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Thread: T-Grain Developers

  1. #1

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    T-Grain Developers

    Hi all, can someone help get me straight on developing Delta 100 or Kodak TMax 100?

    As I understand it, Delta 100 and TMax 100 are non T-grain films. However, I am currently using Kodak HC-110 to develop Delta 100. Its my understanding this is not the optimal way of doing it, but it does work.

    I also understand that Kodak TMax RS is a more appropriate developer for T-grain films, but that seems hard to find but Ilford Ilfotec DD-X seems more available. And DD-X is optimized for Delta 100.

    Is this all correct so far? And then if so, is it advisable to try out DD-X for Delta 100? Will my non-pixel peeping eyes notice a difference between HC-110 and DD-X on Delta 100? And finally, and suggestions on DD-X should I give it a go?

    Thanks,
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  2. #2

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    Re: T-Grain Developers

    Adam, more questions than I can answer, but here's a start.

    The TMax films are so named because of the T-grain emulsion, for tabular grain, which Kodak invented and later brought out in the 1980s or early '90s. It's also used in their color films. Ilford's Delta films are not tabular grain, technically, but something similar. I used Delta 400 and 100, and TMax 400, quite a bit years ago. I happen to be partial to Ilford's films, and Delta 100 is a beaut, but TMax 100 is hard to beat for fine grain and its low reciprocity-failure characteristic.

    John Sexton, a master of course, wrote about Tmax, especially 100, and Tmax RS years ago. With Delta 400 and 100 as well as standard-emulsion films, I used Ilfotech HC, typically at 1:47, with wonderful and well-controllable results. DDX gets high marks from many photographers; I never tried it. As far as telling differences, there is no shortcut to doing your own testing, no matter how many reviews you read. I wouldn't sweat over it, frankly. There are so many variables between exposure and final print, between your set up and someone else's, that you need to find a combination that yields the results you desire; for that, you have to make you own tests, appropriate to the kind of work you do and the kind of result you wish to achieve. Isn't that part of what we do as artists?
    Philip Ulanowsky

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  3. #3

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    Re: T-Grain Developers

    The TMax films are T-grain emulsions; Ilford's Delta line is not, but something very similar. Do they call it Nano Crystal Technology? Sorry, I forget. DD-X is a fine all-around developer, but expensive. A magical developer with Delta 100 is Clayton F76 Plus, IMO; this is what I've settled on for this film. Anyway, bottom line is that there's nothing particularly special about any film developer. There are specialty formulas like Diafine or pyro developers that are used for specific reasons, but you don't need to go down those rabbit holes, unless you choose to. Find a formula you like and stick with it.

  4. #4
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    Re: T-Grain Developers

    Here's my opinion as someone who has shot well north of 1000 sheets of T-Max 100, and a lot of Delta as well: T-Max RS is a real PITA to use. If you are not dead-on with your time and technique you will blow out your negatives quickly. I did full Zone test with that developer and still didn't like the results.

    I now use mostly Pyrocat with T-Max 100 and Delta 100 films. I've also used Rodinal with great success, especially for pull processing. And I've actually used DD-X and liked that as well, which seems a bit more forgiving.

    IMO, I would not bother with T-Max RS. The perceived benefit is not really worth it, especially on 4x5 or larger.
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  5. #5

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    Re: T-Grain Developers

    Quote Originally Posted by AdamD View Post
    Hi all, can someone help get me straight on developing Delta 100 or Kodak TMax 100?

    As I understand it, Delta 100 and TMax 100 are non T-grain films. However, I am currently using Kodak HC-110 to develop Delta 100. Its my understanding this is not the optimal way of doing it, but it does work.

    I also understand that Kodak TMax RS is a more appropriate developer for T-grain films, but that seems hard to find but Ilford Ilfotec DD-X seems more available. And DD-X is optimized for Delta 100.

    Is this all correct so far? And then if so, is it advisable to try out DD-X for Delta 100? Will my non-pixel peeping eyes notice a difference between HC-110 and DD-X on Delta 100? And finally, and suggestions on DD-X should I give it a go?

    Thanks,
    The science can get complicated - and beware of mountains of bad information out there - but it is best not to make more out of this than necessary especially when shooting large format where one typically deals with lower magnification of negatives than with smaller formats. Some points:

    1. In B&W, Kodak T-Max, Ilford Delta and Fuji Acros use silver halide crystals which are flatter and larger in surface area than those in more traditional emulsions. Since they are flatter they are referred to as "tabular", hence the "t" in t-grain. The very short version is that tabular films are less grainy. They also tend to have better reciprocity characteristics

    2. There is not really any such thing as a t-grain developer, and t-grain films work perfectly in standard developers such as D-76/ID-11 etc.

    3. HC-110 is a perfectly good general purpose developer to use with any film

    4. Generally speaking, TMax/TMax RS will tend to give higher film speed, with the tradeoff of slightly higher graininess relative to HC-110

    5. Generally speaking, Ilfotec DD-X will tend to give slightly higher film speed than HC-110. DD-X is a general purpose, fine grain developer, favouring fine grain slightly relative to sharpness. Film speed will be similar to TMax/TMax RS. It will work perfectly well with any film

    Ilford has indications for all of this in its documentation. Similarly, Kodak has a table giving rough guidelines on developer characteristics.

    Again, keep in mind when it comes to the image structure characteristics (sharpness/graininess) of most general purpose developers and processes, the differences are often too small to be meaningful in large format work unless one is making gigantic prints.

  6. #6
    Resident Heretic Bruce Watson's Avatar
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    Re: T-Grain Developers

    Years ago I exchanged a few emails with Silvia Zawadski and Dick Dickerson of KODAK, who were the inventors of XTOL. They told me that they created it using TMX and TMY in rotary processors (continuous agitation). In my personal experience XTOL 1:3 used with a Jobo CPP+ at fairly slow rotation speeds (around 30 rpm) with the reverser mechanism engaged, using a Jobo 3010 tank, produces outstanding results with TMAX films. Extremely consistent, easy to control.

    I had previously tried HC-110 all the way out to dilution H. I still got such short development times I couldn't control it well or get consistent results from it. Which is what pushed me to XTOL. I never looked back from the combination of XTOL and TMY-2.

    Of course YMMV.

    Bruce Watson

  7. #7
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    Re: T-Grain Developers

    You can use any developer you want with these films.
    Each will provide a slightly different "film speed" which is an observation of where the shadow detail starts for normal density results, which may require some experimentation and consistency in developing procedure (temp, agitation, etc..) and variations in tone depending on those choices.
    You may find you need a few extra minutes of fix and wash time compared to non-tgrain films, but otherwise, the darkroom work and options are not much different.

  8. #8

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    Re: T-Grain Developers

    Quote Originally Posted by Bruce Watson View Post
    Years ago I exchanged a few emails with Silvia Zawadski and Dick Dickerson of KODAK, who were the inventors of XTOL. They told me that they created it using TMX and TMY in rotary processors (continuous agitation). In my personal experience XTOL 1:3 used with a Jobo CPP+ at fairly slow rotation speeds (around 30 rpm) with the reverser mechanism engaged, using a Jobo 3010 tank, produces outstanding results with TMAX films. Extremely consistent, easy to control.

    I had previously tried HC-110 all the way out to dilution H. I still got such short development times I couldn't control it well or get consistent results from it. Which is what pushed me to XTOL. I never looked back from the combination of XTOL and TMY-2.

    Of course YMMV.
    Indeed, XTOL was essentially the first and last developer to raise the bar (albeit very slightly) on the speed-sharpness-graininess exploitation of D-76.

  9. #9
    Drew Wiley
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    Re: T-Grain Developers

    There are slight differences in curve structure and grain due to different developers and how much they are diluted, agitation, time, etc. But all ordinary developers work well with all these films, and so do various tweaks of pyrocat and pyrogallol. I think TMaxRS developer is discontinued, though I still have some; I wouldn't worry about it. HC-110 is rather remarkable in the manner it works over such an extreme range of dilutions. D76 gives more sag to the curve, or a longer toe; I don't use it anymore. Staining pyros, like the PMK formula I prefer, makes printing highlights easier. And although TMX100 can carry a great deal of detail, it has less pronounced edge acutance than its 400 speed brother, TMY, so I like to develop it in 1:3 Perceptol to increase the edge effect and perceived sharpness (1:1 does just the opposite). I do sheet film in trays. Rotary processing introduces an extra set of variables.

    Delta 100 has somewhat more toe than TMax films, so I personally rate it at 50 to get more of the shadow density up onto the straight line. It also differs somewhat in spectral sensitivity from TMax, with slightly different filter factors in certain cases. Delta 100 is also slightly grainier than TMX100.

  10. #10

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    Re: T-Grain Developers

    "fine grain" developers aka D76, T-Max RS and such became popular due to 35mm and roll film B&W negatives need to reduce the film grain effect when prints are made from these negatives. All sorts of gyrations are made in an effort to achieve an essentially grain free print from these smaller roll film formats.

    The brute force solution to the grain and contrast gradation issues so difficult to tame using small film format roll film can be essentially "hammered" by sheet film 4x5 and larger with enlargements not more than 4x. Once the obsession with fine grain developers and such is removed, the many other aspects of B&W print making can be achieved with reasonable effort.


    Developers like Kodak HC-110, Rodinal, Beutler "blue" and similar developers work better for sheet film where the obsession with fine grain is not an issue. Suggest down loading this book about developers by Jacobson, purchase a gram scale, proper lab glassware, magnetic mixer and stir bar, powered chemistry, filtered water and mix your own chemistry as needed. This affords FAR fresher chemistry, better consistency once mixing chemistry skills are properly developed and applied and allows experimenting, discovering developers and related to suit your print making needs.

    http://www.processreversal.org/publi...developing.pdf

    Once upon decades ago there was a publication known as the Photo Lab Index, another trove of darkroom chemistry recipes from a time when lots of photographs mixed their own as needed.



    Bernice

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