View Full Version : Xtol Problems Anyone?

Eric Biggerstaff
21-Feb-2006, 11:03

Has anyone experienced problems using Xtol as of late?

I know that a few years ago there seemed to be issues with the 1 litre packages and that these packages were discontinued.

Recently however, I have had a couple of friends tell me that they have experienced under development problems with new packages of Xtol. One tray develops his film and reports that what used to be a "normal" development time recently gave him a Minus-2 development. He dilutes 1+1.

Another friend also dilutes 1+1 but uses a Jobo. He too reports very poor results using new 5 litre packages of Xtol, he also has very under developed negs. He then used T-Max RS for the remaining development and all was OK. Same image, just the backup negative.

I have used Xtol often ( but not in the last year) and always had good results. I switched to DDX 1+4 about a year ago only because I like the liquid concentrate developers. So I am asking about this more for my information than anything esle.

Has anyone be having Xtol issues lately?


John Sarsgard
21-Feb-2006, 11:40
I use XTOL 1+1 all the time with 400TX film in 120 size. I use the 5 liter packages and never have any problems. I mix it in a dedicated bucket that's never used for anything else, and store the stock in 250ml glass bottles filled to the brim. I love the stuff. I think one must also be careful to make sure all the powder is dissolved...it would be easy to get in a hurry and leave some on the bottom of the bucket. Also, the entire 5 liters must be mixed at once. You can't divide it into 1 liter packages. The stock in the glass bottles lasts for months.

21-Feb-2006, 11:42
X-Tol problems experienced:
1) sudden failure after 6 weeks closed storage of solution.
2) weak response of fresh developer.
I like X-Tol but do not trust it. The problem with DDX is that it is about 4 times more expensive per use than competing developers. Currently I am looking for a good developer for faster films. Maybe I will go back to Perceptol 1:3.

David Eisenlord (Ike)
21-Feb-2006, 11:51
I had a problem just last night that I can't explain. I had some negs come up very underdeveloped, approx. n-2+ at my normal time. One possible cause for me is developer exhastion. I had done my xtol testing w/ a single sheet of 4x5 and developed two 4x10 sheets last night. I used 100ml of stock solution diluted 1+2 for a total of 300ml in a unicolor drum. According to kodak the 100ml of stock solution should be ok for the 80 sq. in of film so I'm confused(as well as upset). The developer was maybe 3 months old, and from a 500ml bottle of stock I just opened and started using last week(succesfully).

Michael Kadillak
21-Feb-2006, 12:09
Of all of the developer problems I have heard about, X tol seems to be the dominate the problem category.

The only way I would use this developer is if I were to take my sheet film for commercial development and that is what they were using. Yes, when it works it is a marvelous developer, but it has a problematic shelf life and I do not see the risks as being proportional to the reward. Any of the concentrate developers such as Rodinal, DD-X, T Max or T Max RS are very user friendly particularly when you are not developing film in massive quantities.

5 lites of developer even at 1:1 is a heck of a volume to use in 3 months - what I consider a safe window of opportunity for this developer.

Just my $0.02.


Richard Schlesinger
21-Feb-2006, 12:57
I've been using PMK for some time, primarily because of shelf life problems with other developers. PMK apparently has an unlimited shelf life, good film speed and grain and fairly short times (N=8'). I don't return the film to the used developer following fixing, and wash for fairly brief/normal times. In over 35 years I've never had a problem from too little negative wash. With this processing I get minimal stain which, with VC papers, I'd just as soon not have anyway. This seems the only developer I am aware of with this kind of shelf life. Toxicity I think is exaggerated. I use a slosher, many/most of you seem to use Jobo, and tanks for roll film. Skin expsure is minimal. For what it's worth.

Neal Wydra
21-Feb-2006, 13:16
5 Years, no problems due to Xtol (of course, plenty due to me). Keep in mind that I normally use it full strength or 1:1 (possibly due to the small volume in Jobo tanks), always as a "one shot", and since going to Xtol almost exclusively, 3 months is now a long storage time.

ronald moravec
21-Feb-2006, 13:22
The part A ages inthe original package without the tell-tale clumping. Broken package seals promote clumping and you know it is bad.

Beyond shelf like packs will work initially, but you get way underdeveloped negs as soon as a week after mixing.

later kits have date stamps so you know the shelf life left.

Bruce Watson
21-Feb-2006, 14:08
I've been using XTOL for years without a single problem - at least 1000 sheets of Tri-X. I'm using a Jobo, 3010 tank, about 30 rpm, 20C, and at the 1:3 dilution. I mix five liters of stock solution with distilled water, and store it in wine bottles using VacuVin vacuum stoppers.

This last batch is four months old. I used it successfully just a few days ago. And I'm not using any excess developer - 250ml of stock and 750ml of water to make 1000ml of working solution. That's 25ml of stock per 5x4 sheet, which is Kodak's minimum.

Maybe I'm leading a charmed life (hardly the case, let me tell you). What can I say? XTOL works for me and gives me 2/3 stop more real film speed than HC-110H used to.

Kevin Crisp
21-Feb-2006, 14:24
I have been using it and at 1:1 have never had a problem. I mix it and keep in in airtight full glass bottles. (And I mean full.) I have used it as long as 10 months after mixing it up and storing it in this manner and the storage doesn't seem to affect the results. Several times I was mixing it up from bags stored on the shelf in the darkroom for a year or more.

Henry Ambrose
21-Feb-2006, 14:37
I've had -NO- problems at all with Xtol after using probably 20-25 five liter packages over 6-7 years. I think Xtol is sensitive to the water its mixed with, the mixing technique and storage conditions. It may be more sensitive in these regards than other developers and maybe not. But I'm always extra careful with any mixing I do because I want perfect results, and I do this with any photo chemical I mix.

For what its worth here's how I use Xtol, I didn't invent this but it has worked perfectly for me so far:

I mix in a clean white container using distilled or RO water. The initial 4 liters of water is heated to exactly the maximum package suggestion of 84 degrees F. I mix in part A and stir gently and continously until I am certain it is fully dissolved. I then add part B and stir. I do not whip air into the liquid by stirring too strongly. For both part A and B I wait until the mixture is completely transparent with -no- powder residue or cloudyness. I'm looking for it to be totally and completely dissolved.

When mixing is complete I add the remaining water to make 5 liters. I let this sit for 10 minutes or so before pouring it into clean glass bottles. I fill each bottle full with only about 1/32nd inch (or less) of air space at the top, pouring gently to avoid any air being added into the solution. I have a set of bottles starting at 125ml, then 500ml and some one liter. All get filled to the top. I fill and use the 125s first then when enough are empty I migrate the developer down from the larger bottles. This way I never have a less than full container so -no- air gets to my developer.

The 125s are a single dose for one run of 80 sq. in. of film. Thats one 36 exp 35mm, one 120, four 4x5 sheets, one 8x10 sheet and I -never- use less than this amount per surface area. I dilute it 1:3 and on rare occasions less (3200 Ilford gets it straight up).

Things that I think might be problems with Xtol use:

1. Using well aerated tap water with who knows what dissolved in it.
2. Contaminated mixing and/or storage containers.
3. Over enthusiastic stirring and whipping air into the mix.
4. Mixing before either of the two parts are truly fully dissolved.
5. Mixing with room temperature water. (even though the package would lead you to believe this is OK)
6. The presence of any air in storage.

I think being extra careful when mixing is worth the few extra minutes it takes, and that the storage techniques and always using more than enough stock developer is worthwhile -- especially when I think about the time and effort involved in all other aspects of making photographs. During lulls when I've not shot a lot of B&W or I was fooling with other developers I've had Xtol work perfectly after being stored for nearly a year. And its a great developer.

I'm not a chemist.
I'm not saying anyone else is wrong, this just works for me.

Armin Seeholzer
21-Feb-2006, 14:53
Newer a problem at all with it from full strength to 1:3 used it after 1 year in a full glass bottle with no problem. But you have to expand the time after a use for the 2 run und I use the 1:3 solution after 2 months with no problem just give 5% fresh full strength solution to it!

Works for me!

Eric Biggerstaff
21-Feb-2006, 19:55
Thanks everyone, this has been helpful and I appreciate all the responses.

Andrew O'Neill
21-Feb-2006, 21:49
Been using xtol since its inception. No problems...ever...knock on wood.

William D. Lester
22-Feb-2006, 06:19

I authored a couple of posts in the past 'The Trouble with Xtol'. I have not had a single problem since Kodak addressed the issue. I find it to be a very reliable developer. I go through the 5 litres of stock in about 3 months so storage has not been an issue. I use it diluted 1:1.

Chuck Trotter
23-Feb-2006, 06:34
Thanks Eric for the post. Since I am the one you mention with the grossly underdeveloped negatives, perhaps I should explain the cicumstances.

This was fresh developer recently purchased. It was mixed at 76 degrees in a brand new stainless steel container. All of part A was dissolved and approximately 3 minutes rest before the addition of part B. After the addition of part B, the mixture was poured into a 1 gallon plastic container to the brim. The remainder was poured into another plastic container for use later that day.

Approximately 5-6 hours later, the developer was mixed 1:1 (250cc Xtol/250cc of water) and the negatives developed with new development times in a jobo with a 6 sheet drum.

The negatives were very faint and would not have registered a density higher than Zone II. I then took the back-up negatives to a commercial lab and got robust negatives.

Needless to say, I am a little spooked at Xtol for the time being.

Michael Alpert
23-Feb-2006, 08:02

I use XTol often with reliable good results. I follow Kodak's instructions, lengthening the developing time a tad. Are you using distilled water? Or perhaps your "brand new stainless steel container" may be the source of your problem (the seams may be the less than stainless), or the "new development times." I put stock solution in five one-liter amber glass bottles. That way, I am never storing partly filled containers. I also keep anything metal away from my chemistry, with the exception of reels and tanks for roll-film. As mentioned before, it is important to make sure that all the chemistry in dissolved, which often requires crushing small chunks at the bottom of your mixing container. With so many people using XTol successfully, I would look at the details of your process for potential difficulties. I would not give up on Xtol too quickly; once you have your process in control, it really does work well.

23-Feb-2006, 11:26
Has anyone used Mytol?

Kevin Crisp
12-Mar-2006, 20:40
I had a couple rolls of TMAX 100 to develop tonight in the 120 size. Because of this thread, I used the bottle I mixed June, 2005. Diluted 1:1 the results were fine. I store it in amber glass bottles with a few mm of air space. I've never had a problem with it and this was not the oldest mix I have used.