Rodinal and APX 400 is driving me mad.

Discussion in 'Black and White' started by mikael|1, Nov 26, 2003.

  1. This is my first time with rodinal. I thought I should be really
    serious this time and do test strips of film, maybe using the
    densitometer available. 2 testrolls at 320 where shot, 1 indoors
    and 1 outdoors.

    After a total of something close to 20 hours in the lab I honestly
    don't know what to do.

    I started out with a combination of Rodinal 1+50, borax (1/4
    teaspoon) and natirum ascorbate (2 teaspoons). After awhile,
    thinking the natrium ascorbate wasn't pure enough, I started
    using pure Rodinal at 1+25. I tried development times ranging
    from 12.30 - 9 minutes.
    Water has always been 20 celcius and 1 liter. I've tried frenetic
    agitation and slow torus method at first 30 seconds, then 10-15
    seconds every minute.

    All I've come out with are the worst negatives I've seen in a VERY
    long time. The accutance (if that is about the same as contrast in
    english, it's what I mean) is really lacking. The tonality ranges
    from not-even-close-to-white to not-even-close-to-black & they all
    give a pretty muddy impression. The weirdest thing is that all of
    the different test strips look almost INDENTICALLY the same.
    The 12.30 one with frenetic agitation is almost the same as 9
    minutes with very smooth agitation

    Am I missing something here? It feels like the only parameter I
    haven't been fiddling around with is the temperature of the water.
    Could it be a faulty bottle in some way?

    Anyway... Anybody heard of any similar problems? I'd be greatful
    for anything right now...

  2. I'm sorry, natrium ascorbate should of course be sodium
    ascorbate, in english
  3. Try the developer as it is manufactured, without adulterations, first. Try 1+24 dilution and 1+49 dilutions and see what you get. Agitate 3 inversions once per minute.
  4. It has been our experience tht negatives in rodinal look a little flat. Try printing them and see how you like the prints.
  5. I noticed that the latest Agfa pdf shows APX400 and Rodinal times the same for inversion and rotary. Why would that be?
  6. By the way, I'm not impressed with Rodinal on high-speed films at all. Tetenal Ultrafin or Paterson Aculux would likely please you more.
  7. I can only suggest my experience with AXP100 and Rodinal. I use either 1+50 combination (see for times and charts) or even 1+100, 25 minutes. This latter is ok if you rate the film either ISO125 or ISO150. You'll get a low contrast neg but one with sharply defined details. My only comment to you is that Rodinal is a grainy developper and with a ISO400 film you may find it an odd combination. Personally I prefet Kodak films (TRI-X) or even Ilford (XP2 Super) if you are looking for sharp negs. But then it is always a bit of hit and miss these film/dev combinations.
  8. APX 400 is one of the grainier ISO 400 films. Rodinal is one of the grainier developers, and I've found it to be unpleasant with HP5 as well as Agfa 400. "Flat, stale, and unprofitable...". Muddy - yes.

    In general Rodinal at high (1:50-1:100) dilutions is used in part as a compensating developer - precisely to lower or control the contrast of fine-grain films. Since 400 films are, for the most part, flatter films to begin with, the combination is less-than-ideal.

    It's funny how remarkably different the results of Rodinal with APX 100 are - you wouldn't think they were made by the same manufacturer.

    English: "accutance" usually means edge sharpness - how well fine details are separated from their surroundings. "Contrast" usually means the over-all density range from shadows to highlights. "Edge contrast" could be used as a synonym for edge sharpness in some contexts. But a 'high-accutance' developer (Rodinal) does not mean the same thing as a 'high-contrast' developer (Kodalith A/B).

    In your context (tonal range/whites-blacks/"muddiness") I think "contrast" would be the preferred word.
  9. Dear Mikael,

    As many people swear AT Rodinal (curse it) as swear BY it (praise it). There is as much alchemy as science in B+W and if a particular film/developer combination doesn't work for you (or for your preferred film) then give up and try something else. Do not waste time on unprofitable combinations.


  10. A few tips for using apx 400& rodinal.

    - Rate the film at around EI:200.

    - Use a dilution no stronger than 1:50

    - Use distilled water if possible to mix the developer.

    - Use a plain water stop bath not an acid one. Acid stops with
    rodinal cause excessive grain clumping in my experience,
    probably something to do with rodinal being such an alkaline

    - Always use gentle agitation ie: 4 inversions over 10seconds
    per minute.

    - Be wary of Agfa's processing times they are usually too long for
    good quality 35mm negs. Try around 9 minutes 1:50 for @ EI
    200 @ 20 degrees celcius as a starting point .

    - Rodinal will always produce slightly depressed midtones
    compared to most other developers

    - FWIW I find Calbe A49 ( same as agfa atomal ) diluted 1:1
    to be the best developer I have found for 35mm apx 400
    once again preferably rated at around EI: 200

    Hope this helps.
  11. As a Rodinal user of some twenty years standing I have never had a problem with it. I just use it as it comes out of the bottle. One would imagine it should work perfectly with an Agfa emulsion, but there are a few films which don't seem to like it.
  12. By the way, I have developed Ilford HP5 (rated at 160 ASA) in Rodinal 1:50 (contrary to advice) and got excellent results. TMax 100 in Rodinal is superb. Delta 100 is just very marginally more grainy but sharpness is biting.
  13. First of all, I bought the bottle to test with my standard film (APX 400) because I like grain. And yes, the negatives are if anything, grainy. In a good sence, I'd say.

    I'll try making prints today. I've only made contact sheets so far. The time for giving good looking contact sheets resulted in the text above and under the actual shots (APX 400, and the number of the shot) looking almost black.

    The only other film developers I've tried with this film is T-Max RS and the negs actually looked very good. Fine salt & pepper styled grain that I actually think I liked a bit more than Tri-X in D-76. Really nice looking mid tones and very easily printed.

    What other developers could I try if I do not care for much grain (rather, I like it)? Nice looking grain that is, preferably small salt & pepper like. Preferably it should be quite economical (I'm a photo student, after all), if not a high dilute like Rodinal then maybe a one like D-76 that I could reuse (people at the lab I'm at are using the same 3.8L it over 50 times). My teacher mentioned Microphen I think, could that be what I'm looking for?

    Matthew mentioned Agfa Atomal as a good developer with this film. I can't find any place here in Sweden selling it, after a quick check. But someone must, I guess. You have any prints done with this combo?

    Matthew Stanton, thanks for the practical tips. The only problems with rating the film right now is that I've got a whole batch of films waiting for development and they're shot at 320.
    As I actually haven't tried the pure 1+50 dilute, maybe I should. Perhaps I should start at around 15 minutes and go for your other settings? What do you think? I have only used water as stop bath for 45 seconds.

    So to sum things up. I've pretty much settled on APX 400 for EI around 320. When I've done ISO 1600 stuff I've gone for Tri-X in D-76, which I think looks good.

    Any other combinations with APX 400 are very appreciated at this time.

    Thanks for all replies so far!
  14. Mikael,

    I think that Agfa discontinued Atomal not too long ago but Calbe
    A49 is made to the original formula by Calbe, the old East
    German division of Agfa. I live in Australia but started ordering
    the developer from J& C photo in the U.S. when I discovered that
    Atomal was discontinued. I believe that Fotoimpex in Germany
    also sell this developer by mail-order.

    Here is the J&C photo page

    This developer also works very well if you want EI 320 but then it
    should be used undiluted for around 11 minutes @ 20 degrees.
    Of course shadow detail will be less but grain will still be very
    fine and even. I find the tonality with this combination is beautiful
    & unique. Well worth a try if you are so inclined. I say all this
    having tried 35mm APX- 400 in D-76, Perceptol & Rodinal and
    would say the difference is quite noticable.

    All the best.

  15. Friends,
    did you notice that this year Agfa produced a new APX 400 and it has very different dev. times and even ISO ratios from the old one? (look at It should have smaller grain but also smaller speed.
    Agfa suggest thees data with the new APX 400: exposure ISO 320 (instead of the old 500!!!) and times should be: 1+25 = 10 min; 1+50 = 30 min!!! So if you dilute Rodinal with the new APX 400, the dev. time will really grow. Surely take a look at the Agfa pages, but read the times from the "film data sheet" (F-PF-E3 from 5/2003), because the "developers data sheet" has still the old times that really do not work with the new APX 400.
  16. I'm aware that the times have changed and the new times agfa
    give are the same as the ones at the massive dev chart site for
    the NEW film.

    Matt, or anyone else who have tried it for that matter, what did you
    think about APX 400 in D-76? D-76 is the only developer we have
    here at my school for sale. It's pretty cheap for being Sweden,
    around 9$ for 3.8 liters. Should I give it a try? Was the difference
    big from Atomal? How was the grain and tonality?
  17. The last time I shot APX 400 (at EI 400) was on a very overcast day. I wanted to deliberately enhance the contrast and developed it for about 50% longer than recommended in Rodinal at 1:50. What can I say? I liked the effect. Very pronounced but aesthetically appealing salt and pepper grain. Even with the prolonged development I still found it appropriate to use contrast settings between Grade 3-5 on my color head enlarger. (Again, I was looking for a unique flavor in tonality, nothing "correct" from a technical perspective.) Yes, Rodinal tends to lend a unique tonal characteristic to most films. You might prefer it with Tri-X. Or you might prefer another developer. There are other good acutance developers that don't have the same "look" as Rodinal.
  18. If I am reading between the lines correctly for what you are looking for - sharp grain with good tonality - let me suggest a vit c based developer, either XTOL or <even better IMO> Patrick Gainer's home brewed developers which you can find at the Unblinking Eye web site... Try here:

    Cheers ... Denny
  19. D-76 is fine with apx 400, I would probably use it undiluted &
    make sure it is fresh ( After a few weeks it starts to increase
    activity). The main issue with apx 400 is that it does not like
    overdevelopment, nor does it like excessive agitation. I would
    target your negs to print on grade 3 paper to keep grain
    moderate. As Dan said Xtol Stock is probably even better than
    d-76 for getting EI:320 and finer grain.
  20. If your negs look thin and there's no difference in density between the 9 minute test and the 12 minute test then there's a chance that your developer is being depleted. This is a common problem when using rodinal in high dilutions. Agfa recommends using using at least 11ml of Rodinal per 35mm roll. Some people have tested it down to 6.5ml. I get away with 7 for most films. If you didn't see a difference in density between the 1:25 and 1:50 test then this may not be your problem.

    Lex has been able to get away with much lower amounts of rodinal using stand development for a long time and I belive chicken bones and goat blood. If you search the site you should be able to find out more if you're interested.
  21. The conclusion of all of these is that this is not the best combination of film and developer.


    D-76 1:1
    Paterson FX-39

    Agitate sparingly, just once or twice per minute, two inversions.

    Hans Beckert
  22. i have been using the new apx 400 film 120 (new film box has a colored 400) from the beginning. The film grain is smaller than the old one.

    i develop it at 20 degrees celcius for 20 minutes in rodinal 1+75.
    (= 9cc with 591 ml water)
    first 10 minutes inverse the tank at 390 seconds interval.
    after that once a minute.

    looks very good for me!
  23. I use A.Rodinal always and have no problem with films I use agfa and kodak.For small tanks is 1+25 and 1+50 verry good choice for large only 1+25 1+50 not because temperature fall down quick maybe is this an problem.
    I work with all films with normal water and when Rodinal says 5minutes for film I take 7minutes every time 2minutes more.I dont know what to explain this but films are better.
    When I cant buy Rodinal I buy amaloco am 74 and ilford ilfosol s thise two are also best try it.
  24. please read 30 seconds in stead of 390 seconds
  25. I will be giving this a try tomorrow again as I now have access to the lab. Judging by some posts by Patrick Gainer here:
    the negatives did not looks good at all with ascorbate & rodinal but the prints were better. I judged the negs just as they were and they shure were ugly. Maybe I should give yet another try doing some serious printing tests.<BR>
    In another post here:<BR><BR>
    Nicholoas Twist says "Ugly looking negs though (high FB+F, with borax added, however fog apparently is lower)" about apx 400 with ascorbate in Rodinal here:<BR><BR>
    I can't say I'm very familiar with the term FB+F, but I guess it has something to do with fog. The black is not really black but a "higher value towards gray"? Does this affect the highlights too because they were not close to white either? Patrick claims this has to do with the ascorbate in the first thread i mentioned, but I get the same results with Rodinal 1+25 without ascorbate. Patrick seems to mention a cure here:<BR><BR>
    "Instead of sodium ascorbate, use ascorbic acid, then add sodium carbonate to bring the pH up to where development can begin."
    hope it works better than Borax, because it seems to do nothing for me. How would this mix into my mix mentioned in the first post of my thread?
  26. I don't fully understand your experiments...<br>
    However, 2tsps per ltr of Sodium Ascorbate sounds like a bit much. Try 1tsp per ltr of 1:50 Rodinal. Also in these situations it's always difficult not being able to see the negs. Good luck with your brews.

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