Film Photography

Kodak T-Max 400 in Rodinal

Callery pear flowers

They say you should use Rodinal only with films under ISO 400 or you’ll get grain the size of bowling balls. But Kodak’s T-Max films are so smooooooooth. I hoped that would offset graininess when I developed a 35mm roll of Kodak T-Max 400 in Rodinal recently.

No Outlet

T-Max 400 is not as smooth in Rodinal as it is in D-76, which is what my favorite lab uses to develop its black-and-white films. Also, my flatbed scanner isn’t lab quality, and that probably contributes to these results. But these photos are entirely tolerable, at least to my eye.

Braches in silhouette

If I had a roll of T-Max 400 with critical images on it I’d want to develop it in D-76 to get “that T-Max look” from it. But for everyday la-de-da shooting Rodinal is more than fine.

Railroad bridge

I made these photos in my Pentax ME Super with my fabulous 50mm f/1.7 lens attached. We were all locked down at home during the COVID-19 pandemic. One stir-crazy Saturday afternoon I couldn’t take it in my home anymore and went for a long drive. I stopped for a few photos along the way, in deserted places.

Roadside cross

I also made some photos around the house, since I was in it pretty much all the time. This is why I chose the T-Max 400, actually: so I could shoot handheld indoors.

Musical cup

I diluted Rodinal to 1+50 to develop this roll. The solution clocked in at 19.3° C, so I adjusted my development time accordingly, from 12:00 to 12:42. I used the Massive Dev Chart’s converter to calculate this time. As usual, I agitated in my Paterson tank using the swizzle stick to rotate the film on its reel. I agitated continuously for the first minute, then for ten seconds every minute thereafter.

Kodak T-Max 400 is perfectly acceptable in Rodinal. I’ll use this combination again, I’m sure.

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14 thoughts on “Kodak T-Max 400 in Rodinal

  1. Ya’ just gotta love TMAX 400! From my perspective those prints look just fine, Jim. I guess I’m weird….I use one shot HC-110 oh my TMAX and my negatives look good. I’ll have to try some D-76 which is my daughter, Maja’s, favorite film developer.

    How do you have your “darkroom” set up in your house? Mine is in the master bathroom with both door firmly closed, lights in the bedroom off, bedroom door closed and a sandbag bunker that the entire family knows not to cross!

    Well done, James.

    • I bought an HC-110 clone, LegacyPro L110, and will try T-Max in it. I’ll use it one-shot too. I like one shot, no storing old developer or figuring out when it goes bad.

      I develop in my bathroom, in full light, as I load my reel in a dark bag.

    • The hidden benefit in my photography to all of this is that I’m forced to keep coming up with new ways to look at the same old subjects.

    • It did, nicely. I just bought VueScan to squeeze better results from my scanner. Next time I use this combo I expect to see even nicer results!

    • Thank you! I’m now branching out to HC-110, or a clone of it anyway called L110. I also upgraded my scanner software to VueScan to get better scans.

      • P says:

        Great! I’m glad you’re experimenting with more developers. Rodinal is great, but so are many others. I’m always looking forward to your next blog post about home developing/scanning and seeing your corresponding images on Flickr.

  2. Christopher May says:

    I’ve always thought the T grain films played well with Rodinal. It’s been said that Rodinal doesn’t more grain, just honest grain. Since T grain films are already ahead in this department, Rodinal is still not a bad choice and it gives a rather pleasing tonality. Nice stuff!

    • That’s just what I found! I just bought VueScan to improve my scans. I rescanned some of this roll and the photos looked even better. T-Max and Rodinal are a good pair.

    • P says:

      Christopher, I couldn’t agree more. T-Grain and other modern emulsions (not just T-MAX 100/400 but Delta 100/400, ACROS, and Fomapan 200 as well) pair beautifully with Rodinal, and virtually all other high acutance developers work great with these films too for that matter. With most films, I prefer Rodinal’s “honest” grain to the way grain is rendered with the use of solvent developers.

  3. Hi Jim, I have just started scanning using my DSLR and Negative Lab Pro. The results are good and the process is pretty quick. The conversion using the software can have issues with color balance. I haven’t tried black and white yet, but will scan a few black and white negatives and post them on my blog. I am on a kick of shooting all film at 1/2 box speed at the moment. Except for the roll of Adox 20 that I mistakenly shot at 100! I think my negatives will have lots of pop at 1/2 speed. I think these could use a stop of exposure, I hope you don’t mind the constructive criticism. We are all in this together in the film community. Thanks for your continued contributions to us all. Louis.

    • I know at least one other person who does the DSLR/Negative Lab Pro method. It’s interesting. The DSLR I currently own is pretty old and I’m not sure has the resolution I want, so for now I’m sticking with my flatbed. Thank you for the perspective on the exposure on these images. I’m still learning how to “see” a negative and it helps to have others comment!

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