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Thread: Only with Xtol

  1. #1

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    Only with Xtol

    Recently (4-5 months) I have been using Xtol stock and 1:1 dilutions for much of my film developing. At first I was pretty happy with it, with higher ISO films I liked the finer grain and I was clearly getting a speed increase over D-76. As I began to use it more I did notice what many others have experienced and that is fairly flat negatives. I changed my agitation from 2-3 inversions every minute to 2 inversions every 30 secs and with little extra development time. That has moved me in the right direction but I am not entirely happy yet.

    However the bigger problem I am having lately is uneven development. Yesterday I developed two 120 rolls of TMAX 400, one roll each of Neopan 1600 and TMAX 3200 and in most cases there was evidence of some uneven development. These were also three different development events using stock for Tmax 400 and Neopan 1600 and 1:1 for Tmax 3200. I also changed different Xtol batches. Same results.

    In parallel to this I developed two rolls of tri-x 120 with PMK pyro using the same reels and tank and had no problems whatsoever.

    So I dunno, I have never had a problem like this with any other developer. Is there something obvious I am missing, anyone with a similar experience with a solution?

    Thanks

    Patrick

  2. #2
    brucemuir's Avatar
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    Is your Xtol stock getting tired?

    How fresh was it?

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    jp498's Avatar
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    Did you re-use the xtol or dump it after each use? I use it 1+1 or 1+2 and it does produce flatter/thinner results if I use it a second time rather than one-shot. I use distilled water to make the 5L stock, and then dillute it with tap water when I'm ready to use it. I use PMK too and find that is a good developer too, but it's a lot different than xtol and not great for everything.

    You might also double check your thermometer, or up your temp a couple degrees if you can't check the thermometer.

    I have found xtol to be very consistent if you use it consistently for one-shot developer. It is always perfectly even. I use patterson reels/tank for 35/120, combiplan for 4x5 and tray for 8x10.

    Since you are using tmax films, be sure the film gets plenty of time in the fixer; that could reduce contrast as well if they are not fully fixed.

  4. #4
    Thomas Bertilsson's Avatar
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    Xtol is in its element when you use it with subject matter where the sun falls directly on it. In flat lighting it will produce somewhat flat negatives. The cure for this is under-exposure.
    With Xtol 1:1 I regularly shoot Acros at EI 200 and 400, overdevelop, and get the contrast that I want; it looks very similar to Kodak Tri-X 320. I also shoot TMax 400 at 800 and 1600 in order to change its characteristic and get more of an s-shaped film curve, which looks great for portraits.

    About uneven development - there are a couple of things to consider:
    1. Developer age; already pointed out by brucemuir. I think six months is the 'safe' duration of storage.
    2. Developer storage. Store it in containers that have all the air evacuated. Or else the aging process is sped up due to oxidation.

    I use it both as single shot at 1:1, as well as replenished, which is stock solution, but activity more reminiscent of 1:1 or so. You lose about 1/2 stop of speed with replenished developer, but it does give some very beautiful highlight tonality.
    Most of all, it has been extremely consistent for me for the last three years; no bloopers that wasn't my own fault.

    - 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

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    Thanks Guys.
    One of the developments was done with older Xtol. The Tmax film was all using fresh just mixed developer at stock...I was also using formulary TF-4 fixer. I fixed to the point where there was no magenta stain. This only happens to me with Xtol and I am racking my brain for a reason. I keep the tank in a regulated temp bath so I think I am OK there. To be more specific of the effect it seems that are 2-3 different subtle but noticeable layers, with the top part of the neg having a flatter more 'mottled" gray tone. I also see this with three different cameras.

  6. #6
    Thomas Bertilsson's Avatar
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    Uneven development even with fresh developer... Strange.

    Is there a way you could take a picture of one of your negs up against a white background?

    - 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

  7. #7

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    Quote Originally Posted by padraigm View Post
    Thanks Guys.
    One of the developments was done with older Xtol. The Tmax film was all using fresh just mixed developer at stock...I was also using formulary TF-4 fixer. I fixed to the point where there was no magenta stain. This only happens to me with Xtol and I am racking my brain for a reason. I keep the tank in a regulated temp bath so I think I am OK there. To be more specific of the effect it seems that are 2-3 different subtle but noticeable layers, with the top part of the neg having a flatter more 'mottled" gray tone. I also see this with three different cameras.
    What is the volume of solution and tank you are using? And how vigorous is your agitation. I might not be properly understanding what you mean by layers, but if you mean that you are seeing a band of mottle and underdevelopment on the part of the film nearest to the top of the tank, perhaps that part of the film is in contact with a foamy layer on top of the developer. Certain developer/film combinations are more prone to foaming and I have heard alot of people say XTOL tends to generally foam more than say D76. The solution would be to increase the total volume of solution so that it is well above the top of the film. That way if foam develops it is further above the film and the entire surface of the film is therefore always in contact with the solution.

  8. #8

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    Quote Originally Posted by Thomas Bertilsson View Post
    Xtol is in its element when you use it with subject matter where the sun falls directly on it. In flat lighting it will produce somewhat flat negatives. The cure for this is under-exposure.
    With Xtol 1:1 I regularly shoot Acros at EI 200 and 400, overdevelop, and get the contrast that I want; it looks very similar to Kodak Tri-X 320. I also shoot TMax 400 at 800 and 1600 in order to change its characteristic and get more of an s-shaped film curve, which looks great for portraits.
    Wow! I've been contemplating the exact same issue myself. I've normally used Ilford Delta 100 @ EI 125 and develop it with XTOL 1:1. And, I have been seriously considering bumping up to EI 400 for the same reasons you mentioned. I can't wait to give it a try!

  9. #9

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    Make sure you drag out your development time. I've never had a problem with stock 6 months old and more but I do find flat negs with Tmax films. I use min 170-200ml per roll of 35mm/120.
    W.A. Crider

  10. #10
    Thomas Bertilsson's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by waynecrider View Post
    Make sure you drag out your development time. I've never had a problem with stock 6 months old and more but I do find flat negs with Tmax films. I use min 170-200ml per roll of 35mm/120.
    I'm sorry, but I cannot just stand by and look when somebody gives TMax film a categorically 'flat' verdict.
    All of the attached pics are TMax 100 and 400 film.
    They are not flat, because I took time to understand TMax film, how to properly expose and process them. All in replenished Xtol. You control contrast via exposure and development, and if you can't get enough contrast from the film, or as much contrast as you WANT, don't blame the film.

    Back on track. Sorry to deviate from the original topic.
    Attached Thumbnails Attached Thumbnails 2010-06-05_11w.jpg   fergus01002.jpg   5065473635_e6c49b21e3_o.jpg  
    "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

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