XTOL equivalent

Discussion in 'Black and White' started by leo_maniace|2, Jun 1, 2009.

  1. Can anyone suggest a developing agent with similar developing qualities to xtol. I do not like to mix 5L at a time and have read about xtol failures.
  2. Foma makes an equivalent and I think Freestyle has a Kentmere brand equivalent. You can make up PC-TEA and you will get similar results with slower films but not as fine grain with faster films. Microphen is also a phenidone based developer but it contains hydroquinone, which X-tol doesn't. If you dilute Microphen 1:1 you will get a good combination of speed/grain/sharpness. Microphen seems to keep better than X-tol.
  3. If you like XTOL, the "failures" were the result of two things: (1) problems with the original 1 gallon size and (2) issues with the mineral content in certain locales. The first is no longer an issue. The second is cured by using (if you have the mineral content problem) distilled water or putting a carbon filter on your water line. The 5 liter mix is a non-issue if you get a 5 liter jug, such as made by Jobo and sold by B&H (and, I'm sure, others). XTOL is a great full box speed developer that is even better diluted 1+2 and 1+3. I've not found a film that doesn't like XTOL, and I do like that it's kind to the environment.
  4. They sell 2 liter packages as well. Got one, but I haven't mixed it up yet. I'm a bit skittish over the tales of problems with the developer too, and want to wait trying it until I have a couple of rolls that don't matter much to me if they fail.
  5. You can test your developer with a piece of film before pouring it in. Legend says it doesn't lose strength but dies suddenly so this approach should be fine.
    5 liters sounded a bit annoying at first but I just bought couple of extra bottles and mixed the stuff in a normal 10 liter bucket. No big deal really.
    I really like the results with higher dilutions.
  6. Fomadon Excel W27 is an equivalent developer in 1Ltr. pack But the lifetime is shorter then Xtol.
  7. I mix my Xtol up in 2.5 liters of distilled water. That way I have a 2X concentrate and dilute as needed. I have done a test of it's shelf life and found it to be good for at least 3 years in full glass bottles.
  8. The failure stories are over exaggerated. I've been using XTOL for more than 10 years and have NEVER suffered a failure caused by the developer. I keep mine stored in 5 1L bottles and have never had it go bad on me over 6 months and sometimes more. Use it. You'll love it.
  9. If you like to mix devs yourself, there is a recipe for MYTOL in The Darkroom Cookbook.
  10. I've never had a problem either. I mix up 5L at a time with distilled water, and then pour it into 10 .5L bottles. This way I never have more than 1/10th of my XTOL slowly oxidizing in a bottle due to it being partially empty. 5L lasts me about 6 months and this method works fine for that time.
    I just use plain old water bottle bottles - labelled do not drink of course :)
  11. "If you like to mix devs yourself, there is a recipe for MYTOL in The Darkroom Cookbook."
    Publication info or a link, please?
  12. Credit goes to Paul Lewis for Mytol
    H2O 750 ml
    sod. sulfite 60 g
    sod. metaborate 4 g
    sod. ascorbate 12 g
    phenidone 0.15 g
    sod. metabisulfite 3 g
    H2O to make 1 liter
    Notes include: use as you would X-Tol, or at 1+2 dev med speed films 8-13 min at 20C
    As always, test rolls are advised.
  13. I mix it up and put it in the brown 1 lt Arizona iced tea bottles I fill the first 2 to the brim and cap warm the 5th I use. I add boiled glass marbles to it to keep it full to the brim.. and I use a 10 micron water filter to get the water to mix it..
  14. You can make your own Xtol. Go here: http://patft.uspto.gov/ and type in 5,853,964. It will take you to the Xtol patent page. It has several formulae.

    There are, however, indications from the physical behaviour of Xtol that what Kodak sells is somewhat different. Xtol stock solutions have a pH of 8.2 (what Kodak says in the patent); diluted to 1+3 the pH rises to 8.3-8.4. If you make the patent version, the starting solution is 8.35-8.4 and it stays fairly stable with dilution. Those pH differences might not seem like alot, but they're important. The version from the patent is also about 30% less active. What does this tell us? The "weakly alkaline" (Kodak's terminology) pH must come from a buffer, rather than just from metaborate and metabisulfite. I suspect a small amount of boric acid (i.e. a metaborate-boric acid buffer); it makes the most sense chemically; I also have some supporting data from mass spectroscopy analysis of commercial Xtol. The EDTA is also probably not enough on its own to sequester the divalent cation concentrations that Xtol can handle; I did this by adding known concentrations of dilute cation solutions to Xtol and self-made analogues and comparing them.

    If you want to make a substitute, the following are options:

    Patrick Gainer's PC-TEA
    9 grams ascorbic acid
    .25 grams phenidone
    100ml triethanolamine (TEA)
    Heat the TEA in a pyrex container in a microwave for 30 seconds - 1 minute on high. Repeat until the TEA is at about 120C/250F and add the ascorbic acid. When it is dissolved, add the phenidone. Be careful, because the TEA will stay VERY hot.

    Dilute the PC-TEA concentrate 1:50 for use.

    PC-TEA is very good and if you have access to cheap TEA as those in the US do through www.chemistrystore.com, it costs hardly anything. It's grainier than Xtol, however, and doesn't change its characteristics as much when diluted more. It works because it is very alkaline, which I think contributes to the grain characteristics of films developed in it. Many other ascorbate formulae have these flaws; the absence of the weakly alkaline pH, low sulfite concentration (but with some sulfite still present) and the increase in activity with dilution are what make Xtol extraordinary.

    The late John Black's JB9 is functionally the same as Xtol, but you mix it yourself.

    The developer is made from 3 liquid concentrates that are stable for at least 6 months, perhaps a year (stability testing is ongoing). Store the solutions in glass bottles, tightly capped. The solution A should be stored in the dark (a closed cabinet is fine) or in an amber bottle.

    Solution A: (Phenidone, ascorbic acid)

    Phenidone 1.25 gm
    Ascorbic acid- 50.00 gm
    Ethyelene or
    propylene glycol
    or dry methanol- 600 ml

    Warm up solvent to hot tap water temp before dissolving the components. They will dissolve at about 100-125F. Dissolve the ascorbic acid first.

    Solution B: TBE (Tris-borate-EDTA) Sigma cat# T3913
    One 1L dry package dissolved in 1L distilled water
    Other buffer concentrates may be substituted if made up to about half molar concentration at a pH of about 8.3. Boric acid-metaborate (BA/Kodalk) would be fine, you may have to fiddle a bit to get the right pH.

    Solution C: Saturated Na Sulfite solution
    Na Sulfite(anhydrous)- 180 gm
    Distilled water- 600 ml

    Stir vigorously for about 30 min. Temp will rise a bit and it will almost all go into solution. Let stand overnight to equilibrate (some will crystallize out). Use after that.

    JB9 developer:
    SolA: 10 ml
    SolB: 50 ml
    Sol C: 20 ml
    Distilled H2O Fill to 250 ml

    Add sol B and C to water first, mix and then A (protects phenidone from oxygen in water). This is enough todevelop 1 roll of 35mm film. Scale up as necessary. Works best as a 1 shot developer at 68F, with moderate agitation. I use 13 min for Tri-X. You'll need to work out your own times if you try this.

    I've used the tris and metaborate/boric acid versions of JB9 and they are functionally identical to Xtol. You can modify the sulfite concentration as you like. One of the best things about JB9 from my perspective is that you can mix the developing agents to the same concentration as Xtol stock, but keep the same sulfite as Xtol 1+3 (or any other favoured dilution). This is great for films like TMX and Acros that run out of developer in Xtol
    1+3, or for pushing TMZ.

    Of course the other option is to mix the patent formula Xtol and add boric acid until the pH of the stock is 8.2, but you may then also run into problems with 'photo grade' chemicals that contain a lot of calcium that the EDTA cannot manage. I really don't think the EDTA alone as suggested in the Kodak patent is enough to chelate ions out of photo grade chemicals or tap water, but I have particularly cruddy tapwater (and maybe chemicals?).

    There's E76: http://www.jackspcs.com/e76.htm

    There's Pyrocat-MC: http://www.photosensitive.ca/wp/pyrocat-mc (can't find the original formula, sorry).

    There's a million others.

    If you mix fresh in good water and use one shot, you shouldn't have any problems. This is the same as for Xtol, but with these formulae you can mix as much or as little as you want or need.

  15. The issue of safety in mixing PC-TEA has come up here and elsewhere. When I last mixed up PC-TEA I poured the TEA into a stainless steel measuring cup. I then placed the cup in a pan and poured boiling water gently into the pan. A few minutes later I was able to stir in the ascorbic acid and then the phenidone. This method does not get the TEA as hot as a microwave. The phenidone may not dissolve right away but will dissolve on standing in a few hours. D-23 is even easier to make and with some films, at 1:1, will give results which are similar to what you would get with X-tol. It is made of metol and sulfite and can be measured out easily using teaspoons.
  16. I suggest D-76. Some of the suggestions aren't as good as this older standard. D-76 and XTOL give close results; with the nod towards XTOL. You lose 1/3 stop, 10% enlargabilty, and about 2/3 months shelf-storage with D-76. You may not see any difference between the 2 developers with modest enlargements using a medium speed film in miniature format.
  17. I used to use XTOL but was not using enough to justify the 5 liter size purchase. A friend and I ordered the components for PC-TEA and mixed up a batch to split. I love the stuff! Similar tones to XTOL, fine grain (I shoot MF and LF), and easy to mix a working solution. And the stock solution lasts forever.
  18. Just out of curiosity, does Kodak claim patent protection on XTOL? I have a 5 liter package of XTOL and I find no labeling claiming patent protection.

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