Microdol X - How does this product compare to xtol?

Discussion in 'Black and White' started by orman_hall, Sep 6, 1999.

  1. I have developed a number of tmax 100 rolls using tmx developer with very frustrating results. I like the grain pattern but the contrast is absolutely awful. I am considering changing my developer to either xtol or microdol. Any recommendations? I am open to using other developers.
     
  2. Hi Orman,

    <p>

    Get the latest issue of Photo Techniques magazine. It has an article
    on the development of Xtol you will find very interesting.
    Personally, I think T-MAX developer is a far better drain cleaner
    than a developer. Note that the bold faced processing recommendation
    is for 75 degrees. I used it for a long time at 68 degrees and the
    results were lousy. With T-Max 100 film, I couldn't control the
    highlights, or the overall contrast was unacceptable. With Xtol,
    everything stays under control, and the print quality is excellent.
    Without revealing too much from the article, Xtol is one of few
    developers that can have better performance in grain, sharpness, and
    film speed, all at the same time. It's a significant improvement.

    <p>

    Microdol was fun in its day, but I don't know why anyone would use it
    now. It has very fine grain, but at the expense of sharpness and film
    speed.

    <p>

    Look at the Kodak web site and download the Xtol application data.
    Also, get the current Kodak professional products catalog and look at
    the developer comparison chart in the back. It rates them all, and
    Xtol is the obvious winner.
     
  3. Hello Orman. Call me crazy but I shoot TMX at E.I. 200 and
    process in xtol using the time/temp recommendations for E.I. 100.
    I shot a lot of TMX and, like you, hated the results I got with
    t-max developer. The xtol works well for me and I find the negs
    easy to print on 8X10 (on grade 2-2.5 paper). Try the above technique,
    I know it sounds like your negs will be under exposed and under developed (maybe my equipment and my brain are crap?) but give
    it a go and let me know if you like the results.
    like the results.

    <p>

    Good luck, Michael.
     
  4. Hi again,

    <p>

    Hey, Michael ain't crazy! He's just underexposing by a stop, and some
    of the absolutely sharpest, near zero grain, prints I've made were a
    result of doing exactly that on TMax100. The prints can actually take
    on a 4x5 look. The problem is the shadow detail isn't great, but with
    many subjects, that isn't relevant. With a few tiny errors stacked in
    his favor, (temperature, shutter speed, aperture, adjitation) it's
    more like a half stop or so.
     
  5. Thanks Conrad and Michael. These are great suggestions. I am going to use xtol on my next roll of tmax. One other quick note, in addition to the contrast problems, I have also experienced some pretty serious defects in the emulsion of my film. This problem appears to go away when I use tri x. Any recommendations?
     
  6. Defects! We don need no steenking defects! Can you describe further?
     
  7. My tmax negatives often produce prints that have white spots. I am using tap water to dilute chemicals and to rinse my negs. I am assuming that the water is my problem but I don't encounter this problem when developing tri x.
     
  8. I've never had a processing problem that was specific to one film, so
    hopefully someone else here will have some clues. T-Max is tough to
    fix, so you might have some spots that aren't fully fixed. These are
    usually near the edges, however. White spots on the prints mean black
    spots on the neg. It's either chemical contamination that converts to
    silver, or some surface debris that sticks to the neg. See if you can
    scrape it off, or if it seems to be part of the emulsion (on a scrap
    frame!). Are the spots perfectly round or irregular? Pour some
    developer into a clear bottle and hold it up to the light- see any
    particulates floating around?
     
  9. I don't see the point of using MicX with TMX, which is pretty darn
    fine-grained to begin with...

    <p>

    I used to use MicX 1:3 for my Minox APX 100 negatives, and it was a
    mixed bag. The grain was EXCELLENT - virtually invisible in a 4x5
    print viewed from anything beyond a few inches - but... The negatives
    were flat and very lacking in contrast; I ended up printing nearly
    everything with a #4 filter. And, while I never noticed "loss in film
    speed" or "compromised sharpness due to dissolving grains" (both
    common problems attibuted to MicX), I had another issue: serious
    amounts of crud in the solution that adhered to the negatives
    (undissolved developer grains, dust, sludge, etc.) Great prints were
    frequently nearly ruined by nasty schmutz in exactly the worst place.
    (And no, I never had these crud problems with D-76 or other soups.) I
    also found the shelf-life of even a half-package was too short to get
    more than 4 or 5 rolls of Minox film - which only require about an
    ounce of stock solution each - out of before having to toss it away.

    <p>

    Anyway, I've run TMX in both good old D-76 1:1 and Xtol 1:1. (No, I
    haven't tried the T-Max developer.) Results in the D-76 are very good
    (even with Minox negatives) but tend to be a bit contrasty, and there
    are sometimes those problems with blown-out highlights and/or blocked-
    up shadows. Xtol tames the contrast and gives even better grain, but
    I keep borderline-underdeveloping and getting thin negatives where
    the fogged ends aren't totally opaque. (Now mind you, for the Minox
    negatives, I am agitating far less than recommended and adding more
    dev time to compensate - as agitation promotes visible grain, and
    that's the main enemy in Minox terms - but I haven't hit on the right
    formula just yet.)

    <p>

    Anyway, I think Xtol is probably the way to go for TMX, especially in
    formats larger than Minox where there's some maneuvering room in
    terms of grain/sharpness/contrast tradeoffs. But you know, that old
    stand-by D-76 1:1 is pretty darn good too...
     
  10. To Michael:
    Microdol-X, when diluted to 1:3, loses most of the effects of
    high sulfide concentration: reduced speed and sharpness. I used to
    dilute it 1:2 for more reasonable dev. times (which I had to come up
    with myself). You still got low contrast with Microdol with increased
    dev. times? I currently use Xtol
    and Microphen (for a speed increase) diluted 1:2. I filter all of my
    chemicals through paper coffee filters. To use one filter per session
    without contamination I go in this order: developer, rinse filter in
    water, Heico Perma Wash, stop bath, second fixer, first fixer. I have
    a filter on the faucet too. This keeps the crud off the negs.
     
  11. Orman, I found Tmax developed in Tmax developer to be short on tonal
    range with highlights blocked. Stephen Anchell and Bill Troop write
    in the Film Developing Cookbook that micro-contrast can be too high
    in tabular grain films since the lateral dimensions of flat tab
    grains do not scatter light as well as conventional grains. When
    there is an abrupt change in exposure level, there is a tendency to
    high contrast in micro areas. The visual result is high sharpness
    but poor gradation. They recommend XTOL for T-Max films at 1:3. The
    dilute development should aid the highlight issue however I have not
    tried this combo of film and developer.
     
  12. Here is my (non-helpful) response: switch to Ilford Delta 100. It's
    easier to control the development.
     

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