Pyro Vs. Kodak Xtol developer
What works Best? Is one type better for one kind of film them an other?
It's a personal choice, I've used both alongside each other with a wide variety of films. My preference is Pyrocat HD, but there's so little in it that I'd be just as happy using Xtol.
So my preference isn't based on the type of film, however if you were taking about Rodinal then I would only use if for slower emulsions. Pyrocat HD is like Rodinal on steroids quite different.
Well I have used both and from my limited experience with PMK pyro the biggest difference I saw was better highlight retention. XTOL for the most part gave me flatter negatives than I normally like, and I found to correct that I had to change(increase) my agitation procedure compared to any other developer I have used. But it does give a slight speed increase which is welcome. I use PMK, I guess, mostly as extra insurance against blowing highlights. Of course that depends on what I shoot.
A film developer is a part of a system, and will have to fit in with the rest of the components to do its best.
1. How much contrast does your lens have? Modern lenses have a lot of contrast, older ones not so much. This makes a difference in how you develop your negatives.
2. Certain films are more prone to building contrast while developing than others, and some developers give more contrast than others.
3. Pyro is staining. Xtol is not. This makes a difference when you print.
4. Your paper and paper developer combination has a certain characteristic that you should try to match, and they all do different things.
5. Do you print with a diffusion enlarger, or condenser? Condensers yield more contrast than diffusion, so you need to develop your negs differently.
The list is actually longer, but I'll stop here hoping I made my point.
It's impossible to answer.
Xtol might give a bit more muted tones than most Pyro developers. But it yields an unbelievable amount of shadow detail. And as replenished I prefer Xtol over regular Pyro, simply because it fits how I print better.
You have to try it to see if it fits into your system or not.
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It might be a matter of 'personal taste'. I have gone through many bottles of Xtol over the past number of years.... then found PMK to be more than adequate and a LOT cheaper... but changed to PyrocatHD when I started doing more non-silver printing in order to 'gain' from the 'stronger' stain under my UV light box.
Originally Posted by Panoman617
While I found Xtol to be 'easier' than D76, it turned out to be slightly more expensive with both ilford and Kodak films.... and with the disappearance of 'local' retail availability, both became a bit more of hassle.
I am now more than satisfied making up my own developers as opposed to driving 200+ kliks to the nearest outlet.
Quando omni flunkus moritati (R. Green)
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By pyro I must assume that you are asking about a staining developer. By "works best" just what do you mean? Finer grain? Xtol is a fine grain developer.
The answer is that a stain image can never have as fine grain or accutance of an ordinary image. The reason that this is true is that the stain/dye migrates away from the silver halide grain during development. The result is that the apparent size of the grains is increased by the larger dye clouds. The dye cloud also masks fine detail. This can be easily seen with the use of a microscope. Each silver grain is surrounded by a stain halo. This is why staining developers are not recommended for 35mm films.
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
Echo what Ian and Thomas are saying. They are not really comparable developers. They are too different, and all capable of producing excellent negatives.
What I can say though is since OP is a multi-format shooter, I've never been that impressed with small format Pyro/Cathechol negatives. In general, even with considerable stain, I find them too grainy, whereas they can be wonderful for contact prints and minimal enlargement of large negatives. And my personal experience and opinion is that Pyro and Catechol developers don't produce better highlight gradation than other developers (contrary to what many people say). That is a personal view though. For a general purpose developer in small or medium format with an optimum balance of acutance, fine grain, tonality, contrast control and speed I can't think of a better all around choice than XTOL.
Note if you go with a staining developer vs a non-staining solvent developer like XTOL, you have to potentially change a few things in your process. These are not a big deal, just differences. Presumably with Pyro you're looking for imagewise stain, and that means you need to get salts out of your process. In particular, sodium sulfite, a common preservative in photographic chemicals, inhibits and/or removes stain. So for example, don't use hypo clearing agent in your wash process.
Also keep in mind the stain will change how you evaluate your negatives visually and/or with instruments, and it will take some getting used to when you print. Again, these are not things that should sway you in either direction, just things to know about.
Codswallop. Never heard so much rubbish before.
Originally Posted by Gerald C Koch
There have been Super fine grain staining developers which also have very high acutance.
Sure these developers aren't the same as say the Standard Buffered Borax Fine Grain Developer D76/ID-11, but they can be finer grained and have better acutance and also better tonality. But perhaps you are fogetting the tanning effects
Negatives aren't printed using a microscope so it's how a negative prints that's important. Personally I find Pyrocat negatives to be the easiest I've ever had to print from and I've printed commercially many thousands of negatives.
I've used Xtol 1+1, xtol 1+2, PMK, and pyrocat HD. I think PMK does the nicest job at highlight detail with TMY2 film; I couldn't get good results out of PMK with fomapan 100 though; probably needs more work on my part. Xtol is good stuff; sort of neutral /all purpose in handling of tones. Pyrocat HD seems to produce a little more snap/bold contrast than xtol for me with TMY2, but doesn't mess up the contrast the same way increasing the paper grade would do. Perhaps it's because it requires less exposure than PMK?.... I haven't done much with pyrocat HD and fomapan100 yet though.
I mostly use MF and LF and TMY2, so grain isnt much of a problem with any developer. I did shoot an indoor concert with 35mm TMY2 in PMK and it was excellent; as stage lights are usually blowing out highlights madly. Good highlights, not much grain to my surprise. I shoot so little 35mm, I haven't tried pyrocat HD in it yet. Xtol is an excellent developer for most 35mm needs.
you are comparing an orange to a beef steak!
go with x-tol, Pyro is bad for your health.
pyro alone is a bad developer
also, i got good results in 35mm with some pyro developers, specially pmk+amidol and a version of abc pyro,