XTOL vs D-76/ID-11

Discussion in 'Black and White' started by jim_causey, Jan 15, 2005.

  1. The "Film Developing Cookbook" seems to imply, but only in a vague
    sense, that XTOL provides all of D-76's advantages, with even better
    image quality.

    Has anyone compared the two developers in their own testing? If so,
    what is your impression in the difference in image quality between the
  2. The authors of the Film Developing Cookbook aren't the only ones making that assertion; Kodak makes it as well, and I agree. Xtol is sharper, gives finer grain, and better film speed. That being said, I don't think there's any way that I could tell an 8x10 print made from a MF D-76 negative from one made from an Xtol neg. I might be able to see a difference in 11x14 prints from 35mm negs. The differences are real, but mostly made up for in handling, and not apparent in moderate enlargements. That's my $.02 worth.

  3. My experience is D76 gives finer grain used 1:1 or full strength.

    After a few sudden failures, that will be the end for you too. Kodak to me there is no way for a home user to check activity levels.
    Even clip tests mean nothing. I had the stuff die in a week once.
  4. I'm with Jay. I've done the comparison with similar results. A little nicer grain, a little smaller, a little sharper. I don't think you'll see the differences in image quality until you go beyond a 10x enlargement though.

    What I think you *will* see is the speed increase. Using Zone System methods I find an EI of 400 for 4x5 Tri-X (ASA 320). D-76 usually results in an EI of around 250.

    All other things being equal, I would switch to XTOL just for the speed increase.

    XTOL also is less harmful to the environment...

    I've been using XTOL for a couple of years now, always at 1:3. I've never experienced the fabled XTOL failure. I've always used distilled water to mix with, stored in glass wine bottles, and used VacuVin caps to store the XTOL under vacuum. I've had stock XTOL in storage for 8 months that still worked fine.
  5. Dear Jim,

    Years ago, I did compare the two developers directly using Plus-X. The difference in an 8x10 from 35mm was detectable, but not dramatic. If you crop and enlarge agressively Xtol will help.

    Now for the "sudden death" problem. Do not buy old Xtol. Do not follow your old mixing procedures. Follow the instructions on the package exactly. Mix it gently without stirring air into the developer and resist the urge to mix at a higher temperature to make it dissolve faster. Store it properly. Glass bottles if you can.

    I have used Xtol continuously for several years without incident even when using developer stored for almost 8 months.

    Neal Wydra
  6. XTOL is a great developer, but notorious for dying quickly. I have experienced that problem, and it's frustrating when two or three important rolls come out barely visible. It was stored in airtight brown bottles for only a month.
    If you do decide to use it, keep it for no more than a month and mix fresh developer.
  7. After reading so many people sing the praises of Xtol I had to give it a try. I've been using D-76 1:1. I shoot mostly Tri-X or Neopan 400 in 35mm format.

    I've been disappointed in Xtol. I've tried it straight and 1:1. At 1:1 it may be a little sharper than D-76 at 1:1 but that comes at the expense of more grain, at least for me. My Xtol negs developed straight look more like D-76 1:1 negs in terms of grain and sharpness.
    D-76 gives me a little bit of creaminess while still being sharp that Xtol seems to lack.

    You won't find the ultimate truth here. There are no shortcuts. If you really want to know then you are going to have to buy a gallon and start testing. For me, I'm sticking with D-76.
  8. FWIW, my results are the same as Jay's.

    I have Xtol stored in 1 liter brown glass bottles that is working fine after a year, but I'm
    about to toss it and mix a new batch.
  9. I have been using XTOL since it was introduced.

    The main difference that I have noticed is with the T-MAX films; T-MAX 400 in particular looks brilliant in it.

    I like it because it is better for the enviornment, plus it lasts forever.

    I have never experienced the failure that others have seen.

    I have used XTOL that is several months hold stored in a clear plastic jug that was less than a quarter full, and it worked fine.

    I was for some time using the 1 liter packs when they were having the sealing problem that caused the powder to "cake" I simply shook the bottle until the lumps finally disolved and it also worked fine.

    I even once mixed the part B first and then added the part A. The liquid was a funny color until it mixed completely but it also worked fine.

    I have no explanation for my good fortune; perhaps just dumb luck, but after several years and a couple thousand rolls/sheets in XTOL I have had nothing but good results.

    I do only use it as a one-shot, maybe it is re-use that is the culprit?

  10. fpa


    Well, add me to the "I've never been bitten" by X-Tol, and I like the look I get from Delta-400/Delta-100 with it. (I love Agfapan 100 in sheets). I'm probably fooling myself, but I seem to notice slightly better shadow detail/contrast with X-Tol 1:1 versus HC-110 dil B when used with the Deltas. I've kept it in brown bottles for six months or so (mixed from the 5 litre packs) and always use it one shot.

    This being said, I primarily like it because it doesn't give me an allergic reaction. Now if they'd only sell it in 4-litre packs, ratherr than 5, I'd be set.
  11. I love my xtol. :)

    I actually mix xtol and then pour them into little water bottles, just enough to process 1 roll of 120mm or 2 rolls of 35mm at a time at 1:1. Each bottle has no air inside.

    They are those mini baby cute sparklets water bottles. I store them at room temperature enclosed in a lightight box.

    I've experienced the XTOL failure when I stored it with air in a 1.5 gallon drum.
  12. I feel that D76 gives sharper grain but Xtol gives finer grain.Xtol lasts for a much longer time if stored properly.Just my two bits! I am sure water quality can make a difference to the results.The differences are more a matter of personal choice than one being better than the other.
  13. Xtol seems to be really better in terms of grain, speed (and possibly also sharpness). It is the only developer I use for 400 ASA films (or higher). Even very grainy films like Fomapan 400 look smooth when develped in it. But be careful not to overdevelop - the grain grows rapidly with the development time. And yes, as mentioned above, I too used to hate TMY until I have soaped it in Xtol...
  14. I have experienced only one problem with XTOL since it came out. I recently used a quart of D-76 with 135 Tri-X. There is not a big difference between the two developers but the nod goes to XTOL. My practical tests indicate XTOL has better shadow detail (almost 1/3 stop), slight improved sharpness, no appreciable increase in grain, produces slightly higher micro contrast, friendly to the environment, longer life, and development times are available for straight to 1:3. Tri-X, 6x6 neg, souped in XTOL 1:3 is very sharp.
  15. Thanks to everyone for the informative answers. I'm going to give XTOL a try soon (when I run down my supply of ID-11 a bit).
  16. Tri-X and Neopan 1600 look great with XTOL 1:1. I have also found that I can easily
    dissolve the entire 5 liter package in 2 liters of distilled water at 85F taking care while
    stirring not mix in a lot of air. I then store the solution in four 500ml amber PVC coated
    bottles from PhotoFormulary. It's a simple 100ml of concentrated stock to 400ml of water
    for the 1:1 working solution. My only disappointment using XTOL has been with Neopan
    400 which has resulted in very noticeable and unattractive grain. I keep meaning to try
    Neopan 400 with D76 to see if i'ts any better, but I am kind of lazy and I doubt my results
    will be better than with Tri-X.
  17. try this website--

  18. The density and contrast vary so much for each film/developer combo in that test, that I
    don't know what conclusions one can draw. I think if each film was developed to a more
    similar density and contrast, it would be more useful.

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