Disappointing result with Rodinal 1:100 semi-stand development

Discussion in 'Black and White' started by evan_parker|2, Jul 11, 2009.

  1. I haven't had negs come up looking too screwed up before after two hundred rolls or so, but I suppose it had to happen eventually.
    I followed these directions ( http://www.rangefinderforum.com/forums/showthread.php?t=61643&highlight=rodinal&page=2 by P. Lynn Miller, about 3/4 of the way down the page) for Tri-X shot at 6400 developed in Rodinal 1:100 for 2 hours (gentle swirls for agitation, 15 seconds, every 30 minutes). My negs came out looking very, very thin with virtually nothing in the shadows, quite different than the example photo posted of Tri-X @ 6400.
    The more disturbing thing, though, was the uneven development. There are lines of great density on both sides of the film, that seem to be "dragging" towards the center of the image, a few milimeters into the frame. The even stranger thing is, the holes are a slightly different color... they seem to have a slightly yellowish tint versus the clear-gray of the film base. I didn't think bromide drag happened with Rodinal; plus, the drag was happening both ways towards the center!
    Now, of course, there are a few confounding variables: old Rodinal (at least 6 years old now, kept mostly full), and old Tri-X (likely expired in 2005). However, the Rodinal has worked well for me in the past week or so, and another roll of old Tri-X turned out OK, too.
    Has anyone experienced this before? My results seem to be a bit stranger than the textbook examples of uneven development I have researched.
  2. It sounds like too little agitation to me, coupled with a development and/or exposure problem. Too little agitation can sometimes causes marks around sprocket holes - I've seen it happen to students many times. Inversion agitation might give better results if that is the cause.I've also seen this with hangers and 4x5 film in tanks. When I used too little agitation (took too long to remove and replace the hangers) I got marks all around from the drain holes in the hangers that sound like what you are describing. More timely (i.e. not slowly, but not splashing about either) removal and replacement of the hangers resulted in a total lack of marks around the holes.
    Another thing: are you using plastic or metal reels? I have done stand development with Rodinal 1:200 many times with very good results using Hewes reels and tanks, but I've never tried it with plastic reels. When I use stand development I tend to expect the same 'film speed' rather than an increase, and I typically do one round of inversions only once, at the start, and then let the tank rest for no more than one hour before rinsing and fixing. Longer times have given me poorer results. Obviously, my technique is not the same as what you tired, but it might shed some light on possible places to begin troubleshooting.
    If you are certain that there is no error in your process, and that your film was properly exposed, then you should try to repeat what you did and change only one thing at a time so you can compare the results with these and isolate what part of the process is faulty. I seriously doubt that the developer was at fault here, unless you let it sit too long diluted before beginning. I've used Rodinal that was very, very old, stored in a half air filled bottle, and dark as espresso with fantastic results, but you do have to use it fairly soon after dilution. Since you got good results with it on other rolls, you can most likely put that off to the last since you'll probably find the problem elsewhere.
    If you don't mind a suggestion, I would expose part of the roll at 400, part at 800, part at 1600, part at 3200, and then the rest at 6400 of the same subject all right then before the conditions change. Then develop as you did above. This should rule out the exposure time for that style of development. What ever sections come out well work well for the development style, and those that do not do not. If none of them come out well, then try changing some other variable (only one at a time) and try again, keeping all of your results handy with notes explaining what you did.
    - Randy
  3. Some days ago I've developed an old (expired 2001 or so) 120-roll of Tri-X in old, dark-red Rodinal 6:600ml, at room-temperature for 45 minutes in a plastic tank. Some inversions in the first minute, some inversions at 30 minutes, otherwise standing. Subject was a high-contrast outdoor-scene, a orange-filter was increasing the contrast further. I've bracketed from Ei 100 to 1600 and under these conditions the negs exposed at about 400 came out the best for my taste. I'm pretty sure that (in this case, under these conditions) increasing the developing-time to about 2 hours would not have resulted in an Ei of over 1600.
    Compared to other expired films I've developed in the last weeks (after about 6 years of darkroom-abstinence) I've noticed a lot more fog on the Tri-X. I wouldn't try to push the other expired rolls to Ei1600 or higher and even with fresh film I would shoot and develop a test-roll (EI-bracketing and maybe some kind of additional contrast-bracketing for the different ISO-stops) like Randy recommended.
    Hope this helps and please excuse my english, georg.
  4. In May, I tried shooting some Tri-X @ 12,800 and developing in it Rodinal, diluted 1:50 for 51 minutes. Agitation was constant for the first 30 seconds and then 5 inversions every 5 minutes. I wanted to give this a shot because I'd seen some good examples of this development technique online, but my results were very disappointing. My negatives were very thin. I did shoot at night, but I took trial exposures with my 5D and then made the adjustments for shooting Tri-X. The 5D exposures looked fine, but the film shots weren't good at all.
  5. There are so many variables in your process it's just trouble waiting to happen.
    First, you can't get EI 6400 with Tri-X in Rodinal. No way, no how, not even close. If you need or just want 6400, stick with something like Microphen stock solution and more conventional agitation. It still won't be 6400, but at least you'll get usable negatives. I've done this with TMY and Tri-X. Wouldn't even consider it with Rodinal.
    Second, use fresh materials. Until you're using fresh film and developer, you'll have no idea whether the problem is with the materials, the process or something else. Minimize the variables whenever trying experimental techniques. Several years ago I found a bulk roll of Tri-X my daughter had left over from high school. The roll was less than three years out of date. It was already fogging from age (not light leaks) and useful only for conventional exposure and processing techniques.
    Also, why bother with 1:100? It's a neither-fish-nor-fowl dilution with Rodinal. If you want to try stand development, use 1:200 or 1:300 and use stand development - no agitation beyond an initial continuous agitation for 30-60 seconds. To be on the safe side, double the total amount of developer solution since the dilution is so extreme. For example, for a single roll, use a double tank filled to the top, with an empty reel on top if you're concerned about agitation (not really a factor with stand development).
    If you want to use stand development with Tri-X in Rodinal, keep the EI closer to box ISO or 800. And that's for normal exposure conditions. If you're doing long exposures such as at night, that's yet another variable to complicate matters. The reciprocity characteristic of Tri-X means it's not even close to an ISO 400 film with long exposures. It's closer to 50-100 with very long exposures.
    Again, the main thing is to minimize those variables, such as using old film.
  6. You're definitely right, Lex, as always. OK, I'll get fresh materials, for one.
    But about the technique: I read another one of your replies from awhile ago that said you like to use 1:200 for two hours, with ~30 seconds of agitation at the beginning, and that you use it for night photography. Do you have any examples? Do you ever use it for other types of contrasty lighting? And what about Diafine or other compensating developers for shots in this type of light? Sorry about the interrogation! :)
    To Lex and everyone else: I know, it didn't seem possible to get 6400 out of Tri-X, but people HAVE done it. I sure wasn't able to, but it seems like a process worth investigating perhaps? And what about those nasty holes on the side... uneven development?
  7. You are suffering from too many variables (and not all controllable). I wouldn't worry about the film so much, but the outdated Rodinal is almost certainly what did you in. Without decent developer, your efforts and experiments will be for not. Also, bromide drag (uneven development) will be a major issue with old developer. Bromide drag most certainly happens with Rodinal. The type of bromide drag you talk about makes me think you're using plastic Paterson-type tanks. Is that the case? Stainless steel tanks will help reduce the issue. There are some techniques to reduce bromide drag, but I don't know they would be too effective based on the ISO you're using.
  8. I don't recall offhand how many photos in my photo.net portfolio were done using Tri-X in Rodinal with stand development. Goat Skull in Moonlight was done that way. The photo has accompanying tech info and some observations about the technique. I've used it with normally exposed Tri-X in bright sunlight as well, but don't have any scans available at the moment. Grain is much more pronounced than is visible in those JPEGs, since resizing and compression tend to minimize grain.
    Regarding the holes, are you sure those are actual holes in the emulsion? Could they be stains or other problems, such as debris embedded in the emulsion? I've never seen holes in the emulsion in any of my negatives from any manufacturer, but have occasionally seen staining from chemical interaction with the mineral content in water. And I've had debris embedded in the emulsion from the high limestone content in the rural well water I used to have. I finally resorted to using distilled water for all critical darkroom applications to resolve those problems.
    While you can get satisfactory results from Tri-X or most ISO 400 films pushed to 6400 or more, it's impossible to actually get a true speed of 6400 (based on standard testing methodology for rating film speed) using any conventional chemicals or techniques, including stand development or Microphen. What we're really seeing is a boost in the midtones, control of highlight development to produce highlights that can be printed or scanned through, and an increasing loss of shadow detail. I've heard claims of getting true speeds significantly higher than the ISO standard, but those involved special techniques such as hypering film before exposure or using hydrogen peroxide gas with development. I've tried the latter technique and saw no differences, tho' I might not have been applying the technique properly.
    Nitpicking, sure. But as a fan myself of push processing, I understand what you mean by getting satisfactory results from underexposed film that is given special development. Just don't want to confuse it with a true speed bump, since folks will occasionally use these threads for research years from now and might misinterpret what we're discussing.
  9. I misspoke, I meant the discoloration (actual discoloration along with increased density) along the sprocket holes. Seems weird.
    Anyways, thanks a lot for the help on this one. I'm still a bit confused as to whether I should toss my Rodinal, since so many people say it keeps forever, but other people that know their stuff say it doesn't (like Michael). I guess it'd be pretty dumb to even keep it as a variable... why bother shooting if it could come out like crap and be avoided with a few bucks. I might as well invest in a 125mL bottle of R09 One-Shot to see if it makes a difference. Maybe I'll just go with Diafine. :p
  10. Evan, for normal stand development, I use just 5ml of Rodinal to 1L of water. So it's definitely cheap. I think it's about $17 a bottle and lasts forever with this kind of development. As for Rodinal lasting forever, yeah, it turns brown after 6 months or so, but I wouldn't use it more than about 2 years after opening.
    I definitely know what you mean about saving a few bucks. It's hard enough to get a good shot, let alone destroy it with bad development. I just developed 6 rolls using stand development of Fuji Acros in Rodinal stand development for 3 hours (my typical cycle), but I used a new lens hood that was supposed to work on my Hasselblad. Vignetting on every fricken frame. Ouch!
    Stick with new Rodinal. It's cheap. Diafine is great too, but not great for stand development in my opinion. HC-110 is fairly economical (especially with the replenisher), and works well. I only stand develop for about 30 minutes though.
  11. Keep the Rodinal, no need to replace it. Like HC-110, it's good for years even after having been opened, despite discoloration.
    Diafine is a terrific developer in its own right, but limited. It's best with a handful of films, mediocre to downright awful with others. Not good for older films since it tends to make fogging worse. Excellent with Tri-X at 1200-1600, Delta 3200 at 1600-3200 (not really a push, but very good results), Pan F+ at 50 (again, not a push, but solves the contrast problem even in sunlight).
    Try some fresh Tri-X, bracketing each composition between 100-1600 (I really think 3200-6400 is asking too much, but give it a try). Use Rodinal at 1:200 or 1:300 for two to three hours.
    And if you're not already doing so, get a good set of stainless reels for this. Works better for stand development. Plastic reels are handy for easy loading and work fine with normal processing, but the higher, square section flanges and guides can interfere with the flow of chemistry. I saw odd edge markings and uneven development on my stand developed film until I switched back to stainless for those experimental processes.
  12. I can only agree with Lex's comments. I have used 4 year-old Rodinal from a part-used bottle (about 3/4 used) and it worked perfectly. Shooting outdated Tri-X at 6400 is not going to give shadow detail, and certainly not with Rodinal.
    I've used Rodinal for 25 years and know at as a very robust and reliable developer. It has a very low sensitivity to bromide so will not give bromide streaks. What you are seeing, I suspect, are artefacts from the turbulence of agitation, effecting the edges of the film more that the middle. What tanks/reels are you using?
  13. Hi Evan,
    I agree with most of what's been said above, particularly about the use of old film and developer. There might be other reasons your results didn't meet your expectations based on the examples you saw. EI 6400 is well beyond the normal exposure range cameras are designed to accomodate. If you simply set your camera's auto exposure setting to EI 6400, and fire away, overexposure is a very high probability at least part of the time. It's common to use a wide aperture when shooting in the kind of low light that requires an EI 6400 exposure, and if the camera uses aperture priority metering, it will adjust the shutter speed to match changes in lighting, up to the speed limit of the shutter, beyond which, one is no longer exposing at EI 6400, but some lower value. The same result is obtained by a camera with sluggish high shutter speeds. It is not unusual for shutter speeds to plateau at some value below their highest marked speeds. These are just two scenarios that might lead to overexposure errors with very high EIs, but I'm sure there are others, too. So, the EI 6400 example you saw might, or might not have been given exposure similar to your own EI 6400 negatives. Just something to consider when you're trying to analyse all the variables. Good luck!
  14. It has a very low sensitivity to bromide so will not give bromide streaks.​
    With due respect, this is patently not the case with Rodinal and stand development.
    As for claims of Rodinal's resiliance over time, I agree it is very stable, but it makes no sense to me to process my work in outdated chemistry. I have had Rodinal go bad, but I cannot recall how old it was. As for losing shadow detail with old film, that is a good point. The base fog can be as high as some of the shadow detail. In fact, stand development will significantly add to the fog issue, and Tri-X is not a particularly good candidate for stand development, even when rated at 400/320 as the grain is usually too high for most people's taste, and silver redeposits itself to create a fog on the emulsion. Here's a shot with Tri-X rated at just 400 in Rodinal 1:300, agitated for first 5 minutes, then left to stand for 3 hours. It's pretty grainy and contrasty.
  15. Jay: Very good point, and one I hadn't thought about. An older camera's combination of aging meter and shutter could easily throw off exposure one or two stops, and EI 6400 and EI 1600 are very different things! And the likelihood that I can do something with black and white film that the most prolific and respected posters on photo.net say I can't, well, the chances aren't great. :)
    Michael: You've certainly got some incredible stand developed images, and you seem to have your process down. Would it be presumptuous to say that you'd leave Rodinal stand development for slower films (with fresh film and developer) that need serious contrast control? And where might you start for say, Fuji Acros (a film you certainly seem to like!) in 35mm? I see you've posted elsewhere that you "expose for the highlights" with this... barring spot metering/zone system work, might you recommend exposing at box speed (100 for Acros) to prevent overexposure and then developing in 1:300 Rodinal for 3 hours or so?
    Lex and Chris: I'm going to try using the stainless reels in my college darkroom to see if that helps anything. I'm going to need to brush up on how to load them though... time to grab that practice roll of film!
    It seems to be an area of great contention, here and otherwise... does Rodinal cause streaky drag "artifacts", and, if so, is it bromide drag? Some very experienced people on both sides of that issue.
  16. Whether developing film, washing clothes, or cooking a steak without some movement one can get unevenness; ie localized marks. With a grill one has the grill's grid of wires; with a film reel one has the reel's spirals. With a bunch of dirty roofing/construction blue jeans thrown on a 5 gallon bucket with alot of All or Tide; some agitation works wonders.

    With film or soap; not having enough developer/Tide per unit area of film/blue jeans makes Stand development/washing often.

    Thus one thing when using anothers formula for dilute developing is to ponder what was the amount of raw developer used per unit surface area of film developed. If if is too low; the developer will exhaust locally in areas; of the whole roll too.
    One person might develop a 36exp 35mm roll in an 8 oz tank; another in a 16 oz tank. If one uses ACME developer diluted 1:200; it might poop out with the 8 oz mix; adn not with the 16 oz mix.

    Tri-x if fresh might clock in an a real iso of 500 to 600 with a formal DlogE test where the contast is boxed in; if expired it might be say 400. Thus an EI of 6400 is over 3 stops underexposed; even with best case brand new film. Thus it is easy to see why one has weak shadows; ie underexposure and underdevelopent.

    Try abit more exposure and abit more agitation.
    Use some in date fresh film.
    Try to reduce the number of variables
  17. With little agitation and a super dilute mix; one can have localized areas where developer exhausts
  18. Kelly, absolutely true. Many developers and films can work with stand development. It's just a matter of dialing in a process that works. And I did try stand-grilling a steak on a gas barbecue the other night, and suffice it to say, the variables caused my steak to get a little crunchy on one side.
    Would it be presumptuous to say that you'd leave Rodinal stand development for slower films (with fresh film and developer) that need serious contrast control?​
    I don't distinguish between slow or fast films so much as tabbed and non-tabbed. TMax 100 and even 400, and Delta 100 work great too. Then there are other issues, like HP5 not being as printable due to fogging issues, but working pretty well for scanning--at least for what I'm after. The grain is not as apparent as Tri-X or Delta 400, but it does fog.
    And where might you start for say, Fuji Acros (a film you certainly seem to like!) in 35mm? I see you've posted elsewhere that you "expose for the highlights" with this... barring spot metering/zone system work, might you recommend exposing at box speed (100 for Acros) to prevent overexposure and then developing in 1:300 Rodinal for 3 hours or so?​
    I use Acros at 100 on my particular equipment. My equipment is rotated through my repair shop for CLA at least every 2 years, but I know others like to rate it at 50. What I am getting at when I vary the addage: "Expose for the shadows", and instead say, "Expose for the highlights", is stand development will blow out your highlights through over development if you're not careful. Acros seems to have a fairly wide exposure latitude and decent speed in the shadow areas, so the process is fairly easy to control. Other films I like included Rollei Retro (the silver content produces very special images), and Pan F. I also wouldn't rule out some other developers. I mix XTol and Rodinal together (1:5) quite often. There is a formula called GSD-10 that is extremely good at shorter stand development times with a wider range of films (Google GSD-10). I started out doing stand development many years ago with HC-110. Pick what works for you, then start dialing it in. The combination of films, developers, times, concentrations, etc. make for probably hundreds of thousands of combinations. And where I'm at on the Rodinal is mixing 5ml to 1L of water (just to make it easy) and developing for 3 hours. It's a very addicting game if you like to develop film.

Share This Page