Pyrocat-HD & EMA

Discussion in 'Talk About Developing Film' started by Alan9940, Feb 15, 2018.

  1. Alan9940

    Alan9940 Active Member Registered User

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    Since this topic came up in another thread and I just happened to have completed some testing recently with this developer and WD2D, I thought I'd start a new thread and pass on my findings...

    Specifically, I will direct my comments to the appearance of adjacency effects and the "look" of the negatives. Each subject was shot in the same light, using the same exposure, etc, on tested Fomapan 100. I developed one sheet in an SP-445 tank using WD2D following the agitation method as documented in the instructions for this developer. I chose WD2D because it was the first pyro developer I used, I used it for many years (though many, many years ago), and I was quite fond of it at the time. I developed the other sheet in my homemade tubes using Pyrocat-HD and Steve Sherman's EMA technique.

    When the negatives were dry, the first thing I did was hold each pair side-by-side, emulsion side up, at an oblique angle to a light source and it was clear to see that the Pyrocat-HD negative looked etched, whereas the WD2D negative did not. Next, I tossed a pair on the light box and it was immediately apparent that the Pyrocat negative appeared to have a distinct level of micro-contrast throughout, whereas the WD2D negative did not. I really don't know how to describe it in words, but the Pyrocat negative just seemed to "jump" out at ya! Next, I viewed many different areas of each negative with a 4x loupe and the Pyrocat negative was clearly sharper. Not saying the WD2D negative was unsharp...far from it...but, the edges of high contrast lines and small details just seemed to have a softness to them that wasn't in the Pyrocat negative. The stain color looks very similar which really surprised me given that one is a catechin based formula while the other is a pyrogallol based formula.

    Anyway, the more I use Pyrocat-HD and Steve's EMA technique it is quickly becoming the only way I plan to develop both 5x4 and 10x8 film. OK, one exception...I can't leave behind Delta 100 developed in F-76+...there is just something special about that combo, too! ;)

    Hope someone finds this interesting and worthwhile.
     
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  2. YorkshireBloke

    YorkshireBloke Member Registered User

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    Hi Alan,

    Really useful and timely, I am searching for a process to learn and am not too proud to copy techniques that others have painstakingly (painfully!?) researched.:confused:

    Certainly "back in the day" some of my best results were from Kodak Tri X and the 125 ASA one (I forget!) in Aculux (Patterson premix). The edge effect and "snappy" images I still have filed, will get out and reexamine.

    That sounds like Pyrocat-HD as used by Ian in Doncaster, just up the road from me! ;)

    Robert
     
  3. mpirie

    mpirie Member Registered User

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    "the 125 ASA one"....that'll be Plus-X ;-)

    We're all walking in the footsteps of our predecessors, so we're all copying to one extent or another !
     
  4. Ian Grant

    Ian Grant Active Member Registered User

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    I don't go for EMA, I appreciate what Steve Sherman is sayin however there's some misconceptions. In one video I've seen Steve is tray processing (which is supposed to be almost continuous gravitation - or at least movement of the developer as you rock the tray ) in comparison to what he calls EMA,. Using HC110 as another example, a developer which even Kodak admit is their worst developer in terms of speed, grain, and sharpness in their comparison charts, is not a fair comparison, these impact on tonality and detail, Xtol would be a fairer comparison.

    There's no disputing that agitation doesn't impact edge sharpness, rotary processing is similar to tray processing in that respect, however I use inversion agitation and that does improve the micro contrast caused by edge effects. With some films though the tanning caused by Pyrocat will give the etched appearance the OP sees with Foma film, they are softer emulsions than Kodak and Ilford.

    It's the end results, the final prints that count and we all take different approaches, for me consistency is the key rather than chasing magic bullets. Pyrocat HD gives excellent sharpness and micro-contrasts anyway, I don't have a need to exaggerate them.

    Having said that if I was shooting ULF and contact printing it's a technique I'd revisit, I have tried it using Sandy Kings recommendations.

    Ian
     
  5. mpirie

    mpirie Member Registered User

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    I think Steve uses EMA in the tubes he sells, where he fills the tube with only a single sheet of film at a time.

    The video's i've seen do not show him using the tubes.....i think they're reserved for subscribers only.
     
  6. Alan9940

    Alan9940 Active Member Registered User

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    Ian G, Agree with everything you said. I don't claim that the EMA/PCat combo is any "magic bullet," I am simply passing on some results I've seen limited to two developers. I'm sure many other developer/film combinations provide excellent results; for fact, I mentioned that I love Delta 100 in Clayton F-76+. That combination produces a very fine negative!

    Regarding HC-110... I used, and still use, that developer for Tri-X. I'm reminded of something my mentor said years ago, "I never claimed that HC-110 was good with any other film other than Tri-X." I'm sure that's "pushing it a bit", but I've never tested it with anything else to be sure. Testing takes oodles of time and I'd rather be out photographing! ;)
     
  7. Alan9940

    Alan9940 Active Member Registered User

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    If you buy the EMA video series and wish to simply purchase ready-made tubes, Steve sell's them at a very reasonable price. However, it's not hard to make your own and will save you some money. Yes, the tubes are for a single sheet of film. I can manage 3 tubes simultaneously which doesn't exactly make it an efficient technique, but I like the results. It also gets a little tricky here during the summer months when my indoor ambient temp reaches about 82F.
     
  8. mpirie

    mpirie Member Registered User

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    I thought of making my own, but the right size of tube and the correct end-caps and stoppers seems hard to come-by in the UK.

    Mike
     
  9. Alan9940

    Alan9940 Active Member Registered User

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    I believe this is the primary reason Steve now offers them for sale.
     

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