Breaking the rules

Developing film is always interesting. When I first started out, I used Rodinal, but I found it too grainy. Didn’t like the results I got. Then I found Kodak Xtol. I loved it. Really lovely results! Only downside – the shelf life of the mixed developer stock. So I got my hands on some HC-110. Really lovely developer with a shelf life of about a million years or so. A thick syrup like concentrate that you mix with water. I really like HC-110 – but I kind of miss Xtol. So when my friend, Søren, came with the idea that you could perhaps make a stronger concentrate of Xtol that would last longer, I got to thinking, so I asked in the Facebook group “The Darkroom” about experience with making such concentrate. A nice man called Daniel Keating gave me a few tips. He suggested mixing the Xtol powder up in propylene glycol, so I got me some of that. Sadly, the Xtol powder is insoluble in Propylene glycol, so that experiment was shut down before it even began.
He also suggested that I simply split the powders up and only mixed what I needed. I had long thought of that but people were always like, “You can’t do that. You don’t know if the chemicals are evenly mixed in the A and B powders”. I asked Daniel about it and he said that he had been doing that for 47 years with all kinds of powder developers and never had a problem.
So I broke the rules and went for it. I wanted to make 250ml of Xtol stock, so I weighed the contents of each bag, thinking it might differ a bit from the weight stated on the bags. It did. The contents of Part A was 241 grams, should have been 244 grams. Part B was 269 grams, and should have been 270 grams. I divided the amounts and ended up with 12,1 grams of part A and 13,4 grams of part B to make 250 ml of stock. I mixed and put a film in my Paterson tank.
I made a 1+1 solution of Xtol and developed my film – an Ilford HP5 shot some months ago at iso 1600 (N+2).

One of the images from the test film. HP5+ @1600. Xtol 1+1, 23,5C for 13:30 min.

To me that looks like a successful development. So far so good. Next experiment was a Rollei Ortho 25 shot last year at a photo marathon. It developed perfectly from the look of the negatives. Very contrasty though.

Rollei Ortho 25 Plus – film was shot over a year ago and was not stored properly.

It looks fine – although it seems that the film did not handle sitting exposed for a year and some months in a nonsuitable environment very well. Something is definitely not quite right – but I blame the film, not the developing.
I will do more experimenting, but for now, my conclusion is that of course you can split the powders into smaller portions. Just shake well before you measure up a small batch.