummage for it. The data sheet describes replenishment systems for XTOL (it acts as its own replenisher), but the description is probably geared towards commercial photofinishers and their automated systems rather than smaller setups like yours.

  4. #4

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    Thanks for the info! Neal, sage advice indeed. I don't mind using XTOL as a one-shot developer diluted 1:1 the way I currently use D-76.

    Gene

  5. #5
    noblebeast's Avatar
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    Another way to go is to mix up your own XTOL-like developer from the raw ingredients. I've been doing this since I first got the recipe from our good friend Maine-iac and have been very pleased with the results and the ease of use. You mix it up as a one shot, use the same developing times as XTOL stock (as a starting point, anyway) and it's always consistent. Something to think about. And I'm not one of the "mad scientist" types who likes to mix up different formulas and variations just to see what happens, so if I find mixing my own from scratch easy and painless, you can be sure it is. PM me if you'd like the recipe.

    Joe
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  6. #6

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    I've used both MYTOL (a sodium sulfite-containing XTOL clone) and Pat Gainer's PC-Glycol (an earlier version of PC-TEA). They both work well with HP5 Plus, but if you are looking for the absolute minimum grain for neg-scanning, I'm not sure that either will be a "magic bullet" with these 400-speed B&W films. You may not find that XTOL gives more scannable negs than, say, stock D-76.

    If anything, the only developer I've tried that gives a bit of an advantage for scanning HP5 Plus is Perceptol. But "YMMV", as they say.

  7. #7

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    Quote Originally Posted by Jordan
    but if you are looking for the absolute minimum grain for neg-scanning, I'm not sure that either will be a "magic bullet" with these 400-speed B&W films. You may not find that XTOL gives more scannable negs than, say, stock D-76.
    Not looking for a magic bullet, though one would be nice Just looking to keep the grain tamed, especially in skies. My scanner exaggerates grain if it's too pronounced. Nothing against grain -- I like it. I use Rodinal fairly often, even for scanning.

    Gene

  8. #8
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    I have found that this method allows retention of Acros' full asa 400 speed.
    Development: Xtol 1+1, 70°F.
    N=0 10 1/2 min @ 70°F.
    N-1 8 1/2 min. (≈ 19%)
    N+1 Se intensification
    Agitate (i.e., fast inversion) first 30 sec, 5-sec every minute thereafter.
    [FONT=Times New Roman]MAC[/FONT]

  9. #9

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    Dear Gene,

    I toss Xtol even when used full strength. I minimize the volume by using Jobo rotary tanks and a home made driver. A trip to the Jobo web site http://www.jobousadarkroom.com/index1.html will give you the details.

    Neal Wydra

  10. #10
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    a plug for Xtol....

    I have standardized on Xtol as my developer of choice for the kind of shooting I do. I am very pleased with it and have encountered none of the exhaustion problems that were attributed to the 1 L packages in the past. I store it in multiple small bottles after mixing.

    It is the best off-the-shelf developer I've used in many years of film processing. I tend to use it stock or 1:1 for conventional-grain films, and 1:2 or 1:3 for T-grain films. Of course, more dilute means some compensating effect and edge effects; more concentrated means finer grain, speaking generally. (I shoot mostly medium format and develop in a Jobo automatic processor.) I never reuse--even if this were an option in a Jobo--it isn't--i wouldn't do it; developer's too cheap to risk an irreplaceable image. I don't mind a little grain, and I love the beautiful silky tonality I get with the conventional grain films. Principally, those are Tri-X, HP5+, FP4+, and, more recently, Plus-X. I have also used it with MacoORT25c orthochromatic film, Efke, Bergger (HUGE GRAIN), and Agfa. It does the job for me.

    I am considering transitioning to Mytol as a replacement against the day that Kodak decides to pull the plug on Xtol; who knows if, or when, that will happen.
    Michael Sebastian
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