Is Xtol reliable?
I mostly use D76 for 400Tx and HP5+. I'm considering changing to Xtol, which I've used and like. I mix Xtol or D76 in steam distilled water, store it in full, dated, 500ml glass or PET bottles, use an entire bottle for up to 240 sq. in. / liter at 1:1, and dump unused bottles at 6 months. I believe D76 used this way is absolutely reliable, but I have nagging doubts that Xtol is not.
The failures, so much talked about years ago and not much seen these days, were probably due mostly to the now discontinued 1 liter packages, and to fairly basic user errors, like storing it in the notoriously bad accordion bottles or over-taxing it's capacity (1:3 in Jobos, for example). Nonetheless, I asked one person I consider an impeccable authority whether he would trust irreplaceable film to Xtol. He said not without a clip test.
The person I reached at Kodak professional film technical support insists that failures were caused by a manufacturing problem long since resolved (in part by removing the 1 liter packages from distribution). Also, I gather Kodak has changed the way the ingredients are distributed between the two packages, which suggests some tinkering. I know there are many formulae available which purport to achieve Xtol's properties without the risk of failure, but these days I'm determined to use only well-proven commercial developers.
Can anyone shed light on this?
It's a very reliable and good developer. Period.
I store mine so that it has very little air in the bottles, and I find I can go though a 5 liter packed quickly enough, that I don't have it sitting on the shelf for too long. Try searching the archives here, this has been discussed a lot.
I've used Xtol for over a decade, and I've had one "developer failure" during that time. I don't know the cause, and I only use 5L packets. I don't see that as any worse failure rate than any of the other developers that I use. It gives a very good combo of fine-grain, high-speed and sharpness. That said, all developers go bad. Some, though, start to change color when going off. Xtol doesn't. As a result, given your stipulations, why not stick with D76?
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Lets SQUASH two internet rumors with one big stick:
Xtol stored in a wine in a box bladder in my refrigerator is good for 8 months plus.
Xtol 1:3 in a Jobo tank spun on a Uniroller or Beseler motor base absolutely works.
Thus concludes the lesson for today.
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I've been using Xtol diluted 1:1 for about 3 years now. It's my main developer besides Rodinal now and then. Xtol is a wonderful developer which gives great shadow detail and balance as Peter said between fine grain and sharpness. I've never experienced a failure. I develop enough film to use up the 5L amount in less than six months and always store it in the Air-vac bottles which you're referring to as the "accordion style" bottles. Brad, what is the problem with these types of bottles? I've never heard anything bad about them.
Yes, its been reliable for at least 10 years.
Yes, it is. I have used XTOL that was 8 months old without a problem. I prefer to not use it when it is over 6 months old. I buy the 5 liter package and store it in expandable [compressible?] storage containers. I use XTOL full strength.
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Nothing beats a great piece of glass!
I leave the digital work for the urologists and proctologists.
It's very reliable; and a great developer.
I've read -- on this forum, recently -- that it's the "D-76 for the 21st Century". But, then, D-76 is still a great developer. I use either one, diluted 1:1, with distilled water (stock and working solution).
Michael P. Dosch did an impressive study of developer activity over time, stored various ways (http://www.udmercy.edu/crna/agm/phenvitc.htm), and comments on the Falcon bottles:
Originally Posted by brian steinberger
The difference in shelf-life between a single batch of D76, split between a glass bottle and a Falcon plastic accordion-type bottle was notable.
Strangely, attempts to prolong its useful life by storing it in an accordian-type plastic bottle and excluding air resulted in less time before exhaustion occurred! I can only guess that the plastic container was not impervious to oxygen in the room air. Otherwise I cannot account for this- excluding air from the bottle "should" have worked, according to everything I have read.
I've never used them, so I'm just repeating hearsay. It may very well be that what you're using differs from the Falcon Michael used in his study. My own analysis is that while they reduce the volume of air, the plastic they're made of is among the most gas-permeable plastics, especially at the flexible seams. I tend to be perhaps a little obsessive about developer storage. I even use Saran wrap to line the cap (Saran wrap is much less gas-permeable than the polyethylene cones in typical Boston round amber glass bottles.) I sometimes used empty Perrier bottles (made from PET plastic), which are nearly as good as glass, and much better than the plastic used in typical darkroom bottles. (That information is based on a discussion with a technical expert at a bottle manufacturer. I believe Ryuji Suzuki has commented favorable on PET for developer storage.