Rodinal vs HC110

Discussion in 'Large Format' started by ian|2, Aug 25, 2002.

  1. For obvious reasons I want to settle on a single dev. Using 5x4 FP4
    and varing dilution rates and dev. times to suit subject would I be
    better off with Rodinal or HC110. I use Rodinal at the moment because
    it's more readily available but have never been clear technically on
    the type of dev. it is.
  2. I use hc110 after doing some testing. Your milage may vary so I suggest you do the testing also. Then you aren't just taking someones word for it.
  3. Try reading "The Film Developing Cookbook," by Anchell and Troop, (Focal Press, 1998). You might also want to search the web as this has been discussed many times before in other forums.
  4. Take a look at the prints you are producing. It does not matter what the developer does or is supposed to do if you don't like the results in the final print.
    Little technical differences happen no matter what you do. With some developers there are greater differences. It is the print that matters. If your results look good there is no reason to change unless you can actually see an improvement.
    No matter how long you are in photography you will find others who have "The Answer", and is is almost always something other than what you are using. It works for them but that does not mean it will work for you. I have friends who use combinations that produce stunning results for them but in my use the results look terrible to me. I use what I have found works for me and let them use what they like. We each turn out good images and prints that work for us.
    Choose one, most likely the one you have been using already, and learn to use it well. Then you can do a comparison if you want.
  5. Given a question of such extreme subjectivity as film developers I usually recommend starting with popular norms' and working your way from there. HC-110 is a common 'appliance' developer with similiar working characteristics at 1:31 (dilution B) as D-76. HC-110 is certainly the softer of the two developers and more flexible via an almost infinate array of dilution values.

    Rodinal is far more specialized because of it's high alkalinity, sharpness, and compensation effects. Not my favorite developer with Iford films because of grain issues, but in 4x5 format this shouldn't be as big a problem. Still, I find Rodinal to work much better with classic Kodak films such as Tri-X and Agfa APX.
  6. To add even more extreme subjectivity, I find that Rodinal works exceptionally well with Ilford FP4+ using 1:75 dilution in sunlight and 1:50 for lower contrast scenes. Ilford Pan F+ also works just well with Rodinal (but obviously not available in sheet film sizes). I personally don't think any ISO 400 or faster film works well with Rodinal, regardless of film manufacturer.
  7. Ian: Both these developers work well with FP4. You don't say what size film you are using, so this may not be an issue, but you will see more grain with Rodinal, though the difference is less with this film than it would be with a faster film like Tri-X. The difference with faster films is pretty obvious. Many 8X10 prints off 4X5 Tri-X in Rodinal will show grain, whereas HC110 will give you grain you can't see from a normal viewing distance in a 16X20 print. The difference with slower films is much less. I don't know that anybody else's subjective opinion would matter anywhere near as much as yours. (In fact, I know it won't.) Shoot a duplicate negative, develop one HC110 and one in Rodinal and enlarge them to whatever size you prefer and you decide. You are the only one qualified to make that "right" decision. Finding a combination of one film and one developer and learning how to use them and how they work beats flitting from one combination to the next and endless testing in lieu of time photographing.

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