Conrad Hoffman , Sep 06, 1999; 12:16 p.m.
Get the latest issue of Photo Techniques magazine. It has an article on the development of Xtol you will find very interesting. Personally, I think T-MAX developer is a far better drain cleaner than a developer. Note that the bold faced processing recommendation is for 75 degrees. I used it for a long time at 68 degrees and the results were lousy. With T-Max 100 film, I couldn't control the highlights, or the overall contrast was unacceptable. With Xtol, everything stays under control, and the print quality is excellent. Without revealing too much from the article, Xtol is one of few developers that can have better performance in grain, sharpness, and film speed, all at the same time. It's a significant improvement.
Microdol was fun in its day, but I don't know why anyone would use it now. It has very fine grain, but at the expense of sharpness and film speed.
Look at the Kodak web site and download the Xtol application data. Also, get the current Kodak professional products catalog and look at the developer comparison chart in the back. It rates them all, and Xtol is the obvious winner.