tri-X @ 800: Rodinal vs HC110
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.
Last edited by puketronic; 12-18-2011 at 07:36 PM. Click to view previous post history.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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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.
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.
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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!
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.
Couldn't agree more!
Originally Posted by Thomas Bertilsson