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  1. #11
    Thomas Bertilsson's Avatar
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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
    "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

  2. #12

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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.

  3. #13
    sandermarijn's Avatar
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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

  4. #14
    2F/2F's Avatar
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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.
    2F/2F

    "Truth and love are my law and worship. Form and conscience are my manifestation and guide. Nature and peace are my shelter and companions. Order is my attitude. Beauty and perfection are my attack."

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  5. #15
    Thomas Bertilsson's Avatar
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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.



    Quote Originally Posted by 2F/2F View Post
    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.
    "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

  6. #16

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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.
    Last edited by Michael R 1974; 10-10-2011 at 04:22 PM. Click to view previous post history.

  7. #17
    Jerevan's Avatar
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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?
    “Do your work, then step back. The only path to serenity.” - Lao Tzu

  8. #18

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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.
    Last edited by Michael R 1974; 10-10-2011 at 07:47 PM. Click to view previous post history.

  9. #19
    Thomas Bertilsson's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Michael R 1974 View Post
    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 -
    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
    "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

  10. #20

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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.

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