Ilford XP2 Stand Developed in Rodinal

M6TTL, 50 Hex, Ilford XP2, Rodinal
M6TTL, 50 Hex, Ilford XP2, Rodinal
M6TTL, 50 Hex, Ilford XP2, Rodinal
M6TTL, 50 Hex, Ilford XP2, Rodinal
M6TTL, 50 Hex, Ilford XP2, Rodinal
M6TTL, 50 Hex, Ilford XP2 @ 200, 5ml Rodinal + 600ml H20, Stand for 1 Hour

I had planned on developing these rolls in Diafine, but my Diafine has developed a case of the crud, and I couldn’t find anything around the house with which to filter it. I’d been wanting to try stand development with Rodinal, and since I didn’t expect much from these negs anyway, I didn’t figure I’d be out much if the whole lot was ruined. The process worked a lot better than I thought it would. I was fully prepared for these negs to turn into an unevenly developed, grainy, high contrast mess. Instead they’ve got good separation in the highlights, plenty of detail in the shadows and less grain than TriX in Xtol. They were also some of the easiest to scan negatives I’ve worked with in a long time, requiring very little photoshop work. Recipe below.

Ilford XP2 Stand Developed in Rodinal

  • Shoot the XP2 at 200.
  • Pre-soak the film in distilled water. I’m not sure if this is necessary, but the Delta films seem to develop bromide drag in minimal agitation regimes – see my post on diafine – so some insurance seemed advised.
  • Develop in a solution of 5ml Rodinal and 600ml water (dilution chosen because it’s easy to measure with my current equipment). My solution measured 69F, but I suspect anything around there would work.
  • Rotational agitation for the first minute followed by a couple of inversions for good measure.
  • Set it aside for approximately an hour. Don’t touch!
  • Fix and wash as normal.
  • I can’t imagine that this a relevant part of the process, but just in case it is, I’ll note that I had to use some vodka in the final rinse. I usually use a solution of 100ml rubbing alcohol to 500ml of water and 3ml of photoflo. I was out of rubbing alcohol, so some vodka from the freezer had to stand in. The vodka doesn’t seem to have hurt it, but Smirnoff is a lot more expensive than rubbing alcohol.

The negs are an odd rust brown color. I’m not sure how well they would print in a wet darkroom, but the base color didn’t have any impact on scanning. I’m curious to know how well this process would work with other C41 films, and I’ll be trying it on a couple of rolls of Delta 400 that I shot at 200.

16 Replies to “Ilford XP2 Stand Developed in Rodinal”

  1. Matt, are you serious? Back in my film developing days I used water for the final rinse. Why do you use alcohol? Or is it a requirement of Rodinal development? I think I used Rodinal back in those days. Are you sure you did not drink the vodka???

  2. I’ve long been adding alcohol to the final rinse to ease even drying. I’m not sure where I picked that up, but the source seemed reputable at the time, and it does seem to work.

    It was a little early in the morning for vodka, but I was tempted ;-)

  3. I have never used alcohol as a rinse, either in its potable or non-potable forms. Water has worked well, including on negatives that are pretty darn old.

    I like the contrast on the first shot, but the highlights on the last couple seem blown, at least on this monitor.

    Love Rodinal – never would have tried it on XP2 or any such C41 film. Interesting.

  4. Max, I uploaded alternated versions of the last two. There’s a lot of information to work with in these negs, so the range of potential interpretations is vast.

    I’d almost given up on Rodinal before this. It always seemed a bit too contrasty.

  5. I see you’re still shooting the M6 TTL. I assume you’re happy with it? (THis may sound like a silly question, but if you’re at all like me, continued use of a camera seems to either increase my love of it or increase the things about it that frustrate me.

    Just curious

  6. Also, I don’t think I’ve ever seen a postr of yoiur where you talk about this, what is your scanning technique? If there is as post about this, just link me to it, thanks.

  7. Hey, I think you can remove the rust colouring of the base with a bleach wash. In normal C41 processing they use a fixer/bleach mixture called blix. It may be that you have to use something similar to make this work without the discolouration. Let us know if you try it!

  8. Well done! Very courageous to try and very successful. Excellent photos.

    While I don’t think they’re over-exposed I wonder how they would have looked had the film been exposed at 400 iso? The reason I make the point is that I have recently found some rolls of XP2 that were exposed at 400 iso a few years ago and were half-forgotten about. Following wise, experienced and brilliant advice from Don Cardwell on apug forums I now use rodinal 1+50 with 5 min agitation cycles for all my films (usually Tri-X, HP5+ and Neopan 400). I’m astounded at the exceptional quality this gives in all areas, especially the tonal values and what I consider as fine grain. Rodinal is an amazing developer. As Don Cardwell so tellingly puts it, rodinal and this method give both hard and soft tones at the same time!

    I’m thus going to develop my rolls of XP2 in rodinal using this semi-stand or minimal agitation technique. I hope it will complement your full-stand method, and I’ll let you know the results. The thing is, I don’t know the best starting point for the development time so it’s going to be hit or miss to begin with.

    Thanks for your original idea in the first place, and for writing about it.

    Kind regards,

  9. Just the further point, that as you had come so close to dropping rodinal because of problems with high contrast, why not consider Don Cardwell’s advice and try the method of 1+50 with 5 minute agitation cycles for your other b/w films too, as well as the full-stand method you’ve evolved with XP2?

    The rodinal minimal agitation method gives great richness in both middle and dark tones, and wonderful detail in the highlights yet preserves the overall contrast. Sharpness is perfect (not too much to look like an engraving rather then a photo), and there are none of those weird or excessive effects that sometimes mar full-stand methods. Once you get the times right the images are never flat but at the same time are never too contrasty, all this with just 6 ccs of rodinal in 300 of water! Marvellous.

    Kind regards,

  10. Matt – I think the reposted photos are a better compromise.

    Anthony’s comments about Rodinal are all well-taken. With fine grain films, Rodinal really shines as it produces really sharp effects and excellent contrast ranges. With faster films – silver films anyway – the grain can become an issue. I’ll bet that with XP2 and other chromo films, the grain remains very fine.

    I have to try this!

  11. Chris, yes, I’m very happy with the M6. I scan with an old Scan Dual IV and VueScan. I set VueScan to raw and then invert the negs in PS. There’s a bit about it here.

    Ben, thanks for the tip. I’ll give that some thought.

    Anthony, I’ve tried a few semi-stand or minimal agitation methods, but the results have always had too much grain and too much contrast for my tastes. Using the method you articulate, for how long do you soup TriX?

    As to the question of how these would have looked if shot at 400, I’d expect less shadow detail, but I’d be surprised if the highlights or midtones were much different. XP2 is supposed to be highly tolerant of over exposure. Many folks just rate it at 200 for normal C41 development.

    Max, I’m looking forward to seeing what Delta 400 looks like in stand rodinal. The T-grain films often behave more like C-41 films, so the results may well be similar to this.

  12. Matt, I only use Tri-X at 400 iso and I give it 25 mins at 20C with 5 min agitation cycles.

    As to getting the developing time that suits me best, I simply choose the time that gives me good skin tones on straight prints from what I think is a well-exposed frame. (I do a few test portrait shots on each make of film. It’s probably best to use an incident meter for this – but I usually manage without – and to use lighting that’s diffuse and even).

    Forgive me for saying what you probably already know but rodinal is extremely sensitive to agitation, and the benefits of this particular form of minimal agitation (which I’d like to refer to as Cardwell’s method) only come from very very gentle agitation : 15 secs once it’s all in the tank and then 5 secs every fifth minute. In practice this is equivalent, for me, to 3 or 4 very gentle and slow inversions initially, and then two, and only two, very gentle and slow inversions after each 5 min period. This not only helps the tonal results but grain too.

    I know that it’s very tempting to give a bit more each time, thinking that it just can’t be enough, but one has to resist these thoughts in the interest of true art as well as science, and remind oneself that rodinal is powerful enough to do it all by itself!

    A thing that may be important to note is that on the basis of the Agfa graphs that give time adjustments for temperature differences, rodinal seems perhaps a bit less sensitive to temp differences than other developers, at least for some films. Data isn’t available for any films that I use but using estimates from the Agfa data for Agfapan 400 I’ve chosen to adjust by 1 min for each 1C up or down (or part thereof). Still, at 25 mins total time some slight errors here are not going to make much difference to the results.

    By the way, if you find persistent problems with contrast or grain or both when using rodinal despite trying every method that seems to exist, my suggestion is not to give up! It might, for example, be something else, like some feature of the subsequent scanning. I don’t myself have the trouble of scanning cos I can’t be bothered to scan negatives (I’m utterly sick and tired of any sort of digital work) so I try to process negs so that they can be printed easily without manipulation. Rodinal does this for me, and then I send the negs to ILFORD/HARMAN for scanning and printing on Multigrade RC.

    I’d be happy to show you a few print examples, if you’d like, that show the full range of tones that rodinal can give with Tri-X, including some wonderful mid greys, and also the fine grain (just email me). I particularly like the “grey colour” it gives to properly exposed skin tones, quite different from those from HP5+ and Neopan 400.

    It’s a funny thing but rodinal seems to me to show more of the intrinsic qualities of each film than other developers that I’ve used. So I now use the same developing method for all my 400 iso films, and simply vary the image qualities, if I wish, by choosing a different film to put in the camera.

    Good luck, and thanks again for a great site and blog.


  13. I forgot to say that according to a number of experienced contributors to the apug forums rodinal doesn’t seem to need any sort of speed change from the manufacturer’s rating. If correct this means that if Tri-X is exposed at less than 400 it will be over-exposed if processed in rodinal, perhaps by up to a stop. This, of course, will give less than ideal tonal quality and grain, and won’t let rodinal show what it’s really capable of.

    Kind regards,

  14. Anthony, you’ve intrigued me. I’ve got a couple of rolls of TriX on hand, so I’ll give the Cardwell’s method on try. I’d be interested in the prints and happy to do a swap; I’m always curious to see other photographer’s prints.

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