View Full Version : Rotary processing and developer choice

Dirk Rösler
19-Sep-2006, 00:16
My Xtol has turned yellow as I am not using up 5 litres quickly enough nowadays, so I need something that comes in lower quantities.

Living in the land of photographic plenties I thought I should try Fuji's recommended developer for Acros, Microfine which comes in 1 litre sachets.

Since I am using a Jobo 2500 series drum on a Unicolor base I was wondering whether some developers lend themselves to rotary development more than other, or the opposite, even give bad results and should only be used with inversion tanks. Can anyone advise from knowledge or experience?

Eric Biggerstaff
19-Sep-2006, 08:43
I have been using Ilford DDX with Acros in my Jobo 3010 and it works very well. I rate the Acros at 200 with this combination and my meter. I have switched to liquid concentrate developers for the reasons you note above.

Ron Marshall
19-Sep-2006, 08:46
I have had good results with Acros in a Jobo 3006 with D76 1:1.

Dirk Rösler
19-Sep-2006, 17:42
Thanks. How about my actual question on whether rotary and inversion get the same results from any developer? Are any important developer properties lost or gained with constant agitation? That's what I want to know.

Ed Richards
19-Sep-2006, 19:27
Developers that oxidize are going to be a problem in a rotary system, otherwise it should not make any difference, once you get the time adjusted for the more efficient mixing. How long does the xtol last for you? I am curious - it is so cheap that it still might be the best and least expensive choice, even if you throw some away.

Oren Grad
19-Sep-2006, 19:38
Dirk, with some film/developer/dilution combinations you get a compensating effect with intermittent agitation compared to continuous rotary development. The most extreme version of this is extended stand development, which I've never messed with but about which you'll find threads here and over at APUG.

jim kitchen
19-Sep-2006, 22:15
My current choice is XTOL, and I learned to process my collection of negatives with fresh chemicals over a long two day period, but sometimes my patience does get the better of me, when I wish to see a certain negative.

I prepare my 5L XTOL and the "other process solutions" the evening before I begin the development process. I separate my XTOL into 500ml bottles. I use 2.5L of XTOL each day, where I use 500ml of XTOL 1:1 to process two 8X10 negatives. I will, however, create new "other process solutions" for day two. My XTOL, other process solutions, and negatives are quite fresh this way.

Unfortunately, I can only process two 8X10 negatives in my Jobo 3005, because my current cheap motorized drum roller has a limited cyclical motion. When I process my negatives during this two day event, I find my repeatability increases significantly, and I am less prone to temperature and processing errors.

jim k

Dirk Rösler
19-Sep-2006, 23:06
Thanks chaps. Ed, this Xtol was mixed 2 years ago, which is obviously excessive. Perhaps you are right, I should stick with it as I am familiar with it and like the results and should probably dilute less to use up faster. Plus it is not the most toxic thing to shrow out, fortunately.

Oren, I have messed with stand-development in Rodinal, but not with sheets. I think I won't bother with sheets.

Jim, I really like your approach of mixing and developing on schedule. In summer it is too hot here anyway to get decent temperature and I know some photographers use some seasons for shooting and others for processing. I like that.

Since I now have it I shall try the Microfine anyway to see how it will turn out on the Acros.

Jay DeFehr
20-Sep-2006, 05:28
Hi Dirk.

You might consider mixing up some 510-Pyro; it works really well with Acros and rotary processing, has an extremely long shelf life and very high capacity, so you can safely use the minimum volume of developer required for even development with your process. 510-Pyro contains no sulfite, to which designer grain films are more sensitive than traditional emulsions are. You can expect very sharp negs from Acros/510-Pyro 1:100/ 7min/ 70F. Good luck.


Ed Richards
20-Sep-2006, 06:02
One Xtol tip - for $20 US you can buy a 10 liter plastic tank with a floating lid and a spigot on the bottom. Sure beats messing around with all of those small bottles. Keeps it for months. You can process at up to 80 degrees.

Joseph O'Neil
20-Sep-2006, 07:02
I've never used Acros, but for almost all my B&W films, including at one time, a couple boxes of Fuji Neopan in 4x5 (my sister used to live in Japan, and i had her ship me a coupel boxes once), I use HC-110 in my Jobo 2500 tank, and I have the same base as you do. :)

The stuff keeps forever, and i use the straight syrup. I also find a pre-soak in near manditory in my case, and you can get good tonality with HC-110 if you weaken it down a lot. The traditional Dil-B is waaaaaaay too strong I find. You'll have to experiment a bit to get things the way you like it, but can be done.

Also, I've used PMK Pyro to good effect in the Jobo 2500 drums. In fact, you can use just about any developer you want - the trick is to adjust times and solutions. I find, overall, to go with a weaker solution than you would with an inversion or hard rubger tank or tray development, and then adjust times accordingly.

The constant rotation/mechanical action of the drum on the base can have the effect of increasing your contrast, so I find instead of fighting that effect, count on it, and adjust your development accordingly. Otherwise with any developer, especailly something like HC-100, if you are not careful, you can make just about any sheet of film look like a litho print. :(

One last thought - with tray or hard rubber tanks, I would use replensiher and reuse chemistry. For the Jobo tanks, I have found out the hard way - at least for me - when it comes to developer, one shot is the way to go to keep good results and consistancy. I find I can re-use my fix for a period of time, but always one shot for th edevleoper, regardless of what developer I am using.

good luck


Bruce Watson
20-Sep-2006, 07:29
How about my actual question on whether rotary and inversion get the same results from any developer? Are any important developer properties lost or gained with constant agitation? That's what I want to know.

Think of agitation as a spectrum. On one end you have constant agitation (rotary). On the other end is no agitation (stand developement). In the middle a range of intermittant agitation techniques (tank inversion, lift-and-tilt with hangers, etc.).

People use these different techniques to get different effects. For example, stand development is often used to create a compensating effect -- local developer exhaustion slows down the density increase in the highlight areas resulting in a lower Dmax and thus a lower contrast negative. Basically, you can't do this with constant agitation.

On the other hand, constant agitation does a better job of even development. You can see this particularly in areas of even or small tonal gradients like sky areas. Constant agitation does a better job of creating consistant results from batch to batch also, particularly if the agitation is from a motor.

Some developers do better with some techniques than others. For example, a two bath developer like Diafine will work poorly in with constant agitation. The first bath will be flushed out of the emulsion too quickly; the second bath won't continue the development process alone.

Developers that oxidize quickly (PMK comes to mind) will probably give somewhat better results with other (non-rotary) agitation techniques as well.

So, "Are any important developer properties lost or gained with constant agitation?" The answer is yes. Which properites you gain and/or lose is a function of film and developer. Whether it matters to you is a function of your individual aesthetic.

Personally, I use XTOL 1:3 with a Jobo and a 3010 drum. I don't normally use all five liters in a year. If I question its age I toss it out and mix up another batch. XTOL is cheap. When in doubt, toss it out.

20-Sep-2006, 08:21
If you like the compenating effect of intermittent agitation, you can come closer to that by using weaker dilutions with constant agitation ... or, as Bruce says, any developer that tends to exhaust quickly for other reasons.

Another consideration is evenness/freedom from streaking. If you have the jobo expert drums, this may not be an issue. But no other kinds of drums provide perfectly even flow.

To promote evenness, higher concentration developers or ones that don't exhaust quickly will have a bit of an edge. Also, developers using agents that are less inhibited by oxidation products will give more even results. A simple test is this: is the developer known for encouraging edge effects? If so, it's a lot more likely to cause edge density buildup problems with rotary processing.

Dirk Rösler
20-Sep-2006, 18:42
Thanks for all the information. I shall stick with Xtol.

Bruce, when you do 1:3, how much stock solution do you use? I have been using 100ml per 35mm roll or per 4 4x5 sheets which for the 2500 with 12 sheets makes 300ml. Since the max liquid is just under 600ml, I cannot get beyond 1:1 but would also return to 1:2 or 1:3 as I did with 35mm to get the effect that Paul eluded to.

20-Sep-2006, 19:49
A simple test is this: is the developer known for encouraging edge effects? If so, it's a lot more likely to cause edge density buildup problems with rotary processing.

Is this what you really meant to write? If so, what sort of edge density buildup problems would one expect from an an acutance developer that enhances edge or adjacency effect when used with rotary processing. My understanding is that edge density buildup would be less with rotary processing than with intermittent agitation with acutance developers.

Sandy King