B&W film developing questions

Discussion in 'Darkroom Developing and Printing' started by G.T., Jan 5, 2008.

  1. G.T.

    G.T. Guest

    Ok, I just developed my first 3 rolls of film at home, and except for a
    little bit of dust on the last roll the results are excellent. I'll
    sporadically be developing more over the next couple of months.

    I'm using Rodinal, Arista's indicator stop bath, Arista's Universal
    non-hardening fixer, and Kentflo.


    1. The Rodinal says undiluted it will last 6 months. Can I be safe to
    assume it will last that long?

    Also, with the Rodinal I've been developing only one roll per mix
    because I'm new at this. With Accufine, the previous developer I used,
    I would do a couple of rolls in one canister before dumping back into my
    storage container and replenishing. And after 3 months at the same
    developing time my negs were a little light.

    Can I develop more than one roll of film in my Rodinal?

    2. The stop is the least of my worries, right? It should be ok for a
    couple dozen rolls over the next couple of months?

    3. What's the expected longevity of the fixer?

    G.T., Jan 5, 2008
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  2. My two bits -

    Rodinal is one time use. But you are using 1:25 or 1:50 or even 1:100 such
    that you use so little that the one time use is plenty. No replenishment,
    no multiple use.

    My own prediliction is to decant the 500ml container into 1 oz (30 ml) glass
    amber bottles. I keep these tightly capped and use them in succession. No
    problem at all. Way back when, I recall a story about a partially used
    bottle of Rodinal found in the late 1940s/early 1950s amongst the bombed
    ruins during the German reconstruction. Turned out the contents were as
    good as new, despite the summer heat and the winter cold.

    I don't use any commercial stop. I use two successive water rinses instead.

    The rule of thumb with fixers is in room light to toss a piece of
    undeveloped film scrap into the fixer - for 35mm, the leader/trailer of the
    roll is ideal. Time how long it takes for the film to clear. Fix for
    double that time. When the fixing period extends more than 10-12 minutes or
    so, time for mix new fixer. Keep the fixer in a dark, cool place.
    Lawrence Akutagawa, Jan 5, 2008
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  3. It lasts forever. If you are doing 35mm you may find it
    is not that good a choice for most work.
    What, me worry? It's cheap - chuck it when you chuck
    the fix.
    If it smells funny (funnier than usual) or throws
    a yellow or white precipitate then discard.

    I set a limit of 8 rolls/litre of working film-strength.
    Nicholas O. Lindan, Jan 5, 2008
  4. Sure, if you want inconsistent results. Maintaining a replenished
    developer system for black and white work really requires a lot more
    care than most people realize. It is seldom worth the effort. What
    you actually want to do is buy a *larger tank* so you can develop more
    than one roll of film at a time, instead of messing around with
    replenishing the developer.

    I would call both Accufine and Rodinal poor choices of developer for
    general use (though each has its own set of special purposes for which
    it works well). You might want to try D-76 or ID-11, or one of the
    newer developers like Xtol or DD-X.
    Thor Lancelot Simon, Jan 5, 2008
  5. G.T.

    G.T. Guest

    Thanks for the confirmation.
    Awesome. Thanks for the tip about the fixer.

    G.T., Jan 5, 2008
  6. G.T.

    G.T. Guest

    I have a bigger tank but still am such a novice that I want to keep
    doing one roll at a time.
    My instructor suggested D-76 or Xtol, but he mentioned that I'd get good
    grain from the Rodinal so I wanted to give it a shot.

    G.T., Jan 5, 2008
  7. Rodinal with slower film - up to and including ISO 100/125 - is superb.
    Ilford PanF and PanF+ with Rodinal is wonderful. Try 11 minutes at 1:50, 68
    degrees F/20 degrees C, constant agitation first 30 sec and agitation 5 sec
    out of 30 sec thereafter. And with the faster films - ISO 400 and up -
    you'll get very sharp...as contrasted to mushy...grain. Great for the kind
    of portraiture I like.

    There are folks who don't like Rodinal. That's okay. After all, some folks
    don't like Chevrolets and others don't like Toyotas. The key is to try
    Rodinal. If you like the results, great. If you don't like the results,
    look for something else.
    Lawrence Akutagawa, Jan 5, 2008
  8. If by "good grain" you mean "grain that you can't help but notice in the
    print", then that's correct. As others have pointed out, it's completely
    a personal preference, but you're not likely to get smooth-looking
    results with Rodinal.

    I'd try D-76, diluted 1+1. Or even the good old Microdol-X for finer
    grain (albeit a bit "mushier"). Best to experiment, try every
    combination (within reason) until you find what you like.
    David Nebenzahl, Jan 5, 2008
  9. I don't understand: developing one roll at a time will give you as much
    variation between rolls as possible, but what you should be aiming for is
    consistency: the exact same, predictable development results every time.
    A three or five-roll tank will give you three or five rolls at a time
    developed exactly the same way.
    What does "good grain" mean? Certainly Rodinal will give you grainy
    results. It will also cost you a great deal of film speed. There is a
    myth that circulates that Rodinal is a fine-grain developer -- it is
    quite certainly _not_ that. Rather, it is a developer that produces such
    grainy results that it's only suitable for very fine-grain films, ISO 100
    or slower. The problem, of course, is that it also reduces true film
    speed by as much as one full stop -- so in practice, you end up with 50
    speed film, at most, and then you need a tripod, unless you're shooting
    snowscapes at noon.
    Thor Lancelot Simon, Jan 5, 2008
  10. G.T.

    G.T. Guest

    Right, but I'm still too worried that I'll screw up 5 rolls at a time by
    doing something really stupid like popping the top off of my tank
    while agitating. Once I get on a roll I'll switch to my 3 roll tank.
    Cool. As you can tell I'm very new at this and for my class last year
    we just used a quart of Accufine replenishing along the way. I'm still
    very early into my experimenting and learning phase.

    G.T., Jan 5, 2008
  11. G.T.

    ____ Guest

    I my mind's eye Rodinal creates a tonal scale at 1;50 & 1:100 close to
    PMK without the stain, so it ends up a little more grainy in appearance.
    And of course less toxic.
    ____, Jan 5, 2008
  12. G.T.

    ____ Guest

    I think that really depends. Some films unquestionably are not going to
    give the photographer tight grain "small clumps" when processed using
    Rodinal. However T grain films should work well with Rodinal especially
    when using 1:50 & 1:100 dilutions.
    ____, Jan 5, 2008
  13. G.T.

    ____ Guest

    Define film speed :) Reduces? of just shows the speed of older emulsions
    for what they really are?
    ____, Jan 5, 2008
  14. G.T.

    Guest Guest

    Yep! The bottles with the expressed cap that displaces the last bit of
    Rodinal. Air free. Done that way, Rodinal will last forever.
    Guest, Jan 6, 2008
  15. The published speeds of films are determined by a well
    controlled standard method. The speed does vary with the
    developer and the current ISO standard requires that the
    published speed note the type of developer used for the
    test. The total variation of speed with developer type is
    not very great, its limits are probably no more than + or -
    about 3/4 to one stop. The fastest speeds are obtained from
    developers with Phenidone or its derivatives (but not all
    Phenidone developers increase speed) such as T-Max and T-Max
    RS, Xtol, or Ilford Microphen. The lowest speeds from
    extra-fine-grain developers like Microdol-X or Ilford
    Perceptol either at full strength. Developers like D-76 fall
    into the middle somewhere with the speed increasing
    developers yeilding about 3/4 stop more speed and the
    extra-fine-grain developers about 3/4 stop less speed. When
    diluted the extra-fine-grain developers mentioned above
    deliver about the same speed as D-76 but loose their
    extra-fine-grain property and deliver grain also about the
    same as D-76.
    Rodinal delivers somewhat less speed than D-76 but not
    much, maybe 1/2 stop. Generally the underexposure latitude
    of most films will accomodate this.
    Note that the ISO standard is designed to calculate the
    minimum exposure that results in good tone rendition of
    shadows. The reason is to minimise grain, which generally
    increases with density, and to maximize sharpness. sharpness
    is decreased by "irradiation" which is the spreading out of
    highlights in the negative due to internal reflection in the
    emulsion. Modern emulsions are not as vulnerable to either
    of these effects as the films made when the standard was
    For many purposes the tone rendition can be improved by
    increasing exposure a bit, usually reducing speed by about
    20% will do it. But, of course, the exposure is due not only
    to the film speed by the method of metering and decisions
    made by the photographer as to what consitutes the shadow
    areas of the scene being photographed where he/she wants
    Note that the ISO standard being discussed applies only
    to B&W still negative film, there are different standards
    for motion picture films, color films, transparency films,
    Rodinal is a good, general purpose, developer whose main
    virtue is its convenience and reliability. It delivers good
    tone rendition from most films at the cost of somewhat more
    grain than developers like D-76 or Xtol but the T-Max
    developers and Microphen are nearly as grainy.
    Rodinal tends to produce somewhat finer grain when its
    diluted. I generally use it at around 1:50 but that is also
    to get convenient times for the films I work with.
    My "standard" developer for most work is D-76 diluted
    1:1 and used once. I also use Microdol-X or Perceptol full
    strength for 35mm 100T-Max because the combination delivers
    extremely fine grain with reasonable speed.
    Richard Knoppow, Jan 6, 2008
  16. Rodinal has a very long life. It can turn nearly black
    and still work. The working solution should be used only
    once and discarded. While the used developer will still
    develop it will be hard to predict the results. However, if
    the amount of solution is reasonably large you can probably
    get a second roll by increasing time by about 20%.

    You can re-use the stop bath in a single session as long
    as it remains acid (the indicator will show this) but its
    not good practice to save it between sessions.

    Fixer has relatively low capacity for complete fixing and
    complete fixing is important to the lifetime of the
    developed film. The rule of thumb is to discard the fixer
    when _clearing_ time has doubled but IMO this is stretching
    things a bit. Clearing time is measured by fixing out a
    scrap of the film you are working with. Soak the sample in
    water for a couple of minutes before testing it because wet
    film fixes at a different rate than dry film. Test a sample
    when the fixer is first mixed and before its used. Note the
    time it takes for the film to become completely clear. The
    rule of thumb is to fix for twice this time and to discard
    the bath than the clearing time doubles.

    Unless you work with very small quantities of film its
    best to use two successive fixing baths. The film or paper
    is fixed in each bath for half the normal fixing time. The
    first bath does most of the work leaving the second bath
    relatively fresh so it can clean up any unfixed halide.
    After the first bath becomes exhausted its dumped. The
    second bath then becomes the first bath and a new second
    bath is mixed. Kodak has full instructions about this in
    their Darkroom Dataguide booklet.

    In addition to your processing method outlined above I
    would add the use of a wash aid. I prefer Kodak Hypo
    Clearing Agent because Kodak has published the details of
    its contents and experimental evidence that it works. I
    believe that Ilford's wash aid is essentially identical. Teh
    wash aid will reduce film washing time from about 30 minutes
    to about 5 minutes. The wash aid can also remove some
    otherwise insoluble fixer reaction products.

    Use the wetting agent after washing as you are doing.
    Because the wetting agent can collect gelatin from the film
    and will support mold it should not be saved between
    sessions. It can be used for more than one roll of film but
    should be discarded after you finish working.

    Richard Knoppow
    Los Angeles, CA, USA

    Similar advice applies to paper development.
    Richard Knoppow, Jan 6, 2008
  17. G.T.

    Guest Guest

    :) Well understood. Enjoy.
    Guest, Jan 6, 2008
  18. I remember back a LONG time ago, Rodinal came in an amber bottle
    with a rubber stopper under the cap. Since my father was a doctor, I
    got a hold of a large syringe and needle and was able to extract and
    measure small amounts of developer without ever adding any air to the

    I guess that can't be done anymore :)
    George Mastellone, Jan 6, 2008
  19. G.T.

    G.T. Guest

    Thanks Richard. I'll have to do this. I was just using the times
    suggested on the fixer bottle.

    From reading your post and Lawrence's I can test by snipping off the
    leader of a 35mm roll? Just drop it in some fixer and time how long it
    takes to clear?

    I also have a roll of 120 Tri-X 400 that I opened just to practice
    loading a reel with.
    So in this workflow it would be develop, stop, fix, hypo, wash, and
    wetting agent? In class we washed prints in hypo but not film.

    Oh, and regarding grain, my instructor actually suggested that I use
    Xtol for now. But during class he told us that we'll get larger, more
    noticeable grain if we using something like Rodinal/HC-110. That's why
    I'm currently playing with it.

    The bigger issue is that I'm getting used to developing at home but
    there is no way I'm going to be able to print at home. Does anyone have
    any current suggestions on finding a rental darkroom in LA these days?
    I'm currently signed up for another B&W class in Burbank, but I'm not
    going to have time to these next few months to actually do any
    assignments, I just want to print stuff from the last 4 months.

    I was thinking about calling up Translight Colors. Anyone heard good or

    G.T., Jan 7, 2008
  20. G.T.

    Ken Hart Guest

    Just for the record. "fixer" and "hypo" are basically the same thing. I
    realize that when you say "hypo", you mean "hypo clearing agent"(sometimes
    called "HCA"). The purpose of the hypo clearing agent is to remove the hypo
    or fixer from the film or print.

    Back in the 'good old days' when prints were actually paper and not
    resin-coated plastic stuff, the paper print would soak up a lot of
    chemicals. You needed to wash a print for perhaps an hour or so to remove
    all the fixer from the porous paper. (Ricard K., please feel free to jump in
    and correct me or elaborate-- I'm certain you are far more knowledgeable on
    this!). A hypo clearing agent would neutralize the hypo (or fixer), so that
    a shorter wash time (perhaps 30 minutes?) would suffice.

    Film, being a non-porous material (or certainly less porous than fiber-based
    prints) doesn't soak up as much chemistry, so a hypo clearing agent is not
    as important. If it's critical to you that your negatives last to the next
    millenia, than you may want to use it anyway...!

    As for not being able to print at home, there are many people who make do
    with printing in a bathroom. Some use a cart (Rubbermaid? Check office
    supply or food service supply companies.) to hold their enlarger and store
    their chems, trays, and stuff so they can wheel everything into the bathroom
    for a session, then wheel it all into a closet for storage. You can put
    velcro around the window frame and stick a piece of faric or cardboard over
    the window. There is also a gentleman who espouses 'one-tray' processing.
    I've never tried it myself, but perhaps for the temporary darkroom, it may
    be the answer. Maybe someone here can supply the link to his website, or to
    websites for temporary darkrooms. Using the kitchen is also a possibility,
    but some people don't like that idea because of the possibility of food
    being contaminated-- but for darkroom work, cleanliness is important, so
    wipe up those chem spills!
    For me, you can take away my permanent darkrooms when you can pry the
    staticmaster brush from my cold, dead fingers!
    Ken Hart, Jan 7, 2008
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