PMK? : LUSENET : B&W Photo - Film & Processing : One Thread

This may sound dumb or at least ill imformed but what is PMK developer? I keep reading about it;but who makes it & how good is it? I use Ilford Delta films & HP5. Will it help produce better results with these films as opposed to XTOL?

-- Melvin Bramley (, July 03, 2001


PMK developer was developed by Gordon Hutchings. It uses pyro (or pyrogallo or pyrogallic acid) as its primary developing agent. You can buy PMK in packaged dry chemical form or liquid from B&H Photo and from The Photographer's Formulary (, among other sources. I also highly recommend "The Book of Pyro," written by Gordon Hutchings. I has a wealth of information on using PMK. The Photographer's Formulary offers a package deal with the book and the chemical kit. You can also find the formula published on the web in various places, among them, and

-- Ted Kaufman (, July 04, 2001.

I forgot to say, the Ilford films you use will work superbly in PMK. In fact, those are the same films I use with it. FP4+ also would be a fine choice in PMK.

-- Ted Kaufman (, July 04, 2001.

A lot of the answer to your question depends on how you use XTOL. Full strength, XTOL is a solvent developer, much like straight D-76. They both dissolve some of the silver on your negative in an effort to make it look finer grained. The finer grain effect comes at the expense of sharpness. As you dillute either developer, you get less of a fine grain effect and more sharpness.

PMK takes a different route. It delivers all the grain that was built into your film in an attempt to achieve maximum sharpness. The yellow-green stain PMK leaves behind helps in two ways: (1.) it fills in some of the gaps between the grain, making the film look less grainy, and (2.) it acts as something of a intensity-based highlight filter with variable contrast paper, helping contrasty highlights to print more easily.

One caveat. Papers with an extended range and lower highlight contrast (like Ilford Multigrade IV) can look flat when printing a PMK negative. With most papers, however, I find PMK really "sings," especially in pictures strong in highlights like whitewater or mountain snow.

-- Brian Hinther (, July 05, 2001.

Thanks to all for the advise. As I live in Canada purchasing PMK may be awkward. If Ilford multigrade FB is not the best choice in paper with this negative\PMK combination I may just try a more dilute XTOL. Ilford FB is my paper of choice & I do not wish to change to other products. However my curiosity is aroused & I may try PMK at some later date.By the way one more question!! Is the staining effect of PMK anything like C41 developed XP2?? Regards to all, Melvin

-- Melvin Bramley (, July 06, 2001.

You can buy the chemicals to mix PMK at Fotochem in Quebec. See my Links page for the web address. The formula is on the formulas page of Unblinking Eye.

-- Ed Buffaloe (, July 06, 2001.

PMK was available from 8 Elm Street in Toronto. I have used it and found no problem with printing on Ilford MG FB.

-- Bill Lester (, July 06, 2001.

Moderation questions? read the FAQ