Rodinal vs HC110

Discussion in 'B&W: Film, Paper, Chemistry' started by msbarnes, Oct 8, 2011.

  1. msbarnes

    msbarnes Member

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    Not a better or worse thread, but differences between the two. I started analog photography a few months ago with Trix & Rodinal and I have no complaints, but sometimes I want to try HC-110 because it is just so very popular. I'll probably try it out regardless of this thread but I'd love for you to share your opinions.
     
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  2. 2F/2F

    2F/2F Member

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    HC-110 is syrupy and is fairly fine-grained. It also seems to work better with a larger variety of films IME. Rodinal is runny and not very fine grained. I have not liked it with some films.

    I like HC-110 for any film. It is my standard developer. I use Rodinal, T-Max, X-Tol, and more recently PMK Pyro for special purposes.
     
  3. sandermarijn

    sandermarijn Member

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    Sorry, no answer, just saying that I have the very same question.

    I shot 13 rolls of Tri-x (120) while on holiday last month and developed all in Rodinal 1+50. I contemplated doing some in HC-110. But then I felt that I wanted consistency and decided to use Rodinal only.

    Which left me with the same lingering question that you just asked. Would my results have been radically different had I used HC-110 instead? Less grain for sure. But tonality-wise what difference can one expect?

    I've always been under the (rather unsubstantiated) impression that Rodinal is the European preference while HC-110 is the American way of doing things, and that the difference in result isn't all that huge. Could there be some truth in that? That part of the difference in preference is technical in origin while the remainder is more of a cultural thing? (Think Ansel Adams.)

    All my Tri-x is gone now. Would have to buy new stock to try it out with HC-110. Too much other film lying around, so my personal comparison of Tri-x in HC-110 & Rodinal will have to wait.

    Hopefully others have personal experience with both developers & Tri-x (in its current adaptation).

    Sander
     
  4. Gerald C Koch

    Gerald C Koch Member

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    According to Kodak HC-110 produces results very similar to those of D-76.
     
  5. hpulley

    hpulley Member

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    http://www.apug.org/forums/attachme...6049d1260882088-xtol-d-76-f002_0072hc.gif.att

    It is interesting, however, that they compared XTOL and D-76 stock to dilution B of HC-110. HC-110 Dilution A may produce better shadow detail (film speed) and higher acutance but larger grain though I normally use that high dilution only for big pushes.

    From the unofficial HC-110 page, there is an interpretation of this chart at http://www.covingtoninnovations.com/hc110/

     
  6. presspass

    presspass Member

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    There are several unofficial websites for HC-110. I have not used it in several years, having been on a D-23 and two-bath kick for a while. When I did use it, I used a higher dilution than Kodak recommends - usually dilution H - and made it straight from syrup. It gives fine results in semi-stand development and is easy to use.
     
  7. Jeff Kubach

    Jeff Kubach Member

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    I have use HC-110 for years and I like it very much.

    Jeff
     
  8. nworth

    nworth Subscriber

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    HC-110 and D-76 may produce similar (not identical) results, but they are very different developers. Rodinal is different from both of them. Rodinal shares with HC-110 the ability to tailor its characteristics by changing the dilution. Rodinal usually shows sharper grain than HC-110 and it may be a bit sharper in general. HC-110 gives somewhat finer grain and a bit higher film speed (usually not enough to be useful).
     
  9. Colin Corneau

    Colin Corneau Subscriber

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    That seems to be about it, from my observation.

    Rodinal is also noteworthy for lasting an extraordinarily long time after the container's been opened...I've had it work just fine months and months after cracking open a bottle and mixing it up with water - even when it's dramatically darker in color and seemingly spoiled.

    I usually use Rodinal with finer grained, slower films -- PanF+ and TMX, for example -- as it gives tones I really like and especially noticeably sharper acutance. Haven't used it too much with 400 speed films and up, although I'm curious to try as I've heard good things for it with Tri-X, for example.
     
  10. jbl

    jbl Member

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    In my experience, the HC-110 syrup lasts an extremely long time as well. I've had a bottle that I've been working through for a few years now and it's shown no sign of problems.

    -jbl
     
  11. Thomas Bertilsson

    Thomas Bertilsson Subscriber

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    Rodinal gives, for the most part a fairly long and straight curve, which means very even tonality. Shadow detail is slightly compressed so you will see a distinct toe. If you develop longer in Rodinal, pretty much the whole curve adds density at the same rate, and it's very powerful so it'll keep doing that for a long time. But straight line, unless you slow down agitation a bit (to 3 minute or 5 minute agitation intervals), in which case you can force a curve with a shoulder and somewhat compressed highlights.

    HC-110 gives an upswept curve as well as a toe. To me, effective film speed (shadow detail) is very similar between HC-110 and Rodinal.
    The upswept curve means very good separation the higher up towards the highlights you get. But be careful, if you develop for too long you will easily go beyond the printable range and get highlights that block up. In normal negatives this also means that if you bring down highlights to printable levels, by using a lower contrast paper or paper filter, mid-tones can seem a bit dark. This is good for some subject matter, and not so much for other kinds.

    Both developers can give very pleasing results, and lots of people do just that all the time. They are different in tonality, however, as described above, where Rodinal catches more of the highlights, but with less separation than HC-110, but has better separation in the mid-tones, and shadow detail is about equal. In my opinion, Rodinal is better for medium to high contrast lighting, and HC-110 better for low contrast lighting.

    Less important, to me, is that Rodinal gives a sharp, but beautiful grain, whereas HC-110 looks a bit less distinct. Rodinal gives sharper edges. HC-110 gives slightly finer grain.

    - Thomas
     
  12. Grainy

    Grainy Member

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    I'm thinking about almost the same as msbarnes. Rodinal is my standard developer for ISO400 and below. So far I've been using DDX for high ISO, but I'm not sure if I will buy a new bottle when it's empty or if I should switch to HC-110. I'm streamlining things at the time and want to use maximum two developers. After a lot of testing the last year I'm beginning to settle on a few types of film also.
     
  13. sandermarijn

    sandermarijn Member

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    Thanks Thomas, you address exactly the aspects I was curious about between HC-110 and Rodinal. Most people know and speak only of the difference in grain and (perhaps) edge sharpness. It's tonality that is often left out, either because it's too difficult a subject or because people feel this is not as distinct a property of the developer (I'd say they're right there; many other factors at play).

    I like film/developer combinations that give a bit of shoulder, such that the highlights are easy to print. Not so desirable for 'punchy' general photography (street, people, 'things') perhaps, but quite useful for landscapes (skies). So it seems I made the right choice the other day in using Rodinal with Tri-x, instead of HC-110.

    I am almost starting to wonder at this point if I can get by using only Rodinal and Xtol. HC-110 seems to fall somewhere in between. But then I've hardly used it- those who have will probably disagree (and I couldn't prove them wrong at this stage).

    Sander

    Sander
     
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  15. 2F/2F

    2F/2F Member

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    It's true that HC-110 can give slightly muddy low- to-mid tones if you print and/or develop for the high tones. However, if you print for the mid tones and burn for the high tones, it can really give a slight snap in the mids that some developers don't give you. Also, the tonality of HC-110 can be altered quite a lot by using different dilutions. It loses it's characteristic "bite" in the high tones if used 1:63 while sticking with one of the standard agitation routines recommended by Kodak or Ilford. IME HC-110 at 1:63 behaves very much like D-76 1:1 (though times are generally longer). IME, Rodinal is less sensitive to dilution in terms of the tonality it creates.

    The key is tailoring your developer to your desired print. That is why I use both.
     
  16. Thomas Bertilsson

    Thomas Bertilsson Subscriber

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    Thanks for sharing your experience. I've mainly used HC-110 Dilution B, so it's good to have your experience too.

    I also agree that Rodinal gives similar results whether diluted 1:25, 1:50, or even 1:100. 1:25 gives a bit more grain, but I don't find it very grainy to begin with, so no big deal there. Especially 1:50 to 1:100 I can't really tell the results apart.



     
  17. michael_r

    michael_r Subscriber

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    Rodinal is known for it's mid tone gradation. It is not a solvent developer, so it should not be compared with solvent developers such as xtol (and to some extent hc 110). It lies somewhere between solvent and true non-solvent developers. It is not fine grained, nor is it as sharp as acutance developers. So it should be chosen primarily for it's mid tone "look". Hc110 is a general purpose, flexible formula. Xtol is also a general purpose formula, but gives higher shadow contrast, finer grain, and higher sharpness than hc110 (although one must be careful characterizing a developer's gradation tendency because it can vary significantly depending on the film, exposure, and development methodology - ie hc110 can produce high shadow contrast if the film is given more exposure - meaning it produces less "speed" than xtol. Xtol is commonly diluted 1+1 (like D76) but can also be diluted further (1+3 for example) for higher sharpness (as high as Rodinal-type) but grain is still fine.
     
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  18. Jerevan

    Jerevan Subscriber

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    Uhm, Michael... Do I read you correctly as you seem to say that Rodinal is NOT an acutance developer? The "It is not fine grained, nor is it as sharp as acutance developers." seems to indicate that. Or maybe it's just me being too tired?
     
  19. michael_r

    michael_r Subscriber

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    It is sharper than solvent developers at their most commonly used dilutions (stock strength or 1+1), but not a true "acutance" formula such as FX-2, some Pyro/Catechol formulas etc, and it must be remembered that strongly diluted solvent formulas such as xtol are quite sharp too. We commonly assume sharpness and grain are a direct tradeoff, implying a rodinal-type developer that has prominent, well defined grain is necessarily super-sharp. It is more complicated than that (it has been argued some of rodinal's characteristic grain character is due to it's relatively high alkalinity rather than its lack of solvent effect - which is not unique to rodinal). It is not a straight tradeoff for sharpness. This is why personally I would recommend people choose rodinal for it's unique mid tone rendering first, rather than just choosing it for sharpness.
     
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  20. Thomas Bertilsson

    Thomas Bertilsson Subscriber

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    Sorry for editing your quote, Michael, emphasizing with italic and underlined fonts. What the OP was asking about was relative differences between HC-110 and Rodinal, so we must assume that all other things are equal. If you increase film exposure, BOTH HC-110 and Rodinal will exhibit improved shadow detail. I don't deny that our chosen film should be exposed to draw the best from the developer, but my observations still hold true as relative difference between Rodinal and HC-110.

    While I agree that Rodinal has impressive mid-tone separation qualities, in my mind additional important reasons for using it are:
    1. Tonality and malleable highlights. Changing agitation intervals from every 60s to every 5m makes a difference in highlight contrast, and boosts the shadows, while mid-tones remain basically the same.
    2. Texture. Rodinal adds texture to prints by virtue of how it renders grain.
    3. User friendly concentrate that lasts forever.

    To remain objective I have give the account above. It is completely void of my personal opinion.

    - Thomas
     
  21. michael_r

    michael_r Subscriber

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    I agree with points 2 and 3. It definitely has a distinctive look. Point 1 is tricky because very similar things happen when HC110 (and most general purpose developers) is used highly diluted and with reduced agitation - ie shadows boosted and malleable highlights. Ansel made dilute/reduced agitation HC110 techniques famous. What I would say though, is dilute Rodinal might be better suited to severely reduced (ie semi-stand) or stand development than most general purpose MQ/PQ developers. Many people use it that way with good results, and it appears to be less prone to stand development artifacts.
     
  22. Thomas Bertilsson

    Thomas Bertilsson Subscriber

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    Yes indeed, I agree with you that HC-110 does yield similar effects as Rodinal when reducing agitation. I remember doing a few rolls of that back in 2007 with Foma 100 and Plus-X and it worked really well. Thanks for reminding me.

    Rodinal is indeed very good for standing development. It's yet another reason to use it. And what I found interesting is that if you're interested in grain it became a lot less prominant at 1+200 and standing development than with regular agitation.

    Both developers can yield amazing results. I confess that I'm not a huge HC-110 fan, but have tried to remain unbiased (to some degree of success). But just look at someone like Bill Schwab who uses nothing but it, and whether you like his subject matter or not, he makes some pretty damned beautiful prints that have wonderful texture and beautiful tonality - sometimes delicate and other times dramatic. I'm lucky to have a few of them and to have seen quite a few of them in person. Neither Rodinal, nor HC-110 is magic potion. They are different, and after trying each of them for a while it should be entirely possible to discern which one works best for every user.
     
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  23. Jerevan

    Jerevan Subscriber

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    Acutance is one thing and fine grain is another. Rodinal is an acutance developer and FX-2 may be a fine grain developer, (meaning the metol and glycin dissolves the grain) while Pyro developers masks grain.
     
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  24. michael_r

    michael_r Subscriber

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    With the advent of XTOL, TMAX, and modern staining formulas, many people started to look at HC110 as kind of ho hum. But it is most certainly capable of producing exquisite negatives. Particularly in large format, Tri-X/HC110 was a classic combo used by many of the big names. Earlier in their careers people like John Sexton used it (probably at least in part due to having worked with Adams). Brett Weston used HC110 for a while. I believe Barnbaum still uses it almost exclusively. Many others. Rodinal (and Rodinal-type) is also a classic tool used by many, many fine artists, for over a hundred years. Most, if not all well formulated developers can produce excellent results. They just have different looks. That's why in my original post to this thread I advised not "comparing" Rodinal and HC-110. They are in different developer families.
     
  25. michael_r

    michael_r Subscriber

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    Not everything is merely an opinion. There are some facts, and sources. FX-2 is an example of a true acutance formula - ie compensating, with almost no solvent effect. Rodinal is sharper than most solvent developers, and grainier too. Staining developers are typically acutance developers, through minimal solvent action and tanning, but the stain masks the grain to some extent, making them finer grained than non-staining acutance formulas, although not as fine grained as solvent developers.

    Curiously, Rodinal-users are nearly always the most defensive group when it comes to materials. Perhaps the other recent thread regarding the "Church of Rodinal" was on to something.

    I am not downplaying Rodinal at all. It is a wonderful developer. Many have used it to do work of the highest caliber. It has been around for over a hundred years in various forms, and is a proven tool with unique characteristics that cannot be duplicated.
     
  26. Thomas Bertilsson

    Thomas Bertilsson Subscriber

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    A Pyro developer might mask grain. I honestly don't know much about that, but think it's mostly to do with printing on graded paper, which has different color sensitivity than multigrade paper.
    My reason for using Pyro is to use in split grade printing. I just started dabbling with PMK after three years of Xtol and it presents some unique possibilities with split grade printing. When you slap on the Grade 5 filter you'll see what I'm talking about.

    I don't care about acutance, grain, and all that stuff. I care about tonality.