Kodak vs Ilford agitation

Discussion in 'Black and White' started by michel_leclerc, Jan 3, 2012.

  1. Hello,
    I'm coming back to B&W and i'll like to know if the agitation method from Kodak or Ilford will give more or less the same result with same film and chemicals? Since one used more agitation less often orthe other way around. Is there some advantages to agitate the first 30 seconds.
    Also, i read that pre wetting the film before development might help in the case of 120 films or it is old school.
  2. Agitation in the first 30 secs makes sure there are no air bubbles sticking to the film. The most important, is pick a method, stick to it and be constant from film to film in temp, timing and agitation method.
  3. Agitation and pre-soaking are religious topics. Gird up thy loins.
    Regarding agitation, there's no single correct way. Every known technique seems to work for most practitioners. Even the dreaded twirly stick technique of the plastic tank pagans seems to work despite cries of "Burn the witch!" from stainless steel tank fundamentalists. Occasionally some heretic will experience problems with one doctrine and switch to another, where they find contentment.
    As Bob advised, consistency is the key.
    Pre-soaking film is another subject of religious fervor. The practice dates back to sheet films developed in open trays for very short times, often only a minute or two. With contemporary roll film emulsions and typical development times of 6-10 minutes, it seems pointless... to me. But other folks prefer pre-soaking and report contentment, success in their endeavors, bliss and/or nirvana. So I've adopted an ecumenical philosophy. There's more than one path to photographic paradise.
    I haven't read the Ilford instructions recently but they used to generally recommend against pre-soaking. Apparently Ilford's emulsions are designed to rapidly and evenly respond to developer without any need for pre-soaking. Theoretically pre-soaking could actually defeat that design and cause problems. Whether that happens in actual practice, I don't know. But I don't see any need to complicate issues.
    The only time I *might* pre-soak Ilford or Kodak films is when I'm working with re-usable developers like Diafine or Microphen stock solution. But even when I don't pre-soak the returned developer is only slightly discolored. After several reuses the stock solution is slightly purplish.
    However dyes from Efke films were readily soluble in water and would turn my Diafine or Microphen stock solution a beautiful shade of bright aquamarine. So I would pre-soak Efke films before using those developers. But I didn't bother when using one-shot developers like Neofin Blue or Rodinal.
  4. Hey Lex,
    The twirly-stick reminded me of something. I once had a pagan plastic tank with
    twirly-stick/thermometer combo. Didn't use it at first, just inverted tank a couple of times
    at start wearing a rubber kitchen glove to stop leaks. Got a lot of light streaks. Didn't know that
    stick was part of the tank's light seal, ha! Put in stick now but I don't twirl it.
    Best regards,
  5. Agitation technique has more to do with the tank/reel chemical flow characteristics than anything else. Published techniques by film manufacturers are very good starting points that give satisfactory results in most common equipment.
    If a tank type, such as Jobo, says to use a pre wet/wash do it even if the film manufacturer says not to.
    I pre wash Ilford films that say not to use a pre wet and have no problems in tanks that do not require it.
  6. Beautifully written, Lex. I too am a twirly stick heretic. Hundreds upon hundreds of rolls, and nary a worry, nor any spilled chems. Agitation for me is constant, and usually caused by know-it-all wanna-be politicians or busy-body JW-types knocking on my door while I'm fumbling with loading 120 onto a plastic reel.
    Now, back to the darkroom!
  7. Most important in agitation is the amount of agitation, not the shape of the motion, not the pattern, not the incantations you murmur when doing it, not the brand of the timer you use.
  8. Pre - washing can be used as a tempering stage to ensure the dev and the dev tank+contents are at a similar temperature.
  9. I am a member of the Pre-soak and Inversion Church. ;)
    Pre-soak with water at 20 C: invert 6 times in the first 30 seconds, bump the tank to dislodge any air-bubbles and let it stand. After 2 minutes pour out the pre-soak water and fill with dev. Six inversions in the first 30 seconds then one inversion every 30 seconds after that.
  10. I pre-wash in the winter (my darkroom mean be chilly) mainly to warm the stainless steel tank and reel up to a more manageable temperature.
    As for agitation, five seconds every two minutes works for me.
  11. 10 slow inversions up top and 5 more at the top of each minute. I'll adjust my development times but not my agitation routine. Works for me.
    I started pre-soaking with a few drops of photo flow about a year ago. Not sure it helps much but now I feel like I'm short-cutting if I skip the step.
  12. RE pre-soak - I did ask or note the following in a forum somewhere some time ago but never got a plausible explanation: Sometimes I reuse my developer (xtol at stock dilution) because I like the way it looks when it has "mellowed" a bit. Now, if I pre-soak, the water poured out is purple-blue-magenta and the developer also gets stained and dirty quite quickly. If I DON'T pre-soak, the developer comes out crystal clear, time after time. Anybody knows why this is?
    Do I need to say that I don't pre-soak anymore (Kodak TMY-2, TMX, Tri-X, Fuji Acros all in 120)?
  13. I only ever pre soak some ultra large format film I have and that is only because if I dont, it turns the developer very dark blue.
    I do get the temperature consistent from film to film but to be honest, I never count the inversions, swirls or anything else. After a while I reckon you can almost feel what a film wants-depending on the subject and remembering the contrast of the scene etc-
    Also I usually over-expose by at least half a stop and knock 10% off the recomemded dev time. That is not to say you can do whatever you want but you dont have to do exactly what the next person does to get good results.
    The only rule I have is if I happen to use a plastic tank with a twisty stick, I never never twist it fast. This always results in extra development on the edges of the film but that may be perculiar to me. Maybe others twist away really fast and have no problem.
    As a point of interest, I am unable to dev 5x4 film in the square combi tank. It just doesnt work for me. I have to use a round Jobo tank and gently rotate it on its side.
  14. Thanks for all your response!
    Ingemar, i did notice the same thing and it is why i asked about it...
    I just processed 2 FP4+ in D76(1+1) with and with out prewetting but i realized that i have to used more than the 500ml requested because i ended up with stripe under process on the prewetted one, *X&$#**X&$#**X&$#**X&$#*!
    Looking thru a bunch of note , i found out that agitation seems to be adjusted with the product available where you're living: Kodak for America and Ilford for Europe.
  15. I started pre soaking when I was constantly getting some little circles of lower density in uniform area like sky on 120 negs. Prior to that, I hadn't got an air bell or anything like it for 30 years. During the pre soak, I do my best to ensure uniform wetting, so I agitate a lot, rap the tank etc.
    During development, I agitate quite a lot (inversion) during the first 1 or 2 minutes, then very little thereafter. Too much agitation causes more contrast in the highlights. (Of course sometimes you want that- usually I don't).
    Someone put it this way:
    Expose for the shadows, develop for the mid tones, agitate for the highlights.
  16. When I was developing 120 film in SS reels & tank, I would pre-soak for two minutes. According to an article I read, the developer is taken up more evenly if the film is wet. I did notice my skies had a more continuous scale, less mottling, when I started the pre-soak. The same article said I should invert the tank every second for the first 60 seconds (which included adding the developer) and then 4 1-second inversions every 30 seconds. That article was the best advise I ever received on film developing techniques. My negatives went from "What the Hell?" to "Okay!" From then on the negative was not the problem, I got what I had exposed, good and bad.
  17. My theory is... If it works for you then do it.
  18. I think we're all heretics relative to some orthodoxy or other. My theory of agitation is this: for any given film/developer/scene combination and desired IQ set, there is an optimal Agitation Frequency; more than optimal AF diminishes sharpness, local contrast, and compensating effects, while less than optimal AF can produce uneven development. The positive agitation effects diminish subtly with increased agitation, but uneven development is a threshold, as any is too much. The standard methods recommended by Kodak and Ilford represent happy mediums, so if you're happy with medium...........
    (I hope my tongue is evidently in my cheek)
  19. To my friend Lex and all,
    I certain agree with Lex's point and for that matter many if not most non-35mm roll films will wash out lots of dyes which look horrible although they may not affect the product.
    The one point in which I strongly recommend pre soaks is with films developed in drums, especially with roll films. I fill the drums and pre soak at an appropriate temperature for about 2 or 3 minutes this stabilizes the all the film and hardware and will prevent temp drifting. If the room is cool, I pre soak a degree warmer, if the room is warmer, I pre soak a degree cooler (degrees F, if C about 1/2 degree).
    Regarding b/w films, I have done many hours (perhaps 100's) testing with every known agitation technique, believe me there is a difference, especially with roll films, however, time and space doesn't permit much discussion, it would take a small book. In sheet films in hangers, Fuji's published techniques works quite well and that happens to be the original ASA/ANSI technique, sheet films in trays can either be butchered or quite good (I'm old enouth to have developed b/w color separation sheet films for dye transferand that has to be good).

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