How To Develop T-Max 100 in XTOL Using a SP-445 Daylight Tank

February 21, 2018  •  3 Comments

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I have been working on creating some new black and white floral still life images for some brand new silver gelatin darkroom gallery prints that I plan to release later this spring and summer.  

I also scan my original large format film negatives for my low-cost vintage style black and white giclée art print collection.  

I have been using black and white T-Max 100 film and developing the large format negatives in XTOL using the Stearman Press SP-445 daylight development tank.  

I get a lot of requests from readers of my free newsletter as well as my YouTube channel to share more details behind my creative process, so I decided to create this article and video to share the specifics of how I develop my 4x5 large format T-Max 100 black and white film in XTOL using the SP-445 daylight tank. 

As discussed in the video, I dilute XTOL to 1:1 and develop my 4x5 black and white sheet film in the SP-445 daylight tank for 10 minutes at 68F/20C.  I prewash my T-Max 100 with distilled water to remove the annihilation layer from the film.  In the next step, I develop the films for 10 minutes with a XTOL 1:1 at 68F/20C.  I initially agitate the film for 15 seconds and then after the first minute, I perform two agitation cycles every 30 seconds for the remainder of the development time.  I demonstrate my agitation method in the video above.  I then do a 30 second water stop bath and then fix with TF-4 archival fixer for 10 minutes with constant agitation. Next, I wash the film for at least 15 to 20 minutes with tap water to fully clear it and then put the sheets of film into a tray of water and PhotoFlo for one minute before hanging the film to dry.   

I need negatives that will scan very well, and also print in the darkroom.  There are other film and developer combinations that also work very well, but I have found that T-Max 100 and XTOL 1:1 provide very consistent and reliable results for me.  

Development Process Overview

  • Prewash in distilled water (68F/20C)
  • Develop in XTOL 1:1 for 10 minutes
  • Initial agitation for 15 seconds for first minute, then 2 cycles every 30 seconds
  • Water stop bath for 30 seconds
  • Fix with TF-4 for 10 minutes (constant agitation) 
  • Final Wash 15 to 20 minutes 
  • Put sheet film in tray of PhotoFlo for 1 minute
  • Hang to dry

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Thxs. PM sent.
Tim Layton Fine Art
Hi Jim, thanks for the comment and question. You can use Pyrocat HD in the SP-445 if you want. I personally use Pyrocat HD for my negatives that I will be making platinum prints from. For me, that means bigger negatives and the SP-445 is for 4x5 sheet film. I use DIY PVC tubes (see blog) for my larger sheet film and Pyrocat HD and I use a semi-stand development process because I need the extra density, contrast, and stain for the platinum process. Hope that helps and don't hesitate to email with any questions. Happy to help.

Thank you for this very informative video and especially for putting in an article as well so that we can copy your steps. One question: why don't you use the pyrocat developer in the SP445? I'm thinking it's only because you use different developers for different film, but I am just getting up the courage to go beyond using a monobath with HP5 so pardon if my question is naive.
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