At the moment my favourite film and developer combo is Kodak Tri-x 400 and Kodak D-76. So far Tri-x seems to tickle me the most because it has such a nice grain structure. I’ve tried a bunch of others b/w films too that are readily available in stores at the moment but I just seem to get back to Tri-x all the time. I like T-Max too, but it doesn’t have as nice grain.
I’ve just recently started to develop my own negatives so I am a total newbie with developers. When something is classified as a traditional product, I usually go with that, because I am a sucker for traditions and old timey products. So I ended up with Rodinal (R09), which I kiiiinda liked, but ended up switching to D-76 after all. The recipe for Rodinal is said to be over 100 years old and that appeals to me a lot. I’d like to like Rodinal even more, but after souping about ten rolls in it, I had to admit that I didn’t always like the look of it. I’d still like use it more and I’ve been thinking about how to achieve different kind of grain looks with it. I haven’t tried stand development, which basically means leaving the film in the developing tank for an hour without agitations. I’ve done just the regular development with 1:50 dilution and agitating every 30sec. Pretty much by the book. I’ve tried different kind of agitation techniques without any significant differences in the grain look. I don’t necessarily mind having a lot of grain, but instead, I’ve just like to be able to manipulate the grain look, not just the amount.
With very good lighting, I’ve got some really nice images with Rodinal + Tri-x, like for example the image above, but when the lighting gods are not your side, the look of the image very quickly turns unsatisfactory. Especially the mid-tones on a cloudy day just looks horrible.
After getting a bit frustrated with Rodinal I switched to D-76, which is pretty much spot on for me. Combined with Tri-x — I think it’s my favourite combination so far. I think the grain amount is slightly more acceptable and over all it looks a bit cleaner. I’ve only done few rolls with it, but now that I’ve found a good combo, I don’t think I want to try another film or developer any time soon. I’d like to know Tri-x and D-76 really well and just make a lot images with them to really get to know their characteristics. I still feel kinda bad for Rodinal because for some reason I would have liked it to be my product of choice. Even though I didn’t like it 100%, I still like the idea of Rodinal.