underdeveloped T-Max film

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More times than not I underdeveloped my 35mm T-max film, but I didn't do that much proccessing with this format. My heart was in 4x5. Now its the same with 4x5, T-max RS, 400 speed negs. The negs are thin and flat. I'm doing everything right with temp. and time, recommended by Kodak, 75 degrees, 6 minutes. The mixing instructions are to pour developer in water to make a gallon. I felt this would deteriorate quickly mixed with the water( maybe the water does nothing to deteriorate the life of the solution, its the actual developing ) and I thought I read on this site that I could make a 1:9 solution. Could it be that 1:9 is not the way to go and I should have followed Kodaks directions?

-- Raven (mtand13@netreach.net), August 09, 2000


Raven: I would go back to the 4-1 water to developer ratio as per Kodak. Nine to one is less than half of the recommended strength. Normally, water is not the problem with developer deteriation, the problem is with air. I have found that T-Max RS lasts quite well in tightly stoppered full bottles. I often divide a gallon into four quart bottles filled to the top and it keeps well. After more than 40 years of amatuer and professional photography, I have found it best not to vary much from the manufacturer's recommendations on mixing chemicals. You might be able to tailor the mix a little to fine tune your development to your way of working, but only minor changes. They spend a great deal of money and time developing the products before they are released for sale. If a lesser strength would work well, you can bet they would save the money and dilute it themselves. Give the full strength developer a shot and see if it doesn't make a difference.

Good Shooting, Doug.

-- Doug Paramore (dougmary@alanet.com), August 09, 2000.

If you get the papmplet that Kodak has on T-Max films you will see that the 1:9 mix for T-Max RS is also a recommended dilution. The development times are also longer but there is a little more room for error with the longer development time. The Large Format Page just posted an article by John Sexton on developing T-Max that is worth a look. I do know that the development times that he recommends in the article for T-Max RS are not what he recommends now. At the time he wrote the article John was using D-76 and probably didn't have the experience with T-Max RS that he has now. One question that I would have for you is: do you know that your exposures are correct? Shutters are working good lenses properly calibrated and light meter working right. You might try making an exposure on a sunny day with the sunny 16 rule and see if that makes a difference.

I have just re-read your question again. If you diluted your T-Max RS to 1 part developer concentrate and 9 parts water and developed for 6 minutes at 75 degrees you will get a grossly under developed negative. You also know that the 1 gallon mix is considered a 1:4 mix so I really hope that you didn't add 9 parts water to that. A little more information might be helpful.

-- Jeff White (zonie@computer-concepts.com), August 09, 2000.

Raven, a 1:9 dilution of Tmax RS should be from the concentrate and not from your gallon mixture. As Jeff was getting at in his post, if your dilution of 1:9 was from that rather than from the concentrate your developer was very weak. Also, I believe Sexton gives Tmax 400 and 100 E.I. of 250 & 50 respectively. The development time for the 1:9 dilution should be 11 minutes. It sounds like you diluted the developer too much and the development time was too short. With your gallon mix being a 1:4 dilution go with that at 6 minutes and your results should improve. Try again and good luck. Pat.

-- Pat Kearns (pat.kearns@coopertsmith.com), August 10, 2000.

pat is steering you right on EI. i have shot 1000s of tmax100 negs and have found that i generally must expose it at about ASA 50 to get a full tonal balance in my negatives.

-- jnorman (jnorman@teleport.com), August 10, 2000.

If you are getting underdeveloped negatives, you are NOT doing everythnig right...no matter what Kodak recommends. First, are you sure you aren't underexposing the negatives to begin with? Even if flat, how is the detail in the shadow areas? Little or no detail? If so, you are underexposing them. Good detail? Then you are OK./ Take 6 sheets of film & expose them identically and then process them, one at a time, adding about 10% to the development time with each negative. The first at your 6 minutes, the next about 10% more, and add another 10% for each negative. Then contact print them and see which gives you a usable negative with detail everywhere you would expect it to be. (if you metered right & have your film speed rated correctly for your processing) After you get a basic time that gives you negatives that look good, use it as your basic time. It is easy to do and one or two basic tests and you will eliminate most of the errors that are giving you these thin and flat negatives.

-- Dan Smith (shooter@brigham.net), August 10, 2000.

I just woke up and ran downstairs to look at the bottle of developer, realizing its not me, but the dilution was to weak. Yes, 4:1, thats it!!!! Thanks everyone for your advise.

-- Raven (mtand13@netreach.net), August 10, 2000.

Simple. Increase your exposure for denser negatives and increase your development time for higher contrast. OH! and make sure you have enough total developer in solution to complete the Job.

-- Pat Raymore (patrick.f.raymore@kp.org), August 10, 2000.

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