Rodinal and Sodium Sulfite

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david b

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I was reviewing a copy of Henry Horenstein's "Beyond Basic Photography" and on page 91 he mentions using sodium sulfite with Rodinal to create fine grain negatives.

Has anyone tried this or is anyone doing this? Also, I would love some help on the mixtures if you can. I typical use Rodinal 1+25 with APX 100 and I love it.

Thanks,
david
 

Lee Shively

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Oh, yes! And I have a nice fresh bottle of Rodinal and a nice fresh tub of sulfite to try it again as soon as I get a chance.

In the early to mid-1970's, I processed all my Tri-X in Rodinal 1:75 with a sodium sulfite mixture. The amount of sulfite I used was approximately 1 tablespoon to 2/3 of a tablespoon per 8 ounces of water. The time at 68 degrees F was 11 1/2 minutes. I loved it. I stopped using it when I went to work for a newspaper and had to get things done quickly. Eleven minutes processing was too long for deadlines.

I got the idea back about 1973 from an issue of "Camera 35", which was one of the finest photo magazines at the time. Bill Pierce (who now writes a column for the Digital Journalist) was a columnist who wrote articles on "down and dirty" photography. He suggested Rodinal as a Tri-X developer because it was known to produce good tonality. The sulfite did two things, it dissolved some of the grain edges, thus reducing the amount of grain Rodinal is famous for with higher speed films, and the sulfite also tended to speed up the development process. Pierce reported he used 2/3 Chock-Full-A-Nuts coffee scoop per roll of 35mm Tri-X. He processed his film for a negative density that printed well on condenser enlargers, thus the negatives were thin but had a full tonal range. Using 1:75 Rodinal in sulfite and 11 1/2 minutes, my negatives consistently printed well on the #3 papers I used at the time (Kodak Medalist, Kodak Kodabromide and Agfa Portriga Rapid--sometimes the negatives looked better on #2 Portriga).

Pierce gave other dilutions and times for pushing one stop and for reducing contrast even more. I don't remember them off hand but I still have some old sheets I made up at the time.

I've been reprinting some of my old negatives from the early 1970's and I'm impressed with the quality I got from this combination back then. I recently ordered some Rodinal and sulfite. I'm now using HP5+ film as opposed to Tri-X but I think there should be little practical difference in the dilutions or times I used for Tri-X. The only problem I have is that I have not had any opportunity to shoot any pictures in almost a month. I'm looking forward to trying out the combination again.
 
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TPPhotog

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Does adding sulfite to the sacred Rodinal change the times by very much?
 

WarEaglemtn

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I think you will get better results using Sodium Ascorbate (ala Gadget Gainer) than sulfite. It speeds things up, the grain is a bit finer & the negs look very good.
 

Lee Shively

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Concerning the amount of sodium sulfite, I remembered Edwal once sold "speed cups" to measure a 9% solution of sulfite to mix with FG7. I looked up some old data sheets from Edwal. The cups were designed for 45 grams of sulfite per 15 ounces of water. They said that it was the same volume as one fluid ounce. That's pretty close to what I was using.

If I ever get a chance to make photographs again, I'll give this a try with HP5+.
 

Lee L

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Gainer has compared the effects of sodium sulfite on Rodinal with other sodium additives. The info on sodium ascorbate is in this thread:
(there was a url link here which no longer exists)

That thread includes some info on adjusting the times and dilutions when adding 4g/liter of sodium ascorbate to Rodinal, from Gainer's PhotoTechniques article in Jan-Feb 2002, "Salt to Taste?".

He compared adding sodium ascorbate to Rodinal 1+50 with 100g/liter sodium sulfite. I used to use Rodinal 1+100 + 45g/liter sodium sulfite and was pleased with it. Notice that the ratios of sodium sulfite to concentrate are about the same in both uses.

I recently tried Calbe R09 + sodium ascorbate with HP5+, comparing it to P-C-TEA, and liked P-C-TEA better. Both gave a pretty true 400 ISO, and P-C-TEA was about the same in terms of accutance, but with much smoother grain and excellent tonal rendition.

Gainer also recommends trying borax (1g/liter in 1+50 Rodinal) in place of sodium sulfite at: http://unblinkingeye.com/Articles/Rodinal/rodinal.html
Read down to the bottom of the article. He gives time adjustments for adding borax there as well. I haven't tried this yet myself, so can't comment.

Hope this helps.
Lee
 
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david b

david b

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I developed some APX 100 tonight in rodinal 1+50 with about 1/2 teaspoon of sodium sulfite.
I developed for 14 minutes at 68 which is what I do with SS. The negs look a bit thin.

So should I be adding time when using sodium sulfite?
 

jon furer

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I use a 9% solution of sodium sulfite with Edwal FG7. it works great with Hp5 and Tri-x. great tonal range and minium grain. Haven't used it with Rodinal, but it probably works great too.

Here's a simple measuring trick to make a 9% solution for 16 oz. Take a 35mm plastic film canister and fill it up about 7/8 full. Much easier than pulling out the gram scale every time.
 

Zathras

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david b said:
I developed some APX 100 tonight in rodinal 1+50 with about 1/2 teaspoon of sodium sulfite.
I developed for 14 minutes at 68 which is what I do with SS. The negs look a bit thin.

So should I be adding time when using sodium sulfite?

Hello David,

I think you need to add more Sodium Sulfite to the Rodinal first. I don't think that that you used enough sulfite to make any difference. Lee Shively states that he adds from 2/3 to 1 tablespoon per 8 oz of the diluted Rodinal solution. I would try to increase the sulfite before increasing the Dev time. This should get you a developing time in the neighborhood of 11 to 13 minutes with a 1:75 dilution of Rodinal.

Hope this helps,

Mike Sullivan
 

glbeas

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I was having problems with my Rodinal dying on me while tube processing 8x10 sheet film, seems the drum was mixing in too much air. I tried 20g of sulfite per liter of water and mixed my Rodinal with that. Brought my contrast right up to par with what I was getting from the Nikor tank. In this case the use was for oxygen scavenging instead of reducing grain.
 

slm

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Hi, I'm still rather new to this, but I do mix together 1/2 tsp. vitamin C and 1/4 tsp. baking soda in about 25ml. water, and throw it in 1:50 Rodinal. I mainly shoot APX 100, and the grain using the mix is quite fine compared to straight Rodinal, very similar to Fuji Acros.
 

gainer

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My result when I compared adding sulfite with adding ascorbate was that The grain of the ascorbate mixture was as fine as that of the sulfite, but had more of the edgy characteristic of plain Rodinal. If you try it, remember to use the ascorbate, not the acid. You can make the ascorbate from the acid and baking soda by mixing 1 teaspoon of ascorbic acid with 1/2 teaspoon of baking soda in a small amount of water and letting the effervescence subside before adding it to 1 liter of 1+50 Rodinal working solution. The developing times are about what you would use with plain Rodinal at 1+25 dilution. Some have noticed more fog than plain Rodinal, and I found that a small amount of borax reduces the pH enough to cut down the fog.
 
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