PC-Sulfite gives XTOL-like image-quality with D-23 simplicity. Well, almost as simple as D-23. If your motto is "simple is beautiful", you'll like PC-Sulfite. Here's the 1-liter formula:
Sodium sulfite ................ 90 gI use a 1% solution of phenidone in propylene glycol (PG) because phenidone is slow to dissolve in water.
Phenidone ...................... 0.15 g
Ascorbic acid ................. 2.8 g
Target pH = 8.2 (same as XTOL).
Add 15% to XTOL's time as a starting-point.
I've tested this formula with Tmax-400 (TMY) and Tri-X (TX) using distilled water at 20C, which covers both conventional grain and T-grain films. I suspect this will work fine on all films, but test first. I've also compared this with test-strips of TMY developed in XTOL, and carefully examining the neg's through 22x loupes, I could scarcely see any difference between them. Same grain and shadow-detail.
- When mixing, dissolve the sulfite first, so it'll scavenge the oxygen that dissolved in the water.
- Use the developer shortly after mixing. PC-Sulfite contains no chelation/sequestration agents, so its shelf-life will probably be short, even if you use distilled water.
- The chemistry of PC-Sulfite is sufficiently different from XTOL that, for other films, times might vary significantly from the "add 15%" rule above. Test first.
- I haven't tried diluting it, but the pH of a sample of diluted PC-Sulfite matches that of diluted XTOL, so I'd expect it'll deliver similar results.
There's a long thread in apug.org (starting here: http://www.apug.org/forums/forum37/98430-improved-version-ds-10-ryuji-suzuki.html), and Photo Engineer (PE) encouraged me to remove borate from a formula I'm working on due to environmental restrictions. After doing so, and removing the propylene glycol carrier as well, this is all that was left. It's so simple that I didn't think it could work, but it works well. Here are some test-shots. This is a full-resolution crop developed in XTOL:
And here's a crop developed in PC-Sulfite:
It's hard to see any difference. However, viewing these images on another monitor with a higher gamma makes it clear that PC-Sulfite yields more shadow-detail than XTOL.
As a final test, I walked around my neighborhood taking boring pictures on Tri-X with an Olympus Trip-35. It was a relief to see beautiful frames when I pulled the reel out of the tank. Here's a full-resolution crop of one of my boring pictures:
And the entire 35mm frame:
I hope this simple developer works well for you also.