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  1. #1
    Mike Wilde's Avatar
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    Microdol X preserving experiment

    I love the look I get from Microdol X and Plus X, or FP4 when I shoot 35mm. I know that there is no real reason that these films don't look great with other capable developers, and just put it down to some sort of emotional attachment to good subjects that I have processed in this combination in the past. I don;t usually use it for 120 or larger formats, where the fine grain behaviour is not as important to me.

    Some times I will use it 1:3 one shot, and sometimes straight stock solution one shot, but I have also had very good sucess with using it straight and replenshed, per Kodak's rates. I also replenish a Harveys 777 varaint and it works well for me also; otherwise I am usually a one shot processor.

    Alas, I have got the feeling that Microdol X is not long for more production, if it is not gone already. So when the chance to buy a gallon package packed in the foil/plastic under paper packaging at a camera show for $4 came up last year, I bought it.

    The thing is, I don't use it nearly fast enough to get though the gallon before it poops out used or unused.

    So I got to thinking about some of Pat Gainers developer ideas I read up on a few years ago, like PC-TEA, where the developing agents are dissolved in other than water. I have also used propylene glycol as a dissolving agent (for a 10% phenidone solution most often).

    A mad experiment idea thus began to form in my brain. Perhaps if I could dissolve the developing agents out of the solution, to create a concentrate that would not oxidize off as in the way that it would if it were dissulved in water as a solute.

    I warmed about 700mL of propylene glycol to above 130F in a stainless steel mixing vessel, on a heated magnetic stirrer, and added the full package of the chemicals, that otherwise normally call for starting with 3.3l of hot water.

    As might be expected, it quickly got very thick,and stiff to stir. When the stirrer was turned off, the sulfite crystals , and maybe the chloride crystals as well, would settle to the bottom, and not go into solution. If any sulfite got into this glyol, it formeda saturated solution, so no more would dissolve. The glycol by this stage had a light tan colour, as microdol looks when it is mixed normally.

    I poured the supernatant liquid off into a beaker, trying not to take too many sulfite crystals along with the liquid.

    I then added batches of 130F hot water to the mixer, and stirred until no more sulfite would dissolve. I poured this saturated sulfite solution off, and then would add more hot water, and dissolve more crystals. No sign of the brown developer oxidising action appeared in the water dissolve stages.

    After 3 runs of this, there was a bit more than 2 L of saturated sulfte/ chloride solution.

    I transferred off the supernatant from the beaker to a 500mL storage jar, and then rinsed the settled sulfite sludge off the bottom of the beaker by adding more hot water, gently corking it, and shaking it.

    This water was added to the other sulfite solution. The total volume of the sulfite solution was raised to 2.5L, from 2.2l in the hope that the sulfite would not recrystalize as the solution cooled. This morning there is no sign of sulfite in the bottom of either container, and so I guess this worked.

    So now to make up a stock 500mL of microdol-x solution, you take 330mL of the sulfite solution, add 70mL of the propylene glycol solution containing mostly the developing agents, and add water to 500mL.

    This now 'working solution' is good for processing 2-36 exposure rolls of 35mm film, before replenishment, and three rounds of 16mL of replenisher, before the restrainer byproducts of development build up too high.

    The working solution then must be discarded after it is exhausted, or four months after it was mixed. A new workig solution can then be mixed up when the time comes to process more films.

    By these means, I hope to stretch the life of what may be my last of the Kodak Microdol X for a few years to come. It also has raised the bar for my plans in terms of brewing up developers that can hang around for long times in thier A and B solutions, before calling on them to develop film. I have stock of PMK, that is still good two years after mixing, but I am not a pyro fan for al films that I shoot.
    my real name, imagine that.

  2. #2

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    In "The Film Developing Cookbook", Anchell & Troop have a substitute formual for MX that you can make by the liter. You should be able to go thru a liter much faster than a gallon.

    You can also try Ilford's Perceptol. IIRC, it's still made in 1 liter packages.

  3. #3

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    Why do you think it will soon be out of production? Kodak still lists it as a product. Perceptol is, of course, an almost exact clone in use.
    Frank Schifano

  4. #4
    Chazzy's Avatar
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    Microdol-X is cheap and easy to obtain. Why do you think that it will be unobtainable?
    Charles Hohenstein

  5. #5
    Mike Wilde's Avatar
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    the way that b&w was drying up when I bought that gallon pack. Tri-x bulk was out of stock for months at the time, and the word that they had dropped all b&w papers was not long in the past then either.

    I guessed that it would soon only be tmax 100 and tmax 400, xtol, and d-76 before long, back then. Fortunately things appear to have stabilised on the Kodak front at the moment, film wise. .
    my real name, imagine that.

  6. #6
    Chazzy's Avatar
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    If your supplier was out of Tri-X for months at a time, you need a new supplier. As for Microdol-X, I would be very surprised if Kodak dropped it. Even if they did, all you would need to do is to substitute Perceptol.
    Charles Hohenstein

  7. #7
    Mike Wilde's Avatar
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    The mad experiment continues.

    The developer lost some of it's developing umph in the initial mix into glycol and separation out of the sulfite into a separate stock solution. I calibrated film development times for 125 speed and 400 speed conventional flim when fresh.

    Now, six months later, I drew off the stock glycol and stock sulfite mixtures and mixed a fresh litre of working strength Microdol X w/glycol, as I think of it , and it is still as active as it was some six months ago. Still have enouigh stock on hand for about another 4L of working developer.

    I am thinking of extending the idea into the A stock component of mix from scratch Lith developers. They are usally low in sulfite, but high in HQ and bromide, which I hate to see die off, if I have not run enough Lith film after mixing the stock solutions.
    my real name, imagine that.

  8. #8
    Nicholas Lindan's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Chazzy View Post
    June '09: I would be very surprised if Kodak dropped [Microdol]
    December '09: Kodak has discontinued Microdol, though lots of stock is still available - I ordered 10 1-gallon bags.
    DARKROOM AUTOMATION
    f-Stop Timers - Enlarging Meters
    http://www.darkroomautomation.com/da-main.htm

  9. #9
    Nicholas Lindan's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Mike Wilde View Post
    I love the look I get from Microdol X and Plus X
    As I keep preaching: Try it with TMax-100...
    DARKROOM AUTOMATION
    f-Stop Timers - Enlarging Meters
    http://www.darkroomautomation.com/da-main.htm

  10. #10
    Ian Grant's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Nicholas Lindan View Post
    December '09: Kodak has discontinued Microdol, though lots of stock is still available - I ordered 10 1-gallon bags.
    Kodak discontinued Microdol years ago, I still have a few packets in the UK that date back to the 60's.

    I think you mean Microdol-X, but Ilford's equivalent Perceptol is still available.

    It's easy to make a replacement up for yourself, the over hyped anti-oxidants that supposedly prevented Dichroic fog aren't needed with modern films and are irrelevant.

    Ian

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