Author Topic: xtolish home made developers  (Read 310 times)

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xtolish home made developers
« on: October 11, 2017, 12:35:54 PM »
We were discussing "xtolish" developers in the last we thread. I would like to  add my own experiances and maybe we can collect here those from other filmwasters.

I never had real Xtol in my hands, but as a Caffenol cook I also aquired other useful agents for the darkroom work. Vit-C and anhydrous washing soda were already at hand, and for mixing Parodinal I bought sodium sulfite (bubble-ex for water beds) and finally also ordered some phenidone and metol. So everything for some basic developer cooking is at hand.

After successfully making Parodinal and Beutler, I tried the first Xtol clone called Mytol and found it working great. I even mixed it at double strength and had no issues with keeping properties. But I also found the dev times for diluted Xtol quite unconveniant. Diluted Xtol is said to give sharper negs at the coast of long dev times. So my goal was to create a low sulfite phenodone-vit-c (PC) developer with full strength dev. power. Of course a low sulfite dev doesn't keep well, so I came out with an always fresh to prepare develeper. Since there are only a few easy to handle ingredients it's no big deal, if you have a scale that can weigh with a resolution of at least 0.1 g. Mine is a 0.01 g type which coast me about 10 bucks some years ago when I started with the Caffenol thing.

First I made a 1% solution of phenidone in propylene glycol, which is easily available. I diluted 2.5 gramms in 250 ml. Since there is no oxygene present, it will keep very loooong. A few ml are measured with a little syringe that is available in pharmacies for some cents. You don't need a needle :-D I store the P-stock in small glass bottles with plastic screw caps. Don't use metal caps, the P doesn't like metaö at all.

And here is the simple recipe, add in given order:

800 ml destilled water
16 g sodium sulfite (anhydrous)
5 g sodium carbonate (anhydrous) = waterfree washing soda
10 g Vit-C
12 ml of the 1 % phenidone stock
add destilled water for 1 liter

Everything dilutes fine and quick at room temp, it's easier to prepare than Caffenol. I only prepare 250 ml at the time for a single 35 mm film. pH is 8.3, measured with a recently calibrated pH-meter, so very close to the original 8.2 of Xtol. You don't need to check the pH yourself if you weigh well.

You could also make a stock solution of  the other ingredients, but I don't recommend it. You need a good scale anyway and so you can use it for an always fresh dev.

How does it work? Simply great. The negs look "clean" with very low base fog, fine grained and sharp with Kentmere 400, which tends to give rather big grain in many other developers. Film speed is fine to. Real ISO 400 with Kentmere 400 is perfect. You can develop at a wide range of temperature with adjusted times, I even deved at 27 °C this summer without probs. This is a hq, low-coast and easy to handle homemade allround 1-shot film developer. It will be my standard in the future. And for bigger nice grain  I will still prefer Caffenol-C.

Tonality is superb, contrast can be controlled by agitation. Xtol shall be used with Kodak agitation of 30 sec continuos initially and 3-5 times within 5 seconds for every 30 seconds and I recommend this also for a regular contrast with my PC-brew.

If you calculate the amounts of ingredients you will notice that there is more phenidone in the working solution than claimed for other recipes. Xtol has an agent to enhance the dev power, we don't have it here and I found that with only 2 ml phenidone stock the dev times are too long for my taste. Since raw phenidone is dirt cheap, I added 50 % P and now I'm satisfied completely with the results. Dev times are about between Xtol stock and 1+1.

Of course this is no 100% clone of Xtol and we shouldn't try to make it 100 % compatible with our hobby lab possibilities. But this is a great developer, imo has even some advantages compared with real Xtol regarding dev time and keeping properties.

Many of my recent bw work shown at flickr and posted here was developed with this soup.

I'm curious about your thoughts.

Sample: Kentmere400 @ 400:

tattoed girl at flea market
by Imagesfrugales, on Flickr
« Last Edit: October 11, 2017, 12:42:59 PM by imagesfrugales »


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Re: xtolish home made developers
« Reply #1 on: October 11, 2017, 04:45:43 PM »
Many thanks for this, Reinhold.  I have long been a fan of Xtol for the results and the gentleness of the chemicals.  (Metol, used in other developers, is gross or at least unpleasant on the skin.)  Unfortunately, my current situation of splitting my time between two households—on two continents—doesn’t allow for storage of perishables.  This is partly why I have started using one-shot mixes of Caffenol C-L.  I also like the results.  Since I already have a decent balance scale and most of the chemicals you list, I will soon be experimenting with PC developer.


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Re: xtolish home made developers
« Reply #2 on: October 11, 2017, 05:41:30 PM »
Good stuff Reinhold. I just made a batch of My-tol, but once that is gone, I'm giving your recipe a try. Do you store the phenidone solution in a collapsible bottle or some other oxygen-free environment?
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Re: xtolish home made developers
« Reply #3 on: October 11, 2017, 09:38:17 PM »
James: first I mixed it in the 250 ml pg bottle as I bought it. Then, after I taking out some ml I transfered the P-stock in high filled small 50 ml glass bottles with plastic screw caps often used in pharmacies and sold cheap. So there is always only a small 50 ml bottle in use. But that's most probably overkill. I don't think that air is a problem, the solution should keep as well as HC110. I red a lot on APUG (now labeled photrio) and there seem to be no concerns. But I wouldn't use metal caps, a batch of Mytol ruined one in a few months. The caps plastic coating didn't help at all. And P is said to be very sensitive for metal ions.


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Re: xtolish home made developers
« Reply #4 on: October 12, 2017, 06:51:16 PM »
encouraging development this! (pun intended but I still mean it!)

also, photrio seems like a good solution for those forums of lore. I'm pleasantly impressed :)