Can developer go bad before it's mixed?
Old 02-01-2018   #1
jbrubaker
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Can developer go bad before it's mixed?

I previously aked a question here about reducing grain with Ilford HP5 film. I was using D-76 developer that had sat unmixed in its sealed foil package for close to 20 years. One package I opened was brown inside, so I threw that out,but the next package looked white and normal, so I mixed and used it. Is it possible that the white powder was compromised, because I was not happy with my results with HP5. Since then I purchased and mixed a fresh batch of Kodak XTOL which seems to give noticably higher film speed and reduced grain. Or is XTOL just that much better? thanks, john.
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Old 02-01-2018   #2
Steve M.
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I had the same experience w/ old packages of D76. Yes, a developer can go bad over time, although I have successfully used cans of Microdol X that were twice as old w/ no issues. I suspect that the tins seal better than the packages. Heat and air are the culprits. Even w/o that, chemicals are going to have a limited shelf life no matter what type of container they're in.

I have no experience w/ XTOL, but as w/ any developer, testing it w/ different temps and agitation schemes will give different results.
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Old 02-01-2018   #3
x-ray
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I've had both packets and cans of developer go bad. But if the packet you mixed looked normal then itvmost likely was. If bad there would be obvious indications.
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Old 02-01-2018   #4
Rayt
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You can mix it and process a test strip but is it worth your time over 8 bucks?
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Old 02-01-2018   #5
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A dead developer would have given a blank film. A more or less dead developer would have given an underdeveloped film. The look of the "grain" (and this depends on how you use the negatives : flatbed scanner, film scanner, wet printing...) has few to do with the condition of the developer.
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Old 02-01-2018   #6
jbrubaker
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I guess the finer grain I am seeing is a result of switching to XTOL vs D-76. The film speed increase (negs are at least a stop denser) could be because the D-76 has lost some potency?
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Old 02-01-2018   #7
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A dead or weak developer will produce underdeveloped negatives, i.e. not dense enough. When you scan that kind of negative you get very dark positive images on which much electronic noise (which you may call "grain") appears when you adjust the levels and curves.
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Old 02-01-2018   #8
Rob-F
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jbrubaker View Post
I previously aked a question here about reducing grain with Ilford HP5 film. I was using D-76 developer that had sat unmixed in its sealed foil package for close to 20 years. One package I opened was brown inside, so I threw that out,but the next package looked white and normal, so I mixed and used it. Is it possible that the white powder was compromised, because I was not happy with my results with HP5. Since then I purchased and mixed a fresh batch of Kodak XTOL which seems to give noticably higher film speed and reduced grain. Or is XTOL just that much better? thanks, john.
I haven't been happy with HP5 even with fresh D-76. But it is expectable that XTOL will give a higher effective shadow speed. There is a Kodak chart on the web that shows XTOL as their one developer that gives the best speed, acutance, and grain, all together. (It does depend somewhat on dilution for both developers.)
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Old 02-01-2018   #9
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Yes, my experience with even fresh D76 compared to XTOL is that XTOL always gives me the results I prefer. That's why I stopped using D76 back in the day.

(I don't use XTOL nowadays because I can't get it in package sizes that make sense for the tiny amount of film I process today. I use HC110 concentrate (which seems to work fine no matter how old and amber it becomes) or Ilford Multigrade Paper developer (for more interesting results on some films...).)

G
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Old 02-02-2018   #10
willie_901
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Sure, most chemicals eventually decompose. Steps can be made to slow this down, but it's just a matter of time.
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