Neal concludes that the topic of pre-soaking is pointless to argue and that you should just do whatever the heck you want.

That may indeed be the case for many, perhaps most kinds of development, and for most developers, but this is not a one-size fits all group.

There are certainly two situations where I am absolutely convinced that pre-soaking makes a big difference. One situation I have already mentioned, i.ed when using staining developers with rotary processing. Another situation would be when using minimum agitation or stand agitation. In the first instance failure to pre-soak is an almost sure recipe for uneven staining, and in the second failure to pre-soak will almost surely lead to air-bubble formation on the film, and cause local uneven development at this point.

In most other situations I would agree that it probably does not make a lot of difference if you pre-soak or not, assuming you make the adjustment in time to get negatives of equal contrast.

Sandy King