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Thread: Much Bad Luck with Pyrocat HD - May Need Another Developer

  1. #1
    Beverly Hills, California
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    Much Bad Luck with Pyrocat HD - May Need Another Developer

    Is it just me? I love printing negatives developed in Pyrocat HD - the ones that come out that is.

    However, I do have a high failure rate when using it.

    I switched to using the glycol form. And that has helped some. Still. From one batch of film I process to the next, I can never be sure the negs will turn out. This morning, I ruined a whole Jobo 3010 drum of 4x5 negatives by one of the following possible reasons. (The negatives were ultra-thin and high contrasty).:

    Developped at 69 or 68 F vs. 70F?
    Fixed in TF4 fixer for 5 mins, vs 3min?
    Inadequately mixed the A solution into my distilled water before adding B solution (I dumped A stock, then B stock into 500ml distilled water, THEN mixed)?
    I aerated my 500ml distlled water too much in the process of bringing to temeperature (done before adding either pyrocat component)?

    My stock Pyrocat is Brand new from PF, version mixed in glycol. It is not contaminated because a batch I ran after the 10 failed sheets came out perfectly.

    The major changes I made with the second batch, which did turn out well - unlike my first batch - was to:

    1 Insure I dissolved part A completely into my working developer before adding part B.
    2 Insure I was working at or slightly above 70F, and not at 69 as my first batch.
    3 Insure I fixed in TF4 for 3.5 mins, not 5 min as my first batch.
    4 Be cognizant not to aerate my distilled water before adding the stock deveoper components.

    Which of these do you feel did the trick, or was it possibly none of the above?

  2. #2

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    Re: Much Bad Luck with Pyrocat HD - May Need Another Developer

    "The negatives were ultra-thin and high contrasty"

    Could you show us some examples ?

    Do you mean under-exposed and over-developed ?

    In a given batch, are some OK, while others are wrong ? Or are all negatives equally spoiled in the same batch ?

  3. #3
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    Re: Much Bad Luck with Pyrocat HD - May Need Another Developer

    Yes, they appear similar to negs underexposed and overdeveloped. Make no mistake, however, these negs were propperly exposed.

  4. #4

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    Re: Much Bad Luck with Pyrocat HD - May Need Another Developer

    When you say you "dissolved part A", is it in solid form; I have only used Pyrocat as liquid concentrates?

    I have two small measuring syringes, labelled A and B to avoid cross-contamination, that I always use with Pyrocat to assure correct volumes are used. Otherwise I wouldn't trust myself to be accurate enough with the small volumes.

    I have never had a failure with Pyrocat. Before using it the first time I tested several sheets to determine my personal EI and dev times.

    What film are you using?

    Good luck.

  5. #5
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    Re: Much Bad Luck with Pyrocat HD - May Need Another Developer

    Meaning... on the failure run, I dump part A stock, then part B stock into 500ml distilled water, THEN mixed. In doing so, perhaps some concentrated part B came in contact with concentrated Part A and "deactivated" or "oxidized" the active part of the developer, which is the part A portion?

    BTW, I have everything labelled A and B to avoid cross contamination.

    I need to find out what I'm doing wrong.

    I am using Ilford FP4+, rated ASA 32. Pyrocat HD 1:1:100 for 6 mins at 70F

  6. #6

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    Re: Much Bad Luck with Pyrocat HD - May Need Another Developer

    At this point, the formula has been around long enough to be well understood. Photographer's Formulary does things right, or we would have heard a lot of stories. But we haven't.

    So if there is a chance that you inadvertently contaminated the solutions (and you wouldn't be the first well-meaning individual to have done so), then it's best to get some fresh stock, shoot some throwaway test negatives, and start from the beginning.

    (One reason why it's nice to use an InfraRed viewing device, and perform development by inspection, is that when something like this happens, you just mix up something else if you can, or you leave it in the developer until it's done. I freely confess: it has happened to me before. One disaster averted, is sufficient compensation for the purchase price. And while you can perform Development By Inspection with a Jobo, it's easier if you develop your negatives in food containers. )

  7. #7

    Re: Much Bad Luck with Pyrocat HD - May Need Another Developer

    I do not use a JOBO and tray develop. Like Ron I have always had good results. I'd try developing one negative in a tray. I think that can tell you if the developer is OK. Then go from there.

  8. #8
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    Re: Much Bad Luck with Pyrocat HD - May Need Another Developer

    The stock developer is fine.

    First run = bad.
    Second run = good.

    This particular developer is sensitive to something I'm doing wrong. Do you thinks its 1, 2, 3, or #4 above?

  9. #9

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    Re: Much Bad Luck with Pyrocat HD - May Need Another Developer

    According to the literature which accompanies the developer, 8:30 minutes is the suggested time for 1:1:100 at 70 degrees F. Your time of 6 minutes is 30% lower. That should give at least an N-1 effect... perhaps even more contraction, if you didn't pre-soak the film. But you say they look over-developed.

    1 Insure I dissolved part A completely into my working developer before adding part B.

    This shouldn't matter at all. I never worry about it. I doubt an analytical chemist could tell the difference.

    2 Insure I was working at or slightly above 70F, and not at 69 as my first batch.

    A difference of 1 degree is not very much. I tray develop with my hands in the bath all the time, and the temperature changes due to my hands. Several degrees too high, might result in N+1 development, but you say they also look underexposed. A little extra development would boost the shadows too, all things being equal. It would not give thin negatives.

    3 Insure I fixed in TF4 for 3.5 mins, not 5 min as my first batch.

    That wouldn't make the negatives look underexposed and overdeveloped. Nor would any of these things. Negatives generally fix in a minute or two, as long as the fixer is fresh. If they weren't fixed enough, they would be opaque, but yours are too... thin.

    4 Be cognizant not to aerate my distilled water before adding the stock deveoper components.

    If the developer were oxidized too soon, it would become weaker, not stronger. Your negatives would look underdeveloped in that case. But you say they appear over-developed.

    Many people shoot FP4 at 1/2 the stated speed. Which is only a difference of 1 f/stop anyway. If you had overexposed, your negatives would be opaque, not too thin.

    Perhaps if you could show us what the negatives look like, an obvious pattern might emerge. So far, things appear... inconsistent.

  10. #10

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    Re: Much Bad Luck with Pyrocat HD - May Need Another Developer

    Quote Originally Posted by Andre_941 View Post
    The stock developer is fine.

    First run = bad.
    Second run = good.

    This particular developer is sensitive to something I'm doing wrong. Do you thinks its 1, 2, 3, or #4 above?
    Very strange!

    I agree with Ken, the things you mention as being different between the two runs should not have a large impact on image quality. It is a mystery to me. Please post when (and if) you discover the source.

    One thought, could there have been a chemical residue present on the equipment, that was washed away by the first run.

    Roughly what percentage of your Pyrocat runs are failures? This might help determine if it is something systematic.

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