Pyrocat-HD: First test results ... Wow

thronobulax

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By way of background, I've been photographing and processing since the late 1960s in every format from 16mm to 4x5. My go-tos have been HC-110B for most things and PMK Pyro for long SBRs, favoring Agfapan APX-100 (of which I have much squirreled away) and Tri-X. I split VC print everything. Along the way I've tried a lot of other film/dev combos.

Upon the recommendation of someone here who is also on the pure-silver list (again, abject apologies for not remembering the name) I decided to try Pyrocat-HD. In particular I wanted to test the claims that it handles long SBRs, shows better tonality, and prints easier than other developers. So ... I gave it the mother of all tests - a very long SBR on 35mm using an old Leica IIIf with an uncoated 50mm f/3.5 Elmar. I used Agfapan APX-100 exposed at ASA 50, open tank developed @68F for 12 min. Twice a minute agitation.

Ummm... WOW. Shooting into the setting sun backlighting an old industrial building, the sky has this creamy, nearly grainless texture to it. I mentioned this on pure-silver... it feels more like a 120 neg than 35 mm. More importantly, it was (relatively) easy to print. (The prints are wet right now, or you'd get to see some of this.)

More to follow, but it would seem that the various claims made for this stuff are legitimate.
 

mpirie

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There are a number of us on this forum that use Pyrocat-HD as their main developer.

It can be fickle, but once you tune-in to its foibles, then it is an outstanding developer.

Mike
 

Ian Grant

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The uncoated Elmar cuts the contrast and also the micro-contrast, taht's my experience with most uncoated lenses the exceptions are Protars and Dagors this is due to the flare from ineernal reflections at air/glass surfaces, an Elamr has 4 internal air/glass surfaces like a Cooke Triplet or Tessar & type design. Tne Dagor and Protar with only 2 air/glass surfaces have nuch higher contarst, Dialytes and Plasmats have the worst contrats unless coated.

I've neverfound any foibles with Pyrocat HD but then I'd been using Rodinal for nearly 30 years before switching, Pyrocat HD which is like Rodinal on steroids. Like any developer it's about finding teh right EI and Dev times for your films.

Ian
 

Alan9940

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@Alan9940 are you doing stand or semi-stand dev to sharpen your negs suitably for shaving?
When using Pyrocat-HD, unless I'm processing on my Jobo, I typically run anywhere from 2 - 5 mins between agitation cycles, depending on what I'm doing; specific results I'm looking for or specific process. I've never done any specific testing to determine if minimal agitation provides any sharper results vs normal agitation, but what I can say is that if you hold a negative with light glancing off the emulsion side of the film, you will see what looks like etching of the emulsion. Does this make sense? I've never seen that with any "normal" developer and/or standard agitation cycle I've ever used.
 

Alan9940

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@Alan9940 Can you please provide a typical film-time-temp combination for this 2-5 min agitation interval?
This probably won't be very helpful unless you're using the same film and following the same development technique as me, but here are a couple:

1) Fomapan 100, tanks & hangers, Pyrocat-HD 1:1:100, 15 mins @ 70F, continuous agitation for the first minute, followed by 2 agitation cycles at the 3/4, 1/2, and 1/4 marks (10.5, 7, and 3.5 mins, respectively) One agitation cycle for me with hangers is: lift/tilt right, lift/tilt left, lift straight.

2) Fomapan 100, homemade tanks, Pyrocat-HD 8A + 5B + water to total volume of 1,295 ml @ 70F, 5 mins pre-soak, 2 mins initial agitation, then tank sits for 5 mins followed by 15 secs of agitation, tank sits 5 mins followed by 15 secs agitation, tank sits 5 more mins, then done. Total development time of 17 mins. Agitation is done by rolling the tank back-n-forth in the sink. For reference, this development style is ala Steve Sherman's EMA (extreme minimal agitation) technique.

If you'd like to try this with other films and standard development tanks, I'd suggest agitation cycles of 2 - 3 mins increasing development time by about 50%. Even this level of agitation will increase edge effects in my experience. You should do your own personal testing, though.

Hope this helps.
 

thronobulax

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Thanks. Experiments underway. I too use tanks and hangers albeit with different films, but this is a good point of departure.
 

Alan9940

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Yeah, sorry, I was thinking LF when I replied above. Those two examples apply to 8x10 film. But, I do use minimal agitation of 2 - 3 mins between cycles for roll film, too. I just started experimenting with Pyrocat-HD with EFKE 25 because my developer of choice is too hard to get nowadays.
 

thronobulax

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Registered User
I use open tanks (Kodak rubber 1/2 gal) for all film processing from 35mm to 4x5. The roll films go on the usual reels and are then placed into the open tank. Sheet films of all sizes go into their respective hangers for processing. I started this years ago when some 120/35mm tanks with cheap plastic covers had light leaks - a problem I'd never had with the Nikor tanks. I find open tank processing simpler, and it guarantees plenty of liquid to handle the workload.

In fact, I even found some 1 gal Tupperware containers that allow me to use my film washer basket as a way to hold sheet film for development as well....

 

Alan9940

Active Member
Registered User
Well, since you're already using open tanks for film processing you're all set to do whatever you'd like with Pyrocat-HD. Give my option 1 a try with your film of choice; I think you'll like it! Oh, and btw, nice darkroom sink! I have an Arkay stainless sink in my darkroom that my wife bought me as a Xmas present many, many years ago. Gotta love that women!! ;)
 
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