The conventional wisdom on the Internet is that Rodinal isn’t the best developer for Eastman Double-X 5222. But I’ve now used this combination and it’s fine.

Vee dub grille

When I loaded this roll into my Nikon N90s, Indiana’s governor had not yet shut everything down to slow the spread of the coronavirus. We were just starting to talk about isolation and social distancing. Many companies, including mine, were asking people who could work from home to do so. I can, so I did. I decided to take a midafternoon walk around the area just to stretch my legs. I live right by a strip mall so I walked over there. The Lowe’s parking lot was packed.

Old Chevy truck in front of Lowe's

I didn’t encounter a soul outside while I walked, however. A few storage barns were on display at Lowe’s; here’s the window of one of them. My past experience with Double-X 5222 has been of high contrast images. But those were in full sun. I’m sure the overcast day helped manage the contrast. But could the Rodinal also have helped show more grays in the film? I really like the tones in the shutters and flower box.


The Thai restaurant was still open. The Mexican restaurant next door had a sign in the window saying they’d be doing carryout orders only, and asking everyone to stay safe and healthy. They were ahead of the curve.

Sidewalk chalkboard

This being a modern subdivision, retention ponds are everywhere. They provide opportunities to photograph reflections.


I shot this film at EI 250 and diluted my Rodinal to my usual 1+50. I normally shoot this film at EI 200, but the Massive Dev Chart had a 1+50 recipe for EI 250 and not EI 200. The Rodinal resulted in reasonable grain and okay smoothness in the details in most shots. The photo below is an exception — when you look at it at full scan resolution, the vinyl siding looks all mottled. But at blog size it’s fine.

Vinyl village reflection

Walking back toward home, I saw that one of my neighbors had his beater Jeep parked out front. It’s black with white fenders, and sports aluminum wheels. I wondered how the Double-X would render that, so I shot it. The wheels turned out to be more of a dull gray than their real-life low-sheen silver.

Jeep wheel

This whole subdivision used to be someone’s farm. I remember driving out this way 20 or more years ago and finding acre after acre of cornfields. The farmhouse survives, a lonely little petunia in this onion patch. (Can you tell I’m not much of a fan of these vinyl-village subdivisions? We will move from here one day and I hope never to live in one again.)

Steps to the old house

I came inside for the last few shots on the roll. Again I photographed the Belleek ring holder that’s on our kitchen windowsill. That’s my wedding ring.

Belleek ring holder

Finally, here’s the window in our back door with a stained-glass ornament my wife’s mother made. The outer petals of this flower are bright orange. I always think it’s interesting to know when a black-and-white photo is of a colorful subject, and what colors are in the subject.

The stained glass thing is orange and white in real life

It’s interesting to see how Rodinal handled the Eastman Double-X 5222. It worked, and for my normal blog purposes it was fine. But it wasn’t spectacular. I’ve used Old School Photo Lab to develop most of my black-and-white film and they use Clayton F76 developer, which is an analog to Kodak D76. These developers are known for finer grain and better shadow detail. The scans I got back from Old School please me somewhat more than these in terms of sharpness, detail, and tonality.

I shot this film because I’m shooting up my old film, and I had a roll of it left from a purchase several years ago. If I come upon some again and I wasn’t shooting something that mattered, I’d use Rodinal again to develop it. But ultimately, I want to find some films that pair excellently with Rodinal and make those my go-to black-and-white films.

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14 responses to “Eastman Double-X 5222 in Rodinal”

  1. […] 🔗 Eastman Double-X 5222 in Rodinal […]

  2. Khürt Williams Avatar

    I discovered this post via a link from the film photography project’s blog. I started reading their blog post but decided it might be best to read about it from someone I trust. 😃

    I use black and white 35mm films mainly in the winter to capture the depressive mood I feel during that time. I primarily used T-MAX, Tri-X Pan 400, and Ilford HP5 400 back in my college days 1988). All at ISO 400. But I don’t think I like the contrasty look of those film stocks anymore.

    I don’t like the look of Double-X either.

    Do you have any recommendations?

    1. Jim Grey Avatar

      HP5 seems to be lower in contrast by my estimation than any of the films you mention. I like FP4 as well, lots of good middle grays, but it’s an ISO 125 film.

    2. P Avatar

      In addition to Jim’s suggestions, if you like grain, Delta 3200 shot at 800 to 1250 and pulled a bit in development will provide a very low contrast negative. It also fits winter scenery very well. The biggest problem with it, assuming you don’t mind the grain, is its price tag.

      Jim is right about HP5 PLUS. It tends to give less contrast than other modern 400 ASA films when shot and developed normally. If you shoot it at 160 or 200 and pull it in development, it’ll give even less contrast (and less apparent grain).

      One final option would be to shoot Double-X, but rather than develop it in standard B&W developers, develop it in D96. D96 will provide a negative with a lot less contrast than D76, HC-110, Rodinal, etc. D96 is, after all, the B&W motion picture stock film developer Double-X was designed to be paired with. Double-X in D96 can provide a low contrast negative with an absolutely massive dynamic range, making post-processing incredibly flexible.

  3. Steve Rosenblum Avatar
    Steve Rosenblum

    Hi Jim–I’m late to this discussion, but, wanted to add that despite the “76” in its name, Clayton F76+ (also rebranded and sold as Photographers Formulary FA-1027 and Arista Premium Liquid developer) is not a “D-76 Analog”. It is Phenidone based. I like the results better than D-76. A number of excellent Pro labs, including Old School Lab, Photo Vision in Oregon, and (I believe) The Darkroom, use it for their BW work. Give it a try, I think you will like it.

    1. Jim Grey Avatar

      Since I wrote this, I’ve heard a couple times that F76 isn’t a D76 clone/replacement. Some sources say that F76 returns results in line with D76. I like the idea of a liquid D76 “equivalent” (from a results perspective).

      1. Steve Rosenblum Avatar
        Steve Rosenblum

        If you contact Clayton Chemical in LA they will send you a free bottle of F76+ to try (at least they did the last time I checked). The contact person there, at least as of 2020, was Janice Fujii. If you contact me I can send you her email address. I think by commenting here you get my email address? The generic contact email address is:

        1. Jim Grey Avatar

          Oh awesome. I see a bottle of the stuff is like $11 at Freestyle. That’s next to nothing. I’ll probably just buy one to try it.

  4. Steve Rosenblum Avatar
    Steve Rosenblum

    Great! I will be interested to hear your opinion of it. Would use it in 1:9 dilution to start. 1:14 is also good, but I think the 1:19 is too dilute. By the way, I just ordered your “Square Photos” Deluxe Edition. I’m a big fan of square photos. Recently bought (again) a Minolta Autocord. Had one years ago, sold it to buy a Rollei 3.5f, sold that thinking I was done with TLRs but NO, I’m NOT!! =) Honestly, I think the Autocord lens is as good as the Rollei Planar. Anyway, looking forward to looking through your book. I live up in Ann Arbor, so another Midwesterner.

    1. Jim Grey Avatar

      Thanks for buying my book! I love my Yashica TLRs. I ought to try an Autocord and a Rolleiflex someday.

    2. P Avatar

      Steve, I’m exactly the opposite. I like 1:19 and 1:14, but am not a big fan of 1:9. I don’t like short developing times at all. Generally, I don’t want anything less than eight minutes, and I prefer ten or more. That allows for very good consistency roll to roll. While you’re right that F76 Plus is phenidone-based versus metol-based—that is, it’s a PQ developer and not an MQ developer like D-76—it is nonetheless very well documented Clayton formulated it to be a good match to D-76 in terms of grain, tonality, etcetera. Of the two, I agree with you. I also like F76 Plus better. Being liquid, it’s certainly easier to use. It also works well in replenishment systems, which is why many labs use it. Regarding labs, those you mentioned above may charge pro lab prices, but they are still very much just consumer labs. In my opinion, none of them are anything special; they’re just expensive.

    3. Jim Grey Avatar

      I bought some F-76+ and developed some T-Max 100 in it yesterday. Photos up in my Flickr space. Looks good to me!

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