Why Phenidone? Why Not Metol?

Discussion in 'Darkroom Developing and Printing' started by Dan Quinn, Nov 14, 2003.

  1. Dan Quinn

    Dan Quinn Guest

    I know of only one reason to use phenidone and that is the increase
    in film speed it confers. I can't think of any reason to use it
    for printing.
    What has it got going for it? I've some phenidone but have been
    using the metol. An increase in film speed is a good reason and
    tempting in itself. It's use for printing though escapes me. Dan
    Dan Quinn, Nov 14, 2003
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  2. Dan Quinn

    Jorge Omar Guest

    In my case, at least, it's a matter of cost.
    Phenidone costs me less than metol per gram and is used in about 1/10
    I believe final results are equivalent.


    (Dan Quinn) wrote in
    Jorge Omar, Nov 14, 2003
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  3. Metol Poisoning, if you get enough of it on or in you over any
    length of time from what I understand it will make your life hell.

    A little on your skin will make you break out in a rash.
    Gregory W. Blank, Nov 14, 2003
  4. We pay about 5 (Euro-)Cent per gram Metol. A typical film-developer
    uses about 2-5g Metol per liter. The 100g Sodiumsulfite it needs
    costs about 30-50Cent... a larger cost factor in my eyes.

    BTW, Phenidone costs about 14 Cent/gram. If you want to go really
    cheap, use Beutler's formula, about 70 Cent for 40 films.

    Martin Jangowski, Nov 14, 2003
  5. Dan Quinn

    Jorge Omar Guest

    Prices vary all over the world, and for unknown reasons.
    In my case, 100g metol US$60 (of course, I refused to pay that).
    100g phenidone US$ 8.

    Jorge Omar, Nov 14, 2003
  6. For some individuals, Metol acts as a sensitizer and promotes allergic
    reactions. For other individuals, nothing happens. Of course, this is
    also true of Sodium Sulfite, Sodium Carbonate, and many other household

    Actually, Metol's bad reputation is probably an exaggeration these days.
    In the past, (70 to 100 years ago), the stuff was frequently
    contaminated with paraphenylenediamine (a nifty fine-grain developer if
    you can tolerate a 2-stop loss of film speed), which is definately a
    sensitizer and thought, by some, to be a carcinogen. It is my
    understanding that paraphenylenediamine is no longer a contaminant of
    Metol and has not been for many decades.
    A little on your skin _may_ make you break out in a rash. It does not do
    that to me, nor did it, AFAIK, to Ansel Adams. I would worry more about
    color developers which do use paraphenylenediamane derivitaves (that
    have been modified to make them less soluble in the fats of human skin
    so as to reduce their sensitizing (to people) properties). Or the Sodium
    Carbonate in paper developpers.
    Jean-David Beyer, Nov 14, 2003
  7. It is longer-lasting than metol, with higher capacity.
    Michael Scarpitti, Nov 14, 2003
  8. Dan Quinn

    Jeff Novick Guest

    IMO, I have seen Phenidone based developers give a different tone to certain
    papers. They seem colder and in certain formulas, I've seen blue/black
    Jeff Novick, Nov 14, 2003
  9. Dan Quinn

    dr bob Guest

    Forget Metol! Ban Teflon! According to NBC's latest exposé, Teflon is
    DEADLY! Don't ever touch it or work with it. In FACT you don't even need
    to be near it for it to cause all sorts of maladies from birth defects to
    death. Boy, am I in trouble having worked (molded, machined, stamped) this
    stuff for years before I retired. However in my research work I did
    determine that Teflon will ignite and burn furiously in a 100% oxygen
    atmosphere and that it makes a reasonable explosive when mixed with lithium
    powder. So I guess we are really in trouble if we ever encounter these
    conditions. Also - don't breathe the combustion products - it may burn your
    lungs or make you want to photograph. To test these theories, just heat you
    frying pan to 600 degrees F.

    Truly, dr bob
    Messing about in photographic chemicals since 1947.
    dr bob, Nov 15, 2003
  10. me. Dan

    Phenidone tends to make prints with more neutral color
    than Metol and developers have somewhat greater capacity. It
    is advantageous to those who are sensitive to Metol, which
    can cause serious rashes in some and its rather more
    environmentally friendly.
    Ilford Bromophen is a Phenidone-Hydroquinone developer,
    essentially a Phenidone version of Dektol. Agfa makes a
    Phenidone-Ascorbic acid print developer, AFAIK the only one
    on the market.
    Richard Knoppow, Nov 15, 2003
  11. Phenidone tends to make prints with more neutral color
    Please tell us your opinion about advantages/disadvantages of
    Bromophen against Dektol. Thanks. Eduardo.
    Eduardo Benavidez, Nov 17, 2003
  12. Dan Quinn

    Jorge Omar Guest


    This is not an opinion re Bromophen X Dektol, but re paper devs using
    bromide (Dektol) X devs using benzotiazole (Bromophen?)

    Bromide, with some papers, may present a greenish tint I simply dislike.
    Not so with benzotriazole ones, that gives a blue-black tone - that, BTW,
    I like.


    (Eduardo Benavidez) wrote in
    Jorge Omar, Nov 17, 2003
  13. Dan Quinn

    Dan Quinn Guest

    RE: (Dan Quinn) wrote
    While reading a post by Dr. M. Gudzinowicz, I was reminded of the
    need for developers of low ph in order to obtain fine grain results.
    Patrick Dignan maintains that phenidone can be used in developers
    at a lower ph than can metol.
    How significant that may be in practice I don't know. That lower
    ph does favor phenidone over metol.
    BTW, IIRC, Dr. M. G. has mentioned borax in regard to finer grain.
    In context I believe he is speaking of the low ph of developers using
    borax and the harder emulsions resulting there from. Dan
    Dan Quinn, Nov 18, 2003
  14. Dan Quinn

    Jorge Omar Guest

    He went a step further stating that borates (borax, boric acid) and, who
    knows, metaborate, help grain due to hardening the emulsion and reducing
    So, according to my understanding, a carbonate-bicarbonate buffer could
    be grainier than borax at the same pH.

    This poses an intriguing possibility - increasing borate content of a dev
    (say, D-76d) could result in finer grain.

    I tried that with an ascorbic-phenidone dev, but it had too short a life
    (due to metal impurities in boric acid) and I was unable to do a real
    compare. Just to place numbers, there were 50g/liter of boric acid in


    (Dan Quinn) wrote in
    Jorge Omar, Nov 18, 2003
  15. If low pH is desireable in a developper, why not use Amidol that can be
    used in an acid solution?
    Jean-David Beyer, Nov 19, 2003
  16. Dan Quinn

    Jorge Omar Guest

    Of sheer curiosity, was Amidol ever used (routinelly) as a film developer?


    Jorge Omar, Nov 19, 2003
  17. I am currently making negatives in Gainer's Borax B formulation with
    phenidone, and the grain looks good...

    Dennis O'Connor, Nov 19, 2003
  18. I have no idea if it was ever used routinely as a film developer. I have
    never used amidol, much less acid amidol, as a film developer. It is a
    very nice paper developer, but it really has no particular advantage
    over D-72 with the bromide replaced by benzotriazole, at least for the
    papers I have used.

    It might have been used as a film developer; it has been available since
    about 1891, so a lot of research would have to be done to answer your
    question authoritatively. L.P.Clerc says, in part:

    "If ... a weak acid (bisulphite, or boric, lactic, or glycolic acids)
    the solution becomes much more stable and the developer can be held for
    several days in a dish."

    I do know that when I use it for paper, adding a little citric acid
    makes it last a lot longer, but I never kept it more than a few hours in
    a tray.

    L.P.Clerc continues:

    "When an amidol developer is acidified to the point where there is no
    longer any neutral sulphite in solution, it acts as a depth developer,
    the development commencing at the bottom of the emulsion layer." So, in
    cases where that kind of development is wanted (possibly in a process
    like Kodachrome, but I do not suppose they ever processed Kodachrome
    that way) it would have been used. He says this is useful for
    overexposed negatives.
    Jean-David Beyer, Nov 19, 2003
  19. Dan Quinn

    Jorge Omar Guest

    And I'm making PX negatives with Gainer's plus borax/sulfite, and grain
    looks good...

    Photographers...they hardly agree on anything ((-:

    Jorge Omar, Nov 19, 2003
  20. This was used for the early Agfa color reversal films. The
    development time was very long; as I recollect, something like 75

    A fellow named Peckham concocted some unique Amidol film developers,
    and Ansel Adams described some uses for film development in at least
    one of his books.
    Robert Vervoordt, MFA
    Robert Vervoordt, Nov 19, 2003
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