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  1. #1

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    Developer dilution and grain?

    Hello!

    Is it so that increased ditution of a developer increases grain and reduces contrast?

    Thanks.

  2. #2
    df cardwell's Avatar
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    No.

    Photography is a system: changing 1 component has little effect on the outcome.

    If you change the dilution of Rodinal, for instance, from 1+25 to 1+100, you will get the exact same image IF you adjust the agitation and time.

    The age old 'wive's tale' of compensation is generally traceable to the reduced proportion of agitation given to the longer development time required of a greater dilution.

    Perceptable grain is usually determined by the amount of over-agitation given to film. Which is one of the reasons Rodinal has been used for decades with reduced agitation.

    But it is not accurate to attribute contrast and grain difference only to dilution.

    .
    "One of the painful things about our time is that those who feel certainty are stupid,
    and those with any imagination and understanding are filled with doubt and indecision"

    -Bertrand Russell

  3. #3

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    Interesting.

    So many people seem to recommend say XTOL at stock to get finer grain than at 1+1 or 1+2. The same with D76.

    "Perceptable grain is usually determined by the amount of over-agitation given to film."

    If that is true, a shorter development at a higher concentration would give more grain., since:

    "...reduced proportion of agitation given to the longer development time required of a greater dilution."

    This contradicts what most people here or elsewhere say.

    Are there hard facts on this. Any books to read?

  4. #4

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    The basic silver grain size is manufactured into the film. Sulfite is a silver solvent. High sulfite developers (like D-76), when used undiluted, tend to dissolve the edges of the silver grains - thus reducing sharpness/acutance. Diluting a sulfited developer with water reduces its silver solvent characteristics - thus producing a better defined silver grain structure and higher acutance.

    According to Kodak, undiluted Xtol is a higher acutance developer than undiluted D-76.
    Tom Hoskinson
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  5. #5

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    Dear timeunit,

    ".......XTOL at stock to get finer grain than at 1+1 or 1+2."

    This is asserted in the Xtol data sheet as well. Supposedly it has to do with the developer acting as a solvent on the film grain (I hope someone more technically versed in this will chime in). At reduced concentration this action is reduced. Personal experience has shown this to be correct. The effect is obvious with TMZ or Delta 3200. Keep in mind that the reduction in granularity comes with its own price in acutance, and that not all developers have this solvent action. Your own testing should guide you as to how valuable this feature is.

    Neal Wydra

  6. #6

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    Nothing like trying yourself. Rodinal may not change much but it does change. At 1;25 the grain has sort of a mottly appearance. At 1:50 it looks sharper. The appearance of a D76 print changes when developed to the same contrast/gamma. The grain thru a grain magnifier may look the same, but the prints are different.

  7. #7

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    If you look at them in a decent optical microscope, the silver grains that result from developement in undiluted D-76 do not look the same as a sample of the same film developed in diluted D-76. The grains developed in the undiluted D-76 are smaller and have diffuse or fuzzy edges. This is due to the silver solvent properties of the high concentrations of Sodium Sulfite found in D-76 (and many other developers).

    A detailed discussion of this subject in can be found in pages 414 - 424 of Modern Photographic Processing, Volume 1, Grant Haist, 1979, John Wiley and Sons, Inc.

    Grant Haist was the Director of Research and Development at Kodak.
    Tom Hoskinson
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  8. #8

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    Aha!

    So I get less grain, but at the expence of "percepted" sharpness if devving in undiluted XTOL or D76? Does actual resolution change?

    Part two of the question is that diluted developer gives lower contrast, I guess because of proportionally less agitation? I.e. a "compensating" effect, where the developers exhausts itself on high density areas, but keeps working in midtones and shadows. True?

    Could one say that in stock XTOL my acros films will have little grain and high contrast, but maybe lack a bit of sharpness compared to XTOL 1+1? In 1+1 they will be flatter but sharper?

    That Modern Photographic Processing seems like a nice bible. Will check out.

    Thanks for all replies!

  9. #9

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    Quote Originally Posted by timeUnit
    Aha!

    So I get less grain, but at the expence of "percepted" sharpness if devving in undiluted XTOL or D76? Does actual resolution change?
    Yes, the resolution (and acutance) is reduced. See Haist.

    Quote Originally Posted by timeUnit
    Part two of the question is that diluted developer gives lower contrast, I guess because of proportionally less agitation? I.e. a "compensating" effect, where the developers exhausts itself on high density areas, but keeps working in midtones and shadows. True?
    It is actually more complicated than that. Agitation also plays a strong role as does the film and the properties of the developing reagents.

    Quote Originally Posted by timeUnit
    Could one say that in stock XTOL my acros films will have little grain and high contrast, but maybe lack a bit of sharpness compared to XTOL 1+1? In 1+1 they will be flatter but sharper?
    I would say that in stock XTOL your ACROS will have good acutance, a good tonal scale and fine grain. At 1+1 the results should be similar, perhaps with slightly larger grain and slightly higher acutance.

    You need to try it undiluted and diluted and decide which you like best.
    Tom Hoskinson
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  10. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by timeUnit
    Aha!

    So I get less grain, but at the expence of "percepted" sharpness if devving in undiluted XTOL or D76? Does actual resolution change?

    Part two of the question is that diluted developer gives lower contrast, I guess because of proportionally less agitation? I.e. a "compensating" effect, where the developers exhausts itself on high density areas, but keeps working in midtones and shadows. True?

    Could one say that in stock XTOL my acros films will have little grain and high contrast, but maybe lack a bit of sharpness compared to XTOL 1+1? In 1+1 they will be flatter but sharper?

    That Modern Photographic Processing seems like a nice bible. Will check out.

    Thanks for all replies!

    That book(s) are really expensive - I saw a set on e-bay used for $600. Contrast has to do with development time and aggitation. Strength of chemistry will cause a change in contrast if it becomes exhausted. Uncontrolled developer exhaustion is not usually a recommendation. You can used dilute developers without exhaustion by using more volume. The reason that with some developers, grain becomes more apparent when dilute is because of Soduim Sulfite. When the dilution of Sodium Sulfite drops below 80g per liter, it dissolves a lot less silver giving sharper grain. The reason XTOL doesn't give mushy grain full strength is because it has less sulfite than D76. It is right at the cusp full strength. The thing to remember is that different developers work differently. The staining chemical in Rodinal is very different than the isoascorbic acid in XTOL.

    After a time of reading posts on this forum, you will get familiar with the strengths of different chemicals. Pyro chemicals are very different in their effects than Metol, Phenidone or Ascorbic Acid. Knowing the differences between how these chemicals are used will help you choose the soup for the effect you want. - Which - you haven't actually stated.

    Roll film? 35mm? sheet film?
    Do you want full film speed?
    Do you want highlight clamping?
    Are you trying to capture light from f1.4 to f32 in the same image?
    Are you trying to expand a low contrast scene?
    How big will you enlarge?
    Will you use VC paper, FB paper or AZO?
    Do you like gritty grain or very smooth tonality?
    Do you want sharpness that will cut you or are you looking for gentler edges?
    Are you putting very different challenges on the same roll of film?

    I consider all these questions or more when I choose a chemistry. I chose from the following based on the answers to these questions:
    PyrocatHD - XTOL - Microphen - Split D23 - PC-TEA - 510 Pyro.
    - I have data on all of these to exploit their strengths in many situations.
    My photos are always without all that distracting color ...

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