Looking for general XTOL review

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Can someone that uses XTOL give me a general rundown on this developer? What films do you feel it works best with, what it does with the grain, etc. I'm not looking for an involved discussion, but I've read a lot of detailed accounts and opinions on PMK, but not on XTOL, even though it is obvious a lot of people like this developer. What do you like about it? How does it compare to old stuff like D-76 with TriX or HP5+? Thanks to anyone with feedback.

-- John Kilmer (jontar5@dreamscape.com), July 26, 1999


John, I threw away my HC-110, my Rodinal, my D76, etc. Xtol works with almost any film, and you can tailor the results somewhat via dilution. My favorite attribute is that highlights stay controlled, esp. on the TMAX films. The grain is extremely fine, and carefully done 35mm can take on a 4x5 look. Go to the Kodak web site and download the data sheets on Xtol. It's about ten pages of everything you'd ever want to know about the stuff. BTW, my usual combination is TMAX-100 and Xtol 1:1. The only inconvienence I've had is that the times for TMAX and other films differ enough so that you shouldn't try mixing rolls in the same tank. CH

-- Conrad Hoffman (choffman@rpa.net), July 31, 1999.

XTOL has been the primary developer in my dark room. It has a long shelf life and I 've used it on several non -Kodak films. Kodak provides a complete pamphlete on film developing times. And the last issue of Photo Techniques had an excellent article on the evolution of the developer. Good Stuff !

-- Russell E. Brubaker (brbkr@macs.net), August 24, 1999.

John, here is XTOL quotes found in The Film Developing Cookbook, By Stephen G. Ancell and Bill Troop.

With the introduction of Kodak XTOL in 1996, still photographers became universally aware of ascorbics acid's potentialas a low toxicity developing agent. XTOL is the current state of the art in solvent developers XTOL 1:1 and more give a 60% speed increase without losing much latitude Kodaks XTOL can be seen as a radical update of the D-76 developer type. Recognizing the problems inherent in PQ developers with regard to environmental and image quality, Silvia Zawadzki and her co-workers replaced the hydroquinone with sodium isoascorbate (vitamin C derivative). Ascorbate has been characterized as a very sharp surface-acting developing agent. That, in combination with the low pH, results in negatives that achieve a better speed/grain/sharpness relationship than is possible with traditional developing agents. Fine grain and sharpness are also improved when compared to D-76 and T-Max developers. XTOL is now the developer most highly recommended by Kodak for T-Max films. It has been observed that dilution increases speed and sharpness with XTOL. Dilutions of 1:3 ....XTOL is effectively a nonsolvent developer, but because of its careful buffering, grain is still fine. ...ascorbic acid cannot be used as the sole developing agent unless fairly high contrast is desired. ...ascorbates are the safest developing agents both for humans and the environment yet discovered. There are many phenidone-based developers which increase speed by 60%, including XTOL, T-Max, FX 15, FX 37, FG7, Acufine and Microphen.

-- Richard Jepsen (rjepsen@mmcable.com), November 11, 1999.

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