Modern Staining Developers - a discussion

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pentaxuser

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Thanks Raghu. Interestingly he has decided to go with staining developers other than 510 Pyro It's a resurrection of Barry Thornton's staining developers and Peter Hogan's Prescysol

I wonder what is in the alkaline stop bath and is this the only alkaline stop on commercial sale?

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Ian Grant

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That's very interesting Raghu, I sell Pyrocat HD for the same price as Prescysol, the only difference I sell 1 litre kits for that 100ml price, and I make a very good profit.

I should add that Prescysol is Pyrocat, Peter Hogan was asked by Les Mclean and admitted it. This kind of exploitation needs high lighting.

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" It offers the same tanning, staining, sharpness, and highlight control of Prescysol™ but with the careful addition of a special developing agent creates finer grain negatives."

Ian, I have quoted above directly from John Finch's site about Prescysol EF The EF standing for Extra Fine and seemingly aimed at 35mm users. Any idea what the special developing agent is?

There is no info on what is in the alkaline stop bath and prior to stocking this alkaline stop, John Finch's answer was to use a water bath.

John Finch mentions in his announcement that he has been working with Peter Hogan but gives no other details This has to be a relatively recent relationship as he, John Finch, says he only returned to the U.K. in 2018

The details on the alkaline stop is very reminiscent of Peter Hogan's description of his stop when he had his own website before closing it and moving into what I think was property development in Spain

Thanks

pentaxuser
 
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That's very interesting Raghu, I sell Pyrocat HD for the same price as Prescysol, the only difference I sell 1 litre kits for that 100ml price, and I make a very good profit.

I should add that Prescysol is Pyrocat, Peter Hogan was asked by Les Mclean and admitted it. This kind of exploitation needs high lighting.

Ian: It seems Photographic Formulary also sells Prescysol and lists Catechol and Metol in MSDS. So it could be a variant of Pyrocat-M.
 
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Regarding stop bath for staining developers, is there a true need for an alkaline stop bath? PE was of the opinion that water is more than adequate:

For best stain, the developer should be a pyro type developer with low sulfite, the stop should be a wash and the fixer should be plain fresh thiosulfate. This will maximize stain.

@koraks: in the debate on acid vs alkaline fix for staining/tanning developers, one factor that is ignored is the presence/absence of sulphite/metabisulphite in the fixer. It's interesting to note that PE recommends plain thiosulphate fixer for such developers.
 
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There is no info on what is in the alkaline stop bath and prior to stocking this alkaline stop, John Finch's answer was to use a water bath.

Alkaline stop bath for Pyrocat-type developers seems to be a novelty that's motivated not by scientific reasons or experimental evidence but by fear mongering.
 

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I normally like John Finch’s YT channel a lot, but this smells like pushing something on people for a premium which not quite long ago he did never use nor miss (his battle of the giants never involved any of the stuff he’s selling now)
 

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in the debate on acid vs alkaline fix for staining/tanning developers, one factor that is ignored is the presence/absence of sulphite/metabisulphite in the fixer. It's interesting to note that PE recommends plain thiosulphate fixer for such developers.

Yes, it's certainly interesting, and sadly we can't ask him anymore. My personal opinion on this is that it's a red herring that may even be down to a matter of definitions. If you just say 'stain', then yes, by all means avoid any sulfite, keep pH high and if you can, run the film through the developer once more after fixing. This will ensure maximum stain.

However! It will not, IMO, ensure maximum image-wise stain. I.e. the stain that will be formed in a stop bath, fixer and an optional after-bath will be overall/general stain. Essentially, it will be dye-based fog. This is the old myth concerning the PMK afterbath that was dispelled so many years ago; running your film through the PMK again after fixing added to the stain. It sure did, but it didn't add to the image! It just created additional overall density that didn't help in printing whatsoever.

Image-wise stain is formed in a similar way as the dyes in color film or paper: there's a direct relationship between the development of silver, resulting in developer derivatives that form a dye (either by themselves as in pyro developers, or together with dye couplers in color materials). Since no development occurs anymore from the stop bath onward, logically no image-wise stain can be formed from that point. Hence, it wouldn't make sense to maintain the low-sulfite/high-pH environment that's conducive to dye formation.

The only concern you could then have, is that offering sulfite or reducing pH would break down the dyes that have just formed. I'm rather skeptical about this given the permanence of the dyes. Of course, as always, side-by-side testing could be undertaken, and interestingly, apparently this has still not been done by anyone although it must have been suggested many times over many years now. I admit I haven't gotten round to it yet because I'm working on other stuff right now. Maybe I'll dedicate a few sheets to the matter one of these days.

PS: how come nobody has marketed a staining hydroquinone developer yet? With the interest in somewhat arcane developers, I'd have expected there to be a niche for it. While HQ doesn't stain as heavily as pyrocatechol or pyrogallol, it sure does stain, and it's a fairly pleasant yellow dye at that. Just a tad subtle.
 
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how come nobody has marketed a staining hydroquinone developer yet?

Hydroquinone seems to have attained notoriety that somehow Catechol and Pyrogallol have avoided. Zone Imaging has even pledged that they'll never make developers that are HQ-based:

"We guarantee that none of our products will ever contain hydroquinone and DPTA/EDTA. In all our products, we will strive to minimise the environmental footprint."
 

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Hydroquinone seems to have attained notoriety that somehow Catechol and Pyrogallol have avoided. Zone Imaging has even pledged that they'll never make developers that are HQ-based:

"We guarantee that none of our products will ever contain hydroquinone and DPTA/EDTA. In all our products, we will strive to minimise the environmental footprint."

Probably because the major manufacturers used HQ in preference (likely because the in-situ monosulfonate salt delivers better properties - and isn't anything like as potentially poisonous as pyrogallol - you must ask yourself why pyrogallol was only being used in Kodak products that needed to deliver tanning properties to unhardened gelatin as long ago as the 1960s - and even there, replacement developers were in active investigation - and compared to the sub-amateur level of nonsense from Lane etc, Kodak et al will have had (and have) a clearer understanding of what is going on during development that is desirable or not). If someone like Lane is making bizarre/ extraordinary claims, he'd better have the qualitative evidence to back it up. But I bet he doesn't really have more understanding than that he can mislead those hungry for a magic silver bullet that'll turn them into a Great PhotographerTM who cannot/ will not learn basic process control into buying a product that wasn't well formulated in the first place. Most of the reason why Pyrocat works somewhat acceptably is because it has developing agent relationships that are known to work ok - not necessarily optimally.
 

Anon Ymous

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Hydroquinone seems to have attained notoriety that somehow Catechol and Pyrogallol have avoided. Zone Imaging has even pledged that they'll never make developers that are HQ-based:

"We guarantee that none of our products will ever contain hydroquinone and DPTA/EDTA. In all our products, we will strive to minimise the environmental footprint."

Oh, wow... It's laughable, to put it politely.
 

pentaxuser

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I normally like John Finch’s YT channel a lot, but this smells like pushing something on people for a premium which not quite long ago he did never use nor miss (his battle of the giants never involved any of the stuff he’s selling now)

I share your sentiments completely and in that context I wonder if John Finch has considered that this negative reaction was a real possibility from some of his followers

Is he sure that Peter Hogan's Prescysol or its variant Prescysol EF for 35mm film is really an improvement on pyrocat HD

The expensive alkaline stop bath on sale does rather fly in the face of his previous stance and video on water as the stop bath for staining as well as the late PE's statement on the subject

However what is clear to me is that follower of any of the YouTube video presenters plus patreons of such sites often lack any deep knowledge of the photographic chemistry and are never sceptical of anything or even in any real sense, questioning of anything said

So it may be a reasonable assumption that little or none of what we discuss here has any or will have any negative effect on sales

For those interested in the history of staining developers and pyro cat specifically here's a link to a podcast that I was given involving Sandy King. It is 1hr 40+mins long but there is a discussion on Peter Hogan's Prescysol from about the 26 min mark

What Sandy has to say is extremely interesting. It is called Large Format Photography podcast 57 Sandy King the pyrocat


I tried to copy and paste but failed

pentaxuser
 
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Is he sure that Peter Hogan's Prescysol or its variant Prescysol EF for 35mm film is really an improvement on pyrocat HD

Finch's Prescysol EF is apparently Catechol-Glycin developer (and not a Catechol-Metol developer like Formulary's). Here is what Sandy King had to say about Glycin boosted Pyrocat:

I have tested glycin in the Pyrocat-HD formula, both as an addition with phenidone and in place of phenidone. As an addition it makes the formula much more active without changing the stain or grain. In place of phenidone the formula is less active and grain size appears larger, but sharpness is bitting, rather like DiXactol.

Also, Les Mclean says this about Prescysol here:

"When I tested it I compared it to Pyro and Rodinal, which is one of my all time favourite developers, and Prescysol produced a far superior result from exactly the same lighting conditions"
 
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pentaxuser

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Thanks, Ian, for providing the link

Raghu, my reading of the what you say about EF assuming that you are right about the EF ingredients would not seem to lead to it being extra fine. I was intrigued by the description of it in the Pictorial Planet where it was stated that a special ingredient or was that ingredients is/are added

Whenever the word "special" is used, alarm bells start ringing in my head. It is just so reminiscent of the kind of "smoke and mirrors" phraseology used b sites that believe customers are persuaded by the intrinsic power of the word "special"

It works to a large extent as evidenced occasionally when newcomers to film are looking for special films that were designed for speed, portraits, street photography etc or special developers that were made for certain films, scenery etc

It's about time I warmed up my soul with that unique "Leica glow" to rid me of my cynicism 😄

pentaxuser
 
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the theft of his Formula as Prescysol

Ian: this is shame if true. Interestingly, Prescysol appears to have had a decent user base in its previous incarnation, at least going by Flickr, there seem to have been more users of Prescysol than Dixactol. Any idea why an obscure developer which is an allegedly a copy of Pyrocat HD became more popular than Dixactol?
 

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Ian: this is shame if true. Interestingly, Prescysol appears to have had a decent user base in its previous incarnation, at least going by Flickr, there seem to have been more users of Prescysol than Dixactol. Any idea why an obscure developer which is an allegedly a copy of Pyrocat HD became more popular than Dixactol?

It's there in the Video, I probably have Sandy Kings original PMs about it. There was a problem with Hogans Prescysol, it kept very poorly (Part A), but this was due to Hogan using low density plastic bottles, rather than the developer itself.

I visited a member here in Southern Turkey around 10 years ago, and he told me it barely lasted 3 months before significantly oxidising, in fact I saw this for myself as it had to be thrown away, luckily I'd taken my Pyrocat HD with me, so we used that. My experiences with Pyrocat HD is it keeps up to 4 years even in a partially full bottle

It's worth adding that Prescysol was the early version of Pyrocat HD using Sodium Carbonate in Part B, Sandy King changed Part B to Potassium Carbonate.

Ian
 

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If you look at the description of Prescysol EF on https://pictorialplanet.square.site/ carefully, it is mentioned that this special ingredient is Glycin. No idea if Glycin produces very fine grain when combined with Catechol but it seems to be contrary to what Sandy found.

Well Ilford Ilfosol was a fine grain Phenidone Glycin developer released at the end of 1969, but there were issues with its shelf life, so it was reformulated as Ilfosol II a PQ developer some time in the mid to late 1970s, again as Ilfosol S and now as Ilfosol 3.

Ian
 

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If you know where to look, Glycin was clearly subjected to major research lab tests in the 50s/60s vis-a-vis HQMS and found wanting - and what that says is that an appropriately formulated PQ developer should be at least equal if not markedly better and cheaper to produce than one with Glycin. Which is not to say that under specific conditions, Glycin may have offered benefits in terms of formulation prior to better understanding of HQMS formation and exploitation. Ilfosol 3 can be astonishingly sharp.
 

Ian Grant

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Well this is supposed to be DiXactol Ultra

DiXactol Ultra (type) Developer

Stock Solution A
Sodium Sulphite 3 g
Glycin 2 g
Pyrocatechin 10 g
Phenidone 0.2 g
Sodium Metabisulphite 5 g
Water to 100 ml

Stock Solution B
Sodium Hydroxide 10 g
Distilled water to make 100 ml


To make a standard working solution, mix 1 part A with 1 part B with 100 parts water.
Develop: 6 mins @ 20ºC

So Part A is acidic like Pyrocat, change Part B to Potassium Carbonate and who knows what it's called . . . . . . . .

The Sodium Sulphite in Part A is completely unnecessary, the Metabisulphite forms Sulphite in an Alkali solution once mixed

Ian
 
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