When i started developing my own b&w i promised myself, may even have said publicly, that i’d stick to one sort of film, one sort of developer, and do at least 50 rolls before changing anything.

A month, or so, later and i’ve bought all sorts of film (imagine a kid in a sweet shop…) and even bought some that don’t develop with the chemicals i normally use… well, that’s probably not right. These chemicals are all more similar than they are different, and if i was feeling brave (ie. felt like screwing up a couple of films) i’d give it a go and workout the timings.

Or, buy a bottle of something called Rodinal, a venerable old mix, formulated over a hundred years ago, that develops just about anything. And so i did!

Knowing that i was going to be developing in a new chemical i took a few shots where the exposure was going to be spot on (i meter by eye, so this means finding a scene that i’m confident of reading correctly) and seeing how they came out.

Rodinal is a liquid developer, so it’s much easier to work with than Super Prodol (powder, which i’ve turned into a stock solution, and have to thin down). It’s also incredibly strong – usually concentrations are 1 in 25, 1 in 50, or even 1 in 100. Using the data in the massive dev chart, i developed two rolls of SFX 200 in Rodinal 1+50 (20cc of Rodinal, 980cc of water) @ 20ºC for 10 minutes.

The results are really nice. Probably the cleanest negatives i’ve done since the first batch. The only issue is that the SFX 200 is really contrasty, and probably could have used a couple of minutes less in the developer… or less agitation. There are lot of factors here, and it seems that you only learn them through trial and error; hence the 50 rolls idea. Pfft.

The shots that should have been spot on are over in the highlights, dark in shadows. The details are all still there on the negative, and if it was scanned at a high enough dpi, no doubt they could be dragged out. This might be the film, or it might be the developer. Something to tinker with in the next batch…

Wise words...

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