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I've been using XTOL since it came out and have been a big proponent of the stuff. Until yesterday, I'd never gotten the dreaded underdevelopment and thin negatives. I've always been religous about storing it in full bottles, and I suspect that was where I made my error. I made a fresh batch exactly four weeks ago and sealed it into full 16 oz plastic bottles. One week ago I used half a bottle with no problem, but didn't squeeze the air out of the bottle like I usually do. Yesterday I used the other half and got thin negs. It isn't very controlled, but I typically record the density of my film leaders as Dmax, just to see what I'm getting. The usual value for FP4+ and XTOL 1:3 has been 2.0 to 2.1. This thin roll was down around 1.72. Not a disaster, but no fun to print either. I can't prove that oxidation was the problem- it might have been a change in water or some other unknown, but I just wanted to add my little datapoint to the pile!

-- Conrad Hoffman (choffman@rpa.net), March 26, 2001


Now you've experienced what a number of us have. I suspected oxidation from partially used containers until it happened with a freshly mixed batch of developer manufactured in November / 2000. It's a little like playing Russian Roulette with your film. Kodak has been great about getting in touch with me and offering replacement product. I'm hopeful that they will solve the problem and when they do I hope to be one of the first in line to start using it again. It has great potential but I have to have confidence in it.

-- Bill Lester (wlester@lesterconstruction.com), March 26, 2001.

the key is that you experienced an unpredicted and unsuspected behavoural change. I am on a roll, with about fifty rolls developed in Xtol (stock) without problems. I tried defecting to the side of Microphen, ID-11, TMax RS, and Ilfosol-S, only to compare them all to Xtol and finding Xtol outshines them all. in TMY studies, grain is reduced and tonal gradients are as smooth as satin, yielding noticeable scanned improvements.

one contentious point is the Kodak spec for TMax films. I am generally developing two minutes (~30%) longer than specified. this falls out of the limits that I would expect to deviate from published target times. as discussed in other threads, localized exhaustion seems probable, requiring an agressive agitation profile.

I still feel like the kid walking in front of the bully's house after school each day. sooner or later, he'll come outside and pounce on you when you least expect it .. just because he can.

-- daniel taylor (lightsmythe@agalis.net), March 26, 2001.

I concur with Daniel Taylor's comments. Because of all of the warnings on Xtol I am overly cautious. I did experience something yesterday that was unusual while mixing a 1-liter batch. I have been using the same plastic stirring rod(Kodak I think) for many years. Of course it has become stained from use. While mixing part A I noticed some unusual brown specks in the solution and it wouldn't disolve and the solution became somewhat discolored. The only source for this stain was the stirring rod. I discarded the solution, thoroughly cleaned the stirring rod and started with a new pack with no problem. I don't know if this might be a source of the "sudden Xtol expiration" problem but it was an eye-opener for me. I must be more careful in cleaning my equipment.

-- Robert Bedwell (rlb@triad.rr.com), March 27, 2001.


I would be more worried about your second batch. mixing part A always yields a slightly coloured solution that fades to clear when mixing in part B. if I developed at Kodak's recommended times, my negatives would be severely underdeveloped.

-- daniel taylor (lightsmythe@agalis.net), March 27, 2001.

Oxidation is the likely cause. When I first started using XTOL I was storing it in one of theose accordion style plastic bottles and my Xtol wasn't lasting 4 weeks. I mentioned this to a Kodak rep at the Photo Expo in NYC and he suggested I use glass bottles. I now store my 1 ltr of XTOL in 4 250ml amber glass bottles (filled to the brim). Each bottle holds enough to make a 1:1 batch in my SS tank for 2 36exp rolls. My XTOL now lasts about 2 months which is about the shelf life of my old standard developer D-76.

-- Robert Orofino (minotaur1949@aol.com), March 27, 2001.

I've heard all the warnings, but have never had a problem. I will continue to flirt with disaster only because I love the way TMX and TMY look in this stuff. As far as the oxidation problem goes, I've had a batch of Xtol stored in a half full 1 gallon plastic jug for a period of three months and used it with no problem. The package says it's shelf life is about a year. I wouldn't dare keep it around this long, but it shouldn't be oxidizing after only a few weeks. I always mix the stock and working solutions with distilled water. This may solve some of the problems that people are having with it.

-- Rocco Bellantoni (rbellant@yorku.ca), March 28, 2001.

Okay. I'm sick of hearing about this problem on every newsgroup/list on the Internet. I guess no developer is perfect! Would it be so hard to test a small piece of film in the developer before you used it?!? Come on guys! This oxidation hassle seems like a small price to pay for the performance of XTOL.

BTW, Kodak no longer recommends going greater than 1:1. Infact they claim 1:1 is better than at full strength.

-- DAT (dat123@hotmail.com), April 03, 2001.

> Okay. I'm sick of hearing about this problem on every newsgroup/list on the Internet ...

I don't believe a clip-test will identify a possible failure.

and by the way, if every forum you read contains complaints about Xtol, then you had better listen to the message and beware.

-- daniel taylor (lightsmythe@agalis.net), April 03, 2001.

I don't believe a clip-test will identify a possible failure.

Why wouldn't it?

-- DAT (dat123@hotmail.com), April 08, 2001.

If you have a half full gal. or what ever try useing (TETENAL PROTECTAN SPRAY). It removes the O2 from the container. I have had my x-tol for over 9 months and no problems yet. The gas is propane/butane. and preserves most anything if used properly.

-- R.E> (Planet8spot@aol.com), April 08, 2001.

"I don't believe a clip-test will identify a possible failure.

Why wouldn't it?"

I think the risk here would be that given the fickle behavior of XTOL, how do we know that even if XTOL develops the test strip well, that it won't conk out on the important images five minutes later? Of course, if oxidation is really the problem, I suppose we can trust that it won't conk out within 15 minutes. The only XTOL failure I've experienced so far, happened after the developer sat 2 weeks since the last use.

-- Bob Fleischman (RFXMAIL@prodigy.net), April 08, 2001.

> Why wouldn't it?"

my Xtol failures may be far more insidious than others have apparently experienced. I have had failures within one day, same batch of developer, TMY from the same pro-pack, identical processes. I am confident that any clip-test would not identify the failure mechanism that occurs, which is most certainly not oxidation nor curse from the Ilford gods.

my recent Xtol results have been spectacular and I wish not to jinx that. shhh ...

-- daniel taylor (lightsmythe@agalis.net), April 09, 2001.

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