Sunday, December 24, 2017

PMK Pyro

I have been a long-time admirer of the work of the New Zealander, Rick Drawbridge, in part because of his consistently excellent black and white work which features a large variety of films which are all processed in PMK Pyro.  Most interesting for me are his pictures made with Kentmere 100 which is one of the cheapest available black and white films.  So, I got a bottle of PMK Pyro from Freestyle along with some TF-4 fixer.  I shot a roll of Kentmere in the Nikon FE and got ready to process it as directed by the included instruction sheet.

I loaded my exposed film in a Paterson tank and mixed up the chemicals  as indicated.  However, the directions in the package contained no time and temp information for Kentmere 100, so I got on line to search for that crucial data.  Well, developing time and temp for Kentmere 100 was nowhere to be found.  I came up with one reference for 400-speed Kentmere in the Massive Dev Chart and quite a few examples of other films in combination with various pyro formulations, but no Kentmere 100. 

So, I was on my own regarding a choice for time and temperature.  After looking at everything I could find about processing various 100-speed films in PMK, I decided to go with 12 minutes and 20C and recommended agitation at 15-second intervals.  Judging from the amount of adjustment I had to make in my scanned images, 12 minutes seems to be excessive.  I probably should have stopped at eight or ten minutes.

In spite of some degree of misjudgement regarding the processing I was not real unhappy with the results.  The images show good sharpness, nice contrast and little grain.  Still, they were not better than what I can sometimes get from other developers which I often use, including HC-110 and Rodinal.  So unless I come up with some reliable info on using Kentmere 100 with PMK elsewhere, I'm going to try eight minutes in the developer in the next round.

I still have seven rolls of Kentmere 100 to experiment with, so it seems likely I should eventually get the processing right.  I'll probably also try some other films for which there is good time and temp information including Acros.  Chris Crawford's site has a good chart of developing times for PMK Pyro using ten film types.  Sandy King, who developed the Pyrocat-HD formulation, has a very through treatment on his site about the history and use of pyro staining developers.


Jim Grey said...

I'll follow your experiments with interest. I've had poor luck with Kentmere 100, but I have it processed at commercial labs. I keep reading that the secret to this film is to process it yourself and dial in just the right process.

JR Smith said...

I admire your courage to try different chemistry. I've only used D-76. At some point next year, I am going to take a walk on the wild side and try Rodinal and maybe even...Caffenol...yikes!

Mike said...

I normally use Rodinal only with medium format, but I thought it actually did pretty well with the Kentmere. One nice thing about Rodinal is that it lasts forever in the bottle even after it is opened.

Christopher Smith said...

I have had reasonable results using Caffenoll C-M with Kentmere 100, 15min at 20C water stop
and Ilford Rapid fix 5min then 10min wash.
results here ""
Your results look mighty fine to me.

Mike said...

Caffenoll does seem like a good choice and worth trying judging by your results. I only used it once with some Acros and was impressed that it turned out well even though I had no clue about what I was doing.