Film Photography

Ferrania P30 Alpha in Rodinal

I’m starting to develop 35mm black-and-white film now. It was my goal all along — I started with 120 because it let me shoot a roll fast so I could get to the developing. I shoot way more 35mm than 120 normally.

Last week I shared a roll of Arista EDU 200 I shot, developed, and scanned. I thought surely it and my whole box of to-shoot film was damaged by a space heater I kept too close by. But a commenter said “hey, maybe your Rodinal has gone weak.” I did open a new bottle of Rodinal to process some Eastman Double-X 5222 and, spoiler alert, it turned out perfect. So it was the Rodinal. Maybe I didn’t get the cap on right last time, and for the little bit left in the bottle the air scotched it.

I didn’t get that comment before I used that potentially compromised bottle of Rodinal to process this P30. Several photos turned out reasonably well. They might have looked better in fresh Rodinal. But they show P30’s signature characteristics: nearly undetectable grain, rich blacks, strong contrast, and a reasonable tonal range.

Barber Shop
Garage
All locked up
Monon Coffee Co.
The Bungalow
Mpozi mural

I shot this roll in my Pentax Spotmatic F with the 55mm f/1.8 SMC Takumar lens attached. I developed it in Rodinal 1+50 at 21° C for 12 minutes, 40 seconds. Ferrania advises 20° C for 14 minutes, but the ambient temperature led to 21° developer and I had to adjust development time. I used the Massive Dev Chart’s converter. The first two shots are from downtown Carmel, and the next four are from Broad Ripple.

Some photos didn’t fare as well. Anything with significant amounts of sky in it suffered. I shot all of these around Broad Ripple.

Monon bridge
The Bungalow
Bridge to Fresh Thyme

Interestingly, the film closest to the outside of the roll fared the worst. This is one of the first photos I made on this roll. It still shows P30’s signature rich blacks, despite being so mottled overall.

Meijer

One last photo, just because I like it. That’s my wedding ring on the ring holder thing we keep near the kitchen sink. It’s Belleek pottery; we bought it at the Belleek factory in Northern Ireland when we visited a few years ago.

Ring holder

I have one last roll of P30 Alpha, which I just retrieved from my freezer. I’ll shoot it soon and I expect far better results from it, developed with fresh Rodinal 1+50.

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Last updated on 23 March 2020 by Jim Grey

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17 thoughts on “Ferrania P30 Alpha in Rodinal

  1. Tom says:

    Jim, I received an open bottle of Agfa Rodinal (which they stopped making 15+ years ago) with some darkroom equipment. I tried it on a roll of film this past summer and it worked perfectly. I’m just saying it might not be the developer. The stuff is known to last a very long time. By the way, I really enjoy reading your blog. I’ve never commented before, but am a long time reader.

    • I must not have capped that bottle of Rodinal properly before I developed these two rolls. There was only a little bit left — enough for a few more rolls at most. When I opened a new bottle of Rodinal to develop my next roll, with all else the same, it worked great. Thanks for delurking!

  2. Kurt Ingham says:

    Nice stuff! Experimenting is great fun. My experience with Rodinal – it keeps well (usually) for those who don’t develop much. But really, the perhaps boring standby
    of Tri X in D76 is hard to approach, much less beat.

    • D76 seems to be a gold standard developer. I’m still learning the developing ropes and Rodinal is easy and keeps. (This one bottle notwithstanding.) If I get to a place where I’m developing a lot of film I will probably switch to D76. But right now I can go weeks between developing rolls and Rodinal is just so reliable and easy given that frequency.

  3. First, I want to thank you and other photographers who post regularly for continuing to do so. I need this community now more than ever since I am not able to partake in my local community of photographers. None of them blog.

    We’ve got wet overcast moody weather here in New Jersey today.

    • Writing this blog has always been a part of my personal mental health care — and I need to keep doing it now more than ever. If I have to photograph still lifes on my coffee table I’ll do it to keep this going.

  4. I think why most people like Rodinal is its reputation for lasting forever so it’s surprising that it would do this, but what you said about its exposure to air might be right on! Let me echo what others have said, I love the combination lock picture. Keep shooting and developing, and like someone else said above Tri-X and D-76 is a great combination, you’d also find it to be extremely forgiving. And now is a great time to experiment with a different developer or two.

    • It has to be that I didn’t cap the bottle right and it sat for six or eight weeks that way. The fresh Rodinal did the trick; results are queued for the blog on Monday! Or check it out on my Flickr stream now.

      I do hope to play with other developers one day but given everything I have going on I’m going to just stick with Rodinal for now!

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