i wrote this introductory article on using Kodak's XTOL
on our local community website.
The Kodak XTOL developer is my current favorite developer.
It comes in Part-A/Part-B powder packets to be mixed
into a 5 litre solution, it is then commonly mixed at 1+1
dilution during development.
From the diagram above, XTOL gives a good balance
of "Shadow Details" + "Fine Grain" + "Sharpness".
Actually, XTOL's claim to fame is that it is a compensating
Let me explain, usually, a film has a base ISO which
maximises the shadow details, but this base ISO
sometimes isn't the same ISO as that printed on
the box. For example, Fomapan 400 true ISO is
around 200-250, while Tri-x is sometimes rated
at 320 for optimal ISO. It doesn't mean that the
film can't be rated higher or lower, it is just that
at a different iso (say pushed to iso 800) the images
aren't retaining the necessary shadow details.
So here's where XTOL comes in. As a compensating
developer, you can shoot your Tri-x at iso 800 and
it will still preserve the shadow details like tri-x at
iso 400. In other words, it is a speed gaining developer.
Usually, XTOL preserves the speed up to a stop,
however, when shooting at 2 stops from the
base ISO, the images are still quite rich compared
to other developers like HC-110 or Rodinal which
isn't a compensating developer.
Here's a picture taken with the Leica M3 + 50 Lux,
Neopan 400 pushed to 1600 and developed in XTOL 1+1
for 7mins and 30seconds at 30C.
M3 with 50 Lux. Neopan 400 pushed to 1600.
M4 with Goggled Summaron 35/f2.8
Kentmere 400 pushed to 1600.
I reuse my XTOL working solution. I bought a 2 litre
collapsible container from Ruby Photos (Singapore),
and stored my working solution already diluted 1+1.
I reused it within the same day, i tested the solution,
and found that I could still use the same development
time as before. i reused it once and poured it after use.
1 pack of XTOL in 1+1 dilution + reuse once = 66 rolls of 35mm film.
XTOL has several inconveniences:
1. It comes in powder form to make a concentrate of 5 litre.
Not everyone has a five litre container but can be
easily gotten from the petrol station, or from Ruby Photos.
2. It suffers from sudden death after a few months.
Unlike rodinal or hc110,XTOL when mixed and stored
in a 5 litre solution, the XTOL solution may die suddenly,
most of the comments I have read puts it at 6 months
lifespan, and deterioration happening after two months.
Not a big deal if you are a frequent user, just
remember to make a new batch every 3 - 4 months
and store the solution in an airtight bottle away from sunlight.
XTOL can be gotten from BHPHoto, Freestyle or online
stores selling Kodak Developers.