Having used up all the ID11 on the four film project and a backlog of exposed film building up, I thought it was about time I break out 'my something for the weekend' developer. I have always kept a backup developer for those occasions when I get caught out. This time I reached for a small bottle of RO9/ Rodinal. This little bottle has been on the shelf for years and in that time it has slowly turned to a rich red brown colour. This single shot developers keeping qualities are legendary. Silverprint has a forty year old bottle that they use from time to time! It still produces good quality negatives, so my 'youngster' should have no problems.
RO9/ Rodinal is not classed as a fine grain developer. It is famous for it's contrast control and flexibility. It's high acutance produces very sharp looking negatives a bit like sharpening a digital file in Photoshop.
It's character to a certain extent is governed by it's dilution.
- 1+10 will develop ortho film.
- 1+25 produces high contrast negatives and the most obvious grain.
- 1+50 Is the standard dilution producing crisp, normal contrast negatives, with slightly more grain than a fine grain developer.
- 1+75 and 1+100 will render high contrast negatives as normal.
- 1+300 can be used with document type films.
This is another developer I have not really used before so when I picked a Fomapan 100 ISO 100 to try it out on there is a little first use nerves! - How will the negatives look? How much is a little more grain than a fine grain developer? Is the time suggested going to produce well toned negatives? All questions that cannot be properly answered until the film has been fixed. My mantra is “keep it simple” and chose the standard dilution 1+50 as this comes close to the development time I use for ID11, which means I can compare these neg's against the ID11 negatives.
I used my long standing agitation method, although on the bottle it gives a different one. Agitate for the first thirty seconds and then tilt the tank at thirty second intervals.
I have used this developer with FP4+,Fomapan 100 and the Rollei 400s and again I'm having trouble with the latter. The other two have presented nicely toned negatives that have been easy to print. They are slightly more grainy than the ID11 negatives I am use to. But you would not think so when you look at the prints, I'm hard pressed to see a difference when comparing them side by side.
The pictures that appear with this article have been scanned from 9 x 12 prints produced on Kentmere variable contrast paper RC. I have found that grade two works better with these negatives than my usual grade three. This maybe down to its contrast controlling attributes. I have also used a couple of negative with the split grade method and again no appreciable difference. I do all my test prints on RC papers and then do my final prints on FB papers. Here again there has been no sign’s of increased grain.
All the pictures were developed in a mature Ilford multigrade developer - by mature I mean at least a month old, that has been replenished once or twice. I find that the prints take on a warmer tone than those first produced in the developer when fresh. It also takes longer for the first signs of the print to appear when fresh, about ten or so seconds and as it matures twenty seconds or so. This is not a method for the faint hearted as it can deplete very quickly in a matter of one print to the next. I have been caught out and ended up with a print that does not fully develop.
Overall I am very pleased with the negatives RO 9 presents. Yes they are more grainy but that does not translate to the final print. While I was looking into the use of RO9 Rodinal I came across a gentleman that has indicated that the original Rodinal could be used as a print developer and it was the exception to the rule in this respect. Does anyone know differently?