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  1. #11
    kodachrome64's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Nicholas Lindan View Post
    B&W with a scanner is best done by shooting color negative film, scanning it and then converting it to black and white with a channel mixer.
    That's exactly what I'm trying to avoid. If I were going to do that, I would just shoot digital. Scanning is not the issue, since I love the results I've been getting with other developers.
    Kodachrome
    They give us those nice bright colors
    They give us the greens of summers
    Makes you think all the world's a sunny day, oh yeah.
    -Paul Simon

  2. #12
    Harry Lime's Avatar
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    Just scan your B/W negs as color negs and set the output to 16bit grayscale.
    Works like a charm on the Nikon SCS 5000ED and 9000ED. Also on my previous Minolta scanner.

  3. #13
    kodachrome64's Avatar
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    Yes, some scanners do fine with B&W. A lot of people say they aren't designed for it, but that's the best some of us can do.
    Kodachrome
    They give us those nice bright colors
    They give us the greens of summers
    Makes you think all the world's a sunny day, oh yeah.
    -Paul Simon

  4. #14

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    Xtol is a fabulous developer as are many others. The issue here is not the developer but the inability to translate the results to hard data - ie a print. When you have the ability to see the results in your prints then make the post.

    Only change developers when you have made a fine print and can ascertain the technical shortcomings of this product. There are enought variables in the process without adding new ones to the mix.

    I have seen a number of people decide to bag a film and/or developer and continue to the latest "recommendation" only to conlude that this combination was as poor as the previous one and the cycle continues. Many times they come back to where they started.

    Focus on making prints and hit the pause button for a while. I think that you will be surprised at what Xtol will do.

  5. #15
    kodachrome64's Avatar
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    I won't be making prints. For a while. That's just not an option. I understand the results would be different but the end result I am working with right now is the scan. I know it's not the same as a hard print, but it's the best I can do right now.

    Even though it may not be the traditional way, one can see the differences of developers through scanning. I'm not moving from developer to developer to developer; I use the developers I use for their different characteristics and I get fantastic results. XTOL is the only one I've gotten consistently poor results with. People can say it's the scanning and not the developer, but I know I get good results from the other developers. What it looks like on a print is irrelevant to me because I won't be doing any printing. My final product is a scan and then a LightJet RA4 print on Fuji Crystal Archive paper, and I've been getting incredible results with Rodinal and HC-110 especially. I also get great results with TMAX when pushing. Maybe I just don't like XTOL, or maybe XTOL is only good with wet prints.

    I understand many people think you can't tell anything about a developer until you make a print in a darkroom, but it's just not true. Maybe you can see more on a print, but all of us don't have the capability to do them. I will be very happy when I don't have to mess with scanning anymore, but for now it's what I have to do.
    Kodachrome
    They give us those nice bright colors
    They give us the greens of summers
    Makes you think all the world's a sunny day, oh yeah.
    -Paul Simon

  6. #16

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    Quote Originally Posted by kodachrome64 View Post
    That's what I was thinking...I was expecting some pretty orgasmic results in order to go through the trouble of mixing the two powders in 5 L batches!
    First, I wouldn't apply the word "orgasmic" to any developer! Even aside from word choice issues, no developer is a "magic bullet." Although they do produce different results, in my experience issues such as proper exposure, composition, etc., are all more important than the developer used. (Proper exposure and developer choice are related to each other, of course.)

    Second, my preceding comments assume proper use of the developer. From your description, my hunch is that you're underdeveloping your film (low contrast), but I can't be positive of that. I've occasionally gotten poor results from XTOL (or other developers) on a first roll of a given type of film only to get much better results after tweaking the developing time. Some films are extremely sensitive to this manipulation; Foma films can be tricky to get right, for instance. If you're not familiar with film speed/development time testing, check this article (there's a second part, too).

    Third, you may be able to get better results by adjusting your scanner settings. I use VueScan with a Minolta DiMAGE Scan Elite 5400, and I find that it often produces flat results with its stock settings for B&W. I can improve matters by futzing with the "B/W type" setting on the "Color" tab or by scanning as color rather than as B&W. (The latter often produces a color cast unless I'm very careful in setting the film base color or use the "JPEG black/white" option on the "Output" tab.) Overall, I find it's harder to judge the quality of a negative via a scan than via a print, since the scanner and its software does so much to try to get a good scan -- sometimes with good results from a poor negative and sometimes with poor results from a good negative. I know you say that you can't do traditional prints at the moment, but you should realize that your ability to judge your negatives is handicapped by that limitation.

    Fourth, if you consider mixing two powdered parts to be too much effort, then XTOL may not be for you; stick with liquid concentrates. Given the range of developers on the market, I'm sure you can find something to your liking in a liquid concentrate. As I said, XTOL is not a "magic bullet," although it is a perfectly good developer for many purposes.

  7. #17
    Thomas Bertilsson's Avatar
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    I haven't tried Xtol very much, I've gone through maybe two 5-liter kits. I didn't see anything special about it that made it better than anything else, but I used it because it was given to me for free.

    The pro lab I used to work for used a seasoned tank of Xtol, and it was liked for its consistency, ability to push process film with great results, and easily printable negatives.
    Most people that got their film processed there didn't know what the chemistry was and were happy as ducks in a pond with it. The few that knew either loved or disliked it, and the reason for not liking it seemed to always be that they thought the grain looked muddy or not sharp enough, especially at high magnification.
    The photographers using the service were usually professional shooters doing personal work.

    I have to say, from my limited experience, that I don't find Xtol to be either good or bad. They print just as well as my DD-X, Rodinal, or Pyrocat negatives and I don't find it lacks in sharpness enough to be disheartening. I do like Rodinal and Pyrocat in very bright scenes, however. DD-X I use only with Delta 3200.

    So I'm a bit surprised that you're getting the results you're getting. From developer to developer the differences are surely not that large. But if you don't like it, stop using it.

    - Thomas
    "Often moments come looking for us". - Robert Frank

    "Make good art!" - Neil Gaiman

    "...the heart and mind are the true lens of the camera". - Yousuf Karsh

  8. #18

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    I am also scanning my B&W film, and honestly am a bit disillusioned with Xtol so far. It looks to me less sharp and tonally less appealing than D76, and creates negatives that are "without character". It is a slightly better version of Diafine, but really nothing to write home about. Out of the other developers I have tried so far, Prescysol EF (some say it is Pyrocat HD under a different name) delivers incredible acutance and good tonality and is easy to scan, and FX39 is emerging as a great all purpose developer, particularly with middle speed emulsions. Here are a few examples, all in 35mm:
    Tri-X in Xtol 1+1
    http://www.flickr.com/photos/5917703...35043/sizes/l/
    Tri-X in Prescysol EF, same camera, same lens:
    http://www.flickr.com/photos/5917703...06889/sizes/l/
    Fomapan 200 in FX39, a Makro lens:
    http://www.flickr.com/photos/5917703...39045/sizes/l/

  9. #19
    kodachrome64's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by takef586 View Post
    It looks to me less sharp and tonally less appealing than D76, and creates negatives that are "without character".
    Yes, that is exactly how I would describe it. One of the most noticeable things to me is its lack of apparent sharpness.
    Kodachrome
    They give us those nice bright colors
    They give us the greens of summers
    Makes you think all the world's a sunny day, oh yeah.
    -Paul Simon

  10. #20
    kodachrome64's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by srs5694 View Post
    First, I wouldn't apply the word "orgasmic" to any developer!
    Uh....Rodinal!
    Kodachrome
    They give us those nice bright colors
    They give us the greens of summers
    Makes you think all the world's a sunny day, oh yeah.
    -Paul Simon

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