An epic quest to obtain high contrast with black and white processes finally came to its end.
It all started with this shot:
This shot was taken on the 23rd of May 2009 in Québec city, using a Zenitar Fisheye with a red filter on a Canon F1n, and was part of a roll bursting in contrast and sharpness. As I mentioned in my review, this Rollei ATP 1.1 roll was processed at a lab (I wasn’t yet much into home processing by the time).
About a year and a half later, I was getting more confident in home processing and tried to tackle the ATP process myself (using the dedicated ‘ATP DC Developer’). I must confess I wasn’t that impressed… Some shots were looking fine but still not as good as the very first roll.
Later on, I slightly gave up trying to reproduce the initial miracle and decided to try using Kodalith Ortho Type 3 film, a high-contrast 6 iso orthochromatic film used for document reproduction. Once again I used the dedicated developer to process this film (Kodak Super RT developer).
The films that came out of this process were quite incredible, transparent with black blobs of fixed emulsion. Scanning was painful and required playing with the scanning area and enabling/disabling the automatic correction of the scanner. The results were this time a bit too wacky and with an excessive loss of detail…
I was still not satisfied…
And I gave up.
Later on, I had a few remaining rolls of Rollei ATP 1.1 and Kodak Ortho Type 3 needing to be processed and I decided that they would be part of a batch that I would process ‘normally’, with no fuss and just a few milliliters of Rodinal.
The results gave me cutis anserina, these films coming out of my processing drum were looking like my very first roll of ATP! Woohoo success!
At this moment the answer hit me with all its simplicity: The lab that processed my first ATP roll just used a generic developer and followed the standard steps. Eureka! Once again a ‘wrong’ process gave the best results…
Kodak Ortho Type 3 (6 iso):
Rollei ATP 1.1 (32 iso):
So, to make a long story short, get some Rollei ATP 1.1 (you might need to put a ND filter or a piece of film on your light sensor to adjust the iso rating), ideally use a red filter, develop the film for 13 minutes at 20°C in 1+50 Rodinal and fix it with an acid fixer (Rollei Fix acid RXA recommended, see the tipster for details. It is easy and the satisfaction guaranteed.