Archived posting to the Leica Users Group, 2000/12/12

[Author Prev] [Author Next] [Thread Prev] [Thread Next] [Author Index] [Topic Index] [Home] [Search]

Subject: [Leica] Test report: Stand development in Rodinal
From: Martin Howard <>
Date: Tue, 12 Dec 2000 13:23:07 -0500

I did some tests on stand development recently and thought that the result
might be interesting to others.  The films used were all Ilford films,
since they are the ones that I use and like.  For this test, I was using
PanF+, FP4+ and HP5+.

I shot two subjects, one moderate contrast and one high contrast.  The Pan
F+ was exposed at EIs ranging from 6 to 1600, the FP4+ at EI 12 to EI 3200,
and the HP5+ at EI24 to EI 6400.  Nominal speeds for these films according
to Ilford are EI 50 (PanF+), EI 125 (FP4+) and EI 400 (HP5+).

The camera was a Leica R7 and the lens a 60mm f/2.8 Macro-Elmarit-R.
Metering was done with a Sekonic Flashmate L-308B in incident mode.  The
meter was held at an angle to the sun such that exactly half the white dome
was in sunlight and half was in shadow (this how I normally meter).  This
reading was taken at the films nominal speed (or EI 100 in the case of
FP4+) and then used as the basis for all exposures, simply being modified
for EI.

Exposure indexes were varied by shifting the exposure time, while the
aperture setting was kept constant (f/8).  For some of the higher EIs this
was not possible (as the maximum shutter speed of 1/2000s was reached) and
the aperture was then shifted.  If memory serves me, this was necessary for
EI 1600 and above.

The subject was a section of the rear of my car.  For the medium contrast
subject, I photographed a portion of the rear fender, rear window, and some
of the scenery beyond the car, and a portion of sky.  For the high contrast
subject I moved the camera to include the rear wheel, the ground beside
and under the car, and portions of the interior (grey leather) and a black
bag in the back seat.  Highlights were provided by white Post-It (tm) notes
and specular highlights by chrome.

Development took place at 72F (the normal room temperature of my
improvised darkroom) for 90 minutes in Rodinal diluted 1:100.  The films
were loaded onto Paterson Super System 4 reels, and developed in a 5 roll
tank with two empty reels.  After the developer was poured in, I agitated
for the first minute, knocked out all the airbubbles, and then let the
tank sit untouched for the next 89 minutes.

Proof prints were made on 8x10 Multigrade IV RC paper, with the #2.5 filter
at around 10s.  These were just straight prints with no dodging or burning
(except where noted).  Development, fixing, and washing was all standard.
Prints were subsequently inspected in daylight the following day after
they'd dried completely.

- -------
Grain is quite noticable in the 8x10 prints, but then this is Rodinal.
Edge sharpness is excellent throughout, and tonality appears very smooth.

- ------
This film fared least well of the three tested.  It turns out very
contrasty, but looks as though it could be used at EI 100 or EI 200 with a
fair amount of burning in of the highlights at printing.  Mid-tone
tonality, however, and sharpness are great.

- -----
The EI 50 is clearly overexposed: even shadow details look like highlights.
The EI 100 pulls out tremendous detail in the shadows (like separation
between a black tire and the wheel well around it) but hightlights are

EI 200 provided the best overall print.  Plenty of shadow detail while
retaining the highlights.  Modifying the printing grade and times slightly
allowed us to get everything from white paper to ground texture in shadow
in the print.  Edge sharpness is increadible.

At EI 400 you loose some shadow detail and the prints start to look a bit
dark.  At higher EI, this trend continues.  EI 400 would probably work if
you modified your printing a bit -- there appears to be detail in the

- ----- 
Prints at EI 100 show fried highlights, but there is more shadow detail in
this print than in any other (except EI 50): you can count the treads on
the tire, see texture in the black asphalt right under the car.  The only
place where there is no texture is inside the wheel well, which is solid
black.  (EI 50 even reproduces texture inside this area, but just about
everything else is paper-white!)

EI 200 prints have much better highlight control and with dodging could be
quite good prints.  Shadow detail is still excellent, with separation
between the tire and the wheel well.  Texture is present in the asphalt in

EI 400 produces the best print, but EI 800 (allowing some sacrifice of
the deepest shadow detail) still produces a very acceptible image.

At higher EIs, shadows block up.

- ----------------
Many thanks to Tom Abrahamsson who helped me print the proofs and assess
their qualities.

- -- 
Martin Howard                     |
Visiting Scholar, CSEL, OSU       |     "Life imitates email."
email:         |                -- Johnny Deadman
www:        +---------------------------------------