View Full Version : Moersch Finol (and Tanol) questions

Arne Norris
2-Apr-2010, 15:50
I'm currently using medium format Tmax 400 on a project and was planning to use Adox MCC paper for enlargements.

I have never used staining developers, but am intrigued by the Moersch Finol developer for developing my roll film in a tank by hand. In the past I've used Xtol for most of my developing, but found myself wondering if a staining developer would give me any improvements. I've done "research" online, but this has raised more questions than answers.

I'm asking my question here on the LF forum as I assume that users with a lot of knowledge of other staining developers might be able to help answer my questions or point me in the right direction for further info.

My main question is whether a staining developer like Finol or Tanol could be considered a general purpose developer, or if staining developers are special purpose. I'm not really sure of the benefits or limitations of the resulting negatives for my needs.

I understand the basics of how staining/tanning developers work during negative development, and I know that various staining developers have unique characteristics, including the stain color.

So my basic questions:

Do staining developers that produce a stain color similar to Finol or Tanol work well with VC silver papers, or are they best for graded papers or UV contact printing?

Are staining developers suitable for negatives used to photograph both high and low contrast scenes?

How well do stained negatives scan (in case I want to scan the neg rather than scan the print)?

I hope my questions make sense!

Thank you in advance for all of your knowledgeable help!

Andrew O'Neill
2-Apr-2010, 17:27
I cannot comment on the colour of Finol or Tanol's stain. But I do know that from my own personal experience, not all staining developers print well on VC papers. For example, PMK didn't work for me as the stain was too greenish... but probably works for others. I settled on Pyrocat-HD, which has a more yellow/brownish stain. Works great for low or high contrast scenes and prints beautifully on VC paper, as well as for Kallitype printing and carbon transfer.
I can't really comment on scanning, but I know that Sandy King (the creator of pyrocat-HD) has devised a two-bath method with pyrocat-HD. I'm sure that he will write something here.

Drew Wiley
2-Apr-2010, 18:27
I'm getting wonderful results with TM400, PMK, and several current VC papers, including MCC. Haven't had a chance to try other staining developers yet, but plan to. (I enlarge, don't contact print).

2-Apr-2010, 18:58
I won't comment on printing with silver papers, either graded or VC, because I don't do that anymore. All of my work is either with UV contact printing, or with scans.

My understanding is that Tanol is a pyrocatechol type developer similar to Pyrocat-HD and the stain is brownish in color. This color stain is somewhat more actinic than the greenish stain of some pyrogallol based developers but in practical terms both types work well with UV processes.

For best results I would recommend scanning all stained negatives in RGB. This will give you some additional control when you make the conversion to B&W in Photoshop, both in tonal qualities and grain. With brownish stained negatives you will find that the Red adjustment, or Blue filter, gives the most control. Greenish stain negatives will react differently, generally less strongly to Red.

If you are developing negative to scan rather than print directly on silver papers or with UV processes there is no point in trying to develop to a specific contrast. You will get best results in scanning if you develop the film to a low CI, say .50 or less, because low contrast negatives will have the least grain and also the greatest sharpness. For that reason I develop a lot of my film in two-bath Pyrocat because this method of development is self-limiting in terms of contrast.

Sandy King