xtol - thin negs

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I've been using XTol with fairly good results, but always a bit thinner than HC 110. Today Using TRI-x 320 (120), 1:1 Rotary, 7.5, 8 and 10 min, no-prewet (as recommended by JOBO), all were way too thin. On half the roll of the 10 min roll, I processed using HC110. Gorgeous. Therefore, I knew they were properly exposed. I'm assuming the XTOL is the problem. All else remained the same. The above 2 tests were done with 2 different batches of XTOL. I have used it frequently in the recent past I've noticed my negs were thinner than desired. Any suggestions. Tues I'll call Kodak, but for now this is very disconcerting because most of my stuff is portraiture and I enjoy the low grain. thanks for any help carol

-- carol maurin (cbmaurin@earthlink.net), September 01, 2001


I've been using XTol 1:1 with home made rotary tubes for the last couple of years in developing TMY and Tri-X sheet film. I did my own sensitometry guided by "Beyond The Zone System." I found that the recommended times from Kodak were way off.

It wasn't until about six months ago, and after I had done some serious printing, that I started experimenting with longer times and found that my sensitometry could use some tweaking. Bottom line - I generally multiply Kodak's recommended times by a factor of 2.5 to 3 in order get a good full-scale negative. For a subject with a "normal" subject brightness range of 7 (@ ISO 320), I'll be spinning those tubes for 18:00. Makes the wrists a bit sore, but the results are worth it.

I'd suggest trying much longer times at 1:1, or go to 100% XTol for the times you've been using.

Good luck.

-- rich lingg (earregardless@yahoo.com), September 01, 2001.

If you mean "thin" as in insufficient shadow density that means the film is underexposed for the film/developer combination you're using. If you mean "thin" as in low contast, develop longer.

If otoh you mean both insufficient shadow density and low contrast, give more exposure _and_ give more development.

WARNING...this could also be the symptom of the "dreaded Xtol failure," which is a situation in which previously-good developer suddenly and unexpectedly dies, giving grossly underdeveloped negs.

Kodak has had some packaging problems with Xtol, so it's surely possible that you got two bad packages. I'd expect Xtol 1:1 to give 1/3 to 2/3 stop more "real" speed than HC-110 unless the negs were badly underdeveloped, and Kodak's recommended development time shouldn't be _that_ bad.

Another thing; be sure you used _at least_ 125ml Xtol stock per roll; significantly less than that could cause the problem you described. You may run into a solution-capacity problem with the Jobo depending on which machine you have; the CPE machines can't handle more than 600ml total solution.

Anyway...I happily used Xtol for about two years...and then suddenly got a grossly underdeveloped roll which was a throwaway. No more Xtol for me. While it has fine development characteristics otherwise, such a failure one day after the same stock developed film satisfactorily is unacceptable.

Lately I've been messing with a developer I'd never tried before, Ilford Ilfosol-S. It's a PQ/ascorbate developer in a liquid concentrate, which I use 1:14 in the Jobo to get sufficiently-long development times. Good speed, sharp, very fine grain etc.

BTW, try some of the new version of Ilford Delta 400. It's rather good.

-- John Hicks (jbh@magicnet.net), September 01, 2001.

This sure sounds like XTOL failure. It drives me crazy that no one has been able to pin this down to age, water, storage conditions, etc., and that there doesn't seem to be a test for the stuff that would tell you that it's gone bad. I think they need an indicator like the indicator stop bath. I thought I had a failure once, but it was probably a goof up on my part. I check the packaging carefully and shake the contents to be sure it's not caked. Living near Rochester, I probably get fresher XTOL than most. Just to prove I'm crazy, I use the Kodak time for FP4+ and generally get too much contrast. I keep reducing the agitation and time, but still get half a grade more contrast than I really want. I keep at it because I really like the fine grain and nice edges.

-- Conrad Hoffman (choffman@rpa.net), September 01, 2001.

You guys have me worried. I just bought two more packs of 5lts of XTOL. I have used it for the last 8 months without a problem & I am just about as far from Rochester as can be. I do however develop for longer than the published times (+5%) and use it at at 1part XTOL 2 parts water. I do not know if this has an effect on the product but I mix XTOL at a higher temperature than reccomended & store it in one of those colapsable plastic bags in a box that come full with cheap wine!! I have also stored Microphen this way & it has been good after 3 months. BTW Delta 400 is possibly the best all round B&W film ever produced.

-- Melvin (bramley@nanaimo.ark.com), September 02, 2001.

I have never had a problem with XTOL from the first day I tried it...(of course I tested it with my film first) Every once in a while I still throw a couple of zone test exposures in with my regular stuff and it always is the same on my desitometer. I always use distilled water. Always. I mix it in the 85 degree range. Make sure part A is completely dissolved before adding part B. That is very important.

I use it 1:1. Hand tank for my 6X7, Jobo expert drum for my 4X5.

I range from about .12 @zone 1 to 1.35 @ zone 8

My Jobo times etc..

4x5 TMAX 100 (shot at 164), 70 degrees, speed F, 8min 20sec, jobo 3010 expert drum.

6x7 in a hand tank....

Ilford delta 100 (shot at 100) 13 min @ 68 degrees. Smooth inversions for the first 30 sec, then 3 inversions in 10 sec every minute untill 13min has elapsed

-- mike (scvcym8567@aol.com), September 02, 2001.

Mike, many of the rest of us tested Xtol with our film before committing to using it and then got bit when it inexplicably failed completely.

As to thin negs, it probably is not an Xtol failure but either underexposure or underdevelopment as mentioned above.

Do you know how to tell if the negatives have received full exposure by looking so you can tell if it is only underdevelopment?

-- Dan Smith (shooter@brigham.net), September 03, 2001.

Not to go back to the obvious, but are you sure that your mixing and dilution were correct?

-- Ed Farmer (photography2k@hotmail.com), September 03, 2001.

followup: Mixed a new batch of XTOL. Noticed that it was Solution A that does not dissolve well. Kodak, upon calling, said to mix slowly. Add water, add powder gradually. This didn't get EVERYTHING dissolved. I heated up the mixture. Not until I got to almost 100 deg did I get it to ALMOST completely dissolved. I added 'slowly' solution B. Ran a strip from 35mm TRI X, 1:1, 6 min (according to their charts), in my JOBO. Very nice contrast; very nice negs. In thinking back to all the times I've mixed XTOL, mixing to completion has always been a problem. I suspect, I had too much undissolved and, hence, the thin, unusable results. We'll see how the 120 (ISO 320) turns out. Shouldn't make any difference. carol

-- carol maurin (cbmaurin@earthlink.net), September 04, 2001.

carol : "followup: Mixed a new batch of XTOL. Noticed that it was Solution A that does not dissolve well. Kodak, upon calling, said to mix slowly.Add water, add powder gradually. This didn't get EVERYTHING dissolved."

Do you use distilled water to mix your Xtol? I do and I have not noticed any problem in getting Xtol to dissolve.

-- Henry Ambrose (herny@henryambrose.com), September 05, 2001.

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