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  1. #1

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    Soft and grainy results with ILFORD Delta 100 and XTOL 1+1

    For various reasons most of my B&W negative work this year has been with Kodak T-Max 400 processed in XTOL 1+1, with excellent results. However, I recently processed a few rolls of Delta 100 in XTOL which from the 3 or 4 negatives I've printed seem rather soft and grainy.

    Previously with both D-76 and Pyrocat-HD I've not had any issue with Delta 100 and as XTOL is a known product that gives excellent results with T-Max 400 I will investigate further, however is anyone here familiar with the Delta 100 / XTOL combination? Coincidentally I had planned to conduct some film and development testing, so I hope I'll be able to make some conclusions...

    tech specs:

    6x7 Mamiya 7II negatives onto approx. 16"x20" print.

    Tom

  2. #2
    MaximusM3's Avatar
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    Delta 100+XTOL should the antithesis of soft and grainy. Should be virtually grainless and sharp as sharp gets. Bad XTOL?

  3. #3

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    Quote Originally Posted by MaximusM3 View Post
    Delta 100+XTOL should the antithesis of soft and grainy.
    Exactly. The XTOL was from near the end of the 5 litre mix, but I've used XTOL before in this condition. The stock solution was mixed up on October 15th, and the film processed last Saturday (November 5th).

    Tom

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    MaximusM3's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Tom Kershaw View Post
    Exactly. The XTOL was from near the end of the 5 litre mix, but I've used XTOL before in this condition. The stock solution was mixed up on October 15th, and the film processed last Saturday (November 5th).

    Tom
    Tom,

    There used to be a problem with XTOL and sudden death but that was fixed (I think). Did you use a tank with floating lid or did you have a lot of air space ? If so, I would say that it was fairly oxidized and weak. That has to be the reason. I always use the 5 liter with floating lid and usually I don't get to the bottom any sooner than 3-4 months and never had issues.

    Max

  5. #5

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    Max,

    I wasn't storing the 1+1 mix, but the full strength solution, diluted just before use. The print times in my Multigrade 500 / De Vere 504 are reasonable, and the negatives look fine from a density point of view.

    Tom

  6. #6

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    Your Pyrocat-HD Delta 100 negatives should be noticeably grainier than Delta 100 in XTOL 1+1. Delta 100 "graininess" should be similar to, maybe slightly finer than TMY2. With XTOL 1+1, Delta 100 rated at EI 64-80 and developed for 9 minutes at 68F should give an excellent normal contrast negative (60 seconds initial agitation followed by 10 seconds each minute).

    Regarding the famous XTOL death syndrome (which I never experienced), Kodak eventually traced it to the 1L packets being faulty, which is why unfortunately it is only available in 5L packets now.
    Last edited by Michael R 1974; 11-10-2011 at 02:53 PM. Click to view previous post history. Reason: typo

  7. #7

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    When the murky weather clears I'll go and make some comparisons to check.

    Tom

  8. #8
    Nicholas Lindan's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Tom Kershaw View Post
    Delta 100 in XTOL which from the 3 or 4 negatives I've printed seem rather soft and grainy ... 6x7 Mamiya 7II negatives onto approx. 16"x20" print.
    That's a 3x enlargement - like making a 4x5" print from 35mm - and it should by rights be 'grainless'.

    Is the grain sharp and the image mushy or is it a case of oatmeal-like grain?

    I have had occasional similar experiences. I found some subject matter just makes the grain stand out - anything with areas of very smooth ZIV-ZV tone like a featureless blue sky and #25A filter or young darkish skin.

    Sometimes the negative just comes out mushy for no reason that I can find. Sometimes the 'mush' turns out to have been camera shake and disappears when I re-shoot with a tripod. My suspicion is the other cases can probably get traced to bumping the focus, a poor seating of the focusing screen/ground glass, ditto for the film holder or back, buckled film

    Oatmeal grain seems to be a function of film/developer combination - when it happens I stop using that combination and so my observation isn't statistically significant. Though I haven't tried it, I wouldn't have thought Delta 100/Xtol would be one of those combinations, but it might. TMax 100/Xtol is certainly grainless.
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  9. #9

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    Nicholas,

    I agree that oatmeal type grain can occur with certain combinations, but why the fine results with TMY-2 and not with Delta 100, considering the similar technology employed? I will check against TMX. The lens was the 150mm, hand held in reasonably calm conditions, bright but hazy, on the summit of a hill. Hand held use can affect sharpness and acutance but shouldn't influence grain I'd have thought.


    Tom

  10. #10

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    The TMX films are noticeably finer grained than their Delta counterparts. That will show up in areas of featureless density such as skies.

    I've got tests on this I can post if it will be of interest to anybody.

    How is a 16x20" print from a 6x7cm negative a 3x enlargement??

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