‘Fine grain’ developers were formulated and became the 'standard' with the introduction of the 35mm film format.
Willi Beutler was one of the first to formulate for this small format in the 1930's and his formula is still very useful today. Many derivations of his formula are still being made including some of the Crawley FX range.
Kodak and Ilford both published their formulas for this 'fine grain' standard and called them D-76 and ID-11 respectively. There’s also the outstanding Pyrogallol and Pyrocatechin developers which create beautiful negatives of fine grain and full tonal range, having a contrast controlling effect due to the stain they leave in the emulsion. The latest of these 510-Pyro is a very good developer indeed.
A rather different (but arguably fine grain) developer is the Rodinal like developer* and I have recorded its formula for you to try.
Interestingly, Rodinal just celebrated its 120th birthday (as of this writing in 2011) and is the longest continually produced commercial developer in the world.
P-Aminophenol (Rodinal like) Film Developer
This is not a ‘classic’ fine grain developer in the true sense, having been often described as rather ‘honest’ with the grain! Rodinal's grain structure is more pronounced than other fine grain developers and very unique, producing beautiful photographs with great sharpness and fine detail. If you can get over the more obvious grain pattern then this developer will create outstanding photographs with gorgeous, long creamy gradation, very clear shadow detail and, with its propensity for a strong compensating effect at the higher dilutions, smooth fine detailed highlights. It really is a great all rounder and, as I’ll show you soon, will develop pretty much any film with ‘stand’ development.
Rodinal is very economical, being diluted 1:25, 1:50, 1:100 and even up to 1:200 for some uses like stand development. In the higher dilutions it has very strong compensating effects, and at all dilutions shows very good acutance.
Making a Rodinal type developer is very easy but care must be taken with the Potassium Hydroxide. However, treated with respect, this chemical is perfectly safe. Please note that this is NOT AGFA Rodinal. That formula is proprietary. But, for all intents and purposes, this works the same.
Mixing the stock solutions:
P-Aminophenol Hydrochloride 50g
Sod. metaBisulfite** 150g
• Boil the water and cool for 5 minutes
• Add a few crystals of metaBisulphite, from the total and dissolve
• Add the P-Aminophenol Hydrochloride, fully dissolve
• Add then the remainder of the metaBisulphite
Cold water (5c) 350ml
Pot. Hydroxide (warning very caustic!) 215g
Cool water (20c) to make 500ml
Warning.. Strong Alkali. Make sure that you prepare this solution in a sink with a window open! Wear protective rubber gloves and glasses. Use plastic mixing, measuring equipment and plastic stirrer. This stuff burns skin and is very corrosive. Take extreme care. Read below carefully.
• Measure 350ml of very cold water
• Carefully add the Potassium Hydroxide a spoonful at a time making sure each spoonful has been dissolved before adding the next. This chemical is extremely caustic and should not make contact with your skin! Considerable heat is generated while mixing this. Should the solution begin to steam, STOP and leave the room until it has cooled. Place in a cold water bath if required to help speed the cooling
When the Potassium Hydroxide has fully dissolved make up the solution to 500ml and funnel carefully it into a plastic storage bottle. At all times wear your safety glasses and gloves.
• To solution A, slowly add solution B stirring gently. A precipitate will form.
• Continue to add solution B carefully until nearly all the precipitate has gone. There should be just a few wisps of precipitate left.
• At this point, stop adding solution B and make up to 1 liter with water.
Using Rodinal and getting the very best results is very much an art. Read on to discover some of the secrets.
News stand, Lauderdale by the Sea
Rodinal 1:50 with Borax. 14mins @ 20c
Straw Bales, Forres, Scotland
AGFA Rodinal and Rodinal like developers can even process Kodak Technical
Pan. Here, the inherent contrast of Technical Pan has been tamed
by AGFA Rodinal developer at 1:200 for 12 minutes. Agitation was once
every thirty seconds at 20C.
This versatile developer can be used in a variety of ways and adapts to very slow, fine grain films or to fast ISO 400 films. Agitation is normally 10 seconds per minute.
Times for starting points:
|Kodak Technical Pan 25ISO||Dilute 1:200 and develop for 10-12 minutes - with this film agitate for 10 seconds every 30 seconds.|
|Slow Films ISO 50||Dilute 1:50 and develop for 10-12 minutes.|
|Medium speed Films ISO 125||Low Contrast Scenes (increases contrast)||1:75 12-15 mins|
|Medium Contrast Scenes||1:100 12-15 mins|
|High Contrast Scenes (lowers contrast)||1:100 8-12 mins|
|Fast Films ISO 400||Low Contrast Scenes (increases contrast)||1:50 12-15 mins|
|Medium Contrast||1:75 12 mins|
|High Contrast Scenes (lowers contrast)||1:100 12-15 mins|
All these times are for 20C/68F
This developer is a classic for stand development. It can develop films at very high dilutions. This type of development increases the compensating effect of the developer and the acutance or edge effects. If you use Rodinal, or you have bought a bottle to try it, you must have a go at this.
For Stand Development dilute 1:100 and develop for a total time of up to one hour (30 minutes for 25-50ISO film, 1 hour for 400ISO). You can also dilute 1:200 and develop for up to 2 hours. Use the same ratios by ISO as 1:100 above. (I understand that you can use 1:300 for 3 hours but I have never tried that!).
Agitate for the first minute and bang the developing tank to remove air bells. Then allow the tank to stand undisturbed. Agitate again half way through your total development time. All this can be done at room temperature, there’s no need for a water bath, and any film or film speed will do. Until you get used to it do try it on something unimportant first!