Pyrocat HD vs MC for final output to scan

Discussion in 'Black and White' started by kaiyen, Dec 15, 2016.

  1. Hi all,
    I've read up quite a bit on Pyrocat HD vs. MC. I'm pretty torn between them (would order the Photo Formulary versions rather than mixing my own) but most of the posts I've found so far are oriented more towards wet printing. Anyone have any quick comments specific to scanning as a final destination? I use a Coolscan IV for 35mm, by the way, and an Epson V750 for MF and LF.
    Shoot mostly TXT in 35mm for now (more street photography so speed matters) but occasionally mix in FP4 or even PanF, TXT, Acros in MF and Fomapan 200 in LF. But I'm using up my film stock so stuff gets mixed in there.
  2. I've played around with every developer under the sun.
    Unfortunately, pyrogallol and "pyrocat" are poisonous.
    Take the easy way out. Use XTOL. It's safe, fine grain,
    high accutance, cheap, reliable, versatile etc etc. Used as
    a replenished developer, it costs just 10-20 cents to
    develop a roll. It's simply not worth risking your health
    with anything else.
    If you can't get a really good result with XTOL, it's your
    capabilities that are the issue, not the developer.
  3. I'm familiar with XTOL. Any chance I could get an answer to the question? I appreciate the words of caution, truly. But my question still stands.
  4. Don't you just love it when you ask a question and end up getting an answer to a question you never ask? I have mixed up both Pyrocat-HD and MC. I settled on MC simply because my negatives/prints looked a little sharper, but it could be just to my eyes. Scanning wise I really couldn't see any difference, but I'm using 120 film and a Nikon Super Coolscan 8000ED. I used Pyrocat-MC mainly with Acros, FP4+ and Shanghai GP3 when I could get it. That said, I'm now mostly using Xtol-R for most of my 35mm and even some of my 120 film.
  5. My experience mirrors John W's. I've settled on the MC variant simply for shelf life and stability advantages (though the HD is good in this regard, too). The MC may have a bit of sharpness advantage but not enough to be the decision maker. I find that the edge effects of the PyroCats give my scans sharper delineation on hard edges and eyelash sort of detail The stain effect vs traditional developers seems more compatible with scanning, too. The tonal transitions seem easier to handle by scanners and give a bit more of that 3D "pop" on subtle tonal transitions such as skin tones.
    I understand Xtol's popularity (and use it myself). I just find scanning goes so much easier with the staining developers. I was playing around with some of Barry Thornton's staining developers many years back (I forget those names as I write this) and noticed how suddenly I was able to scan without all of the light scatter effects. Back then, one had to order from the UK and I eventually ended up with PyroCat giving almost identical results and enjoyed mixing my own chemicals after getting equipped and accustomed to it. Photographers Formulary sells some of his developers along with PyroCat stuff as the OP mentioned. Start out with about 1/2 box speed if you prefer good shadow detail and work from there.
  6. Catechol is the active ingredient in Pyrocat and the Metol or Phenidone add super-additivity but don't differ much in grain. Shelf life wise I haven't found much difference between the two.
    What Ian states is technically true, but misguided. It should be considered toxic while mixing because the dust can be inhaled into your lungs and absorbed into the blood and on to your liver....wear a dust mask. Other than that you should not guzzle the developer or inject it into your blood stream.... :) The same could probably said about XTOL or D76 or .......
    I personally would stay away from the glycol versions. Although their shelf life is extended, every time you use a clean (wet) syringe to measure, you risk introducing water into your developer and have it go bad on you. This always my problem and I just used the water based versions instead.
    If you use vuescan, use the red gun for BW conversion. This helps it increase the contrast for the red/brown stain.
    All this said, I have moved on from Pyrocat in favor of my own catechol formulation. Pyrocat was formulated for the curve of FP4 in mind, and mine favored activity and greater stain. For the record, I use Metol because the ingredient has a better shelf life unmixed; and I bought 5 lbs of the stuff.
  7. Peter,
    I only use the glycol version of Pyrocat-MC and never have a problem with inducing water into the stock. Just make sure your syringe is dry. Actually, now I use tiny plastic throw-a-way contact lens cups and they work just perfect. A syringe will work fine too, but the viscosity of the glycol mix is so thick it makes it difficult to extract the solution without using a fairly large syringe with "no" needle on the end. So, I now prefer the eye cups instead.
  8. Thanks for the information and tips. I've found the staining to help on scanning, too, but haven't used MC at all, and HD not enough, to be certain. Maybe 10 rolls total, 135 and 120, in HD.
    John - thanks for the tips on working with the glycol version. I've never used that at all. So you pour some into the contact lens cups and then use a syringe from there? Or...?
  9. John, I find it is not worth the screw up. I like to be as systematic as possible and that is just too much of a possibility for a screw up to willingly do when there is an alternative to not. Thus I never recommend it. my water based developer lasts over a year and I do not see why Pyrocat would be any less.
  10. peter - so you find the differences in HD and MC sufficiently minor that messing around with glycol is enough of a deterrent?
  11. Allan,
    The only difference in the H2O version of Pyrocat-HD / MC and the glycol version is pretty much the keeping qualities of the developer. If you use glycol instead or water the shelf life goes from months to years. So, for me anyway, glycol lets me makeup almost a lifetime supply at once. The disadvantages are glycol is pretty thick when cool so it's a little hard to measure/mix. Why I use the little eye-contact cups. I have a small black line marked on my "A" cup and one on my "B". I just pour stock from my bottle to the fill line and then add it to my premeasured amount of H2O just before development. Simple and no way to contaminate anything. The advantages for glycol are you can mix a near-lifetime supply at one time. Another advantage is that you have that much stock mixed so you won't have any mixing variables come up for years. Every batch you mix for working solution will be the same. I just developed a roll of PanF+ 35mm in Pyrocat-MC and when I examined the negatives on the light table after drying it just made me smile. Really, really fantastically good stuff and well worth the effort. As for which is better? Mc or HD? I say flip a coin.
  12. If you want it a tick sharper I can recommend the Pyrocat-HDC. I am using it in Glycol too. You can use the Pyrocat-HD developing times. However the difference between those developers is very very small.
    The lifespan of the Glycol version is pretty long I won't say to make a lifetime supply but 2-3 years is no problem at all. Although it is possible to make it yourself the Pyrocatechine is very toxid and dangerous to work with in a non lab environment. One of the reasons I have a lab in Odessa who is making all these special types of developers for me. If you look at the MSDS from Pyrocatechine you can see that inhalation of dust is not a joke at all but can be fatal. So without chemical experience it is better to leave it to the professionals for making it or use the personal safety materials recommended for working with hazardous materials.

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