tri-X @ 800: Rodinal vs HC110

Discussion in 'B&W: Film, Paper, Chemistry' started by puketronic, Dec 18, 2011.

  1. puketronic

    puketronic Member

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    I standardized Tri-X and Rodinal for 120 film. I like it at 400 but sometimes when I push film the shadow details is a little lacking so I'm thinking of experimenting with HC110.

    The best option is probably higher film speed or a speed-compensating developer, but I thought that maybe HC110 would help a little since a loss of film speed is reported from the users using Rodinal. I don't push that often so I figured that HC110 would be great alternative since it has a long shelf life. The lack of detail isn't so big of a deal many times but I'm wondering if I can do better with Tri-X before before moving onto higher film speeds.
     
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  2. garysamson

    garysamson Subscriber

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    You should consider using Xtol to maximize shadow detail if you want to push the film to EI 800. You will have some speed loss with HC110.
     
  3. brian steinberger

    brian steinberger Subscriber

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    I agree with the above. When I pushed Tri-x to EI 800 in the past I developed in Xtol 1:1 and just barely got acceptable shadow detail. I now only develop my 120 films in ID-11 1:1 and will only push Tri-x to EI 500, 640 tops. I find HP5 pushes better to 800 than Tri-x, in 120 anyway. Rodinal and HC-110 are at the low end of giving speed. You're better off with Xtol, Tmax developer, DD-X or even ID-11 (D-76) stock.
     
  4. puketronic

    puketronic Member

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    darn. Thanks for the advice! I'll look into the alternatives.

    It looks like switching to HC110 for the purpose of film speed isn't worthwhile.
     
  5. GraemeMitchell

    GraemeMitchell Member

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    I'd certainly give HC-110 a go for a few rolls just to see. It won't give you the shadows xtol does, but what it does to the midtones and highlights may make up for it. Meter for 800, and try hc-110 at 1+49 for btwn 9.5 min at 68 degrees and see how they look...to start. Way way different look than TX@800 in Rodinal.
     
  6. pgomena

    pgomena Member

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    If your shadows "look a little thin" when you push Tri-X to 800, it's because they are. Pushing film means you're intentionally underexposing it and trying to salvage detail in the shadows while propping up the midtones and highlights by overdeveloping a little. You can maybe get a little more shadow detail by using a compensating developer, but not a whole lot. You can try a two-bath developer like Diafine and maybe have more success. Acufine, if it's still made, is another option. Diafine and Acufine are special-purpose developers made for just this sort of thing.

    Better yet, throw a couple of rolls of 120 Ilford Delta 3200 in your camera bag. Its nominal speed is about 1000 and will give better shadow detail than pushed Tri-X.

    Peter Gomena
     
  7. Thomas Bertilsson

    Thomas Bertilsson Subscriber

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    Or, you're like me and find that shadow detail isn't all that important. Sometimes it can be, but it depends on the picture.

    To me the overall appearance of the photograph is a lot more important, and the shadows, while important, are mostly one piece of the puzzle. I find that I often times print so that I have areas of pitch black and without shadow contrast at all anyway, so that losing a little bit in the shadows is far from a disaster. Instead I welcome how those blacks will sometimes support the visual content of the rest of the picture.

    There isn't going to be much in the department of shadow detail between HC-110 and Rodinal. But the rest of the tonality will be different. Xtol, TMax, or Ilfotec DD-X will do a grand job of salvaging shadow detail. But if HC-110 and Rodinal is what you have at hand, just try it! Especially if you dilute the developers strongly you will have longer developing times, which will support your shadow details a little bit. Use Rodinal 1+100, for example, agitate every three minutes, and take advantage of the longer developing time to give you more shadow detail.

    There are lots of ways to make photographic prints. There isn't anything that is 'correct' in the sense of tonality and so on, so just have fun with what's available, learn how to eke the maximum out of those materials, and perhaps you'll come out like me, finding that I am not concerned with a bit of lost shadow detail. I do, for example, routinely shoot Fuji Acros at 400 and TMax 400 at 1600, because I like the tonality I get. Attached picture is cropped 35mm TMax 400 @ 1600, developed in Xtol 1+1 for 14 minutes, darkroom printed to 8x8" size. Works for me.

    - Thomas
     

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  8. puketronic

    puketronic Member

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    I'm aware that details are lost when the flim is pushed, I just thought that since Rodinal is one of the slowest developers, that maybe another developer would help a bit. It really isn't a big deal most of the times because a 1 stop push is rather modest. It's mostly for indoor shooting and I kind of like the boost in contrast.

    I just started and decided to stay with Rodinal to keep thing simple and experiment when I had a reason to. I guess, now I have a reason to. I have no other developers at hand but they aren't so expensive so I'll give HC110 a go first since it is similar to Rodinal in regards to its shelf-life and flexibility. If that doesn't suit my fancy then maybe I'll try xtol. I've never tried delta 3200 but when I scanned through flickr, I didn't like the grain and tonality.

    Great picture Thomas!
     
  9. brian steinberger

    brian steinberger Subscriber

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    What's not being mentioned here about pushing film is that when shooting in flat low light such as dark cloudy days most of the tones are close together, and the subject brightness range is rather low (excluding sky). By pushing film up to one stop we are really placing the overall scene up to one zone lower, so the shadows are placed where they should be anyway. Then we extend development to bring the midtones and upper midtones back up. I regularly shoot Tri-x and HP5 pushed up to one stop in flat lighting (overcast) and overdevelop to gain very nice contrast. If spot metering is used that's a whole different story.
     
  10. Brandon D.

    Brandon D. Member

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    Couldn't agree more! :D
     
  11. Michael W

    Michael W Member

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    HP5 at 800 is good in Xtol
    Tri-X at 800 to 1,000 is good in Diafine
    Both the above will give you way more shadow detail than Rodinal.
     
  12. mgb74

    mgb74 Subscriber

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    I also have some Tri-X (OK, actually Arista Premium) I exposed indoors at ISO800. I too was thinking of HC-110. Kodak suggests no adjustment of developing times but that seems to trust too much to the gods of exposure latitude.

    I also have a quart of Acufine around; it's older, but a sealed can.
     
  13. ntenny

    ntenny Member

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    Everything you said here is true, but isn't it a little overstated? The implication of what you say seems to be that there just ain't much more detail in the shadows in the latent image, i.e., that we normally come very close to developing "the shadows" (whatever that means; Zones I-III or so?) to completion in a typically-exposed-and-developed frame. I can't find a definitive answer, but my feeling from experience (based on things like experiments in ridiculous overdevelopment) is otherwise.

    This seems like something that must be known, doesn't it? I guess I'm asking for a characteristic curve for the latent image, a mapping from amount of exposure to density of activated silver grains.

    -NT
     
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  15. MattKing

    MattKing Subscriber

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    I don't think that the gods of exposure latitude are even involved. It is their cousins, the gods of exposure compromise :smile:.

    Remember, pushing does almost nothing to add shadow detail. What it does do is increase density and therefore contrast in the near shadows, midtones and highlights and therefore improve the appearance of the near shadows and midtones. The increase in density and contrast in the highlights degrades (at least slightly) the quality of the highlight reproduction.

    When Kodak is recommending no change in development time, they are essentially saying that with a one-stop "push" increase in development time, the benefit achieved in the near-shadow and midtone areas is of less value than the detriment experienced in the highlights. No doubt that turns mostly on the fact that the film does an excellent job capturing detail in those near-shadow and midtone regions, even when under-exposed by a stop.
     
  16. pgomena

    pgomena Member

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    Yes, I agree, we come close to developing all the shadow detail in a normally exposed negative. No argument there. "Pushing" film by underexposing a "normal" negative will give you empty shadows. It's just plain underexposed, and there's no magic potion that will fix that - all you can do is salvage as much information as you can.

    Two trains of thought here: First, if you rate film at a higher EI in flat lighting conditions, you're going to retain more shadow detail. The subject brightness range is lower. You can make the negative appear a little more normal by increasing development. In normal or high contrast situations, you're going to lose shadow detail and there's no way back. Using something like Diafine compensates for pushing film by keeping the highlights from overdeveloping while the shadows get as much development as they'll ever get. You're manipulating the film curve, and it's a compromise.

    I stopped pushing film about the time TMZ showed up on the market. It outperformed pushed Tri-X so well I just never looked back. Now that I no longer do much 35mm photography at all, I handle contrast differently. I also find myself contracting tonal ranges a heck of a lot more than expanding them, and divided Pyrocat HD or reduced agitation schemes in Pyrocat HD gives me great results. If I need some punch, I'll rate the film slightly lower and increase development or switch to a contrastier film like Ilford PanF+.

    The OP was asking about using a developer that wouldn't help much at all. HC-110 and Rodinal are not the best for retaining shadow detail in a push-process situation. X-tol, T-Max developer, Acufine, Diafine, some of the Ilford developers will do a better job.

    Peter Gomena
     
  17. Roger Cole

    Roger Cole Member

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    Acufine will be fine, if the developer is good (it should be, but I'd try it on test film first if you care about this film.)

    I prefer Diafine which will give you excellent, maybe even slight dense, negatives at EI 800, but it isn't cheap - though it lasts a very long time and does lots of film so it IS cheap to use, just not to buy a quart or gallon for use on one roll. Quart sizes are generally over $20 when you can find them and a gallon is $29 from Freestyle.
     
  18. Philippe-Georges

    Philippe-Georges Member

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    To my little experience, pushing Tri-X400/120 in X-tol should be done in a concentrated developer and then replenished if wanted...
    This way 1000 to 1600 ASA is not that hard to get, even with acceptable 'open' shadows.
    You can find more info in the X-Tol Tech Pub, to be found on the Kodak website here: http://www.kodak.com/global/en/professional/support/techPubs/j109/j109.pdf .

    In this pushing matter, I am a avid Agfa Refinal (still an old but good working stock) user which is/was Agfa's version of D-76 (as ID-11 is Ilford's), all concentrated and replenished too....
    I always pre wet, just to slow down the developing in the highlights and hold the contrast a little, give a few minutes more just for the shadows and go a little easy for the agitation (once every min. instead of once every 30 sec.).
    And if you still have some thoughts about the shadows, then you can always treat these negatives in a diluted selenium (KRST) bath for a few minutes, just do some trial and error here.

    I do admit having read AA, he knows more about it than I do...
     
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  19. EASmithV

    EASmithV Member

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    I've standardized tri-x at 1600 in stock D-76. Plenty of detail in all areas.
     
  20. jordanstarr

    jordanstarr Member

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    I can't think of a time I ever disagreed with Matt and this is no exception. Exposure determines your shadow detail moreso than pushing your film. You can't get something from nothing. If you didn't expose for shadow detail, you're not going to get it by pushing your film -you'll get it by adjusting your exposure. Pushing your developing time simply adds contrast.

    Now, I know this is a forum that promotes a vast array of knowledge from lots of people, but I'm always a little baffled at the lack of initiative in doing tests to get answers. Throwing out something like "what is the best developer to push Tri-x to retain shadow detail?" is going to bring an onslaught of subjective answers that are often untested against all the necessary variables. Rarely do I see anyone offer a well tested answer with examples like "This is a negative with tri-x in x-tol and then this with tri-x in hc-110 and then this with rodinal....etc. etc." to actually show the differences in the same shot with the same lighting conditions.

    In short, your answer won't be on this thread. Spend a few bucks, get those developers you want to test, grab a roll of 35mm, a tripod, a camera, a scene and shoot a whole roll on the exact same settings in the same lighting conditions. Cut up the strip into as many sections as you want to test. Spend an hour or two developing and analyzing your results and you'll have YOUR answer, not someone elses. I'm not trying to be an a-hole and I'm sure if someone looked through my posts I have probably asked at one time or another, "what is the best........" so that I could have a quick and easy answer. But personal testing is the way to go. It takes more time, but it pays off in the end.

    Now, all that being said, I've used x-tol, d-76, rodinal, pyrocat-hd and hc-110 extensively with Tri-x over the last 10 years and I've settled on hc-110 even though 4 years ago I swore it off. Often I push Tri-x to 800 and 1200 with great results, but I compensate and visualize my exposures and run tests based on my own conditions and workflow. I can't say it will work for you too. You'll have to test and see what works for you.
     
  21. Dr.Pain-MD

    Dr.Pain-MD Member

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    Could you please elaborate on that, the overdeveloping with flat light and pushing. I live in a place where we are plagued by flat light (not something that I like most of the time) and I've been trying to figure out a way to get more contrasty negatives. I usually end up pushing Tri-X to 800 or 1600, but I do end up running into problems with lower contrast a lot of the time. I would gladly appreciate any more tips! :smile:
     
  22. Thomas Bertilsson

    Thomas Bertilsson Subscriber

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    While I agree with you about getting 'something' from 'nothing', the case is usually that a lot of the 'lost' shadow detail ends up on the toe of the film curve, lost in 'film base plus fog' density. By under exposing film on purpose, and over developing, some of that shadow detail on the toe can be 'pushed' back up onto a portion of the curve, where it's no longer obscured by the densities of film base plus fog.
    Some developers are better than others at this, and this is why dilute developers, like Xtol 1+1 is better than stock - longer developing time brings out more shadows. Not a fantastic amount, but it does help, and it is real.
     
  23. jordanstarr

    jordanstarr Member

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    I put in the word "moreso" because I do realize that if it's in there longer, shadows will come out a bit more, but then you'll blow your highlights way out of proportion by overdeveloping. Shadows stop developing first in the developing process and after a point, they are incredibly difficult to budge without blowing out your highlights.

    That being said, I'm not sure how the logic of under exposing and over developing can bring out shadow details can be consistent. There would be less density in the shadows in that case.
     
  24. Thomas Bertilsson

    Thomas Bertilsson Subscriber

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    Actually, it isn't difficult at all. Just slow down your agitation to something like every three or five minutes, and that takes care of not blocking up your highlights. It isn't perfect, but it sure gives me better negatives then if I just extended the developing time.
     
  25. michael_r

    michael_r Subscriber

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    Jordanstarr:

    There are some nuances in the wording. Traditional "pushing", is underexposure/overdevelopment. Thomas is referring to more of a compensating-type development, where using a more diluted developer, with longer development times and reduced agitation, helps maximize (though not necessarily push) shadow detail without blowing highlights. Traditional pushing in full strength developers tends to give you an upswept curve, with contrast increasing more in areas of high exposure. Compensating procedures are an attempt to do the opposite - ie preferentially develop the shadows without increasing the highlight contrast too much.

    Actually this is why if you can tolerate more grain, some of the best developers for maximizing film speed are high acutance formulas, because they are naturally compensating when used normally. Note this is maximizing real film speed, not pushing. With traditional films you can sometimes get up to a full stop more shadow speed with these developers while not blowing the highlights.
     
  26. dynachrome

    dynachrome Member

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    Any phenidone based developer will do. If cost were no object I would use Tri-X at 800 with undiluted Ilford Microphen. If I had to develop a lot of Tri-X at 800 I would probably choose Clayton F60 and dilute it 1:9. The faster-than-400 films will give better shadow detail but cost more. Fuji Neopan 1600 is out of production. Kodak TMZ may or may not still be made. I prefer TMZ to Ilford Delta 3200 but I hope the Ilford product remains in production if TMZ doesn't. When I pushed film more often my favorite developer was Ethol UFG. I still keep UFG around, just in case. I wish 2475 and 2484 were still made. I had fun with them.