The Trouble With Xtol : LUSENET : B&W Photo - Film & Processing : One Thread

I have seen a number of comments in this forum about the so called Xtol failure. I have experienced it a couple of times in the past, but it wasn't something that I was watching for and I attributed it to something that I might have overlooked - overuse of the developer or maybe it wouldn't last as long as Kodak said. I stopped using it for a while. The problem is that is can be a nice developer and I wanted to give it another try. I decided to buy enough 1 litre packages that it would come still in the carton as shipped from Kodak. I ordered a dozen packages which arrived as a full box ( 10 Pkgs ) and 2 loose units. I felt that I would have control over the product that way. It would be fairly fresh and not sitting around on someone's shelf for a year or so. The first package worked perfectly. I thought I might be on to a system of control and my confidence was building. On the weekend I shot a couple of rolls of film and mixed a fresh litre of developer. The film was so under developed that the negatives were unprintable. I was shocked. I developed the second film in some ID-11 and it was perfect. I threw the rest of the Xtol ( the remaining full box ) in the garbage. I don't have any films that I want to take another chance on. I am convinced that there is a problem with the product. Too bad. When it works, it works well. I'm going back to and sticking with Ilford's product. I hope Kodak reads this.

-- Bill Lester (, February 13, 2001



Thanks for sharing your experience with XTOL...I was doing some reading on Kodak's website over the weekend in anticipation of trying it out. You mention Ilford in your post, out of curiousity, what do you use? I use HP5+ in Perceptol, 1:1. I find it extremely reliable.

-- Jeff Voorhees (, February 13, 2001.

Jeff, "Ilford's product" is the ID-11 which he mentions in his post. This is Ilford's version of D-76.


-- John Kilmer (, February 13, 2001.

"This is Ilford's version of D-76."

Except ID-11 has a sequestering agent in it which keeps the silver in solution (because the developer has a solvent action), and stops it from re-plating back onto the silver still in the emulsion. This makes the grain finer and much more even than D-76.

-- steve (, February 14, 2001.

What is your water source? Unless you are using deionized or distilled water, the water can vary in pH or introduce other variations into your mixed developer. The quality of your local tap water can change greatly from day to day, and this is my guess for what poisoned your XTOL. XTOL is buffered and includes agents to sequester potentially interfering ions from tap water, but still seems more sensitive to water purity than other developers I've used. However, when I use deionized water to mix XTOL, the stability has been far greater than the Kodak guidelines, and I've never experienced the developer failure you describe. Partially full stock bottles have been fine for several months (Kodak recommends only 1 month). My understanding is that Kodak fixed the packaging flaws with XTOL quite a while ago, although some old packages may still be out there. Good luck! Tim Nelson

-- Tim Nelson (, February 14, 2001.

I've used Xtol for two years, and developed hundreds of rolls of Ilford Delta 100 and Delta 400, with no problems at all.

I mix the Xtol 5 liters at a time, using distilled water, and storing the stock solution in five full bottles.

-- Chris Ellinger (, February 14, 2001.

Steve, thanks for the added info on ID-11. I never knew there was any practical difference. Makes me want to go back and do some A and B stuff...


-- John Kilmer (, February 14, 2001.

I used Xtol without any trouble from the 5 liter packs, stored it in one 2.5 l plus two 1 l glass bottles, there actual volume was very close to 5 l. First I used up the two small bottles and then splitted the big one in into the small bottle, using the left over developer right away. Used it 1:1 or 1:2 in small tanks or 1:1 in Jobo CPE, with a minimum volume of 80 ml straight Xtol per film.

Than I changed to Mytol, a formula similar to Xtol which I found on the page of Mr.Jones ( BUT I changed the formula for the Na-ascorbate to using 2 parts vitamine C and 1 part NaHCO3, as I think the original formula is not correct.

Modified to my stock chemicals for 2.5 liters:

0.375g Phenidone 29 g Vitamine C 14 g NaHCO3

150 g Na2SO3 7.5g NaHSO3 7.5g Boric acid 5 g NaOH

The later substitute the Na-metaborate I do not have in stock. So problems so far and I can mix any quantity I need. Downside I can not blame Kodak for any trouble. For the Jobo CPE I'm using the small tank times -15% as a guide line, as the Xtol times for rotation gave too low contrast.


-- Wolfram Kollig (, February 15, 2001.

I think you're right Wolfram. The molecular weights are 174 for Acorbic acid and 84 for Sodium Bicarbonate, and this is close enough to 2:1, assuming that the anhydrous form of both chemicals is used. This ratio gives 1.138 gms of Sodium ascorbate for each gramme of Ascorbic acid used.
The 10% solution formula on MrJones site is out by a gramme. It should be 87.9 gms Ascorbic acid and 42.4 gms Sodium bicarbonate in a litre of water. Not a massive error, and probably not worth worrying about.

-- Pete Andrews (, February 15, 2001.

Mmmh, if Mr. Kodak Eastman would be as correct as Pete, as we could buy Xtol without any problems. In our institute there is a Kodak job offer (chemist with Dr. degree)hanging, Pete?



-- Wolfram Kollig (, February 16, 2001.

You should not have thrown it way. Contact Kodak about the problem.

Also check the date code. It is a number stamped on the outer plastic package of the 1L size packages. Kodak had problems with the packaging up until date code 0026 (26th week of 2000). If the packages are from prior to that, they will replace them and send you a few extra as compensation. If they are from past that they will want them to figure out if there is a problem.

Also, Xtol seems more critical of water quality. Due to hard water (well water) I mix and dilute all chemistry with distilled water. I have not had any problems, including the time I got impatient and didn't thoroughly mix the developer. I didn't notice until the film was in the wash that a reasonable amount of Part B was still in the mixing flask. The negs turned out fine.

-- Terry Carraway (, February 17, 2001.

Xtol can have problems, known as "The Dreaded Xtol Failure", no matter what water you use. I have had it fail with tap water and distilled water both. Stock & diluted. One one litre packet and three 5 litre packets. All mixed and the stock solution volume measured before adding the water to dilute, on those I used diluted.

The packaging problems most widely known were with the one litre packets. Yet if you will check with your dealers you will most likely find many incidences of the 5 litre packets leaking powder from part A. Nice white powder all over the shipping boxes, dealer counters and your darkroom. It is a problem as recently as 3 weeks ago.

While Xtol is very nice when it works, it is a lot like trying to have a whore for a girlfriend. It just isn't trustworthy.

-- Dan Smith (, February 18, 2001.

> it is a lot like trying to have a whore for a girlfriend

exactly. you never know what you will end up with ...

-- daniel taylor (, February 19, 2001.

Well, my Xtol whore has been quite faithful and satisfying for 6 years now, thank you. Maybe one could drop a piece of film leader in the beaker of developer before pouring into the tank. See if it (the leader) turns black in a few minutes to verify developer activity.

-- tim brown (, February 20, 2001.

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