Pyro Staining B&W negatives vs. C-41 Monochromatic film

Discussion in 'Darkroom Developing and Printing' started by KS, Aug 14, 2004.

  1. KS

    KS Guest

    What are the advantages/differences between using say ABC Pyro as opposed to
    C-41 based B&W process film? I'm debating whether it is worth the trouble to
    use play around with pyro. Thx.
    KS, Aug 14, 2004
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  2. What are you trying to accomplish?
    Richard Knoppow, Aug 14, 2004
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  3. KS

    brook Guest

    You are really talking about apples and swimming pools here. What are
    you envisioning as your final prints, Azo or an alt process contact
    print, or machine enlargment prints? Can you even get C-41 B&W films
    big enough for a decent contact print? If you are planning on doing
    enlargments, ABC is nearly useless. Look at PMK or Pyrocat HD for
    that, and you will get much "sharper" negs that you would with the
    C-41 stuff.
    brook, Aug 14, 2004
  4. ABC is a very old formula, and I doubt you will have very good results
    with modern films. Pyro is highly toxic and tricky to work with. It's
    hard to control the staining, as stop baths and fixers will bleach it
    out depending on various conditions.

    Pyro today has very little to recommend it.
    Michael Scarpitti, Aug 14, 2004
  5. KS

    Jim Phelps Guest

    It's utterly amazing how little you really know Mike. The only thing you
    got right was it's an old formula, but then again, so is Rodinal...

    Pyro in all of it's formulations works fine with most modern emulsion films.
    ABC pryo inclusive. Due to it's staining characteristics negatives
    developed in Pyro print exceptionally well with variable contrast papers.
    Using an alkaline fixer formula (TF-3 or TF-4), and a water bath between dev
    and fix and staining can be controlled very well. A post fixer bath of an
    alkaline solution enhances the stain formation. Since the developer is a
    one shot process and alkaline in pH, most use the spent developer for this
    bath. You do it with the lights on so you can control the staining.

    While toxic, it's no more toxic than many normal household products, with
    the exception that it's easily absorbed through the skin. So gloves and
    dust mask are a necessity. MSDS shows the LD 50 in rats to be 789 mg to 1
    kg body weight. On the other hand, a dog only needs 25 mg per kg.

    I would recommend Gordon Hutchings PMK formula (Pyro/Metol/Kodalk) and his
    _The Book of Pyro_ available from the Photographers Formulary and other

    Pyro negatives and prints have an increase in tonality, sharpness, acutance
    and separations in the highlights. This is most noticeable in MF and LF
    prints, but it is also usable with 35mm. Another advantage is the stain
    tends to mask the grain. This may be a benefit for 35mm by itself.

    You'll only know if it fit's into your needs if you try it. Plus-X and
    Tri-X seem to work well with the advantage going to Tri-X. So don't let
    those who have never tried Pyro steer you the wrong way.

    Jim Phelps, Aug 15, 2004
  6. KS

    Jytzel Guest

    I´ve never tried ABC but tried PMK for a while. PMK works nicely with
    most non-Tgrain films; seems to have a smooth straight curve and high
    acutance when printed on VC paper. As a high acutance developer it
    delivers better tonality than Rodinal or Beutler in my opinion. Grainy
    and a little hard to work with.. To me the only thing I really don't
    like about it is that it prints differently on graded and VC paper. I
    never liked the tonality of C-41 films.
    Yes it's worth playing around with.
    Jytzel, Aug 15, 2004
  7. KS

    KS Guest

    What are the advantages/differences between using say ABC
    A really good negative with wonderful tones.
    KS, Aug 15, 2004
  8. KS

    KS Guest

    What are the advantages/differences between using say ABC
    OK let's say it's PMK. I know absolutely nothing about Pyros at this point.
    Just some cursory readings at present. I've read that it's a dye or stain
    which is in some ways similar to the way color film (e.g. monochromatic c41)
    works. I first want to use it on 35mm, and medium format negs, then I'll try
    8X10. Will I see a improvement in my negs? I want to work toward contact
    printing from 8X10 or digital negs to palladium at some point in the future.
    KS, Aug 15, 2004
  9. KS

    KS Guest

    OK how about PMK?
    KS, Aug 15, 2004
  10. KS

    KS Guest

    Thank you. You've had first hand experience. Any other tips on starting down
    this road would be appreciated.
    KS, Aug 15, 2004
  11. I use PMK as my default for developing B&W films. I also
    use other developers as the particular film and conditions
    indicate. The batch of PMK I am now using was made up 2 or
    3 years ago - I had made a liter of Part A. I refrigerate
    Part A and it has lasted just fine. The result is that very
    rarely do I have to deal with preparation of a stock
    solution. When I do, I use a dust mask and gloves. Once in
    solution, the only risk to health is if you soak your hands
    in the solution.

    When I use PMK with TMX or TMY or any t-grained film, I find
    that it works best if I add 2 or 3 minutes to the times
    recommended in Anchell and Troop, The Film Developing Book.

    I note that C-41 BW film is pretty much all alike. Itis
    simply color C-41 film without the dyes. So you cannot get
    the variations in film that traditional B&W films offer.
    Nor can you use variant methods of developing the film, as
    you can with traditional B&W films.

    Francis A. Miniter
    Francis A. Miniter, Aug 15, 2004
  12. Think of Pyro stained negatives as having a yellow or yellow green filter
    built in, contrast reduction is the biggest selling point of PMK or any
    kind of Pyro. I've tried quite of few of the Pyro incarnations.
    Personally I like the Rollo version which incorporates Vitamin C
    "ascorbic acid" in the recipe. Seems more stable and consistant. The
    best stain seems to be obtained which non T grained films with the
    exception of Delta 100 which I find acceptable. Delta 400 also stains
    nicely (But I mainly shoot LF).

    For small format 35mm negatives Pyro is probably not the best choice
    MF should be ok, Though for T grained films it would be Ok if it stains

    Best results with PMK can be obtained by doing two things:

    a) Split the developer into two equal amounts for the
    total development time. In other words pour out the first half and
    replace it using fresh developer after half the development time has

    b) Mix part b of the developer into the water and part a just prior to
    using it and a pinch of amidol will give the developer a little
    boost and will produce a little more film speed.

    These are not new ideas, just ones which some here have shared,
    and some taken from the Darkroom Cookbook which I recommend.

    It depends on how careful a darkroom worker you are, I tend to
    feel the more careful you are the better results you can get from any
    developer and film. People want painless solutions (pun intended)
    There are not very many.
    Well decide. The sooner the better.
    Gregory Blank, Aug 15, 2004

  13. Especially for small format film, there are better developers.
    Michael Scarpitti, Aug 15, 2004
  14. Right. Rodinal has been surpassed, but some people still use it in
    ignorance of the fact that it has been superseded...

    Bullshit. The yellow stain acts as density with standard graded
    papers, as they are blue-sensitive only. VC papers act completely
    differently, and the yellow stain acts as a filter, lowering the
    contrast and density in the highlights.
    As I said, you have to watch stop baths and fixers carefully. Acid
    stops and fixers can bleach out the stain.
    As I said, it's highly toxic stuff.
    Michael Scarpitti, Aug 15, 2004
  15. KS

    Jim Phelps Guest

    By what? Rodinal has a quality and characterist of it's own. D-76 or
    Microdol haven't replaced it for me...

    OK Troll, Tell me where I stated what it does with VC papers? I only said
    it works well with it. Not how. So where's the B.S.?

    Gordon Hutcghings _The Book of Pyro_, page 47. "Printing With Variable
    Contrast Papers", First sentence:

    "Printing on variable contrast paper shows the greatest difference between
    pyro negatives and conventional negatives. Stained pyro negatives provide
    the photographer with the potential for a new level of consistent and
    expressive printing. To acheive this, one must understand the relationship
    between the silver and stain content in the negative and the color response
    of the variable contrast paper.

    During development, the negative gains silver density from shadow to
    highlight. It is also gaining a proportional amount of image stain. This
    yellow-green stain is not only printing density, but also a contrast
    reducing color with variable contrast paper. As the negative image
    increases silver and stain density, it is gaining a color mask that reduces
    printing contrast. This stain reduces contrast proportionally but it is
    most noticable in the print highlights.

    This is a wonderful effect! It means the negative can be printed without
    compressing or burning out the highlights..."

    Now, waffleboy, I know this book wasn't written in 195-something by Kodak,
    and therefore isn't holy writ, nor does it fit your personal style of
    printing, with contrast controlled and highlights and all, but in my
    experience with Plus-X (ISO 80) in PMK for 9 min at 20C it prints
    wonderfully on Agfa MCP or MCC as well as Forte Polywarm. So, where's the
    B.S. Mikey??? Back to my original statement...
    Jim Phelps, Aug 15, 2004
  16. KS

    Jim Phelps Guest

    Uhmmm, Mikey, Big Yellow list the LD-50 for rats on Dektol (powder) as
    50-500 mg per kg. That makes Dektol more toxic... Do you consider Dektol
    to be highly toxic??? Betcha never thought about it, did ya... Seems I
    knew what I was talking about. By the way, what do you thing the LD-50 is
    for bleach? Drano? 409? Comet?
    Jim Phelps, Aug 15, 2004
  17. KS

    Jytzel Guest

    Try it with Plus x, FP4 plus, or Pan F plus. Overexpose by one stop,
    fix in an alkaline fixer and print on VC paper. I'll try it again on a
    couple of Pan F rolls myself.

    good luck
    Jytzel, Aug 15, 2004
  18. KS

    Jytzel Guest

    Another point, Pyro stained negatives usually look thinner than non
    pyro negatives; esp. on graded paper they print much harder than they
    seem... Just develop a little thin.

    There was another post on this newsgroup called "Mona Kuhn's
    technique." the I was suspecting that he uses Pyro+ fine grain film
    since the images have such smooth highlight separation. The only time
    I got close results was with PMK but mine was grainier (Forte 100 At
    50) I think he is using a Hasselblad. Check the link in the first
    message on the thread.

    Jytzel, Aug 15, 2004
  19. They do ?
    Gregory Blank, Aug 16, 2004
  20. KS

    Jytzel Guest

    Jytzel, Aug 16, 2004
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