Technical bits of film

Rodinal (R09)

Facts of rodinal:

  • The oldest, classic developer
  • The oldest, a classic developer
  • Fine grain and high acutance
  • Ideally suited for large format negatives or slow films
  • Can make for largish grain on faster films
  • Extremely long shelf life
  • No longer distributed as Agfa Rodinal (though still made in the same factory) – available re-branded as Foma Fomadon, Adox Adonal and Compard R09
  • Liquid

Rodinal is the oldest classic developer, introduced in the 1880s. It’s highly concentrated diluted in a large amount of water, making it inexpensive and long life. Rodinal can be developed between 1+25 and 1+100 but it gives the best results with most films at the 1+50 dilution. It is a sharpness enhancing developer, but produced more grain than usual, which is more noticeable on high-speed films. (Higher ISO, quicker image). The rendering provides contrasty midtones, soft highlights when used on slow film, and when fast film is used the tonality increases, along with the grain.

After reading many forums about using rodinal, many confirmed what I expected from the properties. They said that they couldn’t get a very strong contrast with rodinal, and that the image was sharp, but there is quite a high grain on the images.

Simba 1995
Kodak Tri-X 400 developed I Rodinal 1+50

From looking at this image developed in Rodinal at 1+50, I can clearly see that there is a lot of mid tonal detail. The blacks and white dont jump out of the image, but I really enjoy the delicacy of the mid tones. I think this would be a good developer for emotive projects, and to get subtle portraits.


  • For general use
  • Yields full emulsion speed and good shadow detail with normal contrast
  • Moderately fine grain, excellent development latitude
  • Replenish with Replenisher D-76R
  • For normal or push processing
  • Powder

kodak_developersD-76 was introduced as a powder developer in 1927. It is considered a standard developer, and works well with the majority of films. It has a fine grain, good sharpness and an excellent development latitude making it a good every day developer. It is made my putting the powder into hot water to make the stock, which can be used directly or diluted 1+1.

Big Lots Carts 2-23-11
Kodak Tri-X developed in D-76 1+1

The highlights in this image developed in D-76 are very strong. The mid tone detail is more subtle, letting the white to black range do most of the work. The sharpness is good, and has a low grain giving the frame a softer look.

The quality in the sharpness is apparent when looking at these two images together, the rodinal produces a sharper image but D-76 is fine for everyday use. The image processed with rodinal has a lot more detail in mid tones, but less option for white and black tones. Where as in the D-76, the highlights shine through the frame.

Acutance and Contrast

From Way Beyond Monochrome, Ralph Lambrecht and Chris Woodhouse

This image suggests that naturally when you increase contrast, the acutance will increase too due to the lines becoming sharper. But you can get images where the contrast is low, but the lines are sharp. Increasing the developing time of your film will increase the contrast, by 10-20% for each stop. (Push Processing)

To increase the sharpness, the developer you choose can make a big difference. Also, ‘stand developing’ can make a sharper images as the grain size increases.

Pushing Film

eg. You’re shooting on an ISO 400 at f1.4 and 1/60s. It gets dark, you cant open your aperture anymore and a slower shutter speed would cause camera shake. So pushing the ISO to 1600, settings now ISO 1600, f1.4 1/250s now allows us to get enough light to shoot. Pushed 2 stops. Increases contrast and grain, and remember it pushes the whole film.

Pulling film

Reducing ISO from 400 to 200 (example) to underexpose the film. Can be used in high contrast environments to lower the contrast.

Aperture = 1.4, 2, 2.8, 4.0, 5.6, 8, 11, 16, 22, 32

Shutter speeds = 1, 2, 4, 8, 15, 30, 60, 125, 250, 500, 1000, 2000

f2.8 + 2000 = f8 + 250

You’re shooting on f8, itll pick up between f4 and f16, 2 stops either side of your exposure.

Films have different Latitudes (how sensitive it is. how many stops will it pick up, how lenient you can be with your exposure)


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