Kirk Keyes wrote:
First let me say that my comments were based on my experience with PMK, and almost exclusively with PMK. I have used ABC-Pyro, but that was nearly 25 years ago... So my comments in that post and this one here are intended towards using PMK (The concepts I've covered the last 10 pages of this thread could be applied to any staining developer.) And I would only apply my comment about the appearantly lower grain to my experience with PMK. I do understand that ABC-Pyro has a reputation for more grain.

I understand your suppositions based on your use of PMK. I have found that other staining developers have different characteristics when used with VC materials. I have found that Pyrocat is neutral insofar as any compression or expansion effects of the highlight tonal scale when used with VC materials. This is based in my testing and experience.

Kirk Keyes wrote:
What I said was "For graded papers, I find that stained negs print just like non-stained negs. I probably would not bother using a staining developer unless I was using VC papers."

I would use PMK to NOT get better highlight separation - I would use it to compress highlights - by using VC papers. I was trying to respond to Patrick saying, "Now I am pretty well set for deciding which grade of paper to use. [By using his densitometer.] Heaven help me when I go to VC!" Again, I probably would not bother using PMK with graded papers, although it would give you the option of using a VC paper and then being able to compress the highlights. Kind of a dual-purpose option, again like the PyroCat with alt processes.

My results show that proportional stained negatives do print differently then conventionally developed negatives with graded papers. My tests have indicated this to me. This especially true when I print on Azo. In which case not all films will build the density range required of this paper without using staining developers. The proportional stain acts as additional density in the upper density regions.

I can't understand anyone wanting to compress the highlight tonal scale in a print. That is the reason that I use proportional staining developers...to effectively gain increased separation. It would appear that if compression is the desired result that reduced development would suffice.