Lith developer replenishment

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Dali

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Hi there,

I use the Moersch Easylith developer @ 1+31 dilution (1A +1B + 64 Water+Old Brown) for a total volume of 2,100 ml (32 ml A + 32 ml B + 210 ml OB + 1826 ml water).

I noticed that I could print up to 4 prints (8 X 10 in.) without much issue, then the development time get pretty long. So I assume that each print "uses" about 8 ml of A and 8 ml of B as the developer looks exhausted past these 4 initial prints.

If you had the replenish the developer after these 4 prints, what would you do:

A) Add 32 ml A + 32 ml B to the exhausted developer?
B) Add a different volume of A + B and then which one?
C) Throw the whole developer and prepare some fresh one?
D) ?

I know that another solution would be to prepare a bigger volume ( > 2,100 ml) but I still would be limited to a pretty low number of prints due to the trays.

So, what would be your recommendation?

Thanks!
 

glbeas

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Automatic lithographic processors used a small amount of mixed developer added per sheet put through. Replenishing tray processing would be about the same. One thing to be aware of is as the developer seasons the contrast can go up, one of the difficulties of running a true lithographic processors is the way the contrast ramps up as the machine settles in. I dont know what this means for lith prints, possible the prints get even better as you use it.
 

mooseontheloose

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I have used similar dilutions to you (but no OB) and usually get up to 8 prints before the times get too long (by that point, somewhere between 10-15 minutes, as opposed to 4-5). Normally I make an extra litre of developer that I leave on the side and use it to replenish when things get slow (I may or may not remove the same amount of old developer from the tray as I do so - either way, I get another 4-8 prints out of that). In the wintertime when it's a bit cool the developing times slow down quickly, so I won't make the extra developer ahead of time, but just make a fresh litre with hot water and use that as a proper replenishment system.

That said...over the years I've come to prefer the more subtle colours you get from the initial developing stages (prints 1-4), so I don't use OB (which speeds up the process of colour and/or speeds up the pepper fogging too, depending on the paper), and I'm now more likely to make a fresh batch of developer rather than try to extend the life of the old one.

Also, it's not necessary to have exactly the same dilutions for A and B - slightly more B than A will produce less colour (and contrast) and extend the life of the developer a little bit - I've done that both with EasyLith and the SE5 Lith.
 
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Dali

Dali

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My usual development time is around 7 or 8 minutes and after 4 prints, it can go up to 12 or 15 minutes and black areas lack of depth. I cannot imagine what it would be after 8 prints ?!

I tame the contrast increase by adding 10% of exposure from 1 print to the next but it does not prevent the developer weakening... I will fellow your first advice and replace half of the developer by mid-session to get 4 (or more!) additional prints.
 

ic-racer

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C) Throw the whole developer and prepare some fresh one?

I do like the opposite of replenishment. Save a little of the old and mix with the new to slow it down a bit.
 

mooseontheloose

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My usual development time is around 7 or 8 minutes and after 4 prints, it can go up to 12 or 15 minutes and black areas lack of depth. I cannot imagine what it would be after 8 prints ?!

I tame the contrast increase by adding 10% of exposure from 1 print to the next but it does not prevent the developer weakening... I will fellow your first advice and replace half of the developer by mid-session to get 4 (or more!) additional prints.

Dali, what paper are you using, and how hot is your lith developer? I find some papers are slower than others, for example at 20 C Foma papers often take 5-10 minutes, whereas Fujibro (only in Japan, but recently discontinued) takes 40-60 minutes to develop. However, once I started using a hotter developer (between 30-40 C) all papers fell into the 3-5 minute developing range, at least to start with. Of course, a hotter developer often means more colour as well.
 
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Dali

Dali

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Temperature is between 25-28 C. Regarding the paper, I print on Kentmere Kentona and Kodak Medalist.
 
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Dali

Dali

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I have used similar dilutions to you (but no OB) and usually get up to 8 prints before the times get too long (by that point, somewhere between 10-15 minutes, as opposed to 4-5)

From last night session... I slightly changed the dilution and OB: 30ml A + 30ml B + 105ml OB + 1935ml water. Bath temperature close to 28 C. I could easily get 5 prints (development time < 10 mn) but the 6th was awful with a VERY long development time, high contrast and no real black. As my Kodak Medalist reserve is exhausted, I used instead the Adox Nuance (expired) paper for the first time.

I am still far from your 8 prints... :sad:
 

mooseontheloose

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From last night session... I slightly changed the dilution and OB: 30ml A + 30ml B + 105ml OB + 1935ml water. Bath temperature close to 28 C. I could easily get 5 prints (development time < 10 mn) but the 6th was awful with a VERY long development time, high contrast and no real black. As my Kodak Medalist reserve is exhausted, I used instead the Adox Nuance (expired) paper for the first time.

I am still far from your 8 prints... :sad:

I think 5 is still a good number, especially with older papers. Are you doing one print at a time? You might want to try two at a time (back to back, constantly flipping them to ‘agitate’ them) and see if you get a few more prints that way. It’s a popular technique with some lith printers to get consistency across prints and to minimize time spent in front of the developer tray.
 
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Dali

Dali

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Yes, I develop one 8x10 print at a time. Your solution of 2 prints back to back might not be that practical for me as I use tongs (no gloves) and I would be worried to damage the prints. Also, is it a convenient method when prints have different snatch points...?
 

glbeas

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When I worked the process camera at the newspaper office we would drop the first sheet of film in facefirst and get it wet all the way, then sink it to the bottom and start the next sheet in. I could do five or six sheets in a two inch deep tray. As the develop I would pull the bottom sheet up and place it on top and agitate for thirty seconds or so while inspecting it, then do the same with the next keeping that up till the grey scales show the proper step coming up for proper development. This should work for prints if you are careful and you can pull any sheet at any point without affecting the others. The developer would last all day with occassional replenishment but the tray held two gallons of liquid.
 

MattKing

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I think 5 is still a good number, especially with older papers. Are you doing one print at a time? You might want to try two at a time (back to back, constantly flipping them to ‘agitate’ them) and see if you get a few more prints that way. It’s a popular technique with some lith printers to get consistency across prints and to minimize time spent in front of the developer tray.
This technique works well for the postcard exchange too:D.
 

M Carter

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A lot of this is "what you want" - if you like the color increase as developer ages for instance; or you're not worried about 100% consistency between prints.

A problem is sometimes the developer just plain shuts down suddenly. One strategy is to have, say, a liter in your tray - when you realize the reaction has died down, pour off 500ML and add 500ml of fresh mixed dev (lift the print from the tray when you pour the fresh dev in).

I start a timer for every print, and make a note of the emergence time - the time when I first get the faintest sense of borders or shadows. It gives me a good clue as to how the dev is doing. I also track time to snatch, and write both times on my printing notes for reference.

I have some glorious old Agfa MCC in 16x20, beautiful with lith, but print 2 needs some sodium sulfite added, print three breaks out in ugly black spots. So for that paper, I just go one-shot for consistency. You can also mix much larger concentrations, like a deep 11x14 tray, fill up with 2-3 liters for 8x10. One-shot for big prints does get pricey, but then a wasted sheet of 16x20 or 20x24 (esp. last-of-the-great-papers hitting the trash bin) is costly as well.

Another help is to cover your trays as much as possible. I use sheets of clear plex. It retains heat and keeps as much air from hitting the chemistry. I'll gently agitate with the cover on for 3 minutes and take a peek and re-cover; I don't set the cover aside until things are getting close to snatch time.
 
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