X-Tol dev times with various high-speed films

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I want to process various high speed films in X-tol full strength solution in one batch. I have 2 rolls of TMZ, 1 roll of Delta 3200, and 1 roll of Neopan 1600, all exposed at EI 3200. For EI 3200 Kodak gives a developing time of 13 mins @68 degrees for the T-Max and 7.5 mins at 68 degrees for the Neopan. Ilford recommends 7.5 mins @ 68 degrees for their Delta 3200 in the stock X-tol. Seems like a big variation in developing times between the T-Max and the other 2 films. Does this sound right? I would appreciate any comments.

As background, yes, this is a film comparison. I photograph dance performances under less than ideal lighting. I've used TMZ and T-Max developer with okay results. I'm testing X-Tol in combination with various films mainly as a result of information gleaned from this excellent forum.

Some of my dance photography can be seen at http://www.s2f.com/fight/


-- Greg Fight (fight@gate.net), September 25, 1999


Hi Greg,

If I understand right, you want to process different films in Xtol at the same time. Sorry, it doesn't work that way. The Kodak times are close, if not perfect, for your needs, and that's just the way the different films process. Worse, the T-grain films are fairly sensitive to development. You should stick close to whatever time you zero in on as optimum. IMHO, any of these films will give excellent results in Xtol, if processed to the contrast index you require. Which one is best for your dance photos, only the test will tell!

-- Conrad Hoffman (choffman@rpa.net), September 25, 1999.


I have not used the films you mentioned, but I have developed 400 speed films (Agfa and Delta 400) in Xtol and am amazed at the results. I dilute it to 1+3 and get very fine grain. I dont see any advantage to using it in a less dilute form.

I will be interested to know the results of your faster films in Xtol.

-- Greg Rust (kgeicrust@aol.com), September 26, 1999.

Do NOT process high-speed films in straight undiluted Xtol. You'll get the least speed (like EI 800) for "normal" to high contrast. Guaranteed. Ilford has its collective heads in the sand on this one.

For Delta 3200 at EI 3200, try Xtol 1:2 20'/75F.

While the development times for TMZ and D3200 are pretty close, there's more than a minute difference for the same EIs and CIs. I wouldn't process them together; one's going to be off a bit too much.

-- John Hicks / John's Camera Shop (jbh@magicnet.net), September 26, 1999.

Thanks for the responses. I ran the films today in straight X-Tol, before I saw John Hicks'reply. The results (films all exposed at EI 3200): Ilford Delta 3200, developed for 7.5 mins @68 degrees was BEAUTIFUL! The TMZ, developed for 11 mins looked underdeveloped - thin and flat - but printed okay. The Neopan 1600, also developed for 7.5 mins @68 degrees was contrasty, the highlights very dense and shadow detail lacking. Less developing would probably have brought the highlights down. The lack of shadow detail might have been a result of differences in stage lighting from when the other films were exposed.

But I am so pleased with the Ildord film that I will stick with it. The X-Tol seems to be every bit as good as everyone says. I ran some portaits on Plus-X in X-Tol and they're very nice. But I don't like the powedr, especially part A! It was difficult to desolve.

I used X-Tol straight to avoid long developing times. I also figured I would get maximum "fine grain" effect due to highest sodium sulfite concentration. But I need to experiment with different dilutions.

Thanks again to all who responded.

-- Greg Fight (fight@gate.net), September 27, 1999.

Try to find a used magnetic stirrer or perhaps buy a new one. I got one a couple of years ago and realized I should've bought one a couple of decades ago.

-- John Hicks / John's Camera Shop (jbh@magicnet.net), September 27, 1999.

Magnetic sirrer? Hmm, tell me more! that doesn't sound compatible with steel tanks and Nikor reels.

I do have an agitation problem with B&W film. When I shoot portraits against a gray background, the background has streaks corresponding to the sprocket holes in the film, no matter how gently I agitate.

-- Greg Fight (fight@gate.net), September 27, 1999.

> Magnetic sirrer?

For mixing chemicals. You put the mixing vessel on the thing, drop in the stirring slug and turn it on. Automatic stirring, so you don't have to keep stirring until your arm falls off. Available from Edmund Scientific and I'm sure lots of other places.

> I do have an agitation problem with B&W film. When I shoot portraits > against a gray background, the background has streaks corresponding > to the sprocket holes in the film, no matter how gently I agitate.

And you just told me what the problem is. There's sufficient agitation and there's insufficient agitation, which is what causes streaks, streamers, blotchiness, unevenness etc. There's no such thing as too-violent agitation.

The reason you're getting streaks is that actually there's pretty much no agitation really occuring.

Try this: using a two-reel tank, put a loaded reel on the bottom, an empty reel on top, and use only enough solution to cover the bottom loaded reel. Invert the tank continuously for the first 30 seconds, then two inversions every 30 seconds for the remainder of the development time. Don't even think of being gentle. The result will be smooth, even negs with no streaks etc. Note that you may have to reduce development time because the negs will be getting sufficient agitation.

Vigorous, even constant agitation doesn't cause increased graininess or any other bad things.

-- John Hicks / John's Camera Shop (jbh@magicnet.net), September 28, 1999.

I didn't desribe the problem sufficiently. The image area if fine with no streaks or blotches whatsoever except on the very edges of the image. There are light and dark streaks, barely perseptible, that line up exactly with the sprocket holes. They don't extend very far into the image area, so a little cropping removes the problem. I thought that maybe turbulance from agitation caused areas adjacent to the sprocket holes to get developed a little more. This has been an ongoing problem over the years whenever I shoot a portrait against a solid-color background. Increasing agitation only increases the effect.

-- Greg Fight (fight@gate.net), September 28, 1999.

Reels allowed to pump up and down in the tank can cause that problem. Maybe that's it.

-- John Hicks (jbh@magicnet.net), September 29, 1999.

Sounds like light leaks in your camera. With high speed films such light leaks would be more visible (and of course show up in development).

-- Peter Olsson (peter.olsson@lulebo.se), September 29, 1999.

I have already discarded the light-leak theory because the effect is so uniform for the length of the film, and only along the edges. Also, this problem is on my Plus-X portrait images, not the 3200 EI stuff.

But John Hicks's latest response rings a bell. I recall reading about a tecnique many years ago when I was in school. The author recommended getting the plastic tip from a Tiparillo cigar and wedging it between the top reel and the side of the developing tanks so that the reels can't slide up and down during agitaion. That may be my solution!

I can't beleive I'm the only one to suffer this problem though. I use very conventional techniques - agitate for the first 30 sec, then invert tank twice every 30 sec. Maybe I'm the only one shooting portraits against gray seamless in 35mm!

Thanks again to John Hicks and all who responded!

-- Greg Fight (fight@gate.net), September 30, 1999.

In my tank the reels slide up and down with each inversion. I think this helps agitate things by stirring the solution around. Try a larger tank that lets the reels move.

-- Don Karon (karon@ibm.net), October 02, 1999.

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