Rodinal Developments

Patterson clone reels

I recently started to process my own film. I’m tempted to add “again” to the end of that sentence, but in reality I’ve done little processing in my life, just a few rolls in school, and a couple of rolls a few years ago in an ultimately aborted attempt to start processing.

For my benefit, and doubtfully for any others’, I’m going to get fairly anal and document some of my experiments, so unless you’re into agitation (of the tank inversion kind) and dilutions you may not want to click the “Read More” link below.

The pictures and data shown here all relate to Rodinal, that venerable (since 1891) developer from Agfa (available in Japan from Grace Photo of Osaka).

A couple of caveats:

  • The pictures are probably meaningless, since they’ve been worked on in Photoshop.
  • The pictures are even more meaningless because I’ve been having “color management” issues with my hardware.
  • The particular bottle of Rodinal I used for these rolls is actually over four years old. Unopened and all, but still four years old.

General processing consistencies:

  • Temperature of developer is always 20°, except where noted below. Temperature of pre-wash and stop bath is more or less 20°. Temperatures of fixer (Fujifix), second pre-wash, Fuji QuickWash, and final wash are not paid close attention to.
  • Tank used is Spanish AP 2 reel (135) tank (Patterson clone)
  • Developer is always diluted/prepared with filtered water. Both pre-washes and stop bath are done using filtered water as well. But the final wash is tap water.
  • Other than the developer, I only agitated the fixer (continuously, 5-6 minutes). Maybe in the future I should try agitating the water stop bath.

Example Roll #1

Film: Agfapan 400 (probably “old” version, bought in bulk form off eBay four years ago, and not refrigerated since, so definitely expired). Rated at 200 EI.
Developer/dilution: Rodinal 1:100
Temperature: 20°
Development time: 15 minutes. I think I got this time from the Massive Chart, and then adjusted it, factoring in that I was going to be pulling it one stop.
Agitation method: Using the plastic swizzle stick. Didn’t take notes, but I believe it was continuous for the first minute, then for 5-10 seconds every minute.

Comments: Weird roll. Rather thin all around. Some shots have so much grain you can barely discern an image, others are workable (with some work!). The swizzle stick agitation method seems to have produced the tell-tale denseness around the sprocket holes (I remember having the same thing happen 20 odd years ago in art school). Maybe I over-agitated. Maybe the dilution was too “thin” (1:100) resulting in only 5ml of developer concentrate in the tank (with 500ml of filtered water). It’s possible the temperature of the developer rose a few degrees during the 15 minutes. Basically there are too many variables (outdated film, outdated developer, pulling the film one stop, a stab at the developing time) and not enough controls to make this roll more valuable as a benchmark.

Example Roll #2

Film: Agfapan 400 (probably “old” version, bought in bulk form off eBay four years ago, and not refrigerated since, so definitely expired). Rated at 200 EI.
Developer/dilution: Rodinal 1:100
Temperature: 20° at the start. (Hell knows what it was when I poured it out!)
Development time: 75 minutes. (I pulled this time out of my ass, just so you know).
Agitation method: Continuous for the first minute (using the plastic swizzle stick). After that, left it sitting there while I watched the French Open.

Comments: One of the reasons I was excited to find the unopened 4 year old bottle of Rodinal was that I could try this thing called “stand development,” which seems tailor-made to a lazy ass such as myself. Since the normal agitate every minute method didn’t turn out so hot on the first roll (not that it was the agitation’s fault, of course), I thought this time I’d just let the Rodinal work on its own. I’m quite happy with the results of this first “standing” experiment, and encouraged to try more. Also a reminder to myself that I should really measure the temperature at the end of the process, and also experiment with ways to keep that temperature stable.

Example Roll #3

Film: Fuji Neopan SS, rated at box speed (100 EI)
Developer/dilution: Rodinal 1:100
Temperature: 19° at the start, 22.5° when I poured it out.
Development time: 45 minutes. Not sure where I got this time, maybe it was arrived at after reading a few different times from other Flickr users.
Agitation method: Continuous for the first minute; stand for a minute; 30 seconds agitation; 1 minute stand; 10 seconds agitation; stand until 17 minutes left on timer; 30 seconds agitation; stand for the remaining 16:30. (I took notes, as you can see). (All agitation done via inversion method).

Comments: Hmmn, not sure how successful this was. Negs a bit on the dense side. Maybe I should have developed the SS in Super Prodol. I’ve never been a fan of the SS (both film and Nazi versions) but thought the Rodinal might give it a kick. Oh well, no harm gained in trying.

Example Roll #4

Film: Agfapan 400 (probably “old” version, bought in bulk form off eBay four years ago, and not refrigerated since, so definitely expired). Rated at 400 EI.
Developer/dilution: Rodinal 1:25
Temperature: 20°
Development time: 7 minutes. This time is on the data sheet accompanying the Rodinal bottle, though whether this is for “old” Agfapan 400 or “new” Agfapan 400 I don’t know.
Agitation method: Continuous for the first 45 seconds, then for 5 seconds every 30 seconds, as per the data sheet, except it should’ve been a minute at the start, but I had a brain fart. (All agitation done via inversion method).

Comments: After a few rolls done with varying “stand development” times, I thought I would try a more “by the datasheet” approach. And since I was recently able to order a new, bigger bottle of fresher Rodinal, I thought I could afford to not be so stingy with my dilution and went for the more potent 1:25. I’m quite pleased with the results, and keen to try this combo but with fresher film (hence I’ve also ordered some Agfapan 100). There’s still grain aplenty, but it seems smoother. The image of the Rodinal bottle at the very beginning of this post is a 100% crop of a scan from this same roll.

More rolls have been processed in Rodinal (both stand and normal processing) but the above should give a representative sample of results to date. Of course, any comments on the results or the process of my processing would be most welcome.

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