Effect of Rodinal dilutions?

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I am re-asking this one as it gets mentioned often and few do searches to find the answers. What is the difference one will see with various films when using Rodinal at 1:25, 1:50 and 1:100 dilutions? For those who have used it at 1:150 or 1:200 or greater, if you want to chime in it would be appreciated. Are the differences in dilutions the apparent graininess of the film, the mid tones effected, the apparent film speed or some other effect that those who use the developer can use for more creative control in the final images?

-- Dan Smith (shooter@brigham.net), August 26, 2001


I have been using Calbe R09 (also sold as Fomatol R09, Classic F09), the original Rodinal formula (Calbe is a former Agfa company, formula 9 is the number of Rodinal in the Agfa receipe book), which differs from what Agfa sells as Rodinal today, as my standard developer for about 10 years. Since according to my tests R09 is more versatile and provides superior results in most respects in comparison with Agfa Rodinal I can highly recommend its use. That both products are different can be seen from the fact that Agfa Rodinal needs a restrainer (potassium bromide) whereas R09 is clear working without this. Also there is obviously more p-aminophenol contained in R09, which makes is more expensive to produce (this may be the reason for Agfa having altered the formula). As most readers will already know, the dilution will largely affect the overall contrast. The higher the dilution the more compensating does it work. In low concentrations areas with large amount of exposure will "suck up" more developer than areas with little exposure. If the agitation is right (about 10sec per minute) this will give an excellent compensating effect, since the developer is not replenished. R09 will provide this effect in a significant way in the dilutions 1:100 and 1:200. In 1:40 and higher (1:20) R09 can give quite high contrasts and will not work compensating. Due to the wide achievable contrast range the developer is excellent in adapting to differing contrast situations. On the other hand not every film can be developed in any dilution: High speed films from ISO400 up would simply be too soft and would not have enough contrast in 1:100 dilution, unless extreme contrast ranges have to be recorded as in interior photography. On the other hand low speed films, which tend to be overly contrasty in standard situations, will get an excellent contrast rendition with superior tonal scale. Even Technical Pan can be developed in R09 1:200 or 1:250. For low speed films (Ilford PanF, Agfa APX 25, Efke 25) dilutions of 1:100 and 1:200 are highly recommended. 35mm films up to an ISO speed of 200 should generally be developed in R09 1:100 or higher to minimize grain. Grain gets finer with higher dilutions, probably due to the fact that a modest grain reducing effect occurs through the longer time the agent p-aminophenol can work in the silver halides. Still it is not possible to turn R09 into a true fine grain developer and high speed films will show significant grain especially in 35mm. I cannot recommend to add sodium sulfite to Rodinal to reduce grain (as describe in the British Journal of Photography), since this will adversely affect accutance and working characteristics due to the changing PH. Although the dilutions for R09 and Agfa Rodinal are different and direct comparisons are therefore difficult, R09 generally seems to achieve finer grain. Higher dilution will provide more significant edge effect. Especially in this respect I see differences to Agfa Rodinal. The edge effect of R09 is magnificent and hard to believe if not seen. I do not favour Kodak TMAX 100 due to its very low acutance (one might even call it fuzziness) and mediocre tonal scale, but R09 greatly affects both in a very positive way. The compensating effect of R09 in high dilutions will positively improve highlight contrast and will achieve highlight rendition and separation similar to development in pyro formulas such as PMK, with the positive side effect of being significantly cheaper. Mid tone separation is absoluetly beautiful, especially when the film is silver rich, such as the classic emulsions by Foma, Efke, Forte and Ilford. One last word: The developing times provided by Calbe and other sources should be used with great caution. Often only a developing time for dilution 1:40 is given in the data sheets and a general table how to adjust this when diluting differently is added. The mulitplication factor for 1:100 would be 3x and this is definitly too long. The developing time for my standard film Fomapan T200 is 12 minutes for grade 3 paper and diffusion head, instead of the more than 20 minutes that the table would suggest. Higher dilution inevitably affects film speed. The relatively long developing times suggested by the manufacturer could be based on the assumption that the base contrast (= film speed) could be improved by developing relatively long. My measurements show that this is hardly the case and grain will be affected in a negative way, also contrast when developing too long. Statements about film speed on film boxes are very relative. When I check them with my densitometer I generally find them to be about half of what the manufacturer says (with the exception of Efke, which is very close), which is also a good starting point for R09 1:100. Fomapan T200 has an effective speed in R09 1:100 of ISO 64-80.

-- Volker Schier (Volker.Schier@fen-net.de), August 26, 2001.

The alkalinity of developer solutions tends to increase the clumping of grain. Because Rodinal is a high alkaline developer, higher dilutions reduce the alkalinity of the solution and hence reduce clumping of grain (what we perceive as increased grain). Note however, that a higher dilution also increases the development time, which for some films can increase grain clumping. The more modern emulsions are generally less susceptible to increased grain clumping with increased development time.

The Rodinal dilution effect is different than most other developers (D76, XTOL, and many others) that contain sodium sulfite, a grain- reducing chemical (via its solvent action on the grain). For these developers, a higher dilution increases apparent grain due to the lower concentration of the sodium sulfite solvent action.

As with almost all developers, increasing the dilution of Rodinal has a compensating effect (decrease) on the contrast of the negative. However this compensating effect assumes normal agitation procedures. The use of overly vigorous or continuous agitation can offset or eliminate this compensating effect.

As mentioned in the post above, the higher dilutions can also increase apparent acutance by increase the edge effect of adjacent areas of contrasting density. There is some controversy as to whether this occurs because of the higher dilutions (the highlight areas of the negative exhaust the developer more quickly than the shadows), or whether it is a characteristic of developers (e.g., Rodinal) that exclude grain-dissolving agents such as sodium sulfite. Obviously, if the first theory is true, this effect will be negated by over agitation.

I would recommend that if using slow to medium speed films (ISO 25- 125); dilutions of 1:75 and 1:100 can be used for high contrast scenes; and dilutions of 1:25 and 1:50 can be used for low to moderate contrast scenes. I have no experience with dilutions more than 1:100.

-- Michael Feldman (mfeldman@qwest.net), August 26, 2001.

A friend told me a story once about someone who used Rodinal at a 1+1000 dilution. He filled his bathtub with water, then added the needed amount of Rodinal (1 ml for each liter of water) and then left his 8x10 inch sheet films in the bathtub overnight. In about 24 hours he got fantastic negatives... I asked how he managed to agitate the bathtub, but he couldn't answer me...

-- George Papantoniou (papanton@hol.gr), August 30, 2001.

Is Calbe R09 (Agfa Recipe 9) the same as the formula published in Anchell's books as "traditional" Rodinal? If not, would you be so kind as to list Recipe 9 here. T

-- Nino Ficorilli (npf@unimelb.edu.au), August 30, 2001.

AGfa never published their receipe 9. I have a Agfa /Orwo receipe book from the 1970s. The receipes that were marketed were left out, such as 9 (Rodinal), 49 (Atomal FF), 102 (Neutol) and others. There are far mor "authentic" Rodinal receips than Bill and Steve publish, but none of them has been authenitcated by AGFA. Some time ago I had promised Bill Troop to call Agfa and to try to persuade them to publish the receipe, but have not found time so far. This is a good chance to try now. If you buy R09 you will find its colour to be very dark blue to black. If you follow the "traditional" receipes you also won't get a clear solution like current Agfa Rodinal. I suppose that Bill and Steve's receipe might be close to formula 9. In the 1950s and 1960s almost every German film maker had "their" Rodinal.

-- Volker Schier (Volker.Schier@fen-net.de), August 31, 2001.

According to the receipes making "classic" Rodinal is quite difficult, because you have to make sure to keep a few cristals out of solution. Otherwise it will not keep. The price for "authentic" R09 is so low, that I would never even think about mixing it myself: Less than $4 for a 250ml bottle, which will give 25liters of working solution 1:100.

-- Volker Schier (Volker.Schier@fen-net.de), August 31, 2001.

Thank you for your replies. I appreciate that Calbe 09 can be cheap _IF_ it is readily available where you live. Unfortunately, it is not distributed here in Australia and by the time it is imported from overseas, it is no longer cheap. Another concern is that manufacturers can change/discontiue their product lines without warning. That's why I prefer a developer formulation that I know and can brew up myself. It just removes another var

-- Nino Ficorilli (npf@unimelb.edu.au), September 03, 2001.

Does anyone know if R09 available in the US. I would like to try it. I love Rodinol 1-75 and 1-100 with TMX and APX 100. No one carries it locally so I have to order it via mail. Lately many suppliers are refusing to send it due to hazardous materials regulations. Would the R09, assuming it is available here, also have this problem?


-- Frank Calidonna (cemeteryman@clarityconnect.com), September 03, 2001.

Calbe R09 can be readily ordered from Fotoimpex in Berlin. Aks for "Classic F09" which is the same stuff as Fotoimpex store brand. Do not ask for R09, since he still had some old bottles of ORWO R09 form the 1980s in the shop and in one instance this led to confusion with his sales personnal. They have low shipping rates to the US, since they use bulk shipping of parcels. If you order from the US you will not have to pay the European VAT (16% at the moment, which is already added to the price). You will find their catalogue on the net: www.fotoimpex.de. I can highly recommend them. Mirko Böddeker, the proprietor, speaks excellent English and he is an interesting person to talk to, since he is very well informed about current developments on the photo market and has many connections to manufacturers. In addition to the whole range by Calbe he also carries the excellent B&W films by Foma and Efke (obviously at the moment one of the few sources to get them), photographic papers by Foma (very high silver content and lovely tones in selenium and sepia) and his own store brand "classic". R09 /F09 is a little less than $4.00 at the moment for a 250ml bottle, the price for one liter is approx $12.00 (I hope I am right about the liter price). The one liter of contentrate will give you approx 25 gallons of working solution 1:100!!!!! One tip: Do not store the developer too cold (close to freezing), since crystals will form that will not go back into solution. Otherwise the developer keeps very well and over a long time. It really pays to order from Europe, since there will be no hazard surcharge on the shipment! This makes buying a bottle of R09 from Europe cheaper than ordering it from a US dealer.

-- Volker Schier (Volker.Schier@fen-net.de), September 03, 2001.

I am certain that dealers like B&H would stock R09 if there is the evidence sufficient demant. I guess that a few phone calls from different people might help. In the past they were very quick to import material that was mentionned in publications and newsgroups. I have to put my last sentence in the previous message right: Ordering a bottle of R09 from Europe could be cheaper than ordering a bottle of AGFA Rodinal from a US dealer. You will like R09 with AGFA APX 100!

-- Volker Schier (Volker.Schier@fen-net.de), September 03, 2001.

As mentioned by Frank above, Rodinal (and presumably a similar formula like R09) is not currently shipped by B&H due to hazardous material regulations. Part of the problem may be that B&H uses FedEx air shipments. But unless this changes, it is doubtful that B&H could sell enough R09 in-store (no shipments) to justify importing the item.

-- Michael Feldman (mfeldman@qwest.net), September 03, 2001.

Then its good that R09 can be ordered that easily from Europe. A friend of mine -- professional photographer in Ohio -- regularly orders R09 from Berlin and it works fine. He never ran into problems and into surcharges. Since the bottle of the R09 has a European shipping approval (as Mirko told me) it can be sent to the US and the parcel must be handled by US mail. When I was in the US I also ran into the Rodinal problem. At first I took R09 along on the plane, but now it is much easier for me to order from Germany.

-- Volker Schier (Volker.Schier@fen-net.de), September 04, 2001.

I think I did ot point this out enough for "first time" users: The standard dilution of R09 is 1:40, other than 1:25 of Rodinal. R09 is more concentrated, which makes it even cheaper than AGFA Rodinal. If you previously used Rodianl in 1:75 and 1:100 you will have to diulute R09 1:100 to 1:200. The results are very rewarding! The bottle will have instructions for 1:40. You will have to experiment to get the data for 1:100 and 1:200, but the developing times will be shorter than the data sheet will suggest (remember they give a multiplication factor for higher dilutions). Since I only have the data for the films I use regularly it might be a good idea to report developing times and effective speed to the newsgroup or to send it to the developing time page of Mirko Böddeker. He collects data like this and puts in on the net.

-- Volker Schier (Volker.Schier@fen-net.de), September 04, 2001.

I frequently use Rodinal (Can't find R09, which I liked very much once) at dilutions 1:200, 1:400 and 1:800 with FP4 Plus. 1:200 for 25- 30 mins; 1:400 for 65-75 mins and 1:800 can be practically left overnight. I use those solutions in order to achieve very soft negatives with good compensation and low graininess. However I found that the agitation has effect on the final result. Thus, with 1:400, vigorous agitation during the whole process will reduce the softening effect. I usually reduce the agitation period and increase the intervals as the development process reaches its end. For 1:400 i do NOT agitate after the half of the processing time. In general slow / medium films will have reduced graininess as lower contrast as dilution ratio increases. I cannot find really a difference between 1:25 and 1:50 for fast films.

1:800 with FP4 is ideal for overexposed (200 or more ASA) negatives, whit contrast images. The effect is a very fine and soft negative with nice mid-towns.

However, lower dolutions will reduce the edge effect.



-- Kiril Stankov (kiril@ayeca.com), October 01, 2001.

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