By now you're already familiar with his various shots of monochrome efforts that he actively uploads here. Wondering how he get those tones? I've got a good news! Because this time around, Rater shares one of his DIY secrets!
The Excitement of Doing It Yourself by rater
Rodinal is the oldest commercial developer that is widely available and still being used, maybe due to its versatility, ease of use and fine results!
The history of Rodinal goes back to 1891, when Momme Andresen patented it. One year later Agfa would start selling this developer and nowadays you can still buy this chemical jewel to develop your films. Now is not Agfa who sells this product, and since the patent expired other companies have been commercializing it, sometimes under different names (I bought mine under the name of Blazinal, although the bottle is labelled as Rodinal).
Rodinal is sold as a concentrate, so in order to use it you have to first dilute it. As the concentrate has a longer shelf live, I only dilute the quantity I am going to use on each developing session. A beauty of Rodinal is that there are a lot of options for diluting it. A more concentrated dilution will require less developing time. For example, eggzakly did a very nice tipster on developing films with a 1:100 dilution for 1 hour. My personal preference is to use a 1:50 dilution, so 1 ml of rodinal per 50 ml of water.
The first step is to prepare the chemicals. I do my development in a steel tank of 500 ml, which permits me develop 1 film of 120 or 2 films of 35mm. So all calculations here are based on this final volume:
- Prepare the 1:50 dilution of Rodinal: 10 ml of Rodinal in 500 ml of water
- Prepare the fixer: I use Ilford Rapid Fixer and I do a 1:4 dilution, so 100 ml of fixer with 400 ml of water. This fixer can be re-used for approx. 24 films.
- Prepare the final wash: I use Heico Perma Wash, and I add a couple of ml to 500 ml of water.
The water and chemical solutions used in the process needs to be at 20 °C… well, more or less. I actually do not have a good thermometer so I use tap water just taking care of not using water too cold or too warm. Also, I wear gloves all he time through the whole process! So here it goes:
- Put the film in the reel tank. I have to confess I am not very good at this, but keep in mind you need total darkness! Once you succeed getting the film in the reel, place the reel in the developing tank.
- Pour the Rodinal 1:50 inside the tank. You have to do inversions for 10 seconds every minute. I would do that for 10 minutes for TMAX-400 film or 11 minutes for Neopan 400. Different films needs different times and you can find this information here
- Empty the tank and fill it with water. Shake it for 10 seconds and empty. Do it twice!
- Pour the fixer to the tank, and leave it for 2-5 minutes. Do 4 inversions every minute.
- Empty the tank BUT recuperate the fixer in a bottle, it is still good to be used for a couple of films! Fill the tank with water. Shake it for 10 seconds and empty. Do it twice!
- Pour the final wash. Shake it for 1 minute and leave it for another minute stand.
- Empty the tank and fill it with water. Shake it for 10 seconds and drain. I would do it ten times.
- Finally, I like to add a bit of Photo Flo which helps having a faster and uniform drying, thus minimizing water marks on the film. You fill the tank with water, add a couple ml of Photo Flo, agitate for 5 seconds and you let it sit for 30 seconds.
- You empty the tank and you DO NOT wash out the Photo Flo off your film. You take the film and just hang it to dry. Choose a place free of dust!
- Do not be impatient; wait until the film is dry before scanning and storing it!
So that is my Rodinal developing! In only half hour you can have your film developed! I was personally surprised how easy it was to do it, and my films are cleaner (less dust and streaks on the film) than the ones I get from my commercial lab! So give it a try! It’s nice, easy and cheaper than what you think!