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  1. #11
    keithwms's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Keith Tapscott. View Post
    What is it about these developers that their users like or prefer to commonly available non-staining developers like D76/ID-11 and the many other powder and liquid film developers available?
    Scanability. The stained negs arguably scan better because they permit the use of ICE, which cannot be used with negs developed via the usual b&w process. The pyro developers also protect highlight detail quite well. These two things, in concert, mean that you can get smoother, less noisy detail across the tone scale even from a simple flatbed scanner.
    "Only dead fish follow the stream"

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  2. #12
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    I have concluded, after about 70 years of playing, working, cussing and sometimes even cursing photography, that one becomes hooked, if not hung up, on certain techniques to the point that you think you can see the print coming up in the tray as you click the shutter. It is a big disappointment when you try something new and the outcome is unexpected. It is seldom unexpectedly good the first time, but needs must be learned. The well known among us have their "things", like Bond and unsharp masks. When I was photographing the Norfolk Symphony from my orchestra seat, I thought I had the developer to end all such. Those were the days, my friends!
    Gadget Gainer

  3. #13
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    PS.
    Howard Bond plays the trumpet.
    Gadget Gainer

  4. #14

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    There are a lot of pyro developers out there. The usual reason for favoring pyro is the stain image, which forms a sort of a mask and enhances printing in ways. Gordon Hutchings discussed many of the shortcomings of traditional pyro formulas in his book "The Book of Pyro." These led to the development of the modern formulas, like PMK, W2D2, Rollo-Pyro, and others. The older formulas are often still useful, however. It should be noted that not all pyro formulas are staining developers. I've had very good results from a non-staining pyro-triethanolamine formula. Pyro is just a good developing agent. Some believe that it is the best one for single agent developers.

    The term pyro is generally taken to mean pyrogallol (1,2,3-trihydroxybenzene). Technically, pyrocatechol (1,2-dihydroxybenzene) is not pyro, but it shares many of the same characteristics. The principal new developer using this agent is Pyrocat-HD. I have used it, and I think it is an excellent developer. It gives a moderate stain, somewhat like pyro but more brownish. There are also many traditional formulas using pyrocatechol that have recently been revived, as well as some other new ones.

  5. #15

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    Thanks for the very thoughtful and complete reply Sandy. I'll go back and re-read Howard's work again. We agree about the longevity of the Pyro chemicals. You have much more experience regarding the affect of Pyro developed negatives on print highlights, and I appreciate the insights. Would most of us print "large enough" to be able to benefit from the difference in fine details, i.e., would one see a difference in, for example, 8x10 contact prints? Obviously, as I inferred, there are subjective aspects to photography that escape conventional technical analysis and are properly left to the individual who appreciates the differences that one's own techniques convey. One would, however, be justified in asking if such differences are readily apparent to "blinded" observers who are observing prints made to the same DMAX, on the same paper, and viewed under the same conditions. Of course, even if such differences were NOT readily apparent, the artist must use the materials that match the vision. As to cost: Well, again, you have more knowledge than I. I have never figured out the per sheet cost of developing with Formulary purchased Pyrocat ( which I use and like by the way ) vs., for example, DDX. One can save funds by mixing any developer from the individual chemicals in one's own darkroom.

    Once again, thanks for taking the time to respond Sandy.

    Ed

  6. #16

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    Has anyone compared the resolution of pyro developers to high-actuance developers like Rodinal or FX-1?

  7. #17

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    mcfactor:

    I've used Pyrocat-HD and TFX-2. Pyrocat gives me smoother looking prints, and TFX-2 is bitingly sharp bordering on gritty. I like both for different reasons. Both give good edge effects and sharpness in semi-stand development.

    Peter Gomena

  8. #18

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    I've used about 10 different developers in my 10 years on photography and I've settled on pyrocat HD (90% of my work), D-76 (7%) and Rodinal (3%). Some of the best photos I have in my portfolio are with D-76 and blow many Pyrocat-developed negatives out of the water, but more often than not, I favor the Pyrocat HD negs. If you know how to use a few developers and use them well to suit your style and the look you want, the developer in question doesn't matter. I find good photographs depend more on your technique, lighting, subject matter, metering, and equipment than the film developer.

    I use Pyrocat because I can mix it from raw chemicals and save a lot of money. Ontop of that, pyro lends better to my style of photography and the images I create. The combination of the two is what is most important to me.

    ...just my two cents.

  9. #19

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    This makes me wonder about staining developers without pyro. The advantage would be a less toxic developer. Any published formulas for a staining, non-pyro developer? While trying out a dilute low-contrast metol-carbonate-sulfite developer, I noted a significant stain in one instance, likely due to metol with very little sulfite, so it should be possible.

  10. #20

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    I think pyro negatives are easier to print with repect to overexposure and large subject to brightness range. The highlights do not block even with several stops of overexposure. There is less of a demand to adjust development time for a large subject brightness range. So the advantage may simply be that is more forgiving.

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