In the past I’ve always developed my 35mm black and white films using Ilford’s Ilfosol film developer, diluted at recommended ratios and developed for the recommended number of minutes. Such a little conformist! So, for my first film development in three years I decided to break with my own tradition and try stand development. No reason other than I wanted to try it out for myself having read a lot about it recently.
I was developing two rolls of Kodak 400TX which insofar as I can determine both expired in 2015. I’ve read mixed reports on Tri-X stand developed in Rodinal but decided to give it a whirl for myself. Nothing like mixing up all the variables!
My chosen workflow is an adaptation that has been based on the many recipes and slightly different approaches that I’ve been reading about.
- Prewash in room temperature water 10 minutes
- Rodinal diluted 1:100 at 20 degrees. Agitate using full inversions for 30 seconds, tap the tank twice on table top, leave for 60 minutes, agitating once at 30 minutes (which technically makes this semi-stand development)
- Stop bath, 1 minute (I used Ilfostop diluted 1:19 as I had it to hand)
- Fix using Ilford Rapid Fixer at 1:4 for 5 minutes (again it was what I had to hand)
- Wash 10 minutes using the “Ilford method”. Fill the tank with water and invert 3 times and leave to stand for 1 minute, change the water and invert 6 times, and leave to stand for 1 minute, then change water and invert 12 times, leave to stand and finally you agitate 24 times before leaving to stand for another minute.
- Final wash in room temperature water with a few drops of Adoflo II wetting agent
- Hang to dry in bathroom – threatening Grandsons with dire consequences if they touch them!
And the verdict?
Seriously … this was tedious …
Seriously, compared to normal film development, this was tedious although to be fair, now I know what to expect I’d use the two thirty minute “breaks” to have lunch or catch up on my forum reading.
The two strips of negatives are currently drying but my first look at them was very positive. I have 72 decent-looking negatives and whilst I’ve not looked at them closely my first impressions are fairly good. They have a full range of tones, look clean and sharp and blemish free. They do appear to lack a little contrast although that is the price of getting a full range of tones I guess. Grain looks a little harsher than I expected from this film in the past but it must be remembered that they are out of date films, with one film having sat in the camera, part-exposed, for around four years and the negatives are definitely usable. And as I intimated earlier, not everyone recommends stand development of Kodak 400XT.
Will I use the process again? Yes – absolutely, although I’d like to try it with one of my better lenses, fresh film and also an emulsion that doesn’t get such mixed reviews for stand development. But first I’m looking forward to printing some of these in the cellar darkroom.