Using PMK pyro developer?

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grainyvision

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I recently bought some pyro developer (liquid PMK) for some experiments since I've read a lot of people saying it's a unique developer etc etc. I had also heard it can be low contrast so it seemed to match up with my current experiment of getting ortho litho film to have a reasonable amount of contrast. At this it excels (though I have to use 1:1:100, not 1:2:100).

Anyway, I'm curious of a few things:

* Pushing film, is it at all reasonable?
* I've heard of pyro being used as paper developer. Is that possible with PMK? What is the benefit?
* On massive dev chart, most of the films are like HP5+ 280-400 ISO and such. Should I downgrade the speed of the film I intend to process in this for best results?
* What effects can be had by using different dilutions? I know part B (the base) apparently controls contrast to an extent, but beyond that?
* How do you clean trays afterwards that are stained by pyro? Will the stain harm any future solutions put into the tray?
* Is there any alternative to TF-4 for an alkaline fixer (acid fixers strip the stain) that is less smelly?
* Does the workflow formulary recommends really help? They recommend develop -> water stop -> alkaline fix -> soak in (used) developer -> 20m water bath to maximize stain
 

Bob Carnie

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I have been using PMK for a long time..
I will try to give you my two cents
Pushing - I have found that you can push a bit but not like other films
Paper Developer- no it oxidizes so fast there would be no point.
I always recommend cutting the ISO in half
I would follow the dilutions that are recommended, I have for extreme cases pumped the dilution up ie double the chems to try to salvage density
Clean the trays, all my trays are the colour of the liquids I put in, Dev trays are all brown,
I use Hypam and Rapid Fix for fixer all the time
Yes - I am one of the ones that like using the used developer, many here will tell you opposite but I have followed Hutchings formula to a fault

Some tips I use.

I use two devs baths to keep the chem fresh within a given time.. ie 7min 1000ml then 7 min 1000ml.
I do a pre soak for 2 min to remove the antihalation
I process immediately when I have mixed the A and B
I always use distilled water for the dev
I never reuse fixer and I always use a water stop.

You mention Ortho Litho film ?? I do not use PMK for this I use Hc110 for Ortho 25 though.

Finally the biggest tip about PMK developer is that it is a tannin developer and as the development moves forward there is a hardening effect around the silver coming up which allows for incredible highlight detail . You can shoot a light bulb in a darkened room and with proper developmen see no blooming and be able to see the filament.
 
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grainyvision

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I tried Ortho Litho in HC-110 1:100, though the contrast was somewhat reasonable (still high for my taste) the density was absolutely abysmal compared to the true black that this film is capable of. I didn't get good density until I went up to 1:50 and by then the contrast was way too high. PMK really tames the film when diluted 1:1:100. You'll get pretty good density (probably thanks more to the stain than silver density) and it becomes pretty difficult to completely blow the highlights, meaning if you shoot pretty slow you'll get great contrast. In HC-110 I was able to get an ISO of 6, but with PMK 3 is the fastest I can go, while 1.5 gives good results with better shadow detail. You still have to shoot this stuff like slide film almost though, it's exposure latitude is extremely low. It improves by around 0.5-1 stop for under exposure by doing a mild pre-flash to bring up the shadows a bit. I have some Ortho 25, but I haven't shot any of it yet. It's too expensive of a film for me to shoot often at $15 per 120 roll

Does normal acid fixer really not strip the stain? I've seen tons of warnings online about it.

I've also been using distilled water for repeatability, but also because it's a consistent room temp. The water out of my faucet tends to be significantly colder than room temp this time of year.

One of the other things weird on massive dev chart is that there's a lot of recommendations for odd dilutions like 2:1:100 or 2:2:100.
 

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Gordon Hutchings book on Pyro is IMHO the best book on this developer.. Sounds like you are trying to tame a LItho film to give contone results , sorry not something I do. I used lith film back in the day for maskmaking in PHotoComp, never for contone results.

Ortho25 is expensive , I buy it in 20 inch x 50ft rolls for some of my purposes and it aint cheap
 
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grainyvision

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That's why I'm taming ortho litho. I bought a 24"x100ft roll that ends up being around $1 per 120 roll, assuming I can source free backing paper. Ortho 25 is ridiculously expensive and it seems like there is no other ortho film available in 120 size.
 

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That's why I'm taming ortho litho. I bought a 24"x100ft roll that ends up being around $1 per 120 roll, assuming I can source free backing paper. Ortho 25 is ridiculously expensive and it seems like there is no other ortho film available in 120 size.
Well good luck with your ongoing research post some results sometime
 
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I recently bought some pyro developer (liquid PMK) for some experiments since I've read a lot of people saying it's a unique developer etc etc. I had also heard it can be low contrast so it seemed to match up with my current experiment of getting ortho litho film to have a reasonable amount of contrast. At this it excels (though I have to use 1:1:100, not 1:2:100).

Anyway, I'm curious of a few things:

* Pushing film, is it at all reasonable?
* I've heard of pyro being used as paper developer. Is that possible with PMK? What is the benefit?
* On massive dev chart, most of the films are like HP5+ 280-400 ISO and such. Should I downgrade the speed of the film I intend to process in this for best results?
* What effects can be had by using different dilutions? I know part B (the base) apparently controls contrast to an extent, but beyond that?
* How do you clean trays afterwards that are stained by pyro? Will the stain harm any future solutions put into the tray?
* Is there any alternative to TF-4 for an alkaline fixer (acid fixers strip the stain) that is less smelly?
* Does the workflow formulary recommends really help? They recommend develop -> water stop -> alkaline fix -> soak in (used) developer -> 20m water bath to maximize stain

Bob's answer above is right on. I'll answer as well though, just to give you my experience and ideas (which vary from Bob's on a few small points).

First, "pushing" film is just underexposing (i.e., losing shadow detail and exposing highlights where the mid-tones should be) and then overdeveloping to increase overall contrast enough to get some kind of printable image (or the "look" if that's what you're after). There are better developers for this than PMK. As for expansions, (i.e., developing a negative to a higher than normal contrast to compensate for low contrast in the scene), PMK works fine to a certain extent. I get a pretty good N+1 from a number of films with PMK at normal dilutions, albeit with a bit of added base fog, which I compensate for at the time of exposure by giving 1/3-stop more exposure. For greater expansions I've taken to using PMK 1:3:100 or even adding ascorbic acid to the developer (which seems to work well, but I'm still dialing it in).

As Bob noted, PMK oxidizes quickly, so it doesn't really lend itself to developing paper. If you were to develop paper in it, it would a) need to be a lot stronger and b) have the overall greenish stain, which may not be be the most aesthetically pleasing... There was a thread about developing prints in PMK here or over at the LF forum - Google is your friend...

You should determine your personal E.I. with PMK yourself. The goal is to give just enough exposure to get the shadow detail you want plus a, say 1/3-stop, safety margin. Many just halve the ISO and start there, which works well for large-format negatives where grain isn't such an issue and a bit of overexposure can be tolerated. However, if you are using smaller film and want to minimize grain (PMK is not the finest-grain developer), you may want to rate the film higher and see if the shadow detail is adequate for you. FWIW I rate TXP320 and TMY400 both at E.I. 250 with PMK; that's 1/3 and 2/3-stop slower than box speed respectively. Your results will vary.

Unlike Bob, I clean my trays after each developing session. The PMK stain seems to come off just fine with normal dishwashing detergent and a scrubber sponge (not the too-scratchy green Scotch-Brite pads, but the non-scratch variety). A bit of chlorine bleach gets the stubborn stains. Now my darkroom sink... that's another matter. I try to keep it clean, but it invariably gets brown stains. I repaint occasionally.

About fixers: Acid fixers will not strip the stain from PMK negatives, at least not the mildly acid rapid fixers that are commonly on the market. It will make them a bit harder to wash, however. Like Bob, I've been using Ilford Hypam (without the hardener) or Rapid Fixer with fine results for years. Kodak Rapid Fix and the Tetenal rapid fixer work just fine too. What will strip the stain from PMK negs is the wash aid (Hypo Clearing Agent or the like, so don't use any of these products on stained negatives. With PMK and Ilford Rapid Fixer I have standardized on a 30-minute wash. 20 minutes may be just fine for you, but you really need to test to find out for sure. Search for tests on residual hypo (Kodak HT-2) and read the sticky thread on film washing in the B&W film and paper forum here.

As for the spent-developer after-bath: At some point, PMK's formulator, Gordon Hutchings, changed his recommendation and said the post-fixer bath in used developer was no longer necessary. I've developed both ways and prefer the negatives without the used developer bath. They seem to have just as much image stain and slightly less overall base stain. Really, though, there's not much difference at all between the two methods. FWIW, I do use a weak sodium carbonate bath for TMY negatives just before they go into the wash. This is to remove the stubborn blue/magenta dye that I just can't seem to get out any other way (extended fixing and/or washing doesn't do the trick, but a minute in the carbonate nixes the dyes well). This seems to have no effect, one way or the other, on the PMK stain.

Unlike Bob, I have no problems with extended development (up to 20 minutes) in PMK as long as I process in small batches and begin processing as soon as I've mixed the developer working solution. I usually tray-develop 6 sheets of 4x5 in 500ml of developer (occasionally 8 sheets in 750ml). I mix the developer, turn out the lights, unload the holders and soak in water for three minutes prior to development. That means the developer sits for about five minutes before development begins. No problems for me. I think Bob uses rotary development if I'm not mistaken, which will oxidize the developer much faster than the tray development I use.

I use distilled water to mix the stock solutions, but regular Eugene, Oregon tap water for the working solution. I've had no problems in that regard. You'll have to test with your tap water to see if it causes problems or not.

Best,

Doremus
 
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Bob Carnie

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Yes I do use roller transport, my reasoning for two bath comes from early days , and I found fresh chems for 14 min (two separate litre containers) gave me better overall and consistent negatives with roller transport. I actually have never done PMK any other way than what Hutchings spelled out and to date have seen the prints end up in museums and gallery's and not once did I hear... Hey Bob why are you staining your negs in the dev.

I will admit that at the very beginning I tried stain and un stain and from my memory of those 1993 tests are correct I felt the unstained negs at higher magnification gave me more apparent grain in the prints... I am a creature of habit and have been processing exactly the same for all these years. I do use ID11 as well for projects where I need a punch in the film.

I agree with everything Dremus says above I wish my water was like Eugene Oregon, funny story about my only time in that lovely state, I went to a hippie mountain hotspring spot.. to our horror everyone was naked.. those damm Oregonions.
 
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Well good luck with your ongoing research post some results sometime

Here's my results thus far. Developed in PMK 1:1:100, 15s initial agitation, 4x agitation every 2 minutes, 5 minutes total, temp around 70F. It's a scan of an 8x10 print (actually had to go to grade 3 because at 2 the contrast was a bit flat) and was shot at ISO 3 with daylight balanced light source. Grain is fairly clear under a loupe, but invisible to the naked eye. Also, most of the dust and scratches were on the negative. I wasn't too careful with it since it was just for testing.

2018-10-21-0001.jpg
 

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That's why I'm taming ortho litho. I bought a 24"x100ft roll that ends up being around $1 per 120 roll, assuming I can source free backing paper. Ortho 25 is ridiculously expensive and it seems like there is no other ortho film available in 120 size.

If you are trying to tame Ortho Litho, then why not work with a developer that is meant for that... like LC-1B? I used it quite successfully to get continuous tones. Mix from scratch and dilute the stock from about 1+5 to 1+10.
 
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If you are trying to tame Ortho Litho, then why not work with a developer that is meant for that... like LC-1B? I used it quite successfully to get continuous tones. Mix from scratch and dilute the stock from about 1+5 to 1+10.
Primarily just because I steer away from buying developers that I can't use for multiple applications. Even my C-41 developer doubles as E-6 color developer (to the horror of PE). I bought pyro for trying it out with different stuff. It just happened to have came in the same day that I shot some litho experiment rolls... so I figured I'd see what it brought to the table since HC-110 (my main squeeze) either had too high of contrast or too weak of density for me
 
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I'm going to bump this thread to hopefully get the answer to a question for trying to get PMK to work for pushing film..

I've been using PMK mixed 1:1:100 instead of 1:2:100. This because I'm developing Ortho Litho film which is super high contrast. Using only 1:1 seems to give this film a reasonable amount of contrast and exposure latitude, significantly more so than any other developer I've seen.

Anyway, I've been trying to push the film since I have like 8 rolls I need to burn through for testing. I'm trying to get at least to a speed of around 25 or 50 ISO, even if it comes with the normal effects of pushing like lack of shadow detail, increased contrast, and increased grain. I've tried the following, all mixed 1:1:100 and at a room temp of around 69F:

Stand development, 1 hour total time. 30s initial agitation. -- Results: Very heavy chemical fog. Extremely exaggerated edge effects, made even more extreme by the base fog. ie, there is base fog through most shadows, but then when shadows meet highlights the film is clear with no fog. Also seems to have a solarization type effect. Beyond these flaws, it did seem to bring out all the speed the film had available, producing visible shadow details up to ~50 ISO. The fogging and edge effect of course makes this impossible to use for anything though

Normal development, 20 minutes total time. 15s initial agitation, 4x agitation every 5min -- Results: Very heavy chemical fog, bad edge effects like with stand. Base fog seemed to kill any speed increase given. Only one or two pictures exposed around 0.5 or 3 ISO are visible. One picture shot around 12 ISO has some very faint highlights visible

Normal development, 10 minutes total time. 15s initial agitation, 4x agitation every 2 min -- Results: best yet, but still not perfect. True fastest speed seems to be around 20 ISO with a decent amount of mid tone detail and a usable amount of shadow detail. Not heavy, but a noticeable base fog. Much more subtle edge effects, but still present where shadows around highlights are clear without the base fog. Very grainy, even at 120 sizes (grain literally visible to the eye). Good sky highlight detail even up to ~75 ISO, though practically no shadow or mid tone detail.

Normal development, 5 minutes total time. 15s initial agitation, 4x every 2 min -- Results: This what I normally use with this film for consistency. Problem is that it's very slow speed. 3 or 6 ISO is decent, but 1.5 or 0.8 is better. Very slight base fog, not noticeable. Flattering and very subtle edge effects. Can handle at least 10 stops of over exposure without significant loss of highlight details.


Anyway, one of the things I read about PMK is that it has very low base fog, so these results are rather confusing. Is mixing it 1:1 causing additional fog? My understanding is the B part is just a base activator, so I would think that decreasing that should decrease the amount of base fog. Is there anything I can do to decrease fog? I know normally sodium sulfite or similar can work to decrease base fog, but I've heard that sulfite will destroy pyro developers. Should I use a stronger dilution ? Weaker? The film I'm developing has a very thin emulsion and thus I'd worry less about exhausting developer with it than normal films. I have over 100 rolls (120 sized) of this stuff so I'm willing to try just about any idea that might work with stuff I have on hand.

I've heard people using heavily diluted Dektol, rodinal, and HC-110 with this film, however I've not seen anyone getting decent results beyond 3 ISO, and every developer I've tried other than PMK tends to give the film a very narrow exposure latitude, due to the tendency to block up highlights.. and none seem to develop shadows like PMK does when shot at faster speeds.
 

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I've had really good luck with PMK. I find that traditional (non-T-grain) emulsions are fine at box speed for the most part.

Soaking in used developer just adds general stain, not image stain, so I don't do this anymore. I've not found it to be necessary. I believe even Gordon Hutchings backtracked on this, but it's been some years since I read whatever I read so I won't certify for certain that it was him.

My one surprise with it was Pan-F Plus. The film shows relatively little image stain, and the density of the negatives seems disappointing by eye, yet the negatives print great. (I do a silver process, so I don't scan negatives.)
 
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Looking online, I found a video of someone who also used the 1:1:100 dilution and got the same problems with base fog. I'm wondering if the B part is exhausting (it's just a basic ph buffer) and upon the Ph going toward neutral it deposits the general stain. I'm going to try using the recommended 1:2:100 again and see if I can tame the contrast of it by using less agitation
 
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earlz,

You may be asking more from your film than it can deliver. "Pushing" any film is a compromise between lost shadow detail and printability (any real speed increase due to longer development is small, not at all near the amount one is pushing). Plus, trying to get from ISO 1.5 to E.I. 50 is five stops... like "pushing" a 400 speed film to E.I. 128000! Not really practical or feasible when you think about it.

As for your excessive base fog. If the fog is non-stain, i.e., real developed-out silver fogging, then you're just way overdeveloping your film. There may be no way to get more speed out of it with PMK.

If it is the pyro stain that is giving you a lot of base fog, then it is likely the result of oxidation of the pyro. This could be caused by the reduced amount of developing agent you are using. It reaches exhaustion and then starts oxidizing, giving a lot of overall stain. One way to combat the exhaustion is to use a larger volume of developer, so that's something you can try.

However, if you are trying to push the film, you would normally need more development than "normal," so why not try your PMK at the standard dilution and adjust developing time accordingly?

I've never used the film you are trying to "tame," but I have had good results getting clean expansions (i.e., without a lot of base fog) from TMax films by using 1+63 and 1+127 dilutions of HC 110. You might give that a try if you have some sitting around.

Good luck,

Doremus
 
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Yes, I realize pushing this to 50 ISO without serious compromises is pretty much impossible. My point though is that there is no official "speed" for this film other than "0.5-12 ISO" published by the manufacturer. I did some stand development and got an interesting amount of shadow detail even when shooting at ISO 25, though with tons of base fog and other things that would make the image impossible to use. My point is that I believe there is more speed in this film than 3 ISO.. though I have no idea how to properly figure out what the true speed is since development seems to be so temperamental with it.

The solution I'm using less of is part B, which is just an alkaline pH buffer. Unless the solution being more neutral than expected causes overall stain, then this is not a problem. I'm using 200ml over the recommended maximum already anyway. (300ml for 120, I'm using 500ml). One thought though. The developer only puts down stain where it oxidizes. It will oxidize while developing silver, thus it will deposit stain where silver is developed... Could reduced agitation unintuitively make the overall stain worse? In theory once it starts to oxidize near the film it starts putting down stain, whether or not there is developed silver there... The recommended agitation is a very aggressive once every 15s... maybe this aggressive agitation prevents the slightly oxidized developer from putting down any overall stain? Though if that's the case, I suspect pyro may be completely unsuitable for this film without keeping to low speed and as fast of development as possible due to its contrasty nature.

Also, there is no "normal" development time for this film published anywhere, it's basically just blog posts etc people post describing what they tried and if it worked.

One of the recommendations is 1+200 of HC-110. I tried this with a scrap of film under room lights. It took about 5 minutes before it had any grey at all, and after 30 minutes it still was just a very mild grey. Bumping it to 1+100 helped, but ultimately 1+50 was needed before it even approached a density I was happy with. However, by the time it reached that density the results also are very contrasty, like maybe a grade 4 or 4.5 on paper grading scales, and furthermore, it's super difficult to get shadow detail. Shadows seem to not develop without very slow exposures and long development times, but by the time you get any kind of shadow detail from that, the highlights are blown into one flat max density blob. I've been meaning to try HC-110 again to see if it could work, but it's tendency to act as a somewhat contrasty developer I think will be a poor match for this film. I've heard Diafine, Rodinal, DDX, and Dektol are worth trying though and behave better than HC-110 with this film.


anyway, I decided to try nearly by-the-book development with Pyro PMK with brackets extending from 0.8 to 200 ISO, as well as some extreme over exposure tests that are 4-15 stops over exposed from 0.8. The results definitely carry more shadow speed, but also a lot more contrast and tendency to blow highlights. I did 1+2+100 dilution, 500ml of developer, agitation first 15s, 2x agitation every 1 min after, and 8min total time. Water stop bath and TF-4 fixer. The results still had a lot of base fog, almost as much as 1+1+100 at 10 minutes. The worst part though is the fog is not uniform. It tends to be thicker on the outer edges of the film as well as on the edges of highlights, making anything that has blocked shadows near impossible to print as well as giving a ton of grain in the shadows.

Here are the brackets: 0.8, 1.5, 3, 6, 12, 25, 50, 100, 200. Each one scanned using auto exposure on my DSLR and basically edited in photoshop to try to make them look as good as possible

_0000001.jpg _0000002.jpg _0000003.jpg _0000004.jpg _0000005.jpg _0000006.jpg _0000007.jpg _0000008.jpg _0000009.jpg
 
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You loaded film under safelight?

Orthochromatic film should be able to be handled under a red safelight, but it has to be very dim, not the normal Kodak #1, but the #2 dark red.

@OP: Good that you found the source of your fog. Now you can get down to really getting to know how your developers work. A safelight test would seem to be in order. Do make sure you've got the right safelight filter.

Best,

Doremus
 

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I use an orthochromatic film for very large contact films and yes you are right a red safelight should work , but I am hesitant to do so, I forgot the OP was doing ortho film.
 
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My safelights don't have any image forming fog for 20 minutes.. problem is that getting perfect film straightness and trying to perfect this process means it takes 30-40 minutes before I get it all done. Will now be taking precautions of putting a black tarp or something over the film as soon as I can, and trying to minimize exposure further.. but really I think if I can perfect the cutting process, even without covering the maximum exposure time should be 10 minutes
 

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I recently bought some pyro developer (liquid PMK) for some experiments since I've read a lot of people saying it's a unique developer etc etc. I had also heard it can be low contrast so it seemed to match up with my current experiment of getting ortho litho film to have a reasonable amount of contrast. At this it excels (though I have to use 1:1:100, not 1:2:100).

Anyway, I'm curious of a few things:

* Pushing film, is it at all reasonable?
* I've heard of pyro being used as paper developer. Is that possible with PMK? What is the benefit?
* On massive dev chart, most of the films are like HP5+ 280-400 ISO and such. Should I downgrade the speed of the film I intend to process in this for best results?
* What effects can be had by using different dilutions? I know part B (the base) apparently controls contrast to an extent, but beyond that?
* How do you clean trays afterwards that are stained by pyro? Will the stain harm any future solutions put into the tray?
* Is there any alternative to TF-4 for an alkaline fixer (acid fixers strip the stain) that is less smelly?
* Does the workflow formulary recommends really help? They recommend develop -> water stop -> alkaline fix -> soak in (used) developer -> 20m water bath to maximize stain


A number of years ago, I gave up on PMK in favour of Pyrocat HD... In BTZS tubes. The 'stain' is not quite so obvious' But the negs print well then..... they also scan well for x2 enlarged negatives onto PIctorico for the alternative print processes

Ken

Ken
 
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A number of years ago, I gave up on PMK in favour of Pyrocat HD... In BTZS tubes. The 'stain' is not quite so obvious' But the negs print well then..... they also scan well for x2 enlarged negatives onto PIctorico for the alternative print processes

Ken

Ken

What is better about pyrocat? I've heard a lot about it, but hesitant to mix my own developer since pyro is pretty toxic in powder form
 

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What is better about pyrocat? I've heard a lot about it, but hesitant to mix my own developer since pyro is pretty toxic in powder form
Get it pre-mixed from Bostick & Sullivan or Photographers' Formulary. And get it in glycol, instead of water. That way it lasts a lot longer. What's better about it in short:
  • Less base fog stain, therefore better overall contrast.
  • no speed loss - you can shoot most films at box speed
 
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