Pyrocat-HD from Photographers' Formulary

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George Losse

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Ok, so I've been reading a lot about Pyrocat-HD and wanted to give it a try.

I have tried PMK and for me it was not an experience I ever want to repeat. This spring I tried Rollo Pyro, while I liked the results much better the the PMK. Still the prints did not show me anything to really make me want to convert from my standard HC110.

I decided to give Pyrocat-HD a try, rather then order in the bulk chemicals and then not like the results, I thought I'd order the package from Photographers' Formulary. That made life simple and I could try it with little effort or expense.

Last night, I started mixing the chemicals based on the instructions (which looked a lot like what I had been reading on the Blinking eye site). Just for kicks before I mixed in the chemicals I wanted to check the weights of the packages. I found that the was 28g of Pyrocatechin in the package instead of the 5g that the formula called for and that was marked on the label. I know I measured it in the plastic bag still but didn't think the bag weighed 23g (it turns out the bag weighed under 3g). That made me check all of the other packages to see if the proportions were greater them what was printed on the instruction sheet. Everything else measured out ok for the printed formula in the instructions.

I weighed out the 5g needed and mixed up the solution. I processed 8x10 sheets in my Jobo using Clay Harmon's times posted on the Blinking Eye site as a starting point. My first reaction to the negatives is very good. I'll print them this weekend to find out more.

I just wanted to pass along that sometimes the pre-measured packages are not always what they are marked. Had I not checked the weight and mixed the chemicals on good faith I might have a different feeling this morning about what is looking like a very nice developer.

George Losse
 

sanking

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I am sorry about the mistake in mixing amounts. The addition of that much extra pyrocatechin in the formula would have led to a disaster in development. Hope you will communicate this problem to Formulary.

Just for the record, I have no involvement with the kit offered by Formulary.

Also, if you are interested in mixing from scratch you should know tht the only two sites that carry my verified versions of the formula are the Unblinking Eye and the Azo Forum on Michael and Paula website.

Sandy King
 

Jeremy

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What's actually required to mix your own pyrocat-HD? I'm working in 4x5 now with the unicolor rollers and I'm very curious about pyro. At the moment I'm using diafine (the box says it's not recommended for roller use, but I find that it works quite well as the slightly increased grain from constant agitation is a boon when I'm enlarging), but would like to try a staining developer. After reading this posting about incorrect amounts in bags I'm hesitant about purchasing the kits to make my own w/o knowing the extra purchases I will need for verifying the accuracy of my concoctions before going in.
 

LFGuy

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You'll need all the reagents of course, plus something to mix them in, amber glass storage bottles (preferably), distilled water, and a way to measure everything. I use some small graduated cylinders and a balance to measure everything out. You could probably get away with one of those small balancing scales for use in the kitchen, that weigh up to 10 grams or so, providing they are accurate enough. That would probably be good enough for solution A. As for solution B, I measure it out using tablespoons (using a conversion from the Darkroom Cookbook).
 

Donald Miller

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Jeremy,
Other then the chemicals and a scale that will measure in grams not much more is required. Perhaps an extra storage bottle since the Pyrocat is mixed in two parts which are combined prior to processing film. It is extremely economical to use.
For those who have not tried a pyro based formulation, I began using ABC Pyro when I started contact printing Azo. Since then I have switched to Pyrocat HD (for eveness of development and greater high value separation). Now, when I print an older 4X5 Tri X negative that has been developed in HC 110 I can visually tell the difference between it and a TriX negative developed in ABC Pyro...not in the negative, but rather in the print. I can tell the difference not only at a 16X20 enlargement but also at a 5X7 enlargement. I can tell the difference in sharpness and tonal separation. If it weren't better I wouldn't use it.
 

Jeremy

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sanking said:
Let me know what kind of printing you will be doing with the FP4+ negatives in Pyrocat-HD and I will provide a recommended development time and dilution.

By kind of printing I mean process (silver, Pt/Pd, salted paper, kallitype,etc.). And if silver gelatin let me know whether you are using VC, graded papers, or AZO, and of course what kind of enlarger set-up you have.
Sandy King

I'm thinking I will definitely give this stuff a try as I'm finding I want to go pull out the 4x5 and shoot all of the time (now if I only had the time...). Sandy, are you still willing help out in this way? I'm shooting Arista 125 which is supposedly FP4 for silver prints on VC paper using an Omega Super Dichroic 2 color head and will probably split filter print using the color filters in the enlarger. I also greatly like the temperature they had on Ed's site as my house is kept at around 75 degrees F most of the time. On suggestions that I've had independent of this post and from Aggie's posting robot (I she has to sleep some time! :D ) I will probably order from art supply chemicals unless there are better (also read as cheaper) suggestions. Also, do you have any suggestions for good quality kitchen scales... will Wal-Mart/Target type stores carry this product? Thanks for all of the help, guys, I've always wondered about the mysteries of this pyro everyone speaks so highly of.
jeremy

side note for the dixactol post: it's now available at photographer's formulary
 

Jeremy

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Im sorry, I meant ArtCraft Chemicals... Aggie, is this who you're also talking about?
 

Jeremy

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is there any reason to use a digital versus an analog scale? I picked up a digital scale with both oz or grams and a resettable zero at a local kitchen appliance store that is going out of business. After next Thursday (when I get paid) or when Sandy posts back to this topic--whichever is second-- I will place my order at ArtCraft Chemicals and give pyro a shot.
 

Jeremy

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Well, I'm glad that I can put the scale to use in the kitchen (I needed one there anyway) as it will only do from 2 grams up in increments of 2 grams. I think I'll just head to Wal-Mart before my chemicals arrive and get an analog scale. After looking into making my own brews it looks to be much cheaper on everything from the developer, hypo remover, stop bath, and fix.
 

glbeas

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I got an Ohaus triple balance scale from Ebay for about $30, later got the extra weights for it. If you go looking for one of these make sure the weights are all there. Nice thing about em, no batteries!
 

sanking

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Jeremy,

OK, for silver gelatin projection printing with VC papers, and assuming you are doing rotary processing (since you note that you are working with "unicolor rollers"), I recommend about 9.5 minutes at 70 degrees F for Ilford FP4+ (and/or PhotoWarehouse ASA 125 film) in Pyrocat-HD, 1:1:100 dilution.

This should get you very close to optimum negatives for your printing conditions. Of course, test before developing your "Moonrise over Hernandez" negatives.

Good luck.

Sandy King
 

lloyd

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sanking said:
Jeremy,

OK, for silver gelatin projection printing with VC papers, and assuming you are doing rotary processing (since you note that you are working with "unicolor rollers"), I recommend about 9.5 minutes at 70 degrees F for Ilford FP4+ (and/or PhotoWarehouse ASA 125 film) in Pyrocat-HD, 1:1:100 dilution.

This should get you very close to optimum negatives for your printing conditions. Of course, test before developing your "Moonrise over Hernandez" negatives.

Good luck.

Sandy King

sandy

any guidelines for starting times/speeds in trays for fp4, bpf200 or efkepl100? any advantage/disadvantage in giving continuous agitation as per typical tray development as opposed to your suggested 10" per minute?

thanks
lloyd
 

lloyd

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sanking said:
Jeremy,

OK, for silver gelatin projection printing with VC papers, and assuming you are doing rotary processing (since you note that you are working with "unicolor rollers"), I recommend about 9.5 minutes at 70 degrees F for Ilford FP4+ (and/or PhotoWarehouse ASA 125 film) in Pyrocat-HD, 1:1:100 dilution.

This should get you very close to optimum negatives for your printing conditions. Of course, test before developing your "Moonrise over Hernandez" negatives.

Good luck.

Sandy King

sandy

any guidelines for starting times/speeds in trays for fp4, bpf200 or efkepl100? any advantage/disadvantage in giving continuous agitation as per typical tray development as opposed to your suggested 10" per minute?

thanks
lloyd
 

avandesande

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Jeremy Moore said:
is there any reason to use a digital versus an analog scale? I picked up a digital scale with both oz or grams and a resettable zero at a local kitchen appliance store that is going out of business. After next Thursday (when I get paid) or when Sandy posts back to this topic--whichever is second-- I will place my order at ArtCraft Chemicals and give pyro a shot.

Digital scales are convienient because you can tare them. You put your weighing container on the scale, and when you tare it corrects for the weight so it now reads zero. Saves a little math and and the possiblity of error. You can get them now for the price of a decent anolog scale.
 

fhovie

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I market process controllers so when I am ready to make batches I use a computer operatorated vibratory feeder and a scale that is good to the miligram for a kilo. Of course without cal weights, the precision would not be too good - anyway I could not afford this equipment - just happy it is on hand when I need it!

Not having tried Pyrocat and being pretty experienced now with PMK, what does pyrocat do differently than PMK that I would want to try it? - Frank
 

Jorge

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fhovie said:
Not having tried Pyrocat and being pretty experienced now with PMK, what does pyrocat do differently than PMK that I would want to try it? - Frank

Less overall satin and better propotional stain.
 

Jeremy

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it's also supposed to work better then traditional pyro in rotary tubes
 

sanking

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Frank wrote:

"Not having tried Pyrocat and being pretty experienced now with PMK, what does pyrocat do differently than PMK that I would want to try it?"


PMK is an excellent developer. I used it myself for almost ten years as my primary develolper so I am very aware of its characteristics. Pyrocat-HD gives very similar results to PMK: high acutance, grain masking from staining, and high proportional stain. And the stock solutions also have very good keeping qualities, with a slight edge to PMK in this category. However, Pyrocat-HD has some characteristics, which may offer advantages.

1. Pyrocat-HD can be used with rotary processing with no fear of uneven staining. I recommend it for rotary processing and have never had any reports that it caused uneven development or staining in this application.

2. Pyrocat-HD can also be used with minimal agitation when processing roll film in tanks. This can give very pronounced adjacency effects and result in enhanced apparent sharpness. Pyrogallo based developers, on the other hand, are subject to uneven staining when processes with minimal agitation.

3. Pyrocat-HD, even at the 1:1:100 dilution, requires shorter development times by about 25% compared to PMK to reach the same CI.

4. Pyrocat-HD is less susceptible to fog from aerial oxidation and even with very long development times keeps a very low b+F. This make it very attractive for alternative printing processes that requires negatives of very high CI.

5. Pyrocat-HD gives slightly greater effective film speed than PMK, when negatives are developed to the same CI. This speed gain is due to Phenidone.

6. Pyrocat-HD is a better developer for making dual-purpose negatives, as for printing with both graded silver paper and Pt/Pd with the same negatives. This is because there is greater difference between the blue reading (to which silver papers are sensitive) and the UV reading (to which UV processes are sensitive) in a stained Pyrocat_HD negative than in a PMK negative.

7. There is a difference in the way highlight values are rendered with Pyrocat-HD because it does not have the shoulder in the curve that one sees with PMK. This is neither a good thing nor a bad thing because the shoulder helps with certain scenes by providing compensation, but with other scenes it gives reduced highlight contrast. High mid-tone values are also rendered with slightly more contrast in Pyrocat-Hd for the same reason.

Sandy King
 

sanking

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Just wanted to mention one other thing. Pyrocat-HD also works with stand develoment when mixed at about 10:10:500. There is a new message on the photo.net forum from someone who got good results with Acros film and Pyrocat-HD in stand development.

Sandy King
 

Jeremy

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Sandy (or anyone else),
can anyone suggest a starting time for HP5? I know the FP4 starting time is 9.5 minutes, but I'm changing to HP5 for my outdoor work for that extra stop. Also, does anyone one know of the comparable starting time when pyrocatHD is used at 75 degrees F instead of 70 as my house is kept at a constant 75 and this would preclue the need for temperature adjustment.
 
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George Losse

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Jeremy Moore said:
Sandy (or anyone else),
can anyone suggest a starting time for HP5? I know the FP4 starting time is 9.5 minutes, but I'm changing to HP5 for my outdoor work for that extra stop. Also, does anyone one know of the comparable starting time when pyrocatHD is used at 75 degrees F instead of 70 as my house is kept at a constant 75 and this would preclue the need for temperature adjustment.

Jeremy,
Clay's article on the Unblinking eye site has some times for processing in the Jobo Drums.

http://unblinkingeye.com/Articles/PC-HD/pc-hd.html
 

Jeremy

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is there a speed difference in the rotation of a unicolor 8x10 film tube on a unicolor rotary base vs the jobo expert drums? If there's not, then I'll just go with Clay's suggested time for the FP-4. Does anyone have one for HP-5?
 
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