View Full Version : developer for tri-x 320?

brian steinberger
25-May-2005, 23:19
I'm going to start shooting tri-x 320 4x5 sheets. I was planning on developing them in D-76 or X-tol, but lately I've been reading more about this Pyro PMX developer which stains the negative, and is supposedley better for printing. First of all, I develop in tanks, using hangers for my 4x5 film. I have a diffused enlarger light source. I'm shooting primarily landscape and arcitecture, subjects which demand great sharpness and detail. My quesiton is, should I bother with trying the Pyro developer? Or should I just stick with D-76 or X-tol? And if so, which produces sharper negatives, D-76 or X-tol? Thanks!

steve simmons
26-May-2005, 00:11
The PMK will not work well with hangers and tanks.

Have you considered trays?

stee simmons

Neal Wydra
26-May-2005, 04:23
Dear Brian,

In 2004 there was a series of aritcles in Photo Techniques discussing PMK Pyro that you may find interesting.

Robert Musgjerd
26-May-2005, 05:45
Try Rollo Pyro , have you considsred drums? Bostick & Sullivan carry it. It works like a charm with
Robert Musgjerd

Henry Friedman
26-May-2005, 05:46
D-76 is the gold standard to which everything else is compared. That being said, Xtol is known for it's high acutance, preservation of effective film speed, and keeping properties. Divided into individual 1 liter containers, filled to the brim, it will keep for upwards of six months.

I love the results that I get with Xtol 1+3 for FP-4 , another standard emulsion film, and plan on trying it for development of a couple of hundred sheets of Tri-x that yet another digital convert just passed my way :>)

John Cook
26-May-2005, 05:46
Lots of people around here adore pyro and are having excellent luck with it.

I have yet to try it for two reasons: First it is supposed to be quite toxic. Second, the resulting negative image is supposed to be composed of both colored stain and "true" density. For the life of me, I can't figure out how to set a densitometer to measure the color of a stain instead of its density.

Generally speaking, I have come to the observation that radical effects caused by various developers are really, really noticeable only on the large blow-ups resulting from 35mm. It is almost true that the rate of enlargement is so slight with sheet film that the only requirement to obtain a good print is that the shutter actually opens and closes. In other words, my rate of return for making myself crazy with exotic chemical stews in large format has been minimal.

My personal M.O. is to use a middle-of-the-road, tried and true developer with Tri-X, like D-76. If you can't leave well enough alone, dilute it 1:3 for a little extra sharpness.

Once in a while when I feel creative, I will go with a high acutance developer like Rodinal, FX-1, Ethol T.E.C., Neofin Blau or FX-39. My reasoning is that since Tri-X is grainy and I can't eliminate it, I may just as well accentuate and celebrate it with one of these soups.

Diane Maher
26-May-2005, 06:20
How will you be printing out your pictures? I have developed my Tri-X 320 in both D76 and Pyrocat (not the same thing as Pyro PMK, btw). I plan to print in Pt/Pd, so using the staining developer helps with negative contrast (this is good for alternate processes,btw). Others use these stained negatives when printing on Azo paper.

steve simmons
26-May-2005, 07:58
If you feel the need to use a densitometer use a color one and set for the blue channel. This has been covered n several magazine articles.

Again. trays have many advantages. On our web site in the Free Articls section there is a description of my tray processing procedure.

steve simmons


David Beal
26-May-2005, 12:48
You might want to check the b/w processing forum on photo.net. There was a post on May 12 by Jay Johnson about developing TXP 320 in Rollo Pyro (ABC+), and he discusses the effect on the curve. I don't shoot TXP320, so I have no direct experience. However, if Rollo Pyro would make TXP320 behave more like TriX, I'd give it a try.

Good shooting.

/s/ David Beal
Memories Preserved Photography, LLC

Michael Kadillak
26-May-2005, 14:12
I you are fixed upon using tanks, I would stay with D 76 rather than go the pyro route. Hangers are tricky and it sounds like you already have this combination figured out. Why change?

X Tol is a fine developer, but I find I cannot use it quick enough before I wonder if it starts to go bad. I personally find D 76 more than suitable for your requirements. 5 liters is a lot of chemistry.

If you were going to tray develop sheet film, I would recommend Pyrocat HD. Easy to mix and given the dilutions of 1 or 2 to 100, it lasts a long time and is about the cheapest developer I have used. Many have commented that pyro and hangers in tanks increases the probability of increased edge development due to increased fluid velocity through the hanger holes.

Also, if you look at the film curve for Tri X, you will see that it has an extended toe. As a result, remember to shoot it at about an ASA 160 to get into the meat of the density curve.

Good Shooting!

steve simmons
26-May-2005, 15:27
PMK is eery bt as easy and cheap to useas is Pyocat. Pyrocat is also as toxic as pmk. Most people have stopped that which is better campaign and simply acknowledged that any staining developer has many advantages over a non staining formula.

Gordon Hutchings is answering questons about pmk on the View Camera forum. Askaway.

steve simmons

David Starr
26-May-2005, 16:20
I develop Tri-X 320 in Pyrocat-HD in a Combi-Plan tank in a manner similar to hangers. I leave the lid off the tank & agitate the film holder by raising & lowering it like hangers. I've had no problems with uneven development at all.

Jay DeFehr
26-May-2005, 17:45
I think that everyone who has posted has made some good points. If your current developer is working for you, then there is nothing to gain by switching developers, and much to be lost in the way of time spent learning a new developer. John Cook is right, as usual, about the added complexity of sensitometry when using staining developers. Steve Simmons is right when he says that Pyrocat HD is no less toxic than PMK, but I would add that it is also no more toxic than Rodinal. I've invested a lot of time and energy into learning about staining developers, and feel strongly that their advantages outweigh their disadvantages. For reasons too complicated to go into here, the grain/sharpness relationship produced by tanning/staining developers cannot be matched by any non-staining developer that I know of, including D-76, Xtol, and Rodinal. For alternative processes there is simply no comparison, as another poster hinted. Thanks to the work of Pat Gainer, new staining developers have been formulated to be made up in either a single solution, or two solutions, with incredibly stable shelf lives, and solving many of the problems long associated with staining developers. Developers like PMK and Pyrocat HD could be seen as transitional formulae, bridging the gap between the old formulae, like ABC Pyro and these new generation developers formulated specifically to be made up in TEA or glycol. Staining developers are not for everyone, but many of the traditional problems with them have been overcome, and some who have resisted experimenting with staining developers might reconsider, and give this new generation of developers a try.


Duane Polcou
28-May-2005, 01:23
Most beautiful negs I've ever made TX with Agfa Rodinal 1:50 for about 5 min with 30 second agitation intervals. The agitation should be substantial so as to decrease the chance of mottling. Sharp as a tack, not too much grain, tonality superb as long as you use ASA 160.