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  1. #31
    Mainecoonmaniac's Avatar
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    I've used pyro PMK and Xtol. PMK pyro renders snow very nicely. XTOL is great for shadow detail. I don't think one is better than the other. It all depends on the subject matter you're shooting. I terms of safety, XTOL is the winner. Just buy both developers and do some testing. Luckily, both developers keep well. I mix my Pyro PMK right before I use it. The weird part of using pyro PMK is after fixing, you dunk the film back into the developer.

  2. #32

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    You may be the only person left putting film back into a pyro developer after fixing.

    Mike

  3. #33
    MaximusM3's Avatar
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    I wonder, at the end of the day, how many could pick out a well executed print from, for example, a Tri-X or TMY negative developed in either Pyro, HC110 or XTOL. As Steve Sherman wisely pointed out, the questions of "which is better" are futile. Any of those developers will give a fine negative, if processed correctly, which can then have the "potential" of turning out a fine print. Learn to use one, or two at the very most, and never compare. Otherwise it can become keen to being a jack of all trades but master of none. The internet is fabulous for getting people distracted and constantly searching for that Holy Grail, thinking that a particular film developer can finally turn images into something special. A choice of film developer is probably the very last thing a photographer needs to worry about.

  4. #34
    brucemuir's Avatar
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    I agree that you shouldn't chase a "holy grail" but I for one don't want to become complacent.
    I'm always trying to refine my processes.

    I treat the internet like the corner tavern and enjoy the BS as much as the pearls.

  5. #35

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    I think my initial post was misunderstood. Perhaps the following will clarify matters. I never said that a negative from a staining developer couldn't be fine grained but rather that it could never be as fine grained as a normally developed negative. The reason for this is that a staining developer adds to each grain a dye cloud. The dye cloud is formed of oxidation products of the developing agent which are strongly colored. Since it cannot occupy the same space as the silver grain from which is was created it must form around the silver grain. Therefore, the effect is to enlarge the grains. In fact, if you look at published photomicrographs of such negatives you will see that each grain is surrounded by a dye cloud which is several times larger than the silver grain. The same thing happens with color emulsions but in this case the silver is eventually removed. There is nothing mystical about what happens. A print from a stain negative can have all the aspects we desire. But at very large magnifications it will never be as sharp as a print from a conventional fine grain negative.
    Last edited by Gerald C Koch; 07-23-2011 at 02:38 PM. Click to view previous post history.
    A rock pile ceases to be a rock pile the moment a single man contemplates it, bearing within him the image of a cathedral.

    ~Antoine de Saint-Exupery

  6. #36
    Ian Grant's Avatar
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    Again very wrong because a staining developer can be finer grained than a standard fine grain developer, and significantly sharper, and will retain that sharpness with enlargement.

    Of course itb does depend on the balance of the developer formulation, some staining dev formulae will give increased grain and excessive acutance, fine for contact printing but awful for enlarging.

    Ian

  7. #37
    c6h6o3's Avatar
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    I remember reading an interview in the 80s with Brett Weston wherein he talked about switching from ABC pyro to a non-staining developer. (I'm not sure, but I think it was Ethol UFG). His point was that the choice of developer really doesn't make much difference. A fine printer can work with any negative. If Brett Weston didn't care, should we?
    Jim

  8. #38
    Bob Carnie's Avatar
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    I think a staining developer is fine, we just finished two hundred plus rolls of trix, hp5 and tmax all developed in PMK , one of our standards , the other is D76.

    I think Steve pointed this out, and I will defer to Ian to fill in the blanks on how it all works , but IMHO the most significant point about Pyro is it is a tannin developer. the hardening effect stops migration of the exposed silver which keeps our highlight detail very detailed.

    I also agree that most if not all could not tell the difference between developers when the print is made, we are looking at f.dkfjds images and those who say they can tell developers used on prints, or film are funny people indeed and not to be trusted.

  9. #39
    MaximusM3's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by c6h6o3 View Post
    I remember reading an interview in the 80s with Brett Weston wherein he talked about switching from ABC pyro to a non-staining developer. (I'm not sure, but I think it was Ethol UFG). His point was that the choice of developer really doesn't make much difference. A fine printer can work with any negative. If Brett Weston didn't care, should we?
    No, we shouldn't Time would be better spent learning from people like Bob Carnie and others about how to turn a good composition and a well processed negative into a winning print. Don't get me wrong, discussions about the choice of film developers are not a total waste of time but there is no denying that too many people regard it as a very important piece of the image making puzzle when it really isn't. You like Pyro? Great. You like XTOL? great. It's just a choice dictated by a few factors, but one of them isn't whether one is better than the other to get a beautiful print.

  10. #40

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    The key to great prints is printing skill (assuming the image is great to begin with). Frozen Lake and Cliffs is my favourite Ansel, and I often use it as an example in discussions about perfect chemicals/materials because that negative was pre-zone system, developed in partially exhausted D76, it is grainy, has very thin shadows, and blocked highlights.

    This however does not mean discussions about various materials, their characteristics and properties are useless. Granted embarking on endless, aimless testing is often a waste of time, but I also don't think it is fair to go too far in the other direction turn a technical question into a philosophical discussion about how materials don't matter.

    Brett Weston didn't care so nobody else should? Bullplop. And as a side note, personally I doubt in practice Brett Weston was quite as laissez-faire as he claimed to be. I don't believe that for a minute.

    Randomly trying every developer is silly, but if a photographer first asks himself some basic questions about what he's trying to achieve, the answers to those questions can point in certain directions which might make things a little easier. After all the question wasn't whether D76 is better than HC110. Indeed the differences are small. But it is not quite as hair-splitting to talk about the differences between tanning/staining developers like Pyro and solvent developers like XTOL. Even the workflow is different, as I mentioned in a previous post here. But then people start with that business about how you can't tell what developer was used by looking at a print. That is irrelevant. Maybe if the two prints were side by side one could tell, and prefer one to the other. Maybe not in many cases, but it really depends. OP lists himself as "multi-format", so I would repeat that in the case of small or medium format negatives that are to be enlarged significantly, there are characteristics to consider - grain for example. Make 11x14 prints of a 35mm image from negatives developed in XTOL and PMK (or 510 or ABC etc). Significant difference, grain masking or not. There are also speed differences.

    I agree blanket characterizations as "better" or "worse" are the wrong way to approach some of these things. But the differences are sometimes material enough to be relevant, and indeed some materials might actually be better or worse for a particular application (again, why the photographer needs to ask himself a few rational questions about format, enlargements, subject matter etc first).

    Sorry if this comes off negative, but technical questions deserve answers, as long as the answers come from relevant experience, test data, and the rational working properties of photographic chemicals/materials.

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