Old bag of microdol-x

Discussion in 'B&W: Film, Paper, Chemistry' started by BetterSense, Feb 27, 2009.

  1. BetterSense

    BetterSense Member

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    I found this old bag in some darkroom stuff I just bought. Assuming it's still good, I guess it's supposed to be a fine-grained developer. When I run out of D76 I'll probably use it just because it was free, but is there any weirdness I should know about? I read the kodak sheet and it seems to be just another developer. To be honest I'm not sure what the point is with all these different developers, they must give a different look but I don't know how you arrive at a preference. I shoot tmy and trix.
     
  2. Phillip P. Dimor

    Phillip P. Dimor Member

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    Well, if it's unopened and the powder comes out slightly yellow or white then i'd assume it's good. Look for chunks, make sure when you mix it that it doesn't settle out, etc. I inherited a bit of 'old' chemicals years ago and most if not all of it was still usable provided it was unopened/unused.

    Microdol-x is good stuff. I change my preference every few years, it just happens. You sort of figure it all out by going, at least I did.
    The Film Developer Cookbook is a good read, it explains the difference between films and developers.
     
  3. Mike Wilde

    Mike Wilde Member

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    I love microdol x and plus x at ei64 for portrait work. It works well to tame grian with tri-x as well.

    I bought an old bag that makes 3.8l at a photo fair, packed in foil and paper style packaging. I have not openned it yet.

    My plan is actually to dissolve it to make a known strength of concentrated stock solution, and then dilute it at time of use with water to make a working solution.

    I frequently in the past have used this devlopoer one shot at 1:3 and 1:1 dilutions, so with 3.8l, I would need to burn though an awful lot of film to use it up if I mixed it with water and it started to oxidize right off the bat until it poops out a short number of months later.

    My plan is to make the concentrated stock solution by dissolving it in propylene glycol, heated in a double boiler, and then store it in wide mouthed old bread yeast bottles. To use it you would draw up the syrup and dillute it like using HC-110. My hope is that it lasts a few years when doing it this way.

    I plan on ordering the glycol when I put my next order in with Claire at JD Photochem.
     
  4. fschifano

    fschifano Member

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    Microdol-X works great with Tri-X and Plus-X. Its main forte is that it can be used straight as a fine grain developer, or as a very sharp but soft working developer when diluted.

    When used at full strength, you might notice a softening of the apparent grain. With older formulations of Plus-X and Tri-X, this was more apparent. Since these two emulsions have improved in terms of grain over the years, the effect is less noticeable. Expect to loose about a full stop of film speed if used at full strength.

    Once diluted to 1+3, the fine grain effect is largely lost and full emulsion speed is regained. Because the developer is slow working and contains metol as the only developing agent, it can deliver a negative with a very wide dynamic range. That's pretty close to perfect for taming the contrast of punchy films like PanF+, or films shot in hard, contrasty light.

    Newer type emulsions like TMax, Delta, and Acros don't really benefit much from this developer. These films are already very fine grained and there is little to be gained by using a fine grain developer. My favorite for TMax films is XTOL or D-76 in that order. I've never had a grain issue using either of these developers, though I tend to favor XTOL by a slight margin.

    When mixed up to stock solution strength, Microdol-X should be water white. If is mixes up and shows yellow or brown, you can safely assume that it has gone bad. Dry metol will oxidize to a brown color, and the paper and foil packets of the past were not the greatest for keeping the contents fresh. The newer mylar packets are better in this regard, though they can develop small pinholes with rough handling. I still have a few very, very old cans of Microdol-X, and surprisingly, the last one I opened was still as good as the day it was packaged - sometime in the early '70's! Unfortunately, you won't see Kodak packaging anything in cans any more. It just costs too much.
     
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    BetterSense

    BetterSense Member

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    So I can pretty much dilute it 1+3, and I can shoot at the same EI and use it like I use 1+1 Tri-x, with the development times given by the MDC of course? Like I said, I probably won't mix it up till I run out of D76, and then I'll use it exclusively. I can't see keeping multiple developer stock solutions around.
     
  6. fschifano

    fschifano Member

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    Rather than following the MDC, check the Kodak publications for Microdol-X and Tri-X. I'd trust information straight from the horse's mouth, over the second or third hand information on the MDC. Find the documents here:

    http://www.kodak.com/global/en/professional/support/techPubs/j4027/j4027.pdf

    http://www.kodak.com/global/en/professional/support/techPubs/f4017/f4017.pdf

    BTW, I keep a few different film developers in the darkroom. D-76, XTOL, HC-110, Diafine, and yes, even some Rodinal, even though I don't worship at that church! Each has unique qualities, strengths, and weaknesses. This way I can pick the best tool for the job at hand. I don't keep Microdol-X ready to go simply because I really don't find that much use for it.
     
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    BetterSense

    BetterSense Member

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    The Kodak publication on Tri-X films don't say anything about a speed decrease when using microdol-x at full strength. Is Kodak giving bad information?
     
  8. fschifano

    fschifano Member

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    No, it's not bad information. Shadow densities are less than I'd like them to be when I've used Microdol-X at full strength, but they're useable. For my own preferences, allowing more exposure if I plan to use Microdol-X at full strength works better. I like shadow densities with good separation, but I dislike using harder contrast paper to achieve that goal. With most developers, I can do this by exposing at box speed. Microdol-X is an exception.
     
  9. tbm

    tbm Member

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    I capture images with my Leica reflex and M lenses on Tri-X, Acros 100, and Delta 100, and Ialways use Microdol-X diluted 1+3 at 74 degrees for 18 minutes. This always gives me razor-sharp negatives and prints with full retention of highlight and shadow details!
     
  10. bsdunek

    bsdunek Subscriber

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    My Dad always used Microdol-X, as he liked the fine grain that resulted. It was great with Adox 25 from his Minox. He could make good 8X10's with it. It is known as a solvent or dissolving developer. It dissolves the silver grains to give a fine grain effect.
    fschifano's information above is right.
    I still have a couple of packs from the early 1970's. What I have used seems to be fine.