Delta 400: Develope in Rodinal or Xtol? : LUSENET : B&W Photo - Film & Processing : One Thread

My film and developer combination of choice is Pan F+ in Rodinal. I like the look, and it seems like a combination which yields 35mm results that most nearly approach the quality of medium format. For those occasions when I'm forced to use a faster film, I thought I would give Delta 400 a try. (From what I see of other people's work, I generally find myself prefering the tonal distribution of Delta 400 photographs over T Max 400 shots.) So I bought a couple of rolls of Delta 400, and I have some Rodinal and some Xtol. Would some of you who have tried both of those developers on Delta 400 please tell me how you feel they compare (on that film)? Will I see better edge sharpness with Rodinal? Will one or the other of these two yield results on Delta 400 which more nearly approach the Pan F+/Rodinal look? Thanks, Ollie

-- Ollie Steiner (, April 05, 2002


Delta 400 has replaced HP5+ as my 400 speed film of choice in 35mm ( sure wish it was available in 4x5!). I think you'll find it a fabulous film. I mostly develop it in my own catechol fomula or Gainer's vit-c developer, although I've tested it in a number of other developers as well. I haven't really found a developer yet that it looks bad in. I think what you'll find is is will look great in both Rodinal and XTOL, just different. So which you prefer will be a subjective choice only you can answer.

If you choose Rodinal, you might want to try Pat Gainer's suggestion of adding 4g (or one tsp)/L (working solution) of sodium ascorbate (do not use ascorbic acid). Use 1:50 but use the development time for 1:25. I think you'll be very happy with the results.

-- Ted Kaufman (, April 06, 2002.

I've tried both and agree with previous answers that you should be able to obtain satisfactory results with both developers. One point that must be noted with Rodinal is to avoid overdevlopment and overexposure. Rodinal works best with the thinnest negative that will give you adequate shadow detail. You may get away with denser negatives sometimes, but not always. Afapan 400 is easier to use in this respect than 400 Delta. Both Agfa and Ilford development guidelines are way too long for my taste (I use a condenser enlarger). Most magazine reviews of films that I have read use Agfa's recommended times at 1:25 and complain about coarse, mushy grain and low sharpness, which is what I have experienced if i wasn't careful to follow my own advice. Run test rolls with bracketed exposures before developing important images. I prefer a dilution of 1:75 or 1:100 over 1:25 or 1:50. When and if you find a development and exposure combo that works the photos should give briliance and sharpness.

If you can find it, read "Rodinal: A Soup for All Seasons?" ca. 1980, by Bob Schwalberg in Popular Photography. It's still the best discussion I've found.

-- Bill Houck (, April 14, 2002.

Wow! I'd really like to see that article on Rodinal from 1980. Could you scan and post it on this site or elsewhere? Thanks , b30307

-- Warren Jackson (, April 22, 2002.

I have the Schwalberg article in question. E-mail me off-list and I will scan it and OCR it for you. I won't publish it on the web, since it is copyrighted material. Much of what I learned from it is reflected in my own article Appreciating Rodinal. There is a note at the end of my article that gives one reader's comments on mixing Rodinal and Xtol.

-- Ed Buffaloe (, April 22, 2002.

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