Making the Most of Rodinal

Discussion in 'B&W: Film, Paper, Chemistry' started by Richard Jepsen, Nov 14, 2011.

  1. Richard Jepsen

    Richard Jepsen Member

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    My developers are XTOL/D76 paired with Tri-X and FP-4. In the past I would occasionally use Rodinal with both MF films. My results with Rodinal have been unsatisfactory 60% of the time. Negatives tend to be underdeveloped/underexposed or have sagging mid-tones.

    I'm calibrating my film/developing time/agitation to achieve consistent results using Rodinal. I'm using the guidelines found in Popular Photography, Dec 1979, by Bob Schwalberg.

    The image qualities I'm looking for are sharpness, ability to separate highlights, increased brilliance vs a general purpose developer. Increased developer shelf life is a positive.

    I'm trying HP-5 due to its acutance. The last roll I shot was HP-5, rated at 200, metered with an incident meter set at 160, shot with a 1956 Rollei F/2.8 and light yellow (factor 1.5) filter. Souped at 14 min, 8cc Rodinal with 17oz of water, agitate 1st 40 sec, agitate each 60s (3 inversions in an oversize metal tank), 1 inversion each 30s for first 7 min. After 7 min reduce agitation to 3 inversions each 60s. Light conditions were full Central Oklahoma Nov sunlight with wispy clouds. Light intensity similar to upper Midwest in summer. 120 negatives were slightly thin only achieving an acceptable print contrast on E-maks G3 if toned. Enlargement 8x6 on 8x10 paper.

    How much should one derate Tri/X or HP-5 to achieve full film speed when using Rodinal? How can I improve low tone/mid tone separation? Would it be helpful to extend development by 1 min without agitation hoping to bring up low tones without building density in the sky area?

    Just looking for advice on optimizing Rodinal for landscape images.
     
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  2. Rick A

    Rick A Subscriber

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    When I use Rodinal, I rate films 100 speed and slower at box speed. When I shoot 400 speed, I rate it 1/2 box speed, my normal filter for B&W is medium yellow(factor 2). I use the MDC recommended time for 1+50 @20c. I agitate for 1st 30 seconds, then 4 inversions per every 60 seconds. My normal printing filter is grade 2.5, but I like lots of contrast in my prints. I could actually print these negs at grade 1.5-2.
     
  3. MDR

    MDR Member

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    If I read your post correctly you metered with a 160 ISO setting on your lightmeter but developed the film like it was exposed at 200 ISO and used a non standard dilution sorry but it's no wonder you didn't get acceptable results. The standard combination for HP5+ in Rodinal is E.I 200 ASA dilution 1+50 500ccm of Water + 10ccm of Rodinal for 10 to 13mins @ 20°C (depending on your enlarger) . Under harsh sunlight I would recommend using Rodinal 1+100 Stand developed for an hour 20°C.

    Good Luck Dominik
     
  4. baachitraka

    baachitraka Subscriber

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    Your EI seems okay but I followed the agitation scheme as according the link below.

    http://www.apug.org/forums/forum216/69617-shaping-tone-curve-rodinal-negative.html

    3 inversions at the beginning, again 3 inversions @5th min and @10th minute. I pour out at 16th minute + Stop bath + Fix for PanF+ @25 ISO.

    For small Jobo tank, I found 6ml developer + 300ml water is sufficient for a roll of 35mm film. I shot some portraits and foliage with K2 filter and negatives look beautiful.

    One thing which frustrates me is that my dark room is not ready, so I cannot tell about the paper and the print yet.

    Additional info regarding grain(Rodianal + HP5+)

    skahde : Comment is rather interesting.

    http://www.apug.org/forums/forum37/97969-getting-fine-grain-2.html
     
  5. baachitraka

    baachitraka Subscriber

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    I presume results which I got would have been the same if I rate that film @box speed.
     
  6. Ronald Moravec

    Ronald Moravec Member

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    In my experience Rodinal delivers 1/2 to 2/3 box speed.

    Without a darkroom or densitometer, you can not do film calibration.

    There is tons of misinformation about how to develop film on the internet. You do not know if the persons thermometer is is correct, water quality, tank type, enlarger type , and contrast of his enlarging lens, if his paper was fresh, or even if the paper curves matches the film or if his safe lights fog the paper.

    My results match Kodak and Ilford recommendation to the second. Yet other places are far off. The only conclusion I can come to is test you own.
     
  7. Richard Jepsen

    Richard Jepsen Member

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    Ron, I agree there are many variables. Comparisons are difficult. One has to do the work oneself. You always hope for a shortcut using others experience.

    An incident meter is generous in its recommendation. The yellow filter is -2/3 of a stop. I normally shoot ISO 400 film at EI 200 to lift shadows off the toe. So using an incident setting of 160 ISO my film speed with filter was more like EI 250. I find using an EI of 200 with ISO 400 developing times with D-76/XTOL or Rodinal does not blow out highlights. I'm easy with agitation.

    My dilution was close to 1:75, a little stronger due to our Fall light. Frankly, It was easier to measure 8 CCs vs 7 CCs of developer when mixing the ratio. Recommended times are out of Popular Photography. BTW, the referenced article written by Bob Schwalberg is of historical interest. The photo magazines in the 60s through 70s were great resources of info. Full staffs doing experiments. The hay day of photography.

    In the past I found Rodinal provides a slower film speed than D-76 1:1.

    I'm close to getting better negatives. I am not convinced Rodinal won't sag mid-tones. Sometimes the images look different and better, and other times the negatives fail to print easily.

    Is there anyone dedicated to using Rodinal and what are your thoughts?
     
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  8. piu58

    piu58 Member

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    If you use Rodinal with 16°C, you can reach 1/3 ... 1/2 stop more and so coming closer to the bos speed. The reason may be that the developer has mor time to reach and develop the deeper emulsion parts.

    The time is 1.6 times longer, that means 21 mins instead of 13.
     
  9. Richard Jepsen

    Richard Jepsen Member

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    http://www.apug.org/forums/forum216/69617-shaping-tone-curve-rodinal-negative.html

    Thanks for the thread. Addresses one of my observations on mid tones.....highlights are affected first by compensation but mid tones are also affected by exhausted developer. Looking at my reference print perhaps 1:50 would have been a better choice. With Rodinal you have options which end up being variables which make it a more difficult developer to master.
     
  10. Sal Santamaura

    Sal Santamaura Member

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    This is why I always ignore those who scoff at Agfa's specified minimum of 10ml concentrate per 80 square inches of film. Most of the time, following manufacturers' instructions avoids problems. :smile:
     
  11. Richard Jepsen

    Richard Jepsen Member

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    Agfa's Rodinal development recommendations produce contrasty negatives. The results remind me of European images in the photo magazines from the 60s.

    Agfa used a different contrast scale than Kodak's CI index. Agfa's development times provide brilliance if shooting in gloomy overcast light conditions.
     
  12. michael_r

    michael_r Subscriber

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    This might throw things off a bit, but based on your list of preferred criteria, and your reference to printing on graded paper, may I suggest a Pyro developer such as PMK? It works beautifully with FP4 and most other films. It is sharper than Rodinal (with any film), and produces excellent highlight detail/separations. For more brilliance/contrast you might want to try Wimberley's WD2H+ which is a more vigourous Pyro formula and produces a stain color with more printing density than that of PMK.

    Michael
     
  13. Richard Jepsen

    Richard Jepsen Member

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    I re-shot the landscape and tweaked development. Lowered HP-5 EI to 120 vs 160. Used the same development/agitation as stated above but increased development by 60s to 15 min total...last two min without agitation. The negatives look better but I don't see the mid-tone brilliance and the sky will still print a little dark. Next time I would develop HP-5 at 1:50 or 1:75 at 16min. I'm returning to Tri-X. My perception is Tri-X has more mid tone separation than HP-5. FP-4 may be the best choice with Rodinal and my Rollei TLR whose lens is not as contrasty as my RF645 optics.

    I am aware of Pyro coupled with graded paper. However, I try to keep it simple using two developers and a few papers. Most of my images are not challenged by bright highlights so I have not explored Pyro.
     
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  15. Richard Jepsen

    Richard Jepsen Member

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    For instance, if the light is good, but there are unavoidable bright highlights on the face, I use an XTOL curve (second graph below) whose shoulder compresses the bright highlights.

    If the light is normal, which for me is slightly flat and soft, with no direct light on the faces, I use the 10 tone, normal curve; Edwal 12.

    If the light is completely overcast and flat, I use Rodinal to build an 8 tone scale.
    DF Cardwell

    This link http://www.apug.org/forums/forum216/69617-shaping-tone-curve-rodinal-negative.html
    is interesting. I think of dilution as the first tool to control contrast with agitation as a little tweak. The comment in quotes about Rodinal and an 8 tone scale seem to indicate Rodinal will not produce as long a scale as XTOL. I'm I interpreting this correctly?
     
  16. piu58

    piu58 Member

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    Less agitation has a similar effect like low temperature: Because the total time is increased the devlopper has mor time to reach an develop deep layers of the emulsion.

    I prefer lower temeratures and normal agitation because this gives more hive gray in the sky.
     
  17. Richard Jepsen

    Richard Jepsen Member

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    I did a Google search on Rodinal and also looked at older prints from Rodinal developered negatives. The Film Developing Cookbook mentions unique Rodinal tonality and glowing highlights. Review of older prints from Rodinal negatives the mid/low tones print lower on the tonal scale and show some compression. A highlight projecting from a somewhat darker background has a glow effect. The reduced shadow separation is a common Google search comment.

    A common suggestion on this post is to alter agitation in conjunction with semi/stand development. Perhaps the better answer to avoid compressed midtones sagging down the tonal scale is to change to a shorter toe film; FP-4 vs HP-5. I tried to derate HP-5 to raise low tones up the scale but the slope may still be flatter than a short toe film resulting in my disappointment. Below is a link to another way to get the most out of Rodinal from a film choice direction. The films mentioned are not normally available but the concept is still sound. I like the idea of a short toe film for low tone separation and high speed film for high tone separation. I use Tri-X rated at an EI of 200 to keep my TLR off a tripod. Hand holding is a challenge at f/11/16, yellow filter, and EI 200. If I want to use Rodinal the best choice may be FP-4 and a tripod.

    Film Choice to control Curve

    http://kcbx.net/~mhd/2photo/film/choice/pers.htm
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Nov 18, 2011
  18. michael_r

    michael_r Subscriber

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    Don't take this negatively, but it seems to me you need to take a step back before going further. You're confusing all sorts of film/developer properties and making direct connections between things like film speed and curve shape, which do not exist. You are also trying to manage too many variables at once.

    Note that the current versions of most of these medium to medium high speed films (FP4, Tri-X, HP5, TMX/TMY, Delta 100/400) show remarkably little difference in curve shape. They are all essentially short toe, flexible, straight line films. So to assume HP5 gives better highlight separation than FP4, is wrong.

    Also please note in reference to the 1979 article, current Tri-X, HP5, FP4 etc are not the same versions of the films Schwalberg was using.

    If you want stronger low to middle value contrast with any of these films, you are better off sticking with XTOL. If not, first ask yourself what properties you want that XTOL is not giving you. Make a change based on those answers. If you are intent on switching to Rodinal, choose one film, any of the ones I listed, and practice with Rodinal. Try it first at 1:50, and use it with different film speeds and different development times. Make prints of the negatives. If you are not satisfied try altering variables one at a time, for example try extending development time but reducing agitation.

    If you don't approach it methodically you'll go in circles and get nowhere. I'm still not clear on what made you want to standardize on Rodinal to begin with.

    Michael
     
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  19. Richard Jepsen

    Richard Jepsen Member

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    The range of development times in Schwalberg's article remain good starting points for the new versions of FP4 Plus and Tri-X.
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Nov 19, 2011
  20. Richard Jepsen

    Richard Jepsen Member

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    Michael

    Increased acutance is what I'm looking for for landscape images. I understood shooting film at a lower box speed moves shadows up the characteristic curve (H&D) curve). Tri-X/HP5 is normally thought of as having a longer toe than T-Max or FP4. Rodinal is a developer that falls just short of producing full emulsion speed. My experience tells me lowering the film box speed will improved shadow separation and will raise zone 4 tones higher on the scale towards zone 5.

    Agitation and dilution affect the shape of the film contrast curve in highlights and perhaps in the mid tones. One intent of my post was to confirm with others if they saw tonal compression in zone 4 and what to do about it. My take-a-way is to try semi stand development. If I want strong mid-tone separation my experience says FP4 with its steeper contrast curve is a better choice than HP5.

    I like the idea of a short toe film for low tone separation and high speed film for high tone separation. After some thought a tab grain film with a longer straight line generally records more high tones than a conventional film with a shoulder such as Tri-X. On the other hand the films recorded higher tones may not be recorded on your paper (un-manipulated). If I could edit that post I would remove this statement.
     
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  21. garysamson

    garysamson Subscriber

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    +1
     
  22. Darkroom317

    Darkroom317 Member

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    Ok, I'm really confused. I normally use Plus-X at box and develop 1:50 for 13 minutes. I've noticed that some of my negatives are rather dark. I am looking at using Plus-X at EI 64 or EI 80. Would I still use 13 minutes for 1:50 if I want N development? I would think that this would increase the contrast considerably.
     
  23. baachitraka

    baachitraka Subscriber

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    @Darkroom317: In 13 minutes how do you agitate?

    My personal way, adopted from 'Shaping the tone curve of a Rodinal Negative' is 16 minutes for ISO 100 and any speeds below that. I do shoot EI 64 for 100 and EI 32 for 50.

    Temps: 20°C.
    Tank: Small Jobo Tank(35mm one reel only). Volume: 300ml water + 6ml Rodinal(nectar from heaven)
    Agitation: Gentle three inversions @ every five minutes. Three inversions even at the beginning.
    Stop Bath: Adox stop for 2 minutes, least concentration.
    Fixer: Adox fix for four minutes, 1 min constant agitation and three inversion @ every minute.
    Washing: 10 times, vigourous agitation and finally with Adoflo.

    I hang negs using patterson clips, and pour the rest of Adoflo solution over the negs like a bath. Dry it for entire night.

    I have a condensor enlarger(old leica focomat Ic) and use filters below the lens.

    I do not recommened Stand developement as a general purpose development method.
     
  24. Darkroom317

    Darkroom317 Member

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    I agitate for 30 sec of the first minute and 10 sec of every minute after that. It is the basic method I learned in my college photo class. I am wanting to move beyond this method in order to get better negatives and photos.

    I often end up with little mid tone separation.
     
  25. baachitraka

    baachitraka Subscriber

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    Nothing to worry. Also, I do not want to complicate the matters.

    May be next time try an external meter and set EI 1/3 or 2/3 below the box speed and then you can blindly follow the article below...

    http://www.apug.org/forums/forum216/69617-shaping-tone-curve-rodinal-negative.html

    You can get the cheaper film like Agfa APX 100 which was designed to go well(other film do go well too) with Rodinal(nectar from heaven) and test...I'm sure, you will get the type of negs you want.
     
  26. Thomas Bertilsson

    Thomas Bertilsson Subscriber

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    "I've noticed that some of my negatives are rather dark".

    Does that mean that you have too little shadow detail and the resulting prints are too dark?

    If so, it's correct to give more exposure in order gain more shadow detail.
    Normally, when you you give more exposure, you compensate in processing by shortening your developing time.

    Do a little test:
    1. Expose a roll by bracketing exposures at EI 50, 64, 80, 100, and 125.
    2. Develop the roll as you always do. Make a contact sheet. Determine which exposure index gives you the amount of shadow detail you need.
    3. Shoot an entire roll at the chosen exposure index.
    4. Cut the roll in thirds.
    5. Develop one third according to what you think would be appropriate. Make proof sheet and now judge the entire tone scale from shadow detail to highlights.
    6. If highlights are too hot, develop less. If highlights are too dark, develop more. Adjust until you have negatives that print with ease.

    Agitating once every minute is acceptable. After you have done the exposure/developing/printing for a while you can start to play with agitation.
    In general terms, when you slow agitation down, the developer will exhaust faster in areas of great exposure and less in areas of little exposure. So you gain a little bit of shadow detail, and you slow down development of highlights. This is good to practice in high contrast lighting, and is a tool to tweak your negatives to fit your paper.

    But for now change as little as possible until you find a good process with the method you're already using, so that you can understand what each change you make actually does to the results.

    Good luck.

    - Thomas