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  1. #1
    Dave Krueger's Avatar
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    Identifying "failed" Xtol before you use it.

    Is there a quick clip test that I can do to make sure my Xtol hasn't gone dead before I use it? To be honest, I have been skeptical that Xtol even goes bad in the sense that people have described it, so I intentionally kept an almost empty bottle of the stock for over a year until it turned the color of beer. You'll never guess what came out on the test film I developed in it. Nothing. Completely clear. No frame numbers, even.

    Unfortunately, I threw the remainder of it away, so I am not able to experiment to find out of there is any quick way of identifying it's demise short pf developing a test film in it.

    Today I put some out in an uncovered dish to see if I could accelerate the failure mode and experiment a bit, but I'd be interested in hearing from anyone who might have already developed a quick test. I assume that the developer does not lose all it's potency at once, but I can tolerate thin negatives a lot better than clear negatives.

  2. #2
    Kevin Caulfield's Avatar
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    From what people here have posted, it seems that Xtol does lose all its potency if not at once then over a very short period of time. That scares me. I use FX39 which is reputed to have a short lifetime, but I've never had that problem with it.

  3. #3
    Photo Engineer's Avatar
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    Dave;

    There are a number of tests we used at Kodak to determine the lifetime or capacity of a developer. They are not too hard, but it takes practice to evaluate them.

    Basically, you are on the right track, but the test was much too severe. Usually a test of one month or 2 week intervals is more useful in things like this.

    PE

  4. #4
    df cardwell's Avatar
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    I have a 100% sure way of determining whether any developer is good.

    Ready ?

    I develop a short roll of film in it.
    "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

  5. #5

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    the one time I had a problem with xtol exhaustion (my fault it was very old), it turned slightly yellow before it failed.

  6. #6
    Dave Krueger's Avatar
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    I've seen the slight yellow color shift and still got good results with it. I suppose I could get all systematic about it and do a clip test of some kind every time I use it and record the time it takes for the film to show some measurable change (like turn black). I fooled around with a strip of MGIV paper just to see how long it took to go black thinking that could be used as a measurable test. If the developer fails to make the strip go black within the allotted time, I would know it was bad. Not exactly a precision instrument, but I'm only looking to identify that complete failure mode. It really pisses me off that I threw that bad stuff away.

  7. #7

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    I pour some out and put a bit of exposed film in it. If it turns black in a minute or two, then I use it.

    I've never had any fail and I've used it over a year old.

  8. #8

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    The only case of mild failure I had was at least 8-9 years ago, when Kodak was still making it in 1 liter bags. One of the Part A's was a bit moist, rather than pure dry powder, and I mixed it up anyway, to have some slightly thin negs on a batch one week later. Quite possible it was in addition to the fact that I was much less stringent on mixing containers then, using a bucket that was 'multi use' and had a bit of oxidation on the metal handle, all of which I think contributed. Kodak has since been thru a few packaging changes, as well as balancing out the amounts of Parts A and B. I have a Xtol only bucket and funnel, filtered water and Saran wrap, no failures. If you're used to D-76 or Dektol 'dump it and go' you might want to tighten up the process. Its a fine developer, very flexible: Higher dilutions, high temps, straight, pushing, replenished.

  9. #9
    Dave Krueger's Avatar
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    Kirk, that hits the nail on the head. I was thinking of a fairly quick and dirty test that would save me from complete failure.

    RidingWaves, aside from the one batch I intentionally kept around in a near empty bottle, I have had no failures either. But, there have been a lot of stories on the web about problems and I do tend to let me chemicals get older than many people simply because I don't do much volume. I did read about the packaging issue that led Kodak to stop doing the 1 liter packages. In fact, I looked up the Mytol formula the other day thinking I might do better if I mix up smaller quantities. Mytol is reputedly very similar to Xtol and I could mix it up by the liter. It takes me a considerable amount of time to get through 5 liters of Xtol. And, of course, I don't have the forumla for Xtol, so I couldn't mix that myself.

  10. #10
    Trask's Avatar
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    One alternative might be Foma's "Excel" developer, available from Freestyle (though I just bought my own packet in Prague at just about what Freestyle charges). Excel is supposed to be an Xtol clone, but comes in 1 liter packaging. OK, the cost of two 1-liter packages is about 80% of the cost of a Kokak 5-liter package, but it's like buying stuff at Sam's Club -- who needs a two gallon jar of mayonnaise?

    I last used Xtol years ago, so when I develop some film later this week in Excel I won't have anything to compare to. It would be of interest of someone who used Xtol regularly were to run a comparison text between Xtol and Excel.

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