Frequently Asked Questions VII

T-Max film Developer

I shot B&W prints either in 120 or 135 formats. I successfully use Kodak T-MAX 100 and T-Max 400 films, and print my images on a condenser enlarger (a Durst M605) with a Componon 6-elements lens. When I started using T-MAX, I tested the films with T-MAX developer and HC-110 dilution B. I choose HC-110, because it allowed me to obtain consistent results at 20¡C and the lower contrast needed to correctly print the images in a condenser enlarger. However, I obtain the best results using a (N) development time shorter than 5 minutes, with both films exposed for a sensitivity index slower by 1-stop respect to the nominal (50 ASA for the T-MAX 100, 200 ASA for the T-MAX 400).

The time is obviously a little too short, and I'd like to use a greater dulution in order to obtain a development time in the order of 10 minutes, that would help me to achieve even more consistent results. Moreover, due to the short dev time, (N-1) development can't be successfully achieved. Even if I understand that anyone of us is jealous of his (her) developing techniques, I would be grateful to receive some help about the following issues: - suggested development times referred to HC-110 dilutions E and F with T-MAX films. - suggestions in using different developers (perhaps XTol or Rodinal ?) with T-MAX films printed on a condenser enlarger.

I too use a condenser enlarger and running into too short a development time was a problem. I used to use both HC-110 (B) and T-Max developer with T-Max film, but wihen Xtol came out I switched to that since it give a wide range of dilutions and development times along with excellent results. However, it's best to check this out yourself. Download the file from Kodak on Xtol at: This is 12 pages of very usefull information.
- Ted E. Felton

First suggestion-try a different developer. T-Max films were tested by Kodak mainly with D-76 and the TMax Developers were formulated specifically for them. Try using the TMax or RS for sheet film at weaker dilutions. I use Ilford ID11 with TMax 100 in 4x5 & 5x7 regularly, diluted 1:3, with 75 degre times in a Jobo processor of 11 to 18 min, depending on + or - development. Good shadow detail and negs that print on my particular enlarger set up easily. You will have to test a bit, but with your enlarger it shouldn't be much trouble to dial it in. Just be sure of one thing-CONSISTENCY. TMax films go off the charts if you process while crissing your eyes(it seems so) or with any deviation. They are pro films and need consistent technique to get the best from them. Look at John Sexton's work & see what they are capable of.
- Dan Smith

Ilford Delta films in PMK

Is anyone out there using Ilford Delta fils in PMK developer?. I have started testing this combination, and would appreciate any feedback.

I find that Delta 400 120 works for me at EI 400 and 13 minutes at 70 degrees. 15 minutes gives about N+0.5.
- John Lehman

D 76 & T-Max

Has anyone used D 76 to Dev Tmax? What was the mix & the results?

Yes, it works very well for me, nice contract, sharp well defined edges. I use it mixed 1:1 at the Kodak recommended time and temp.
- Michael Langford

Kodak did all the testing of TMax with D-76 before their introduction to the marketplace. The TMax developers only came later. It should work well for you as long as your technique is very consistent.
- Dan Smith

TMX works great in D-76. For my purpose, E.I. 64, 6.5 minutes at 68 deg. TMY in straght D-76 is to grainy for my use.
- Garry Teeple


How do you feel about XP2? Frankly, I am not sure if I love it or hate it. It has super fine grain and good skin tone (when it works), but it sure doesn't seem to like being underexposed. Any thoughts?

I've only seen a few prints from both professional and amateur photographers and I have to say I didn't really like them. All had the 'sepia' tint but were quite muddy in tone. Perhaps the commercial printing was at fault or they were slightly underexposed. I've avoided trying it because of this but it does seem to be gaining popularity.
- Andy Laycock

This is the second query re XP2, the sepia tone is normally a result of incorrect C41 process or chemical at the end of their normal life. Ask for an early run on fresh chemicals. When using the film try an orange or red filter, XP2 reacts well I've used xp2 in both 35 and 120 format and get great results, portraits with a red filter (3) have to be seen to be believed, when printing go for deep blacks.... excellent.....good shooting.
- Jack McVicker

XP2 is a fine film to work with. I have used it for some landscape work and have been very impressed with it. One nice feature you can shoot it at different ISO speeds, ex. ISO 800 for a few frames, then ISO 400, etc. and get great results all on the same roll of film. I suggest using a yellow filter for best results. Red & orange filters do the film justice too. Experiment with it. Also have the final prints printed on b&w papers. The quick prints from C41 processing are ok for proofs but not for the final print. Have fun with it and enjoy the experiments. I too hope to try the new Kodak film whenever it hits the market.
- Gary Richards

In my opinion, XP-2 is the best 35mm B&W film going. The grain is ultra-fine, especially considering the ISO, its tonality is *superb*, and best of all, you can get it processed anywhere in an hour for $2. I enlarge it to 12"x18" (on Ilford FB) with no problem. People think the prints are from medium format negs. The only disadvantage I can see is its lack of archival stability.
-- Peter

I've compared two rolls of XP2 film that were identically exposed. One roll was processed at home with Ilford's kit and the other was processed at the local camera store. The roll processed at home had much better acutance and better contrast. The better acutance is probably attributable to the intermittant agitation I used, and the higher contrast to agitation and length of development time.

Cold light source, diffusion and 35mm

I have been reading a previous thread about dichroic filters and cold light sources with some interest and have a few questions. 1. Would a diffusion screen on a condensor enlarger make a difference? 2. Should you expect the same results with a halogen source (and diffuser) as with a true cold light source? 3. Will any of these methods show an appreciable difference with 35 mm negatives?

Whatever light source you use on your enlarger will work just fine if you tailor exposure & development to the light source you choose. Cold Light, Point Light Source, or piped sunlight or moonlight will all work well if you fine tune your processing to fit. Don't be bamboozled by the Gurus of the Magic Answer. There is none. No light source is inherently superior to any other. The determining factor is your personal vision, your willingness to learn your tools and how easily they come together for you and your shooting style.
- Dan Smith

The only thing I can add to the precious response, which I agree with holeheartedly is that with a cold light source there is little or no trash or pinholes in your prints you will have to doctor up.
- Dell Elzey

Light sources This is what I wanted to hear. I have printed on both the colour and condensor heads of my 35mm enlarger but I didn't notice any tangible differences, certainly I couldn't say one was better than the other. I think, perhaps, that it would be better to compare the different light sources with larger format negatives in a properly controlled experiment. Photography is a very subjective field and difficult to quantitate.
- Andy Laycock

I have found that if you use a diffuser (like opal glass) in the filter area you get a fake cold light look which certainly reduces pinholes and the like. The downside is that it takes a lot more exposure than using "pure" condensor lighting.
- Rick Athearn Photography

Is brown Dektol OK to use?

I just mixed up a batch of Dektol and it is tinted fairly dark brown. Is it OK to use?

No, probably not... This happened to me recently with some old (but still in powder form) dektol. I was confused about it too; it seems even dry the stuff has a limited shelf life! I tried to use it anyway (such a waste to dump it!), but it was dead. Very dead. An exposed piece of paper, when placed in the tray WITH THE LIGHTS ON (!) very slowly turned grayish (never black)!!!! Totally useless. They should improver their packaging and state the shelf life. If anyone happens to know this, I'd love to hear.
- Patrick Hurley

I also have some Dektol I bought in 1 gal. cans. After opening up the can, just as in your case, the powder starts to oxidize. I then divided the remainder into small plastic bags w/ one of those vacu-seal machines. This helped slow down the process, but not eliminate it. My mix also has a browninsh tint, not too dark, but unlike the previous persons experience, I can still get excellent prints from it. I don't keep it as long as I would had it been 'fresh' since the oxidation has already started, but it has worked just fine.
- Ron

Iso 25 B/W film

A couple of years ago, I heard about ISO 25 B/W film (I believe from AGFA?) . I've been meaning to try it, but have had little luck in finding it. I'm sure I could use Agfa's page to locate a supplier, but first I'd like to ask others out there if they have tried it and what their comments are on this film.

I tried it, shooting about 200 sheets of 4x5. I intermixed the exposures with TMax 100 on the same subjects. I stuck with the TMax 100. Its only a personal taste thing, but I like the reciprocity characteristics of the Tmax and the ability to fine tune contrast seemed better with it also. I couldn't tell any real difference in sharpness to 20x24 although the TMax seemed to have a bit crisper feel to it-for me at least. -- Dan Smith

Agfa Pan 25 I have been using Agfa Pan 25 in 35mm for the past ten years and I have found it to be a very sharp fine grained film. I develop it for 7 minutes in Rodinol. Dilution of 1:50. I presoak the film for 1 minute priot to developing. -- Don Whitten

My experience with AGFA's 25 ASA film is limited to 120 film (medium format). For portraiture, I find it too sharp, it shows every imperfection of the skin. For landscape and architecture, it is my favorite; beautiful and subtle grey tones and increadibly fine grain, unsurpassed by any other B/W film. However, it does not come off well with high contrast subjects, then other films are probably better. I use Ilford's Delta 100 as an all purpose film, in particular for high contrast subjects. After trying a number of developers, I settled with Ilford's ID 11, although other developers are also fine. Paterson's FX 39 is only slightly better (hardly noticeable), but a great deal more expensive than ID 11. -- Jeroen Bruggeman

In terms of resolution (line pairs per mm), APX-25 significantly out-performs Ilford Pan-F, as well as the various ISO-100 films. Under optimum conditions, I get almost 40% higher resolution with it than with Pan-F (up to 125 lpm with my two best MF lenses). Probably not as good as tech pan, but (imho) it has better tonality not to mention being lots cheaper. The earlier comments about it being bad for portraits is true; I think the picture my wife hates most is one I took of her with APX-25 and an original Rolleiflex -- she claims you can see the remains of every blemish she's had since she turned 13. OTOH, for landscapes it makes a 2x3 field camera almost rival a 4x5. -- John Lehman

I have only been into B&W photography for two years now and all along the way I have been striving for the finest grain possible. I found it with Kodak Tech Pan film. It's got great diversity; for can expose it at 200 ISO (instead of the actual 25 ISO) and then develop it with regular Dektol developer for 2 er 3 minutes and get some really striking extremely high contrast negatives. Also, the film has some sort of extended red sensitivity which somehow contributes to it's great portrait applications, especially when developed with Technidol Liquid Developer (also by Kodak). I suggest experimenting with a couple individual rolls before getting any large amounts though. I bought a 150 ft bulk roll of the 35mm and it ran me about $70. I think it was worth it though. Please let me know what happens if you decide to use it!

I use Agfapan APX 25, it has beautiful tone, but not as fine grain as Kodak Technical Pan. Technical Pan also has much higher resolution. -- martin tai

Toning Prints

Any suggestions for toning b/w prints beyond selinium. I've used selinium sometimes and gotten no visible results. I'd like to use a tone to get richer tones in the shadow detail. I usually use Ilford Multigrade FB.

I have used selenium toner(Kodak Rapid) mixed from 1:10 to 1:20 with Ilford Multigrade FB, and the new FBIV, with good results. It is sure slower to show results than the Oriental that I just ran out of though. I just finished a batch of prints on that paper before sitting down to the computer, and it worked fine. Try keeping one copy of the same print you are toning in a tray of water by the toning bath for comparison. On other toners, Agfa Viradon for sepia effects can look good, with the effects varying a lot from straight toning with it(slight effect) to bleaching & toning. Try first selenium toning & then in the Viradon-unusual tones and some that work very well. You might also try toning with a 'frisket' coating on part of the image, toning in one type, and then taking the coating off, re coating the part that just toned, and now toning in another toner for split effects. It works & give a lot of control. Anyway, good luck to you. -- Dan Smith

Toning prints I've read a little about toning prints with Amidol which should increase blacks dramatically but I don't know much more than that. Perhaps some of the readers might know more about it. -- Andy Laycock

I'm partial to selenium. Your results with MG are similar to what I get, although I think selnium produces a nice sheen with MG and MGIV at 5 min. (1:10). The predictability of no tonal change can be an advantage as well. Both Brilliant and VCII tone beautifully at 5 min (1:10). Polymax will darken up a bit at 5 min (1:10) and Elite darkens up substantially at 5 min (1:20). Forte Polygrade and Bromoforte are very sensitive to toning - 1:30 min. at (1:10) before color shift to brown/sepia. -Doug -- Doug McSpadden

Are you using hardener? It surprises me that you're not getting any visible results. If you're using hardener in the fix, don't. I use selinium with the same paper and get very good results but I don't use any hardener. Good Luck! -- Chuck Baker

I use "Lipton" tea. keep it warm and it produce's great warm tone results. My mother gave me the idea after she said that they have been toning cloth in the stuff for centuries. -- Leonard Alvarez


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