DiXactol

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Silverpixels5

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Anybody have experience with this developer? How does it compare to other two bath developers? Any info on the subject is greatly appreciated!
 

baronfoxx

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I use Dixactol Ultra for 90% of all my Monochrome work, films used are Ilford Delta 100 & 400,HP5+ and FP4+ and am very happy with the results.
I have also just tried first two rolls of Fuji Acros 100 and I think this may be the best.
Dixactol data can be obtained from Barry Thorntons web site

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hope this info is of use to you
 

glewis

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>I think the creator of DiXactol has come out with a new one called Exactol. >Supposedly an improvement.

Yes, you can read all about it's evolution in this month's Photo Techniques magazine.
The new generation of his formulas (Exactol and Lux, and DiXactol-ultra) now contain Phenidone along with Pyrocatchenol/Glycin.
 

lee

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Didn't the DiXactol give all the analog stuff up and start to spout D******? He seems like a snake oil salesman

lee\c
 

Donald Miller

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Kinda like a ship afloat...whichever way the wind blows...Nothing like a few "greenbacks" to alter the direction.
 

glewis

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>Didn't the DiXactol give all the analog stuff up and start to spout >D******? He seems like a snake oil salesman

Yes and No.

He has given up darkroom printing for D******* output. He does still start from an analog negative, but goes astray from there- at least according to his most recent postings and intro on his web site. Although, I wouldn't be suprised that he doesn't morph again in the near future. That's not to say I've heard anything bad about his line of developers- except they can only be bought direct from him (except DiXactol).
 

lee

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I thought that Les posted once that he tried the developer and it was a diaster. Could be wrong.

lee\c
 

cmpatti

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I tried DiXactol in a very preliminary way, but gave up when my first couple of tries showed streaking. Now I'm using Pyrocat HD, another Pyrocat-based developer, which hasn't given me the same problem and, unlike DiXactol, is recommended for rotary processing, which I prefer.
 

glewis

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This brings up an interesting thought ( at least to me). If you take Pyrocat-HD (which has Pyrocatchenol+Phenidone) and were to add Glycin- you could end up with Exactol/ DiXactol Ultra (which have [according to Barry's article]Pyrocatchenol+Glycin+Phenidone). Curiouser and curiouser. }:^)>
 

roy

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glewis said:
you could end up with ...

Not surprising as the people commissioning the developers are often looking for similar characteristics and tweak formulae with various amounts of chemicals, the properties of which are well known.
 

Loose Gravel

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glewis

Didn't you find the PhotoTech article to be a disappointment? I read that story, all this info about creating a new improved developer and then no formula. I'm suppose to buy it from him? Seems like advertising to me. Or am I suppose to take his example and create my own developer? Either way, I thought it was BOGUS.
 

fhovie

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I have used DiXactol quite a bit. It works well on larger formats with fine grain films. In 2 bath it is about N-2 and with Tri-X it is very grainy even in 6x6. It seems a little finer grain than PMK and has very good accutance and highlight separation. - Split D23 also seems to do this with finer grain though. I think I'll stick with PMK and TRI-X for 4x5 and am still experimenting for 6x6. I find that film speed is important and FP4 in Dixactol needs to be about ISO 64.
Frank
 
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I've never used this stuff, but I found it very intriguing that in Barry's site, with lots of two bath articles and Dixactol beeing a two baths, many of the times for Dixactol are for single bath usage.

Interesting...

Jorge O
 

roy

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Jorge Oliveira said:
and Dixactol beeing a two baths......

Although he markets more than one version of a two bath developer, Dixactol, or its 'tweaked' name, is, to my knowledge, single bath but can be used with lesser agitation as a compensating developer. The two bath aspect is the re-soak as with other developers of its type. That is, as I understand it !
 

Les McLean

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lee said:
I thought that Les posted once that he tried the developer and it was a diaster. Could be wrong.

lee\c

You are right Lee, I was asked by Barry to review Dixactol but after using it on several films including FP4 and Neopan 400 and following the instructions very carefully I produced the worst negatives and resultant prints ever to come out of my darkroom. The first test produced seriously under developed and very grainy negatives so I repeated the test thinking that I had done something wrong, the second set of negs were no better. I did not write the review. To be fair though, I have talked to photographers who swear by this developer and have seen good prints made from Dixactol negatives.

I don't understand why it is reckoned to be a two bath developer but most people use it as a single bath based on Barry's recommendation.
 

roy

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roy said:
Jorge Oliveira said:
and Dixactol beeing a two baths......
Dixactol, or its 'tweaked' name, is, to my knowledge, single bath

Jorge, I must apologise to you as you are correct. This can be used as a two bath dev. but it is said that users have reported the best results as a single bath, with or without the re-soak. I have used this dev. in the past and have to say that I did not experience any problems with it.

Reading the reviews about this type of dev. it seems that with variable contrast papers there is a possible drop in contrast and it brings home more so, the dictum of 'horses for courses'- that is, using the right materials for the type of effect you want to achieve. I can see the benefit when making negatives for large format ultra-violet printing but do members feel there is a distinct advantage with pyro/cat. type developers over, say, two bath which can give good highlight control with small format ?
 

Adrian Twiss

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The original data sheets that came with Dixactol gave instructions primarily for two bath development with an after bath to enhance the stain. I tried this method using approx 3.5 minutes per bath and thought the negatives lacked density. About a year later I read Barry's "Supplementary notes" on his web site and, following experimentation he, quite openly, said that the recommended use was single bath with "partial stand development" i.e. continuous agitation for 30 seconds then one inversion every two minutes. Further researches showed development times of between 7 and 9 minutes (if memory serves). I also downrated my films by 1/2 a stop and using the single bath method got far better negatives as a result.

One poster asked why Barry did not publish the formula. My answer would be - why should he? He was trying to make a living. You can only earn so much doing bespoke hand printing and giving workshops. There are many developers on the market whose formulae have never been published.

I also suspect that further iterations of Dixactol show that he was continuously evolving and improving his product.

Personally I don't think he was a "snake oil salesman". My brief correspondence with him led me to think of him as a genuinely helpful man who was passionate about his art. There was certainly no mystique in his writings. As a supplier of photochemistry he was relatively new to the market and I think still refining his products. Sadly due to his untimely death we will never know what he could have achieved.
 

Leon

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i had real problems with Dixactol and would end up with terribly streaked negs with the 2 bath, and way too much "mushy" grain from the single bath - i did have some correspondence with Barry about the probs - his reply insisting that the developer offers the sharpest grain possible - but mine was definately mushy!

However, having recently tried out a pack of exactol lux, i am hooked. My main dev before this was perceptol, but exactol lux is much better in my book - It acts like dilute perceptol, the same sharp edge and grainless characteristics, with shorter times and the stain advantage.

A test message was sent out today regarding the re-opening of Barry's shop, so for those who do like this stuff, it will be available again very soon. I cant wait.
 

Adrian Twiss

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I never had problems with mushy grain but on reflection and bearing in mind I know more about staining developers now than I did when I first started using Dixactol I think I was getting quite a high level general stain with Ilford HP5 and Verichrome Pan. I may give Exactol Lux a try when it becomes available again but still intend to experiment with Pyrocat HD
 

Tom Stanworth

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Hi,

I had just started experimenting with these devs in 5x4 when Barry sadly died, preventing me following initial experiments up, but my impressions are as follows:

Dixactol Ultra single bath: Very sharp, but not the best choice for enlargements with tradiotional 400 films such as HP5 plus. High general stain and grain was quite large. Tremendous holding of hot highlights, almost too good with average scenes with my soft colour head. Longer development to increase neg density increases grain...BUT...I tried this with Fuji Acros Quickloads and it is amazing. The scenes were of bright scenes in rural Spain, with plenty of hot highlights which were well held. Sharpness is incredible. I dev'd identical negs in HC110 (1 pt DilB + 1 pt water - due to very short dev times with Dil B) and compared them. The Dixactol has produced infinitely better sharpness still with completely invisible grain at 20x16. The sharpness was so much better, I printed the HC110 neg several times to make sure I had not made a focusing error! Leaves looked like they had ben cut out with a scalpel. The DixactolAcros negs showed a clear base and very little non image stain. nice pale brown to the image area.

Exactol Lux: Very much finer grain than Dixactol, otherwise similar points apply. I have used this with TMax 100, HP5 Plus, FP4 in 5x4, acros in 120. Reasonably fine but exceptionally sharp with HP5, but for some reason which I cannot understand, strange grain with TMax 100 5x4. The grain is visible as a speckle in a 16x12 (which I certainly had not expected) and not in a pleasant way. It is not obtrusive at 20x16, in fact still very fine, but not pleasant to the eye...cannot put my finger on it. It is perhaps speckly in an irregular way..? Very nice with FP4 Plus, Very, very sharp. I compared this to ID11 1+1 with FP4 and It is clearly much sharper and slightly finer grained. Miles sharper than perceptol 1+2.

Follow the times recommended as a starting point and you will not be far out. DO USE DEIONISED WATER!!!! I used to use tap water, which was fine, then for some reason, it changed and completely wrecked 12 good negs with bizarre streaking (expletives omitted). I must have hit upon something with Forte Fortezo G3 and Acros in Dixactol, because it is lovely , especially after a slight selenium tone. I found that these negs do print about a grade softer on VC paper.

As for film speed, it is fairly good. I had no problems with Tmax 100 in Exatol at ISO 100, having done a fim speed test showing 100 to be the true speed in this dev). Acros in Dixactol- I jumped in at ISO 64 after a brief trial in 120 in Exactol (ages ago) showing that it was very slow indeed (ISO 50). Strangely this time, ISO 64 appeared conservative in Dixactol. 80 would be about right (for me).

Overall, very encouraging, but would not recomment them for flat scenes (certainly not Dixactol) as increased development causes grain and general stain probs. Exposing to hold Z3 shadows with highlight hot spots (sunlit white wall) falling on Z12, my dixactol negs required only short burns in these areas. Not bad eh? I have not tried 2 bath as there has been no need yet. I have tried the partial stand option (agitation every 2 mins) and it does increase compensation.

I will try pyrocat HD if I find a way of getting round the expense of accurate chemical scales and compare them. Has anyone out there done a comparison?
 

Leon

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I'm interested that you found 120 Acros to work well with exactol - i found it to be extremely temperamental, hardly stained at all, the emulsion became dangerously soft and my negs were full of pinholes. I emailed Barry about it and he advised not to use Acros with exactol at all because of similarly reported problems.
 

roy

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Barry's warning to me was "whatever you do, do not use dizactol with Acros"! He suggested diLuxol, a two bath non-stainer, which works fine, although I do not regard this combination as the ultimate for this film and myself.
 

Black Dog

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I did use Dixactol with ACROS and the results look ok-possibly a little thin but perfectly printable. I think water quality may play a large part here.
 

garryl

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The new generation of his formulas (Exactol and Lux, and DiXactol-ultra) now contain Phenidone along with Pyrocatchenol/Glycin.

That bring up a idea/question. If you were to add Glycin to Pyrocat-HD,
would you have the same developer? Sandy?
Just curious. :confused:
 
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