Eastman 5222 Souped in Xtol stock
Updated: Jun 17, 2019
Film: Eastman 5222 Double X shot at 250 ISO
Developer: Kodak Xtol Stock, 7 min.
Camera: Olympus OM2
I’ve briefly described Eastman 5222, also known as Double X processed using a 1+300 Rodinal 8-hour stand development procedure here.
For these images I used an undiluted Xtol stock solution for 7 minutes at 20ºC. Xtol is a versatile ascorbic acid solvent developer that delivers fine grain and high sharpness at true box speed. The solvent action increases sharpness - edge contrast in this context - by breaking down the edges of the silver structure in the film emulsion. It creates smoother edges with greater contrast giving the appearance of sharpness. At the same time, it reduces resolving power - the capacity of a technique to produce two distinct dots that are close together. This can be lessened if desired by using a dilute working solution. One-to-one (1+1) dilutions are common.
As with most solvent developers, dilution increases resolving power, along with graininess and grain clumping. The increased graininess and clumping is normally not excessive with 1:1 dilutions of Xtol. More dilute solutions can produce a nice image, but are not recommended by Kodak. I believe inconsistency and failures become more common, and that the developer starts to lose its solvent action at around 1+3 dilutions. If one desires higher resolution or more grain in one’s images, one might consider one of the non-solvent developers. Rodinal is a good place to start.
Three more notes about Xtol developer.
First, it only comes as a powder that when mixed, will result in a 5 liter stock solution. This is over one gallon of stock solution. I store mine in two one gallon Datatainer jugs, and make sure to use the partially full one first.
Second, the stock solution can fail quickly, and without warning, when the shelf life has been exceeded. I recommend testing the stock solution with a bit of cut-off film leader (the part you cut off when loading a developing reel) every once in awhile to ensure your Xtol stock is still active. Simply put a cut bit of leader in a small beaker of developer. If it turns black, your developer is still good.
Finally, Xtol is more sensitive to iron, chlorine, and other normally harmless solutes commonly found in tap water. I recommend mixing all stock solutions in deionized or distilled water - like you buy at the grocers - to avoid any problems.