The Problem with Xtol - Some After Thoughts : LUSENET : Large format photography : One Thread

I would Like to thank everyone for their responses to my earlier posting including Kodak, who have advised me that this problem only exists / existed in the 1 litre packaging. Thinking back about my experiences with the failures, I can't dispute this - nor can I confirm it. If so it solves a lot of problems for me.

Anyway, I would like to share a couple of other observations - things that I think I've noticed. First. Xtol is sensitive to agitation. I never had a problem with uneven development until I began to use Xtol. It required me to change my technique and pay a little more attention. Easly to solve, but you have to be careful. Second. The developed film takes on a slight brown cast. It doesn't appear to be neutral grey like in HC-110 or ID-11. Not a problem - just an observation. Last. Film base + fog is increased. There is noticeable density in the film edges. Sometimes it's a little distracting but easily printed through. Since my last failure, I have used ID-11. The results are so reliable and the film looks so good, that I'm almost reluctant to give Xtol another try. The problem is that when it works, it can work beautifully. I'd welcome any discussion on my observations.

-- Bill Lester (, February 23, 2001


Sorry I forgot in my last posting about Xtol to tell my agitation time! I always make it in 30 seconds intervalls and I used always 1 litre packaging and sometimes I was also using it a second time 2-3 weeks later, but then with 10% longer developer time! For me is it the best sharpest fine gray creator! There is only one combination which is maybe better, and its cold Gigabitfilm but I only dev. 3 4x5 inch films up to know so I talk about it after more expirience!

-- Armin Seeholzer (, February 23, 2001.

> developed film takes on a slight brown cast.

I have found that the densities and colour associated with the emulsion in Xtol (brownish cast) benefit CCD scanning. I also find that developing times in Xtol are always 30% greater than Kodak's specifications, which remains a mystery. I am surprised that others have not seen the drastic grain reduction in TMax films using Xtol, as compared to other developers. one additional note, is that 35mm TMax films seem to be radically different from their 120 and 4x5 brethren. I am sure this is not the case, but any predictability with TMY in 120 disappears when I attempt working with 135.

-- daniel taylor (, February 23, 2001.

There is something to be said about what is tried and true! HC-110, ID-11, D76, Diafine (as well as others) have stood the test of time and new emulsions... The old southern saying stands true "..don't fix it unless it's broke..." Cheers

-- Scott Walton (, February 23, 2001.

To be accurate, the old southern saying actually goes like this: "If it ain't broke, don't fix it." You can also get away with saying "Don't fix it if it ain't broke." Your quote, "...don't fix it unless it's broke..." has a bit of a northern twinge to it. It just ain't complete Southernese.

-- Ken Burns (, February 23, 2001.

then there's the southernese mechanic's axiomatic response to murphy's law of strange automobile noises...

me: "Well, it WAS making a sound"

mechanic: "If it ain't broke, I cain't fix it."

-- (, February 23, 2001.

Bill, I have been using the 5L packages XTOL and never had a problem with it, never encoutered the "ghost negatives" described in many threads. Maybe I was just lucky, or maybe it is the 5L package? I agree, TMAX100 developed in XTOL gives increadibly fine grain - I was almost shocked to see this under the microscope! The grain comes out much finer than what I get with Delta100 in XTOL and approaches that of TechPan developed in Technidol!

-- Andreas Carl (, February 24, 2001.

What brownish cast??? I have used XTOL with TMAX, Delta 100 to 3200 films and PanF and never got a brownish cast. Film base is as clear as it gets. I process all film in a Jobo rotary processor, maybe that has something to do with it?

-- Andreas Carl (, February 24, 2001.

the film base is clear, though the TMax emulsions takes on a brown/grey colour. quite evident in 4x5. I would have thought it was my Oregon spring water if others hadn't reported identical observations. I see much the same thing with TMax RS and TMax, especially TMY.

-- daniel taylor (, February 24, 2001.

I tried six packages of five liter XTOL and each package gave different results. I used a Jobo and distilled water.

-- William Marderness (, February 24, 2001.

Bill, I use XTOL for just about everything. I get longer tonality with XTOL over my other developer, Rodinal. My experience is in medium format. I experienced one failure out of 60 developed rolls. Films developed are conventional and not the T-grain type. The failed roll had a slight brown tone. I use 1 litre packages, mix with distrilled water, mix 1:2 for roll film (small tank), toss remainder after 3 or 4 months. There is some question about high Ph reducing XTOL developer activity. Additionaly, Kodak removed the 1:2 and 1:3 dilution charts, a conservative move from my perspective.

-- Richard Jepsen (, February 25, 2001.

Well, I wasn't believing Richard because the Kodak XTOL pub I had from maybe a year ago had 1:2 and 1:3 dilutions on it, but I just looks, and sure enough- they removed them.

Funny thing, I was going to go home tonight and start characterize my processing for 1:2. I have been using 1:1, but don't like the short times I get - especially for N- processing - getting to be less than 5 minutes - at the temps I have to run. (25C).

I don't understand why stronger dilutions are "more conservative?" Anyone want to explain? I like more dilute so I can control my processing times more accurately.

-- John H. Henderson (, March 01, 2001.

Stronger dilutions of Xtol are 'more conservative' because Xtol is sensitive to hard water, iron, chorine, calcium and other minerals that are there in greater amounts when you use greater dilution. The Yellow Peril recommend 1:1 dilution at the greatest now, after seeing so many have problems with greater dilution. 100ml stock is the bare minimum to use per 8x10 film unit and 200-300 is much better under most circumstances, with some films requiring 200 as a minimum. With some saying "I have never had a problem" I can only think of those who say "I have never been hit by a drunk driver". It may yet happen, or maybe not. But to deny it can and does happen to others who are careful is to belittle their craft. It does happen and to some darkroom workers who are excellent and careful in what they do and how they do it. The 'dreaded Xtol failure' does happen with the 5 litre packages, not just the one litre ones. The 5 litre packages have had an ongoing problem with the part 'A' leaking powder due to improper sealing. Supposedly this has been fixed. As to our one photographer with the 'dreaded Xtol failure' that has happened once in 60 rolls of film. Do you want to trust once in a lifetime images to those odds? Especially since there are so many other options that do not have a 1 in 60 chance of crapping out on you? Xtol has the possibility of being one of the finest B&W products available. But The Yellow Godfather is screwing it up badly. I will repeat here what I said about Xtol in another thread. It is a lot like having a whore for a girlfriend. It may seem great, but one morning you might wake up to a nasty surprise.

-- Dan Smith (, March 01, 2001.

Just a note, that in reading every response I could find on XTOL between every forum around, it seems that a higher developing temperature insures more sucess. Some responses have never noted an XTOL failure (large enough quanities) when used at temperatures from 70F to 75F, and at dilutions. I'm not a chemist, but maybe someone else is, and can explain if there could be any difference. IS XTOL really a higher temp developer?

-- Wayne Crider (, March 23, 2001.

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