Kodak XTOL Replenished Question

Discussion in 'Talk About Developing Film' started by Ian-Barber, Jun 25, 2018.

  1. Ian-Barber

    Ian-Barber Admin Staff Member Registered User

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    After every roll of film or 4 5x4 sheets, I am replenishing the Working solution (made up in Jan 2017) with 70ml of fresh.
    If either of these were going off, could they produce low contrast negatives. ?
     
  2. David M

    David M Well-Known Member Registered User

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    Yes of course it can. Check that all your solutions are and always have been kept in "tightly-stoppered, brim-full bottles" and that the replenishment rate is adequate.
    A simple visual check would be to expose two sheets identically to a scene with textured highlights, textured shadows and deep shadows, but no specular highlights, using the box speed for that film, then develop one in your Xtol solution using your normal procedure and the other in freshly mixed ID11 or D76, following the manufacturers' instructions absolutely exactly and carefully. The ID11/D76 negative will show what a properly developed negative should look like. If the Xtol negative is different, then either your technique needs to be adjusted, or the the Xtol needs to be replaced. If you are using roll-film, expose the whole film to the same scene at the same settings, then cut it in half to do the tests. Cut a corner off one of the test-sheets to avoid confusion.
    A natural extension of this would be to make a straight contact print with both negs on the paper together. All this isn't extravagance; it will save a great deal of time and material in the future. The print is the real test of your procedure and the negative is merely a stepping stone. In fact, the print is the only test. Who exhibits negs?
    When you have established what a conventionally processed negative looks like, and how it prints, you will be in an excellent position to begin your Zone testing for personal EI and N-0 development time. You will also be able to discover if you really need a compensating developer for the kind of scenes that you photograph and the kinds of print you like. So far, you haven't posted an image with rampant highlights that cry out for restraint.
    Please remember, Kodak, Ilford, et al have spent more money, time, effort and intelligence on the advice they give than everybody on this forum combined. Their advice is good. Following their instructions should give you a decent printable negative – a good starting point for fine tuning as you progress, as you certainly will.
     
  3. Ian Grant

    Ian Grant Active Member Registered User

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    I think by 18 months it's time for a fresh batch of working solution.

    Ian
     
  4. Ian-Barber

    Ian-Barber Admin Staff Member Registered User

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    Would you replace just the working solution or discard all the replenishing bottles as well and start from scratch. My replenisher bottles are full to the brim and taped up but was mixed at the same time as the working solution.
     
  5. Alan Clark

    Alan Clark Member Registered User

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    Ian, do yourself a favour. Cast aside all these tempting thoughts about exotic brews such as Pyrocat and Xtol replenished. Buy yourself a pack of ID11 or D76. It was good enough for Blakemore, Irving Penn, and James Ravilious; and countless others too. At the 1:2 dilution it is just as good as Pyrocat HD. matching it for film speed, grain, sharpness and highlight control. It beats Xtol for midtone separation and overall tonality, and is equally sharp. Xtol is finer grained, but you will only see this advantage in 35mm. It has also been my experience that ID11 negatives are easier to print than those done in Pyrocat or Xtol. In fact I once had a really tough time with some Xtol negatives. Getting the prints I wanted was like going three rounds with Big Daddy. By comparison, the ID11 negatives of the same subject printed very easily. I only had to wag my finger at them to get two falls, a submission and a knock-out!

    Alan
     
  6. Ian-Barber

    Ian-Barber Admin Staff Member Registered User

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    I have never user ID11/D76 mainly because of the cost for 5x4 especially if I have several sheets which require different treatment such as N+ or N-. I know people say D76 is the mother of all developers and maybe I ought to try it.

    @Ian Grant got me interested in the Xtol replenishment and I have been using it for just over 12 months now. So far it's done me proud for scanning but as you know I have only just started to dip my toe in darkroom printing.

    As for PyroCatHD, I was drawn to this after watching other people talk about it especially the semi-stand method which Sandy King, @Alan9940 and Steve Sherman was talking about.

    I also have some HC-110 (syrup) in the cupboard which I haven't used for some time.
     
  7. Alan Clark

    Alan Clark Member Registered User

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    Ian, a 5 litre pack of ID11 costs less than £13. At the 1:2 dilution you can develop 180 sheets of 5x4 film in this, if you do them 4 at a time in 300mls. This works out at about 7 pence a sheet...

    Alan
     
  8. Ian Grant

    Ian Grant Active Member Registered User

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    Xtol is a far better developer compared to D76/ID-11 and it has the major advantage of being self relpenishable, Kodak and Ilford have cease production of Replenisher fir D76/ID-11.

    Ian
     
  9. Ian-Barber

    Ian-Barber Admin Staff Member Registered User

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    That to me sounds as though its worth trying it. What was it about the ID11 that made your negative print better. Was it giving better contrast / separation ?
     
  10. Ian-Barber

    Ian-Barber Admin Staff Member Registered User

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    I wonder why Kodak and Ilford have cease production of Replenisher fir D76/ID-11?

    Ian, do you suggest increasing the overall development time of XTOL replenished as the working solution becomes more seasoned ?
     
  11. Alan Clark

    Alan Clark Member Registered User

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    Ian, the negatives and prints referred to were part of a controlled test which involved setting up a 35mm camera loaded with HP5 on my drive and exposing two rolls of film on the same subject. These were then cut into short lengths and developed in various developers. I chose a day when the light was just how I like it when out taking photographs; hazy sunshine.
    In an earlier post I mentioned reduced development to control the highlights and compensating development to keep the midtones separated and up to their perceived values. The ID11 negatives had these qualities. In the prints a light coloured van was light toned, the gravel drive was light in tone, just like the real thing. But in the Xtol negatives the light tones of the van were noticeably dark. So was the gravel. The upper mid tones, and the mid tones were all too drab in prints made from the xtol negatives, and I had to do a lot of dodging on the drive to get it looking halfway decent in the print. The ID11 negatives on the other hand, just printed exactly how I wanted them without any fuss or messing about.

    Alan
     
  12. Ian Grant

    Ian Grant Active Member Registered User

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    Production became uneconomic as volumes dropped mainly due to Pros going digital, in Kodak's case XTOL became their main Powdwer developer

    No once seasoned which is after a few films it's stable but no replenished developer is reliable after about a year, they can last longer but this is where experience comes in as you easily spot when it needs changing.

    Ian
     
  13. Ian-Barber

    Ian-Barber Admin Staff Member Registered User

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    @Ian Grant , Would you replace just the working solution or discard all the replenishing bottles as well and start from scratch. My replenisher bottles are full to the brim and taped up but was mixed at the same time as the working solution.
     
  14. David M

    David M Well-Known Member Registered User

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    Ian, you need to stick to very basic photography for at least six months. All text books on photography give the same advice – one film, one developer. Both should be as normal as possible. So, HP5 or FP4 (or Kodak equivalents) in either D76 or ID11 with no mucking about at all. You need to discover what a normal negative is and how to print from it, using one normal, middle-of-the-road paper and standard chemicals. You need to do this to discover what problems you need to solve in your own photography. Asking the advanced workers here will tell you how they have solved their own advanced problems, but not yours.
    So far, you've consistently mentioned two problems; lack of contrast in negatives and the cost of photography. Mastering the basics will cure the first and this will automatically save you money, so it's worth putting in the effort. Otherwise you will fritter away your enthusiasm and time by chasing after magic bullets. When you have travelled the steps that we've all had to make, then you can begin to refine your technique. I'm sure you'll do well.
    I've wasted a good deal of time like this myself, so I speak from the heart.
     
  15. David M

    David M Well-Known Member Registered User

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    I got carried away and forgot the most important thing. Go out and make some pictures.
     
  16. Ian Grant

    Ian Grant Active Member Registered User

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    I wouldn't advocate a change.

    Ian's been using Xtol for over a year, he should stick with it, there's zero benefits switching to D76/ID-11.


    Developers like Xtol, D76/ID-11, Microphen (ID-68) etc have a shelf life of somewhere over a year whether used (replenished) or fresh once in solution. It's best to start from scratch after about a year, you can use a small amount of the old developer to season the new batch.

    Xtol replenished is very reliable and also an extremely economic, D76/ID-11 is no longer an economic alternative.

    Ian
     
  17. David M

    David M Well-Known Member Registered User

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    Ian,
    I don't doubt that you're right, but the Xtol seems to be giving (other) Ian problems. A freshly-mixed batch of a standard developer will obviate these. I was suggesting a "standard" developer and nothing is more standard than ID11/D76. No reason why he shouldn't standardise on Xtol, but in my view, he should reduce the number of variables he's juggling and put in the basic work that all beginners must go through. Replenishment is a variable that can easily be deleted. If he has bottles of solution that are still tightly stoppered after seventeen months, he might just as well use them up as a one-shot developer. That will remove one distracting variable. He will also avoid spoiling valuable film and images.
    Ian needs to learn how to produce a perfectly ordinary, normal negative before he can go on to produce extraordinary ones. In particular, he should read the instructions on the packet and follow them faithfully, whatever materials he is using. He should listen to the people who have been making film and developer for over a hundred years. Only then will he be able to make the finer judgements that advanced workers make.
    We should remind ourselves that Ian has bravely embarked on his voyage into the darkroom in public and give him enormous credit for that. Nevertheless, he is still a beginner, albeit a very intelligent and energetic one. He needs beginner's advice.
    And in all of this, I have to remind myself that our purpose is to make pictures. A little more discussion on picture-making would be welcome.

     
  18. Ian-Barber

    Ian-Barber Admin Staff Member Registered User

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    David,
    I agree with most of what you say about trying to reduce as many variables as possible in order to arrive at a stable solution.

    Although I have thrown myself into the public domain with my darkroom journey, I am reaching out to those with years more experience in the darkroom looking for advice and suggestions to help me establish a workflow. I do read many books and eventually it sinks in but I have always been a kinetic type learner.

    What I have learnt so far is that when I first embarked on analog photography, my main goal was to perfect the hybrid workflow which after more than 6 years, I feel I have more or less achieved that.

    I was aware that a good working negative which would print well in a darkroom would or should also scan very well on a scanner due to the Dmin and Dmax of the scanner. I have also learned over the past few weeks just how forgiving the scanner can be to thin and dense negatives.

    Having said that, I was never really concerned about creating negatives for darkroom printing because if I am honest, seeing the quality of the prints I get from the Epson printer both on Matt and Baryta papers in my opinion are exceptional.

    Now I have the opportunity to experience working in the darkroom albeit it on a hobby level so to speak, what has surprised me is that the type of negatives I have been making to perfect the scanning workflow is not necessarily the best negative for darkroom printing as I have seen with the number of prints I have made so far.

    As you have gathered, the issues I have been faced with have been down to low contrast which I now feel I have the answer to and it simply boils down to re-adjusting the way in which I make the negative to fit both work-flows.

    Not to forget though, that it is forums such as this where experienced folk can express their own opinions, people such as I who are new to darkroom work benefit in learning more even though to some" the questions may become repetitive.

    Ian
     
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  19. David M

    David M Well-Known Member Registered User

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    I understand entirely. I've made the journey the other way round from the dark into the light. Certainly the digital process is very flexible and I believe I now make better prints. It was uphill work going the other way and I had to do quite a bit of re-learning.
    In my view, if a question has to be asked twice, then the answers were not really satisfactory or not complete. Sometimes they may be answering a slightly different question or riding a personal hobby-horse... It takes all sorts: I am a bodger, not an expert.
    I do wish you all the best in your own journey.
     
  20. Alan9940

    Alan9940 Active Member Registered User

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    I think both IanG and David have expressed wise comments and, no disrespect to IanG, but I tend to agree with most of David's comments. If you will allow me to add a couple thoughts...

    Xtol is a great developer, but like many things in photography it has its idiosyncrasies. For example, it will die without warning! This is the primary reason I stopped using it years ago. I have no experience with replenished Xtol so, perhaps, using it in that manner solves the "sudden death" issue. Or, perhaps the formula has been modified over all these years such that it lasts longer?

    The problem with D76 is that the pH changes during storage of the stock developer which affects development; typically, one will see a rather dramatic increase in contrast. Therefore, I wouldn't recommend this developer to a beginner. I don't know if ID11 has this anomaly. I sorta remember using ID11 a couple of times back in the 80's and didn't find anything special about it. IMO, developers such as D76/ID11, DDX, etc, are what I'd call "middle of the road" formulas in that they don't have any particular outstanding qualities, but will provide a decent negative.

    As my photo mentor used to say, "Ya need to get one foot on a rock!" I would advise a novice film photographer to pick a solid, long-lasting developer such as HC-110 or Rodinal (both have tremendous storage life), pick a solid fast(ish) film like Tri-X or HP-5+, one camera, one lens (say, a 150mm or 210mm if shooting 5x4), and go out into the world and shoot and shoot, and then shoot some more! If working in the wet darkroom, use the same enlarger, lens, paper, chemistry, etc, or, if working on the desktop, the same scanner, editing software, etc, until you are intimately familiar with how your chosen tools work and what result you can expect from them. Once you feel comfortable that you've got a good grasp on all that, then, and only then, change one variable, continue working, and evaluate the results. Will anybody do this? No, but it's worth the thought...

    Oh, and if Polaroid materials were still around I'd tell ya to skip the film and all that entails, and use Type 52. Seeing the results of your efforts while still at the scene is invaluable and, IMO, speeds up the whole learning process. Plus, it helps you to begin to learn what you want to say with your photography. ;)

    Thanks for listening. Stepping off soapbox now! :D
     

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