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Kodak Xtol FAQ

Compiled from the collective wisdom of the LUG.

Q. What sort of container is easy and practical for mixing the initial 5 liters?

A. A plastic paint bucket from the hardware store, a plastic mop bucket from a department store are two solutions people have used.

Q. How should I store Xtol?

A1. You would be better off saving the 5 liters in a number of smaller bottles. That way you don't expose all the solution to air every time you open a bottle and pour off some solution to make your working dilution.

There are many ways to do it. Whatever works for you. I split the 5 liters into 4 1.5 liter bottles I get mineral water in (I'm trying to be "correct" here. I do use mineral water bottles if I have them, but the kids drink more Coke than water, so I use 1.5 liter bottles that used to have Coke in it). That gives me 4.5 liters. I then have a few smaller bottles (once again, mineral water or Coke): 500 ml.

When it's time to break open a 1.5 liter bottle, I empty it over into 3 smaller bottles and work out of them. When they're finished I just refill them (cleaning them out and all of course). (Daniel Ridings <daniel.ridings@muspro.uio.no>)

A2. I bought 50 amber 16-oz bottles from a bottle place on the Internet. By filling them to the tippy top, the developer has stayed potent for 6 months and counting. (Jeffery Smith <jls@runbox.com>)

A3. I keep mine in one of those wine boxes with the inner bladder that keeps the air out. It stays good for over a year. (Tina Manley <images@InfoAve.Net>)

The spout will pop off if you pry it. Fill the bladder with chemicals and press it to get all of the air out, then put the spout back on. You will need to leave the bladder in its box to give it some support.

A4. i keep mine in a tank with a floating lid and have gotten 6 months out of it. similarly i do a clip test before development in light of all the war stories that used to circulate the internet. (Rei Shinozuka <shino@panix.com>)

I use mylar containers that are (were?) available from Delta. They hold 5 liters and if the air is bled out they collapse as the Xtol is used so that no air enters. I've never had Xtol go bad. (Jesse Hellman <hellman@comcast.net>)

A5. I use one liter glass brown bottles with tight lids and I've likewise gotten a year out of the last bottles. I got a lot less before I switched to glass bottles. (Rolfe Tessem <rolfe@ldp.com>)

A6. I bought my XTOL bottles from Cole-Parmer. While I was ordering, I bought myself a new set of the 1-liter bottles I use to hold film chemicals and the 2-liter bottles I use to hold paper chemicals. (Brian Reid <reid@mejac.palo-alto.ca.us>)

A7. Specialty Bottle makes excellent glass bottles at a reasonable price. Since I switched to these, I haven't had an XTOL failure. (Rolfe Tessem <rolfe@ldp.com>)

A8. When I need bottles I get them cheaply on ebay. (Jim Hemenway <Jim@hemenway.com>)

Q. How long will Xtol last?

A1. By filling them to the tippy top, the developer has stayed potent for 6 months and counting. (Jeffery Smith <jls@runbox.com>)

A2. I've had success with one batch that was a year old. Usually, I go through them faster than that. I did a leader test on that batch to make sure it was still good before using it on the rest of the film. (Eric Merrill <ericm@pobox.com>)

A3. i keep mine in a tank with a floating lid and have gotten 6 months out of it. (Rei Shinozuka <shino@panix.com>)

Q. What's the deal with dilutions?

A1. Xtol works best as a diluted developer, try the times given at the massive development chart with dilutions of 1:2 or 1:3. I have had great results going down to 70ml of stock Xtol to 210ml of water(per roll of 36) with all the Neopans, Tri-X, PanF, all the Agfa B&W's, and Delta 400. My times at 68F run from 13.5 minutes for Neopan 1600 to 17.5 minutes for Across. As with all B&W try with something that doesn't matter to dial in your system. (Don Dory <dorysrus@mindspring.com> )

A2. I have been involved in a previous religious war on the LUG with respect to XTOL dilutions and don't want to revisit that. But for recent subscribers, let me just restate the facts: Kodak recommends 100ml of stock solution per 35mm roll. The company used to publish times for 1:2 and 1:3 dilutions, but it has withdrawn those recommendations due to customers reporting failures at those dilutions. As a practical matter, if you are using a JOBO system it is difficult to use dilutions beyond 1:1 while observing the 100ml per roll limitation due to tank capacity. My personal feeling is that by diluting 1:1 you get all the advantages of dilution that are practically obtainable. The stuff is so cheap that I just don't see the point in pushing your luck with excessive dilution, but others obviously disagree. (Rolfe Tessem <rolfe@ldp.com>)

Q. What kind of water should I use?

One other problem that has come up is that if you have strange things in your water then you will see lots of small clears spots on your negatives. For example, Brian, using water in the greater Silicon Valley discovered that all the trace metals pumped into the ground forced him to use distilled water. Mark Rabinor, on the other hand has water of the gods out of his faucet. (Don Dory <dorysrus@mindspring.com> )

Q. Why use Xtol?

A1. Over all, this developer properly used, is a tremendous advance over the older solvent developers like D-76. More sharpness, less grain, more effective speed, and decent adjuvency effects. (Don Dory <dorysrus@mindspring.com> )

A2. What I do agree with is that XTOL is the best B&W developer to come along in over 50 years, combining speed, fine grain, good acuance, and excellent keeping qualities if proper procedures are followed. (Rolfe Tessem <rolfe@ldp.com>)

Q. What are the favorite films with Xtol?

A1. I like Agfapan 400 with Xtol 1:3. I also have finally managed to get results I'm happy with using Fuji Neopan 1600 in Xtol 1:2. Next I'm going to start working on Delta 3200. I just got the dev times from the Massive Developing Chart and am excited about this high speed combination. (Guy Bennett <gbennett@lainet.com>)

A2. I primarily use Fuji Neopan 1600, Neopan 400, Acros 100, and Neopan SS (100) in Xtol 1:3. I'm happy with the results from all. (Eric Merrill <ericm@pobox.com>)

A3. i just finished off my 5 liters of xtol, mixed at the beginning of april 2003. all used 1+3. i do use distilled water and usually go over the 100ml per roll amount; for example, 600 ml for 5 rolls. i tend to prefer the conventional (non-tabular film) except for delta 3200. (Rei Shinozuka <shino@panix.com>)

Q. Why does Kodak no longer recommend 1:3 dilutions?

A1. Kodak did that because of problems with TMX (Tmax 100). So they made it an across the board thing. I also found problems with delta 3200 at 1:3. I could never build up enough contrast with increased time. And it seemed kind of foggy. So I went 1:1 and got all the snap in the world. There may be more films out there which "eat" Xtol or films in the works. (Mark Rabiner <mark@rabinergroup.com>)

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