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  1. #1
    kodachrome64's Avatar
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    What's so great about XTOL?

    OK, I don't want to start a war here, but I've been playing with XTOL for quite some time now and just don't see what all the hype is about. Right now I am not able to print my images so I know I will have to reevaluate when I start doing that, but any negative I have scanned using XTOL has looked flat, lifeless, lacking in sharpness, etc. I really want to like it. According to the datasheet on Kodak developers, it seems like it should be the best all-around developer.


    '


    I guess that just goes to show me that what's on paper doesn't necessarily mean anything in real life. I have tried it straight, 1+1, 1+2, 1+3 and always seem to get the same results. I get great results with D76, HC-110, Rodinal, and TMAX developer. I find TMAX to be far superior for pushing than XTOL. I love Rodinal with Plus-X and Tri-X. I've gotten great results with any other developer without having to do a bunch of tweaking in Photoshop.

    I guess all in all, fine grain is not the most important thing to me. Tri-X in 135 with Rodinal is a bit too grainy, but I like 35mm Plus-X with Rodinal. In 120, both of those films look superb with Rodinal. I get really good results with TMAX even though it is not a highly regarded developer, especially nice with TMY in 120. I know it is "to each his own" but I am so surprised by the consistently poor results I've been getting with XTOL compared with the datasheets. I though it was just the T-Max films perhaps, but I've tried it with Plus-X and Tri-X and it made them look flat, lifeless and solid gray as well. There are no blacks when I use XTOL. It is all one mass of gray.

    Is there anything I am missing? Yes, I know I haven't done highly scientific tests. I haven't examined my negatives with instruments that will give me density measurements. I haven't worked exclusively with XTOL for five years to be able to master it. But I don't think any of those things are required to get good results. I have tried every dilution with every film I use and have not gotten one result I was happy with. Please tell me there is something I am missing.

    Nick
    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. #2
    Ian Grant's Avatar
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    Well I've been using Xtol since it's release and always get excellent results, but I use it replenished, just as I did previously with ID-11(D76).

    Basically it's an improvement over ID-11/D76 gives slightly better results particularly with T-grain films and is more environmentally friendly. I use Xtol for my commercial work & Pyrocat HD for my personal work.

    If your not getting optimal results then perhaps you should do some test to determine your film speed & dev times.

    Ian

  3. #3

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    The fact that I do not manufacture Kodak Xtol not with standing, in our competitive testing, I also have the same opinion. It is a good low contrast, film developer that works in both machine and manual applictions but that is the best that can be said. As a powder product, I feel that it suffers from that mixing issue. I don't see the "HYPE" either.

  4. #4
    23mjm's Avatar
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    I hear you--- I tried Xtol to and it was ok nothing special. I did get good results but not any better than DD-X. I stopped using it because I got lazy and didn't want to mix powders.

  5. #5
    kodachrome64's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by 23mjm View Post
    I hear you--- I tried Xtol to and it was ok nothing special. I did get good results but not any better than DD-X. I stopped using it because I got lazy and didn't want to mix powders.
    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!
    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. #6
    PhotoJim's Avatar
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    It is a great developer. My guess is that your EI and/or your development times aren't quite what they should be to fully exploit the developer.

    I must confess that when I use XTOL I use it 1:1 which changes its properties somewhat, but when I use D-76/ID-11 I do the same.

    Perfect? No. One of the best? I think so.
    Jim MacKenzie - Regina, Saskatchewan, Canada

    A bunch of Nikons; Feds, Zorkis and a Kiev; Pentax 67-II (inherited from my deceased father-in-law); Bronica SQ-A; and a nice Shen Hao 4x5 field camera with 3 decent lenses that needs to be taken outside more. Oh, and as of mid-2012, one of those bodies we don't talk about here.

    Favourite film: do I need to pick only one?

  7. #7
    Nicholas Lindan's Avatar
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    You may want to reserve judgment until you print the negatives. Scanners aren't made for B&W silver-grain film and results will always be sub-par. What works best in any particular scanner may not be what will produce the best print in an enlarger.

    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.
    DARKROOM AUTOMATION
    f-Stop Timers - Enlarging Meters
    http://www.darkroomautomation.com/da-main.htm

  8. #8
    Chazzy's Avatar
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    Xtol produces fine grain without losing film speed. To me, that makes it an excellent general-purpose developer. If your negatives are flat, don't blame the developer. Blame your developing times.
    Charles Hohenstein

  9. #9
    Michel Hardy-Vallée's Avatar
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    I find XTOL also gives nicer midtones than D-76. Not a huge difference, but the slight difference in tonality makes for better portraits.
    Using film since before it was hip.


    "One of the most singular characters of the hyposulphites, is the property their solutions possess of dissolving muriate of silver and retaining it in considerable quantity in permanent solution" — Sir John Frederick William Herschel, "On the Hyposulphurous Acid and its Compounds." The Edinburgh Philosophical Journal, Vol. 1 (8 Jan. 1819): 8-29. p. 11

    My APUG Portfolio

  10. #10
    kodachrome64's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Chazzy View Post
    Xtol produces fine grain without losing film speed. To me, that makes it an excellent general-purpose developer. If your negatives are flat, don't blame the developer. Blame your developing times.
    I have tried different times and dilutions. The negatives are fully developed.

    As for the scans, I know they would look different through an enlarger. I don't have that capability now and won't for the foreseeable future. I have plenty of control in the development stage, and negatives developed in any other soup produce great results when scanning. Maybe I have been off on every single time with every dilution and every film I've used with it...I don't know. I doubt it, but I won't say it's not possible.
    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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