Developing Tri-X for Enlarging

Discussion in 'Black and White' started by john_silvey, Aug 30, 2015.

  1. I have a roll of Tri-X that I've kept around for many years, unsure of which developer to use. I was in the unfortunate situation of capturing an image from too far away, yet this is a high school graduation picture and I would like to be able to enlarge it to make a useable print.
    This roll of Tri-X 400 was shot in great light and was exposed properly. I am looking to reduce grain and enhance both sharpness and acuity. Does anyone have a recommended developer? Kodak is vague on X-Tol; I also was thinking about Acufine and Diaphine. Any recommendations would be greatly appreciated!
  2. Format? Is the film old enough that it could fog? That might steer you toward a developer, too.
  3. I'd use HC-110. It doesn't exaggerate base fog in older film, has good speed for Tri-X up to 800, and reasonably fine grain. Overall it's very comparable to D-76 at 1+1. I have lots of Tri-X souped in both and wouldn't be able to tell the difference if I hadn't labeled the negative sleeves. And HC-110 doesn't seem to change properties with dilutions. I liked Dilution H for the more relaxed developing time compared with the familiar Dilution B. Twice the dilution, twice the time, easy to remember. Usually 9-10 minutes in Dilution H with Tri-X at 400-800 looked right for my negatives.
    I didn't use Xtol enough, but it seemed like a good developer with fresh Tri-X, with good speed and reasonably fine grain. No significant visible differences between D-76 1+1 or Microphen 1+1 with fresh film at the box ISO. However I'm a bit wary of using ascorbic acid developers with older film. In my limited uses of Xtol and Ilfosol S - one container each - both seemed to exaggerate base fog a bit with expired films.
    Avoid Diafine - it will exaggerate base fog in older Tri-X, and it's very grainy so enlarging small sections will have very obvious grain, although with fresh film the acutance is good.
    No idea about Acufine, never used it. But in general speed enhancing developers -- including my personal favorite, Microphen -- tend to produce more grain and have a risk of higher base fog with expired films.
  4. Craig: 35mm Tri-X 400 shot May 2007. It's been sitting in the freezer in a Ziplock bag since August of 2007.
    Lex: I'd never even thought about base fog in older film! I've always been pretty careful and have developed negatives quickly, usually within a month to a maximum of two months. I've never used HC-110 -- always D-76 with Tri-X or for TMAX, TMAX developer.
    Any thoughts on Perceptol?
  5. Its questionable if the latent image held up that well reguardless of developer you use but HC110 @ 65°F will keep the base fog to a minimum.
  6. August 2007? No problem. I've developed older film stored at room temp that was nearly indistinguishable from fresh film. As long as it wasn't exposed to high heat (inside a car in summer) it should be fine with the right developer.
    I've tried several developers with older film and the only ones I'd consider unacceptable were Diafine, Rodinal and Ilfosol-S. Much as I like Diafine, it's not well suited to expired films, either old films recently exposed and promptly developed, or film exposed years ago. The only worse base fog I've seen was with homebrewed developer made from Red Devil lye and other horrible stuff, sans any restrainer. Rodinal fogging can be tamed by adding a pinch of Borax, although it's still uber grainy. Ilfosol-S is best suited to ISO 100 and slower films anyway, so skip it.
  7. D-76 1+1 would make the film grainier, due to the lack of solvent effect. Straight D-76 would have the solvent effect that softens the grain without acutance loss.
    HC-110 dilution B would also be fine. Ilford DD-X would also be fine.
    Rodinal will give you exaggerated grain, and a speed loss, certainly not a good choice.
    Microdol-X (now LegacyPro Mic-X) would give you very soft grain, but losing acutance, and with a speed loss.
  8. If you normally use D-76 just develop it the way you always do. Of the thousands of rolls of Tri-X I've done over 40-plus years under a wide variety of circumstances, 90-95 percent have been in D-76. Better to develop it and be done with it than to keep on obsessing over subtle differences that may not make much of a difference anyhow.
  9. I'd say the same as Craig.
  10. Craig: I would like a finer grain than D-76. This is why I am looking for another developer... the subject is going to be rather small so I'm doing quite a bit of enlarging.
  11. Tri-X at 30 years at normal room temperature is starting to get fogged.
    Frozen for eight years, practically as good as new!
    I now have HC-110, but previously used Diafine, even for old film, because it is what I had.
  12. You might even try Microdol-X. You can use it undiluted or diluted 1:3 for slightly sharper negatives, but at the expense of some density and increased grain.

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