Dilute XTOL + Jobo = bad. Or bad TMX?
I have a sorry tale to report. While XTOL 1+1 works great in a Jobo, 1+2 is a bad, bad idea. I ended up with dramatically thin negs from TMX (in 120, on 2xxx spirals) and most problematically, the edges are denser than the middle. I think what's happening is that the spirals are agitating the developer a bit, but in the middle of the roll there is not enough slosh going on.
I suspect also that the liquid in the centre of the spirals never reached the outer part where the film was and vice-versa, so the tiny bit of developer between the film in the spiral just got exhausted. I went first with official times, found it very thin and extended times by 25% which made very little difference, hence my conclusion of poor mixing and local exhaustion. With 3 rolls in the 2553 tank, that's 900mL of developer instead of 600mL at 1+1, so there's a lot more developer hiding in the middle where it probably never goes near the film.
Worse still, these are all my Great Wall shots. I would normally shoot Acros but ran out and bought TMX at Wukesong. I don't normally shoot TMX... The photos are fine for scanning but look like they'll be a bitch to wet print.
Or it could be the "bad batch" of TMX reported elsewhere that people are saying produces underdeveloped-looking results compared to what TMX would normally do. Since TMX isn't my normal playground, I couldn't say. The XTOL itself is fine as I developed some other films on the same day from the same bottle of stock with no issues.
Unfortunately, I have never tried the exact situation you described (never 3 rolls of 120 in a 255X drum). All my 120 Jobo has been single roll at 1+1 in a 252X tank. You can get away with less than 100ml of stock solution per roll, but I really don't know how far you can go. I have developed 5 rolls of 35mm TMX at once with 700ml of solution (1+1 dilution, ~70ml stock per roll) and have never had the issue you describe. If you used 1+2 with 3 rolls and 600ml solution you are only down to 67ml per roll. You didn't mention the rotation speed, but I use the faster (~75rpm) speed. One last note. If you only used 600ml, that is slightly less than recommended. I normally round up a bit on solution volume. Finally, a mistake I made once was not snapping down the separating pin on the reel. The film worked its way up the groove a bit.
I hope you resolve your issue.
No I used 900mL, which is 100mL of stock per roll. I suspect that it works properly at 1+1 (600mL for 3 rolls) because with the smaller volume of more concentrated developer, there is better mixing, i.e. there is no stagnant unmixed zone in the centre of each spiral. Just a hunch though.
Anyway, the unevenness looks like this:
That's 6x7, so the film runs vertically. Sometimes you don't get the bright centre band, just brightness on the edges. It varies gradually along the length of the roll, which supports the mixing/exhaustion theory.
I have had the same sort of problem when using dilute developer for the first time with a new film or tank. When I have the process down then the use of dilute developers is pretty risk free and the penury of it warms my Scottish blood.
I am thinking it may be a good idea to use full-strength developer when either the shots are very important or the action of the specific combination of film:developer:method is unknown. Full strength also mitigates the problem of somewhat-expired developer. I have had instances of suddenly weakened Xtol - sort of a 'dead man walking' - where I am sure a 1:2 dilution would not have helped one bit.
Nicholas: I won't be repeating the experiment! Definitely back to 1+1 for me.
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Wow, sorry this happened for you mate.
I tend to rate TMX at 64-80 but that wouldn't have helped in this situation.
Hope you can at least do some dodging/burning to get them usable.
Could this be remedied by two or three hand/inversion agitation cycles during interruptions to each stage of the process?
I don't have or use a Jobo, but I do use rotary agitation on a Beseler base, and those hand/inversion agitation cycles seem to work for me with Patterson reels.
With stainless steel reel, they aren't necessary.
“Photography is a complex and fluid medium, and its many factors are not applied in simple sequence. Rather, the process may be likened to the art of the juggler in keeping many balls in the air at one time!”
Ansel Adams, from the introduction to The Negative - The New Ansel Adams Photography Series / Book 2
I had weird quirky results with Xtol back when it first came out, and produced a lot of uselessly thin almost undeveloped negatives. I think much of that was the documented issue with the early 2.5 litre (or was it 1.5? Whatever, the small size) packets of the time. Later I tried it again and got good results, but one thing about Xtol that is well known is that when it dies it does so rather suddenly and without any noticeable change in color. This combined with availability only in 5 liter sizes has kept me from bothering with it now. It's a good developer, but this can be a dangerous trait for those of us who don't use a lot of developer.
Originally Posted by Nicholas Lindan
Funnily enough, film speed was not a problem at all! Though the negs look like there is practically no image on them, there is plenty of shadow detail. Mind you I was shooting in flat light, but there is detail on every part of every frame, i.e detail down to at least zone IV despite the fact that it got probably half as much development as it needed. While a couple of rolls are a complete writeoff, there was one shot I was looking forward to and was able to rescue with a bit of curve manipulation. You can see some other passable ones by traversing my stream from there.
Originally Posted by brucemuir
So assuming it's an agitation (not film) issue, it shows that TMX has plenty of speed, at least in XTOL.
MattKing: almost certainly that would work. I think this is just an issue of Jobo+Dilution=bad.
Roger: nah, the soup is still good; I did some other rolls (TMY2 at 1+1) the same day and they came out great. It's also only 3 weeks old and I've happily kept the stuff for 4 months under butane.