I'm starting to run out of developer for B&W film and was looking online for some more.

I've been using D-76 and I see nothing wrong with it; however, I saw that I could also buy Xtol.

What are the differences between the two? In what situation would be one perferred over the other?

Reading a couple things online it seems that Xtol produces a slightly less grain, which is nice; however, I do slightly rely on grain when enlarging. Will that be a problem? Also, how would I have less grain considering how I'm using a high speed film (ISO 400)?

  • \$\begingroup\$ I used Xtol regularly, and the only film that didn't give me enough grain to focus on was Agfapan APX 25, which has been long discontinued. I don't think you'll have any problem with 400-speed film. \$\endgroup\$
    – coneslayer
    May 15, 2015 at 17:43
  • \$\begingroup\$ What type/size of film is it? \$\endgroup\$
    – Iliah Borg
    May 16, 2015 at 0:53
  • \$\begingroup\$ I am required to have 15 characters, but it is 35mm. \$\endgroup\$
    – SailorCire
    May 16, 2015 at 1:23

1 Answer 1


Xtol is less stable and is liable to fail without giving notice. Other than that, it's got an excellent reputation.

Kodak provides this comparison between its developers: image is property of Kodak

The main difference between D-76 and Xtol when you develop at rated speed is the fineness of the grain. The other metrics (shadows detail and sharpness) are very much in line.

Of course, grain is also a matter of negative size. By the way, Ilford's ID-11 is rather similar (shall we say... almost the same?) to D-76. I don't have any trouble with grain when using ID-11... but it's a matter of personal preferences I'd say.

  • \$\begingroup\$ They seem to be about the same price on B&H. Actually you get more with ID-11 because it is 5L as opposed to 1G; however, I only have imperial datatainers. If I find metric ones, I might give it a try. \$\endgroup\$
    – SailorCire
    May 15, 2015 at 17:57
  • \$\begingroup\$ It also sounds like I should really continue with D-76. I don't develop every day (maybe two rolls twice a month) so the longer shelf life is a benefit. \$\endgroup\$
    – SailorCire
    May 15, 2015 at 18:05

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