View Full Version : Pyrocat-HD, HP5+ & salted paper question

Joe Smigiel
28-Jun-2004, 14:05
I'm considering trying Pyrocat-HD for negatives intended for printing in salted paper and perhaps albumen and VDB as well. These processes require a negative developed to a higher Contrast Index than most other processes. On the unblinkingeye.com site, Sandy King recommends a CI of around .90 to 1.0 for negatives intended for salted paper. The CI curves posted at that site for various films never go that high though and are for negatives developed in rotary processors using the 2:2:100 mix. I intend to try Pyrocat-HD with Ilford HP5+ and use tray development. I want to standardize on HP5+ since it is available in 5x7, 8x20, and 11x14 formats unlike some other films tested at the site. As a result, I have a couple questions.

First, I'm assumming the rotary process times are approximately 15% shorter than tray times due to the more vigorous agitation. If I'm reading the CI charts correctly, it looks like HP5+ might hit a CI of .95 somewhere around 25 minutes @ 72F using a rotary process. Assuming this is correct, I'm thinking a time of 29-30 minutes @ 72F might produce the .95 CI using tray development and constant agitation. Does that sound about right to experienced users?

Second, since that time is very long, is there a quicker way to produce the high CI? Can the developer be used hotter or in greater concentration, say 4:4:100, to shorten the time without suffering any ill effects? Anyone have recommendations?

Third, it appears that Berrger BPF 200, another film available in all the formats I want to use, never gets beyond a CI of .90 or so even with extended development. What's up with that? I've only ever seen one other film that didn't respond like that to extended development and that was the old chromogenic XP1 film which only increased fbf after a certain point w/o a further change in contrast. Is that what is happening with the BPF-200?

Thanks for any info.

Pete Caluori
28-Jun-2004, 16:41
Hi Joe,

I do Van Dykes and Albumen, but I don't use HP5. I've heard that the emulsion has changed, but when I used it a few years ago I could never get enough contrast out of it. Developing it for longer would just increase base fog as the film hit gamma infinity.

I would really test your theories, becuase 30 minutes of tray developing will present lots of opportunity for aerial oxidization. 15% increase in time may be a safe figure to go by, but it depends how fast you can shuffle sheets in a tray. Most people underestimate the effects of agitation on their film, but I would say you might need to adjust tray times by as much as 25% over constant rotary agitation.

You should be able to increase Pyrocat's activity by using a stronger alkali, though I've not tried this. Changing from pot. carbonate to sodium hydroxide should increase Pyrocat's activity.

Sorry, but I don't have enough experience with those films to comment on your third question.

I would seriously consider using a different film, something like Efke PL100, of Photo Warehouse 125, which are both available in all the sizes you mention and Pyrocat HD at 2:2:100 to craft negs suitable for VDB, Albumen and salted paper.

Good luck!

Regards, Pete

Joe Smigiel
28-Jun-2004, 18:15

Thanks for the comments and suggestions. They bring up a couple other questions.

I hadn't thought of the term "gamma infinity" for a very long time. I assume this is what is occuring in figure 10 on the page (http://unblinkingeye.com/Articles/PCat/PCat4/pcat4.html) showing the CI curve of Bergger BPF-200. It appears little is gained from developing this film longer than 9 minutes as the CI curve flattens considerably at that point and by 12 minutes it is flatlined. I don't see the same effect on the HP5+ curve though. This begs the question: can HP5+ be developed to CI=1.00 without excessive fog?

I read about and then blanked on the alkali prescription. Thanks for reminding me about using sodium hydroxide. Perhaps I'll try a warmer, stronger and more alkaline version of Pyrocat-HD unless there is some reason I shouldn't be doing so. For 5x7 and 11x14, I use trays on a motorized orbiting base with constant agitation and only develop one sheet at a time. I've only developed a couple 8x20s, but still do tray development and one sheet at a time manually.

As for the other films, I've not tried them as I've read about some quality control issues with other films. I'm not certain if those you mentioned were included but I've never read of manufacturing quality issues with the branded Ilford films so I've gone that route. (I believe I read the Photowharehouse 125 film is FP4 but I have heard of some issues with the repackaged films. Again, this film might not have been on that list.) I really wish TMAX 400 was available in 11x14. I just don't understand Kodak's marketing. Why wouldn't they offer the higher speed TMY in ULF sizes instead of TMX where the grain issue is negligible and the big cameras could benefit from faster film and consequent shorter exposures and/or smaller apertures and greater depth-of-field? If I had any faith in Kodak, I'd use TMX but I don't want to get used to a product that may be pulled from the market soon. Every other emulsion product of Kodak's that I loved has been discontinued over the past few years. (These include 2475 recording film, Ektalure paper, and Professional Copy Film 4125. Can AZO be far behind?) That's the primary reason I've decided to go with HP5+, but I'm open to, and thank you for your suggestions.

Oh well. Enough of the rant. I'm getting off topic. Thanks again for your comments.

Pete Caluori
28-Jun-2004, 21:10
Joe wrote: "This begs the question: can HP5+ be developed to CI=1.00 without excessive fog?" I suspect the answer would be yes, but since I haven't used HP5 in this capacity I really can't say. Sandy King frequents this forum and I suspect he will chime in.

In the case of Bergger, I've used some in 11x14 and really couldn't get the contrast I needed and it stained excessively, not just image stain. If it flat lines at 12 min. then yes, it's reaching gamma infinity.

Developing in trays as you describe should eliminate the aerial oxidization, but you should still be careful of uneven developing/staining caused by flow patterns. I would definitely try a stronger alkali, but I don't know about raising the temperature; I guess to a point it would be fine, but I don't know what that point would be. I develop all my negs at 24C (75F) with great success, but I haven't tried anything higher.

I agree with you and also wish that Kodak would offer TMY in larger sizes, perhaps enough of us could get together and special order some???? I too have heard about some quality issues with Efke film, but those appear to have been corrected by the importer. I just used some Efke PL100 in 8x20, the latest batch, and it was fine. I have been using Efke for a couple of years and like it almost as much as TMY. I've used the Photo Warehouse films and haven't expereinced a problem with them either - maybe I'm just lucky.:) I'd be very careful about using TMX, as I've heard it has a UV inhibiting dye, which makes it a no-no for any alt process exposed by UV. I'm not so concerned with how long a product will remain in production; if it's available now and it works I'll use it. I'll worry about what to use when it no longer works, or gets discontinued. Life is full of change and I'm not about to stop it.

28-Jun-2004, 23:02
"I'd be very careful about using TMX, as I've heard it has a UV inhibiting dye, which makes it a no-no for any alt process exposed by UV."


Just to clarify, the UV filter has only been observed in Tmax 100. I have used both Tmax 100 and Tmax 400 in recent months and all of my observations indicate that the UV filter is only in the base of Tmax 100, not in Tmax 400.

clay harmon
29-Jun-2004, 06:57

I agree with you and also wish that Kodak would offer TMY in larger sizes, perhaps enough of us could get together and special order some????

It is not worth the energy. Last fall, I got phone numbers of the proper people at kodak and tried to put together a 12x20 TMax400 custom order. After many phone calls, emails, and so forth, the answer came down from high: NO. No real explanation, other than they are not interested in doing it, regardless of the size of the order (This one would have been around $12000 worth of film!) We ended up getting 12x20 Tri-X, because that still had the apparently necessary catalog number. Even then, the order took about 2 months, and the 44 boxes of film were delivered in 16x20 paper boxes with a Tri-X label thrown on the side to seal them. I think this lack of care and interest by Kodak demonstrates their level of apathy toward the B&W film world. Personally, the whole episode made me think that the ULF world should throw their support behind Ilford and others, and let Kodak continue on the downhill slide they seem to be on.

FWIW, HP-5+ is a different film than it was two years ago. It builds more contrast and has a lower b+f than before. If you really want to hit the magical CI of 1.0 with this or any film, I would suggest using D-19, which should do the job quite nicely at a time of about 8 minutes. One problem I have run into with staining developers and high CI processing is that they will be quite sensitive to overexposure because you are souping it so long. What can happen is that a moderate amount of overexposure (1/2 to 1 stop) will build a tremendous amount of stain density, and your printing times will rival the apparent age of the universe. So if you do use a staining developer and need to build contrast, be extra careful with your exposure, and don't be tempted to add a half stop just for 'safety'.

John D Gerndt
29-Jun-2004, 07:58

To your third paragraph I do have one suggestion: try tube processing. You donít have to go whole hog just make a tube for your favorite format out of (spray painted) PVC pipe and give it a whirl. The agitation is energetic and quite even. You can do it in safelight and even boogie to tunes while you work, as it requires very little concentration to be your own motor. I used a cooler for the water bath until I was convinced that this is a better system than shuffling. Now I have a stand-up insulated sink for the practice Ė easier to boogie.


29-Jun-2004, 08:08
The contrast table in my article at http://unblinkingeye.com/Articles/PCat/PCat4/pcat4.html for HP5+ was made with the old film, which would not develop a CI of much over 0.9. As Clay mentions, the new HP5+ is a much better film at building contrast than the old version. It is curious that Ilford never mentioned any change in manufacturing procedures but those of us who use HP5+ with alternative processes know for sure that it changed, and for the better. Conversely, the new Tri-X 320 film is not as good for alternative printing as the old film because it takes longer development time to reach the same contrast.

I can recommend several developers that will give a CI of over 1.0 with the new HP5+ film. As Clay mentioned, D19 will give you a CI of about 1.1 with 8 or 9 minutes of development, and since that figure is gamma infinity more time won't time any harm except drive up B+f values slightly. So in essence if you are shooting a very contrast scene that you know in advace needs all of the CI the film can deliver just soup it in D19 for from 7-12 minutes and there you have it. You can also get a CI of about 1.1 with Pyrocat-HD 2:2:100 with a development time of 17 minutes, or with ABC Pyro 1:1:1:7 with a development time of 12 minutes. In my own work I am using Pyrocat-HD 2:2:100 for all of my negatives exposed in contrast, normal and slightly flat lighting conditions, but am using ABC 1:1:1:7 for scenes with really flat lighting. However, compared to Pyrocat-HD there will be some loss of effective film speed with both D19 and ABC Pyro. Grain is also much more prominent with D19 and ABC Pyro than with Pyrocat-HD, but assuming contact printing this would not be an issue.

Bergger BPF will not develop as much contrast as HP5+. It reaches a maximum CI of about 0.93 with 9 minutes of development in ABC Pyro 1:1:1:7, or 16 minutes in Pyrocat-HD 2:2:100. This would make it less than ideal for salted paper printing with flat lighting conditions.

Pete Caluori
29-Jun-2004, 10:30
Just a minor clarificationon to my previous post. I use the designation TMX to indicate Tmax-100 and TMY for Tmax-400; I believe these are Kodak's designations for these film, but I could be mistaken.

Clay, thanks for the info on your attempt to special order TMY - it is a shame.

Regards, Pete