XTOL question

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I have been trying to standardize my development on XTOL since I experimented with it last year. I have really liked the results on the films that I use and am using a dillution of 1+2. While I was still playing with it and finding my development times I ruined a couple of rolls of film during different processing sessions, they were really underdeveloped. It only happened with one batch of developer on 3 different rolls so I thought that somehow I may have mixeded incorrectly or contaminated it somehow and continued getting my times down with a fresh batch. Everything was going fine for a couple of months and now it happend again in two different processing sessions with the same batch of developer. I have never had this happen with my TMAX, HC110, or sprint (D76) in years of using them.

Has anyone else experinced getting underdeveloped results on certain batches of XTOL every once in a while? Does Kodak have anything to say, is it easy to contaminate compared to other developers? I am rethinking my decision of standarizing on XTOL if it means I end up with super flat/under developed film every couple of months.

thanks rwb

-- Robert W Boyer (rboyer@mindspring.com), August 28, 2000


Yes, I have. It was with Tri-X each time. Like your experience, it was not all the time, occasionally. It has happened both with diluted 1:1 and with undiluted developer.

Also, with XTOL, I've experimented with storing (as recommended) the straight, undiluted developer for multiple use. A couple of times I've had heavy deposits of "silver" in the bottom of the container, a clear plastic bottle. All this was with Tri-X Pan.

Now I read that TX is the only Kodak film that is not improved by XTOL. Since I don't use the T-grain films ordinarily, I just stopped using XTOL. I figure one of these days I'll shoot a roll of P3200 and give the XTOL another try.

Until then, it's D-76 (Tri-X and Verichrome Pan) and Rodinal for APX 100.

I'm sorry to hear you are having this problem of inconsistency and unreliability, but still there is satisfaction in knowing I'm not alone out here.

So many people like XTOL that I'm still not totally convinced that I didn't somehow cause these problems.

-- Paul Arnold (osprey@bmt.net), August 28, 2000.

I seem to remember that someone mentioned that Kodak was having problems with the packaging of XTOL, but that the problem had been solved. I don't recall how long ago the "good" XTOL replaced the "bad" XTOL. Does anyone else recall that thread about the packaging problem?

-- Dave Internoscia (af202@acorn.net), August 28, 2000.

How old was the XTOL? I've had this problem with developer that is over one month old, XTOL is very prone to oxidation. My solution is to mix in small bathches as needed. (One litre at a time). The packaging problem has aparently been solved, I haven't gotten a bad batch since April. This stuff works really well with T-grain films, especially my personal favorite Delta 400 with 1:1 dilution. Haven't used it with Tri-X but perhaps as mentioned above this is not a good match. In addition Tri-X is a traditional film and will most likely work well with a traditional developer like D-76. Even better, rate your TRI-X at 250 EI and develop it in Microdol-X 1:3. Before I switched to Delta 400 in XTOL 1:1, Tri-X in Microdol-X 1:3 was my favorite combination.

-- Robert Orofino (rorofino@iopener.net), August 28, 2000.

As I understand it Kodak had a packaging problem mainly with the 1L sized packages. They are supposed to have gotten it fixed as of date code 0025.

If either of the packages is caked (not free flowing powder) don't use it, it will give you odd results. Kodak will replace it and may even throw in a couple extra packages.

I have not heard of people having trouble with storage of Xtol once mixed.

-- Terry Carraway (TCarraway@compuserve.com), August 29, 2000.

In my experience, the high dilutions of Xtol starts to produce thin negatives when the stock-solution gets old but 1:1 dilution have worked well even with Xtol mixed one year ago (NOT kept in a refrigerator!). I store Xtol in full, dark, glass- bottles.

Kodak states that a minimum amount of 100 ml stock solution should be used for each film, with fresh developer. This means that a tank for 35 mm film that contains 250 ml of developer, cannot be used for the 1:2 dilution. I suspect that it will be even more critical if the stock solution is aging, although I have seen nothing in writing on this subject. A good habit would be to mix the stock solution in distilled water, since that water will not contain any oxidants (who would make the solution age faster).

From what I have read regarding the packaging, if there is no cake formed of the powder, it should be alright. If the powder have caked, don't even bother to mix it with water.

-- Peter Olsson (peter.olsson@lulebo.se), August 29, 2000.

I most often use D-76/ID-11 for Tri-X at "normal" speed. For pushing to 1600 I have had great success with Xtol 1+1, using the times that Kodak recommends. For a thorough discussion of the quantity of developer needed, check Anchell and Troop's _The Film Development Cookbook_. I must admit to not being as rigourous as they are, but I still like the results. I just got through shooting 2 rolls of Tri-X at 1600, developed in Xtol, and 2 rolls of Delta 3200 at 1600-2000, developed in DD-X, and the Tri-X came out well ahead in terms of grain and sharpness. I have been a fan of Delta 3200, but I think I will use it mainly for extreme cases.

I had heard about some of the problems with quality control. I have used only the 5-liter packages lately, and store the stock solution in collapsible bottles. I also do a single roll first to check, and so far all has been fine.

-- Paul Harris (pharris@neosoft.com), August 29, 2000.

sorry Kodak. over half of my Xtol attempts have resulted in underdeveloped negatives caused by exhaustion of one or more components in Xtol. the caked part A, the inconsistent results. no thanks .. I hold my work too precious to continue to play these odds.

-- daniel taylor (aviator@agalis.net), August 30, 2000.

I have been using XTOL for the past 2 years and this has happened to me too many times. I have used it straight, 1:1, 1:2, 1:3. I thought because this had happened randomly, I had mad mistakes in measuring, or some where else. I have since been very careful with measurements and fresh developer and still had the problem, a few rolls or sheets fine, then a few way underdeveloped. I like the stuff when it works for me, but since I have ruined about a dozen rolls with it that I wanted, I went back to Rodinal. Rodinal never fails for me even when it looks like oil. I usually use Agfa 25 or 100.

-- Bill Shaden (bshaden@rocketmail.com), August 31, 2000.

I had a problem with the 5 liter size earlier this year. Some batches gave negs underdeveloped by about three f stops. Talked to Kodak. They gave me new packs. But here is the answer to predicting if the batch you are mixing is going to be "good" or not. When you mix package A it should turn slightly yellow cloudy. If it makes a clear solution, there will be a problem. Don't use it.

I tried to get Kodak to verify my observation and prediction, but they became unresponsive after simply replacing my developer.

-- Dudley Harris (dudleyharris@mindspring.com), September 18, 2000.

I have been using XTOL diluted 1:2 and 1:3 for some time with good results developing both T-MAX 100 120 and HP5+ 5x7. A few days ago I went to the Kodak web site to load publication j-109 (XTOL). There is a new version dated 9/00 that replaces the old of 4/00. The major change is the deletion of dilutions 1:2 and 1:3. Dilution 1:1 is still present. I e-mailed kodak and this is the response (I hope you find this information useful):


Kodak has tested XTOL Developer for long-term keeping by using typical equipment and procedures. Results indicate that mixed XTOL Developer stored for one year at room temperature (70F [21C]) in a full-stoppered bottle provides satisfactory results with Kodak black-and-white films when used at full strength. Some customers, however, have reported problems with developer stored for periods between six months and one year. Most often the problems related to loss of developer activity when customers were using a 1:3 or 1:2 dilution of the developer to process KODAK T-MAX 100 Professional Film.

To help ensure best results, we have changed our recommended shelf life and dilutions for XTOL Developer. The new recommendations are the same as those for KODAK Developer D-76 (full strength and 1:1). The change in recommendations does not indicate any change in the formulation of the developer. If you have been consistently obtaining satisfactory results with diluted developer and you use the mixed developer before keeping characteristics can become a concern, you may want to continue your current procedures. However, Kodak publications will no longer include development recommendations for the 1:2 and 1:3 dilutions of the developer.

Thank you for visiting our Kodak web site. If you should have any questions on Kodak products or services, please be sure to revisit our site as we are continually adding information to enhance our service.

Thom Bell Kodak Information Center (USA) Kodak Professional

-- (luislopez@eartlink.net), November 28, 2000.

I mix 5 liter batches of XTOL stock solution in distilled water or water filtered though a Brita type filter to avoid potential problems caused by metals, organics, and residual chlorine with prolonged storage. I then store the Stock solution in amber 8 oz. glass bottles with teflon lined caps filled to the brim (no air space). These bottles can be purchased through the scientific supply houses such as VWR or Fisher for about $10-12/dozen.

Each bottle is a one shot dose to make 16 ozs. of 1:1 dilution XTOL, enough for 2-35mm rolls or 1-120 roll in a small tank. I do not reuse or replentish developer stock solution.

With this technique, I have had absolutely consistent results even with storage >6 months. I've found that the 1:1 dilution provides me with the most convenient development times and finest grain at reasonable cost.

THis may sound like a lot of work, but it is convenient, consistent and predictable.

-- Steve Jones (srjones10@home.com), December 02, 2000.

Yep, "convenient, consistent and predictable", UNTIL IT HAPPENS TO YOU. Xtol can be a marvelous developer when it works. But the mysterious underdevelopment problem can crop up without warning. Then, the 5 litre packaging has had major problems with the sealing of the part A packet. Got a nice batch of them with powder leaking all over the place. This was AFTER The Yellow Peril assured me it had been fixed. Went to the nearby camera store & took the packaging off the shelf, set it on the store counter & watched the white powder of the A packet make little sandpiles. EK replaces two packs but haven't yet replaced the three others I had that were leaking. I was using Xtol heavily as the results were very nice. I mix it to a gallon container, not a 5 litre one, for stock. Tested my times & got them standardized. Then had three rolls processed in a new batch at 1:1 come out so far underdeveloped they were unusable. NO change in developing habits and while using Distilled water. The fresh developer was less than a day old, my usual mixing procedures followed, and results for a client that were a total bust. EK tells me I did something wrong. They are probably right. So, I solved that problem in the darkroom by using Ilford ID11, and the problem has not returned. There is too much The Yellow Godfather is not telling us about Xtol. It should be one of the best products they have but somehow Quality Control isn't up to the task of producing the product so that it is reliable.

-- Dan Smith (shooter@brigham.net), December 06, 2000.

Sorry to hear that Dan. I mix Xtol 5l at a time. I used to develop a strip of test exposures in each new batch. Now I just develop a piece of exposed leader in a beaker to verify each batch. I order my 5l packs from B&H and have never seen this underexposure problem. I dilute 1+2.

-- Tim Brown (brownt@ase.com), December 06, 2000.

too many photographers are reporting problems with underdevelopment. when Xtol behaves it is simply marvelous. however, it always feels hit-and-miss, and I recently lost some TMY work because of this unpredictability. I am on a roll however, 5 litres, and beautiful TMX and TMY negatives once again. next failure, and out it goes. Tmax RS or ID-11 and no worries.

-- daniel taylor (aviator@agalis.net), December 06, 2000.

I replaced Rodinol with XTOL 2 years ago. I mix 1 liter XTOL batches with distilled water and throw out unused developer after 3 months. All development is one shot using Kodaks times for a CI of 0.52. I use 4oz of stock developer diluted 1:2 to develop 1 roll of small or medium format and 5oz of stock mixed 1:1 for 1 roll of 35mm. Films developed have been FP4, Verichrome, Tri-X, HP-5, APX 100 and 400 in both 120 and 35mm. Diluted 1:2, XTOL is wonderful with 120 film, (crisp with full tonal range). At 1:3 midtones are slightly compressed by compensation. Small format thrives in a 1:1 mix. I had one experience with thin negs using APX film in XTOL 1:3. Read Kodak's written reply concerning loss of developer activity in Luislopez 11/28/00 post and recall that Tmax Developer is very active. With Kodak's info I will avoid 1:3 dilution and believe I will continue to have consistent results. If not, I will miss the speed increase of XTOL as I switch to a D-76/ID-11 developer.

-- Richard Jepsen (rjepsen@mmcable.com), December 07, 2000.

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