Discussion TMX in Xtol or T-Max developer...

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I have been looking through the archives trying to get comparisons of Xtol and T-Max developers when used with T-Max films, especially TMX. Kodak says that their T-Max developer is best for T-Max films and that it will give better shadow detail.

Does anyone have any experience with these two developers on T-Max films?, I would love to hear about your findings. Thank you.

-- PJ Taylor (pjt_123@hotmail.com), November 23, 2000


I've tried TMX in T-Max and found the grain and contrast a bit harsh. My preference is D-76 1:1. If you look at Kodak's technical data sheets, they show that the curve for TMX in T-Max is straighter than in D-76, but the contrast is also higher. Check out John Sexton's old, but still useful article on T-Max development.

-- David Goldfarb (dgoldfarb@barnard.edu), November 23, 2000.

I find TMX and TMY in T-Max developer to have higher speed yet increased contrast as compared to TMax-RS and Xtol. my problems with Xtol, are consistency. I buy the 5 litre packages that seem to work much better than the smaller samples. TMax grain in Xtol is virtually non-existant and greatly improved over other developers. Xtol processing yields a tonality that seems to scan better as well. unfortunately, I have lost many images due to inconsistent processing in Xtol even though I have standardized on water and timing.

my best results are in 6x6cm format. there is such a difference between 6x6 and 35mm in TMY, such that I cannot believe they are the same emulsion.

-- daniel taylor (aviator@agalis.net), November 23, 2000.

Some interesting info here: http://members.home.net/hmpi/

Why Kodak touts T-Max developer as the primary process recomendation for TMX is a mystery. Note too that PPR is for 75 degrees (I think) and the results at 68 degrees may not be as good. The stuff is an energetic developer best suited for pushing films. It never impressed me as a general purpose pictorial developer. I got pretty good ultra- fine grain results with XTOL, but found the Dmax was a bit low, limiting the exposure latitude. The curve may be a bit peculiar, but I never got around to plotting it. Tonally, I got the best results with TMX in Rodinal, but the grain was excessive. The Rodinal was also the only developer I found that gave visually sharp results. TMX isn't known for high visual sharpness. Ultimately I stopped wasting my time with TMX and switched to FP4+ and XTOL 1:3, with which I've been extremely pleased. I did have much better success with TMY- easier to control, good tonal quality, nearly grainless and not so sensitive to processing.

-- Conrad Hoffman (choffman@rpa.net), November 23, 2000.

I have recently started using T max 100 again and tried XTol. The first 5 litre batch was excellent for the first film but even though properly stored 14 days later the film looked as if it was about 3 stops under exposed. Dumped that and mixed a new batch. Great results one day inconsistent the next. All developer mixed with distilled water, properly stored and sufficient developer for each film 200/200.

I have always liked the tone of Rodinal so decided to experiment and came up with the following that works very nicely

Jobo processor

iso 50 -64 Rodinal 1:80 @ 74c for 6.45 5 : 400 [ close enough to 1:80 ] No pre wet. Pour in developer vigourous agitation for 5 seconds by hand to distribute the developer evenly then start Jobo for 6:45

Water stop then 5 - 7 minutes fixer and normal wash.

I use a D2 condensor enlarger and these negs are a very printable grade 2.

Consistent results every time.

HC 110 [B] is also very good.

As for grain with the Rodinal Smooth and sharp, not large at all.

-- Steve Nicholls (gl1500@chariot.net.au), November 23, 2000.

Steve, that is very disappointing. With all the praise I've heard about Xtol, I was expecting more positive results. Do you think the Xtol was bad?, was the powder "clumpy"?, even though the TMX came out bad after the developer was 14 days old, could you properly developed other films using the same batch? (Maybe just a problem unique to Xtol and TMX...)

-- PJ Taylor (pjt_123@hotmail.com), November 23, 2000.

When I was trying to get good results with TMX and XTOL I traded a few emails with the chemists who designed XTOL. They didn't have a solid answer, but were very aware of the net comments and results from labs and other people they knew. The problem seems to be just between the two products, not counting the clumping problem and possible water differences. Personally, I haven't had much inconsistancy with XTOL and I take no special precautions when mixing it- plain 'ol tap water. I break it up into small batches using clear 16 oz plastic water bottles. Recently I did a roll of FP4+ and noticed that the several months old XTOL actually had something growing in it. Too lazy to mix fresh, so I shook it up and used it. No problem whatsoever. I measure leader densities of each roll I process. It's a very unscientific way to keep track of anything, but it alerts me to any gross development problems- I've yet to see any difference in the Dmax for a given development time/temp with normal films. With TMX I did see variation, but never to the degree others have reported (and lots of people have reported it). One last bash against TMX- I went through an inexplicable scratching problem with the stuff. Cleaned the camera, cleaned the bulk loader, replaced the cassettes, cleaned the squeege (yes, I use one in spite of all recomendations to the contrary). As soon as I changed films, the scratches stopped. I don't know if it's fragile, if I got a bad batch or what but it was just one more reason to switch.

-- Conrad Hoffman (choffman@rpa.net), November 23, 2000.

I have never lost an image using Xtol with non-TMax films. in fact, HP5+ in Xtol is beautiful. when TMax films work, I love them. however, I too, have a stack of 4x5 films and rolls of 6x6 and 35mm TMax, that are severely underdeveloped for no identifiable reason.

-- daniel taylor (aviator@agalis.net), November 23, 2000.

I have used TMY for years - virtually since it's introduction. I dabbled with various developers for a while and eventually settled on HC110 @ 1:62. I was pretty much settled on this for a number of years until Xtol came along and as a result of the glowing reviews about it I decided to give it a try. I used it with consistent results for some time and even though I personally couldn't see what all the fuss was about I decided to stick with it as a standard, my thinking being that it was basically a universal developer that you could use for pretty much any film. Then one day I had some film that came out grossly under developed. I thought it may have been something I did until it happened again. I became very careful after that about the mix dates and discarded any partially filled containers at 30 days. Then I began having trouble with overly dense - overdevoped negatives. I went back to HC110 and everthing was great. I have stopped using Xtol. I still don't know if it was me or the product. I have been developing film for 20 years and am pretty careful and consistent with my habits. I don't know if Tmax films are the best out there but they can give great consistent results. I have never read much good about them and have never read much good about HC110. I guess thats why I keep looking for something better. I haven't found it yet. By the way I used to shoot mostly 120 but have been using 4x5 for a couple of years. HC110 does a great job with TMX also.

-- Bill Lester (wlester@lesterconstruction.com), November 24, 2000.

I used TMX in TMax developer for a while and wasn't dissatisfied, just found it too expensive. I seem to get slightly better results from TMX at EI 64 in Rodinal 1:50 than with TMax Dev 1:4 at EI 80/100, but nothing so dramatically different that other people notice.

I'm sure XTOL is wonderful stuff, but its proponents don't seem to last long before they get hit with bad chemistry. Combine that with having to buy larger tanks to deal with the volume problems associated with it at 1:2 and 1:3, and it seems like too much of a hassle for me.

-- John O'Connell (boywonderiloveyou@hotmail.com), November 27, 2000.

Conrad, was your TMX scratching problem with 120 rollfilm? I know someone who complained of this with 120 and found 35mm TMX to be OK. He concluded they were not really the same emulsion.

-- Bob Fleischman (RFXMAIL@prodigy.net), December 11, 2000.

A couple of years ago I began working with XTOL and ran what I considered to be some rather viable tests based on the Kodak times and minimum solution requirements. Initially I was very impressed with the results and began working with the 1:3 dilutions. In my real world use however I began to experience a lot of inconsistency that always tended to be on the low-density side. So I began looking for the cause of the problem. Since my experience with Kodak in the past has been that they are usually very careful about their recommendations for minimum stock requirements I ruled this out early on. I essentially looked everywhere else but to no avail. As you may recall from the XTOL Data Sheet the Kodak recommendation is 100 ml Minimum stock solution per 36 exp. roll. That is exactly where the problem was, after re-testing at 200 ml my results were great. I spoke with Kodak and informed them of my findings and they suggested that I re-test again and sent me both film and developer to do so. I of course re-ran the test and informed them once again of the same results. At the that time I also proposed that they had never really challenged the developer and had only run tests using short strips exposed by a sensitometer rather than full 36 exp. rolls. Their "solution" to this issue has been to re-publish the J-109 Data Sheet and no longer recommend the use of the 1:3 Dilution. There simply has to be enough developer energy present to produce consistent results REGARDLESS of the dilution. So while a roll consisting of low-key images may work fine using 100 ml, a roll containing predominantly high key scenes, i.e. snow scenes, would be under developed and thin if only 100 ml was used. The overall results of working with XTOL using 200 ml minimums are simply the best I have ever experienced in my 32 years of practice.

B. Halsey Payne

-- B. Halsey Payne (bhalseyp@earthlink.net), February 04, 2001.

I think we have all stated the same thing. I use 300ml and 500ml stock solution for my 35mm and 120 films. plenty of energy per emulsion. for unknown reasons, we all get bit eventually. what is a remarkable developer turns evil and exhibits exhaustion. tonight, I am running tests with Xtol, TMax RS, and ID-11. it seems clear, that I am going to have to sacrifice Xtol's charm with something that yields consistent results.

-- daniel taylor (lightsmythe@agalis.net), February 04, 2001.

I, too, have had some problems with Xtol (and T-Max films). I started using it a few years ago, with replenishment, and it was very consistent. After a while, I noticed that my film contrast seemed to drift up or down a bit, but nothing that a bit of adjustment in times could not handle. It is only in looking back that I realize that the changes usually could be correlated with a new 5 liter batch and that replenishment was masking or buffering and sudden changes.

I made a switch to a Jobo processor and decided to use 1:1, with 100ml stock solution per roll. Things went great for almost a year, including times matched with the developing chart. One day I mixed a fresh batch and contrast dropped. I figured it was my problem, mixed fresh and had the exact same result; I even tried inversion agitation (still 1:1, with 250 ml stock per 120 roll) but no improvement. I worked with this, talked with some people at Kodak, exchanged film and developer with them, etc. They said the developer was within specifications and nothing was wrong.

It seems that my problem has been variations in batches of Xtol as they come from Kodak. I now try to make sure that the 5 liter pouches all come from the same box/batch and test. It also seems that there is definitely some problem with Xtol that Kodak needs to both acknowledge and address. It is an excellent developer.

-- Nathan Prichard (nprichard@mis.net), February 09, 2001.

Actually I have found the XTOL to be consistent as long as I adhere to the following methods and parameters. #1 Use a 200 ml minimum stock solution per 80 sq. inches of film. #2 Use fresh distilled water to mix the stock and working solutions. #3 Use film that is well within date and has been stored below 55 f. #4 Develop within 48 hours of exposure. #5 Use developer that is not more than 90 days old and has been stored in a non-osmotic container. #5 Use a laboratory quality thermometer NOT a dial thermometer. #6 Assure that the process temperature is maintained throughout the development, or use a calculated drift-by held to a minimum of less than +/- 1.0 F. #7 Do Not Over Fix. Films age on a continuum, tap water is not a constant. Developers AND Distilled Water oxidize. All this may seem extravagant but isnít a 1500 mile photographic excursion or Black and White as a Fine Art. Also Kodak has seldom if ever admitted a mistake or a problem publicly namely the 100 ml minimum stock recommendation in this case. Another problem, Kodak does not date their packaging and states 2 years, which is also a continuum, as the shelf life of any dry un-mixed developer package. So it is necessary to find a retailer who rotates and turns their inventory. The packaging itself is probably flawed as well since there have been numerous recalls, particularly of the 1 liter package which seems to be prone to hydration of Part B. Sound like a lot of trouble? These properties are all essentially analog in nature, with time being the major player here. Is XTOL more sensitive to these variables than other developer? I have not really found that to be the case The other day I made an 11x14 print of a 35mm TMX negative developed in T-Max developer in 1989. I also made a print of a 35mm TMX negative developed in XTOL 1:1, the differences were striking!

-- B.Halsey Payne (bhalseyp@earthlink.net), February 11, 2001.

Actually Kodak does date their packages. On the 1 liter Xtol look on the bottom front of the plastic outer package for a 4 digit code. The first two digits are the year of manufacture and the second two are the week of manufacture. Kodak does admit to packaging problems with the 1 liter Xtol package. If the Part B is caked or damp, they will replace the package. They solved the problem as of 0026 date code (26th week of 2000). Some people report some 5 liter packages leaking the contents on the shelf, however, I have not heard of any problems with those packages that do not leak (and they leak a LOT). It seems that there are some gross problems that are either very right or very wrong.

Also distilled water does not "oxidize." Water is already oxidized hydrogen. It can absorb various gases and vapors, so do not store it in a contaminated environment.

-- Terry Carraway (TCarraway@compuserve.com), February 13, 2001.

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