Rodinal and HC-110
For films like Kodak Plus X, Neopan 400 or Kodak Tri-X, what would be the differences when using one or the other of the above developers?
Started B&W recently and plan on using a 100 and 400 ASA film and want to limit my developers to the 2 above as they store well and are easily mixed.
One difference is; with Rodinal I lose more speed than with HC-110. I just did a roll of PlusX and I think next time I will rate it at 50 with Rodinal: HC-110, 64-80 EI. I have some other observations, but I'll wait for people that know much more about than I do to post.
About the only things the two developers have in common is that they are both highly concentrated developers that have very long shelf lives, and that they will both develop an image. Outside of that, they are very different developers indeed.
Rodinal is VERY old school style stuff. It will not do anything to ameliorate grain, nor will it allow you to exploit full emulsion speed from any film. It is good with slow to moderate speed films, but not the best by any stretch of the imagination in my opinion, despite the rabid proselytizing from the true and unquestioning believers of "Church of Rodinal." Do I have some in my darkroom? You bet. There are a few times when I want to exploit its unique character. Do I use it as a general purpose developer? Not a chance. Foma 100 is nice in Rodinal, but still nothing to write home about. I've read a lot about the wonderful results some folks have with PanF+ in Rodinal. I do better following Ilford's instructions to the tee using D-76 1+3.
HC-110 is, all things considered, a much better match for modern films; and these are the films that I use most. While not as good in terms of grain suppression, and exploiting full film speed as XTOL or D-76; it is a perfectly serviceable general purpose developer. If I had to live with only one film developer, I could do so happily with HC-110.
Interesting that you mention that D-76 allows for full film speed than HC-110. Does that mean that if you set your automatic camera on the box speed, and develop with D-76, exposures on the whole will be correct more often than if using HC-110, and the negative will be easier to print (attaining a good tonal range)? Conversely, using Rodinol, would you have to set the EI significantly less because it doesn't allow the full film speed to be realized otherwise?
This is for a beginner that just does test strips with one set contrast setting, varying exposure times. I don't want to get into split grade printing or other more involved techniques just yet.
That's just about it. The differences between HC-110 and D-76 are often subtle, and not much to be concerned about. It's just something to keep in mind. D-76 will give you a little more detail in the lower values of the negative, and that can translate into an easier to print negative.
Sponsored Ad. (Subscribers to APUG have the option to remove this ad.)
acros and rodinal
I have no problem exposing acros at 100/box speed and developing in dilute rodinal...although where I live the sun shines most of the time
You're missing the point Peter. When the sun shines brightly there can be a very large difference in brightness between shadow and light, far greater than the difference when there is an overcast. Rodinal will leave the very darkest areas without detail and void; The middle tones will render normally, but with a steeper slope on the contrast curve. A different developer, one that provides better true film speed, will render the middle tones normally on a more gradual slope, and render darker areas with more detail. It's all up to the lighting, of course. If there are no deep shadows, the argument is moot. But if there are, then I can make the argument that capturing the lower values is useful. It is easy enough to eliminate them when printing or any other sort of post processing. It is also easy enough to boost contrast through the middle values by simply picking a slightly harder contrast filter or paper grade while printing, or by moving a few sliders around in the editing software of your choice. It is not as easy to compensate for a negative that has too much contrast. Printing down on a lower grade of paper isn't nearly as easy or successful as boosting the contrast of a print.
Some of the nicest negatives I've ever made was with Tmax 100 and Rodinal. Granted, I had to rate the film at EI80, losing a 1/3 stop, but I never considered that to be a problem. A friend of mine, also APUG member, is very happy with Neopan Acros in Rodinal, and gets some stunning results from that combination.
What you may like about Rodinal is an apparent sharpness that is very high. I like sharpness. I don't care much about grain, to me it doesn't make or break a photograph, but one thing is sure, Rodinal will give negatives with fairly apparent grain. Sometimes grain can look wonderful, other times not. Good or bad? Who's to say?! It's all a matter of opinion.
HC-110? I know other people have great results with it, but it doesn't suit my style. To me I get results with somewhat depressed midtones and higher density in the highlights than I would like. But others might find those characteristics very nice!
Out of the two I prefer Rodinal for its sharpness and a wonderful tonality that suits my printing style.
To the original poster: The best thing to do is to try for yourself, and since you have both on hand, it would make sense to do so. Everybody else's opinion of what looks nice and is 'good' isn't going to change how you like it in the end.
I attached a photograph, printed on Foma Fomatone Classic 132 and selenium toned. 35mm negative from Tmax 100, developed in Rodinal 1+50.
"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
I guess I'm in that Church of Rodinal (thanks, Thomas!)
It works for me, and that advice is really the best anyone can give you. As Thomas said, you have both and I advise you to invest the time and expose 2 of the same film and develop one in each.
Do it now, at the outset of your film endeavours, and make your decision. After all, your choice of subject, how you develop your negs, what you print them on, and how your sensibilities views the results, makes the choice intensely personal.
I agree with Thomas - Rodinal makes sharp negs and is a great match with TMX. I've had wonderful results with PanF-Plus, too. They print wonderfully, even enlarged quite a lot. From my experience thus far, it strikes me that it's a good match with slow, fine-grained films.
The fact it has a long shelf life, is well-suited to semi-stand processing and is cheap is a bonus.
Frank- I have been processing with the rodinal and acros on a beseler base at 75 degrees for several years now...you are right about the shadows but I don't look at curves I look at prints and mine work...and I have reached for a grade 3 development to boot...using a water bath for graded and straight filtration for VC papers..this has been by far the most successful combo I have ever had...and I've tried many over the years...what I have come to realize is that the effectiveness of the sun is what makes the prints shine;it always penetrates the shadows so I have no worries....look at the weston prints...it was the california sunshine that made them so effective...not the paper or the developer...