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  1. #1
    John cox's Avatar
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    Advice needed on getting it right.

    I just got into a new apartment and have the ability to develop film for the first time in years. I'd like to get consistent results before I try a bunch of different films. In the past I had good results with tri x and rodinal. would that be a good place to start? I like a gritty feel for my work but I've heard I could get the same results with TMAX 400 and rodinal. TMAX is appealing as it has quite the latitude and I like the contrast curve. I'd prefer to stick to liquid developers for the time being. Would I be better off with TMAX, Tri X or some other film / developer combination to get consistant results while relearning how to do this?
    Thanks
    John.

  2. #2

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    At the risk of stating the obvious, there usually is no wrong, as the "right" is subjective. I would start where you left off. Rodinal is famous for its consistency and shelf life. I would also double check how you expose trix, since with Rodinal there is some loss of film speed. Regards.

  3. #3

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    It is possible that Tmax will not be 'gritty' enough. It has finer grain than TriX, have you considered Ilford HP5 that will be close to the results of TriX , or Kentmere 400, likewise.

  4. #4
    Thomas Bertilsson's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by John cox View Post
    I just got into a new apartment and have the ability to develop film for the first time in years. I'd like to get consistent results before I try a bunch of different films. In the past I had good results with tri x and rodinal. would that be a good place to start? I like a gritty feel for my work but I've heard I could get the same results with TMAX 400 and rodinal. TMAX is appealing as it has quite the latitude and I like the contrast curve. I'd prefer to stick to liquid developers for the time being. Would I be better off with TMAX, Tri X or some other film / developer combination to get consistant results while relearning how to do this?
    Thanks
    John.
    Like others have said, pick it up where you left off. Re-establish your knowledge of how to develop your negatives so that you like them, for a good baseline, something to compare to.

    Once you feel like you're back in your comfort zone, you can either start experimenting with technique by looking into different agitation patterns, developer dilutions, exposure variations, etc. Or you can swap out your film and try another one. I've always claimed you learn more by experimenting with technique, but I can see how to some curiosity makes it irresistible to try other films to see what they offer, and in the end there is nothing wrong with doing so. It's just that you can't let that be a band aid for poor results.

    And, by the way, there is no way TMax 400 will look as gritty in its grain compared to Tri-X, but I honestly don't think that Rodinal and Tri-X is all that grainy to begin with, especially if proper care has been taken to get the contrast just right. What it offers is really nice texture, and Rodinal is extremely responsive to alterations in technique. By diluting it and slowing down agitation you can bend a shoulder, and by agitating often you can get tons of highlight contrast. While being a slow working developer, it's extremely powerful, so it will keep developing those highlights until you can't shine enough light through them with a scanner or an enlarger, which is why technique is so important.

    So, back to basics. Get up and running with what you're familiar with, and then decide whether you think it's worth it to try other films.
    "Often moments come looking for us". - Robert Frank

    "Make good art!" - Neil Gaiman

    "...the heart and mind are the true lens of the camera". - Yousuf Karsh

  5. #5

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    Stick to what you knew and liked. Tri-X has a long enough curve to do pretty much anything you want if you control exposure and development. The current version of TMax 400 is exceedingly fine grained. It's an excellent film, but will not look the same as Tri-X. You can't really go "wrong" here.

  6. #6

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    How long is "years"? Tri-X has changed quite a bit since way back when. It's very fine grained now compared to say, 30 years ago. Tmax is very fine grained - almost as fine grained as ASA 100 film of a decade back. I don't know anything about Rodinal. I've been getting excellent results from plain old D-76.
    Develop, stop, fix.... wait.... where's my film?



 

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