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12-01-2021, 02:08 PM   #1
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Any reason NOT to use "semi-stand" film development method?

After a fairly successful first attempt at home developing B&W film (by which I mean "successful for a total newbie" - i.e. I got some useable negatives ), I'll shortly be developing my second roll.

In my previous session, I developed some 120 Fomapan 200 - a T-grain film, apparently - using Rodinal at 1+50 dilution for 10 minutes, with constant inversions for the first minute followed by a couple of inversions each minute thereafter. Considering the Agfa Isola II camera I used had very limited shutter speed and aperture combinations, and I mostly guessed the exposure using "Sunny-11" (Sunny-16 for my locale), I was pretty happy with the results.

This time round, I'll be developing some 35mm Fomapan 400 - a traditional grain film - shot with an Olympus Trip 35 with automatic exposure, which is likely to be more-consistently accurate than my previous estimated efforts. I was going to use the same development method as before, but since then I've been reading up a lot on stand development - or, more specifically, "semi-stand" development. There seems to be a lot of variation and latitude in this approach, but essentially what I've read suggests using a Rodinal dilution of 1+99 or 1+100, agitating for anything between a few seconds and a minute, then leaving to stand for between 30 - 40 minutes, performing a couple of slow inversions, and leaving to stand for another 30 - 40 minutes before emptying, stopping, fixing and washing. As I understand it, the advantage of this method over true stand development is that it negates (or at least reduces) the possibility of "bromide drag".

I've read up on the way this method works, and I understand why it can result in reduced contrast, whilst increasing (or should that be "compressing"?) the dynamic range. Since I'm employing a hybrid workflow - film photography followed by digitising and software post-processing of negatives - the reduced contrast doesn't seem like a significant issue, and may in fact be an advantage in some instances. I am concerned that a loss of contrast might translate into loss of detail that can't be recovered in post-processing, but don't know if this is "a thing" or just my flawed thinking. On the other hand, I really like the fact that semi-stand development is so forgiving of exposure errors (given some of the equipment I'm using) and mixing of speeds (I've read of folks using this approach to simultaneously develop rolls of film shot at considerably different speeds, with good results out of each film). I've also heard that it can result in less-obvious grain - though I can't help but assume that's a perception thing due to reduced contrast (is it?).

Honestly, it all sounds too good to be true... minimal effort, reduced cost of chemistry, and maximum flexibility; but, when something sounds too good to be true, I'm very wary. So... what am I missing? What are the downsides? Are there any reasons why I shouldn't use semi-stand development?

Any insight and advice would, as always, be greatly appreciated. Thanks in advance

12-01-2021, 02:15 PM - 1 Like   #2
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My friend uses the semi stand process all the time. It is by all accounts hugely forgiving. His shots were contrasty enough and not as grainy as usual. You are going to try this I can't wait to see the results
12-01-2021, 02:23 PM - 2 Likes   #3
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Oh dear, he's down t'rabbit hole, he is. Stick with what you started with Mike, until you're confident you've got it nailed. In all the years I spent dragging film through the soup, I only ever used three, or maybe four, film developers and one of those was Rodinal (apart from the dishaster that was pushing HP5 to ASA 1600 - never again). I stuck to the standard concentrations and developing times and got reliable, predictable results.
12-01-2021, 02:35 PM   #4
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QuoteOriginally posted by Cerebum Quote
My friend uses the semi stand process all the time. It is by all accounts hugely forgiving. His shots were contrasty enough and not as grainy as usual. You are going to try this I can't wait to see the results
I'd love to try it, if nothing else for the experimentation aspect... and yet:

QuoteOriginally posted by StiffLegged Quote
Stick with what you started with Mike, until you're confident you've got it nailed.

... I stuck to the standard concentrations and developing times and got reliable, predictable results.
Having started out with a method that yielded acceptable results, I'm somewhat inclined to stick with it and see how it performs with various shooting scenarios, equipment and different films... but only somewhat

12-01-2021, 02:44 PM - 1 Like   #5
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Having developed a single roll, I wouldn't call you an expert at traditional development methods, so really the only reason I could think to suggest not trying semi-stand or stand development is that you don't have a lot of seat time with what you've already done. There's lots of information on stand and semi-stand development, and Rodinal (and its sisters like Adonal) seems like it might be the most popular developer for this sort of thing.

If you think it's something you would like to get into I say why not. I'm not a big fan in what I see in Rodinal developed shots that I see on the web but if you like what you've found...
12-01-2021, 02:59 PM - 1 Like   #6
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There is a case for using standard development with standard agitation with the goal being box speed, as a validation of knowing how to do so, if nothing else.

FWIW...Being a fan of stainless steel reels and tanks, I consider knowing how to thread film onto those as worth knowing as well...Hewes reels are strongly recommended! The only time I use my AP tanks is with doing stand or semi stand off label high dilutions of HC110 where volumes can be pretty high.


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12-01-2021, 03:02 PM   #7
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QuoteOriginally posted by pres589 Quote
Having developed a single roll, I wouldn't call you an expert at traditional development methods
Me neither. "Lucky beginner" would be a more appropriate label at this stage...

QuoteOriginally posted by pres589 Quote
so really the only reason I could think to suggest not trying semi-stand or stand development is that you don't have a lot of seat time with what you've already done.
That's a good reason... although the corollary is that since I've only developed one roll thus far, I'm not yet wedded to the method I used... so trying another method (or methods) mightn't be such a bad idea before settling into one and making it my own. Honestly, I don't know...

On the subject of traditional vs non-traditional methods, are stand and semi-stand development considered non-traditional and/or controversial in some way? If so, why? This might lead to reasons why I shouldn't try it... at least for now.

QuoteOriginally posted by pres589 Quote
I'm not a big fan in what I see in Rodinal developed shots that I see on the web but if you like what you've found...
I started with Rodinal for a number of reasons - 1) it's been around a long time and seems like its one of those developers everyone should at least try; 2) as a liquid concentrate it's convenient and easy to mix; 3) it's inexpensive, and even at standard 1+25 or 1+50 dilutions, it's very economical; 4) it remains useable after opening for a ridiculous amount of time compared to some others; 5) it's so widely used that there's lots of data, guidance and opinion on its successful application... and 6) I've rather liked some of the results I've seen from Rodinal; but the variance is huge, so I have to assume the film stock, dilution, dev time and agitation all contribute significantly (for instance, I've read that Ilford HP5+ and Rodinal aren't a good combination - though I'll undoubtedly try this for myself at some point, as I have some 120 HP5+ in my freezer )...


Last edited by BigMackCam; 12-01-2021 at 04:14 PM.
12-01-2021, 03:13 PM - 1 Like   #8
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I agree on all of your points as to why someone might have Rodinal around. It also seems to have a great shelf life after being opened. I started developing with Clayton F76 for a lot of the same reasons (although it does not have great shelf life, and is junk around the 6 month mark).

Maybe I shouldn't have used the word "traditional" for talking about stand development. I think it's not advised by the film makers in any case I can think of and so I would consider it non-traditional for that reason. Maybe "advised" or "suggested" would be better words for this sort of discussion.

There are people here who seem like geniuses in film development. Make sure you listen to them much more than you listen to me. About the only area where I might hold myself out as knowledgeable is in using Clayton F76+ to develop film at home. I'm not smart on which chemicals make some developers better for stand development than others or really anything like that. F76+ does not, in my experience, work well for stand development.
12-01-2021, 03:55 PM - 1 Like   #9
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I used to use ID-11 as my go to developer for any film, mainly plus-x pan, tri-x, and the fuji films, I always went by manufacturers instructions and got good results.
As an old photography teacher said to me, do art with images not the chemistry
But having said that, why not give it a try.
12-01-2021, 04:13 PM - 1 Like   #10
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QuoteOriginally posted by BigMackCam Quote
Me neither. "Lucky beginner" would be a more appropriate label at this stage...

Hey! Whaddya mean "Lucky"?! You had all of our combined expertise and knowledge to guide you (virtually) through your first film. I'd say it was a foregone conclusion you'd have a slam dunk on your first roll

Seriously, re. stand development, the main problem with that method seems to be streaking on the negs from such a lengthy time with no agitation. Not sure the chemistry at work there - it has something to do with bromides I think. I've chatted with people who have tried it, and had really mixed results. Some rolls turn out great; others are ruined. Now, their experiences may be with full stand development, and perhaps semi-stand gets around that problem - I'm not sure, but it's worth it for you to thoroughly research that before submitting a precious roll to this.

You mention trying films like HP5 and how they are not a good fit with Rodinal - I concur...I've tried that and had pretty ugly results. For this film, at some point you'll have to introduce a second developer into the fold that works well with faster films. There are LOTS of options here, so ask away if you want some recommendations.

If I may make a suggestion....before trying new methods or materials, it would be highly valuable for you to learn what a properly exposed and well developed actually looks like on your light table. That way you can objectively evaluate what happens when you make a major change, and whether it was actually an improvement or otherwise.

Here are a couple of places to start:
http://www.aregeebee.net/negs/eneg.htm
What does a Good Film Negative Look Like? ? Belinda Jiao Photography

I'm not trying to discourage you from experimenting - that's part of the fun of shooting film, after all. Just saying, take your time before jumping to the next thing. Learn the ins and outs of a particular method/chemical/film, and then try something new. Sound reasonable?
12-01-2021, 05:11 PM - 1 Like   #11
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There is nothing to gain with stand/semi stand development.

Higly overrated imo.
12-01-2021, 05:33 PM - 1 Like   #12
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Another good practice to add to your list regardless of how you develop is to give the tank a medium hard knock on the table just after filling it. This is to dislodge any air bubbles that might be clinging to the film. Agitation will mostly take case of this but it can miss some of the really "clingy" bubbles and a rap on a surface is an extra god measure (doesn't hurt to do this part way through the process also).
12-01-2021, 06:04 PM - 1 Like   #13
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I always found Rodinal too active for my liking, it has its uses eg. in an short time educational setting where single use dev. is needed.

I know it is favoured by stand developers, some use HC 110.
Rodinal could give tri-x gritty street scenes a certain look, but really ID-11 was/is way better.
A friend uses stand developing and always has small issues with it on 120 film, less issues with 35mm film.
He is always at me to start using film again, maybe I should, if I did that I'd want a dark room again
12-01-2021, 06:44 PM   #14
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film
exposure
developer
viewing media

all can be subdivided and many divided again, all contributing to a look of some sort. I really liked PanF in Rodinol @ 1:50 or 1:75 and using one of the unicolor film drums. they printed great on Portralure M using Ektaflo. but a scientist friend told me once, 'you won't know until you try, and you won't know for sure until you can repeat it.' I guess we found out for sure cause she married me. anyways your first roll looked fine, all things considered, not even a seagull. the more you do it the more you learn.
12-01-2021, 06:49 PM - 1 Like   #15
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QuoteOriginally posted by Eric Auer Quote
There is nothing to gain with stand/semi stand development.
With Rodinal this is a pretty accurate summary. However, stand development really works wonders if you are using a staining developer like pyrocat HD. The stain really helps tame wide dynamic ranges and makes the negatives easier to scan.

But that is an even deeper rabbit hole.

Last edited by Digitalis; 12-02-2021 at 03:27 AM.
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