How develop Tri-X 400 at box speed

The easiest way I have seen yet to develop Kodak Tri-x or Ilford HP5 at box speed.

Well I have posted a few articles oh how I push process Tri-x. Pushing is great when you need to do it, but sometimes we have plenty of light for shooting at box speed, and want less grain. For those of you who don’t know, “box speed” is the speed listed on the film’s box. Tri-x  and Ilford HP5 are both rated at 400 by their factories and that is what is printed on their boxes. Yes I am aware that kodak sell a slower version of Tri-x rated at ASA 320, but it is not available in 35mm and is not part of this discussion.

Normally this where I would start mixing us up some Rodinal 1:100 for an hour long semi stand development. While that is an easy way to develop film, we might get less grain and smoother tone by using kodak HC-110 developer.

Why HC-110 and not Xtol or D-76? Well because both of those are two part powdered developers that need their parts mixed separately at precise temperatures to create a “stock” solution. After you mix the stock solution, you need to to mix it again which some more water at a specific dilution for the film you are working with. To me this is all just extra work. While both D-76 and Xtol deliver good results, they have a short shelf life. The stock solution might last 6 months under ideal conditions, and the mixed developer might last a month.

Compare that to HC-110 and Rodinal, both of which are concentrated liquid developers and will last for years. Also both of these are about the cheapest way I have found to develop B&W film.

Here is some math: 

  1. HC-110 cost about $28.50 for a one liter bottle.
  2. It takes 6ML to develop a roll of film.
  3. 100 / 6 = 166 rolls of film can developed with one bottle of HC-110.
  4. $28.50 / 166 = 17 cents a roll to develop 35mm B&W film. ( of course you still fixer)
  5. Rodinal cost about $15.99 for 500ML bottle.
  6. It takes 6ML of rodinal to develop a roll of 35mm film. *
  7. 600ML / 6ML =about 83rolls of film can be developed with one bottle of Rodinal. *
  8. $15.99 / 83 = about 19 cents to develop a roll of film (of course you still need fixer)

Those prices are based on the B&H website as of today August 12 2018.

*I previously had listed 5 ML of Rodinal in in the 1+100 mixture. Further testing has shown 6ML to be a more reliable minimum and therefore the steps listed above were updated.

Now lets look at fixer. I use Ilford Rapid Fixer.
  1. Ilford rapid Fixer is $9.95 for a one liter bottle.
  2. It is mixed 1+4 for film.
  3. One bottle will make 5 liters of fixer. Various guidelines say 1 liter of fixer mix will fix 20 rolls of film. Since I do not use a stop bath, I cut that in half and use it for 10 rolls. 5 liters x 10 rolls = 50 rolls.
  4. That means $9.95 / 50 = 20 cents a roll for fixer. That is cheap enough and I know I am playing safe.
Here are the total cost per roll so far:
  1. Developer  HC-110 or Rodinal = about 16 or 17 cents per roll of film (24 or 36 exposures. It does not matter)
  2. Fixer Ilford Rapid Fixer = about 20 cents a roll ( 24 or 36 exposures. it does not matter.)
  3. Total cost per roll so far = 36 or 37 cents per roll of Black and white film.
One other possible cost:

If you have hard water or just prefer to use Kodak Photo-Flo in final wash, it is very cheap. A drop or two in the last minute of the final wash is all you need. Photo-Flo is about $7.95 for 16 ounces. At a drop or two per roll of film that might add one cent per roll.  The only other possible cost I can think of is distilled water if you live somewhere that has hard or mineral type tap water. If that is the case, then add in the cost of buying some distilled water to mix developer and mix fixer with instead of tap water.

Now to the recipes for Box speed development.

Rodinal 1:100 Tri-x or Ilford Hp5 at box speed (400) Semi Stand Development:

400 BOX SPEED tri-x or hp5+ RODINAL



Mix Rodinal 6mL with 600mL water.

After film is in tank, rinse it with water 3 times.

Start your stop watch!

At zero mark on stop watch, add Rodinal mixture and agitate 4 times slowly, tap tank on table let sit for 30 minutes.

At 30 minute mark, agitate 4 times and tap tank let it sit 30 more minutes.

At 60 minute mark on stop watch, rinse 3 times with running water.


Ilford Rapid Fixer 1 part fixer to 4 parts water.

Now add fixer mix list above. Agitate 3 times and tap tank. Let sit for 1 minute. At end of each minute agitate 3 times. Continue this fixing process for a total of 5 minutes.

Rinse film with running water for 4 to 5 minutes.

Hang up negatives to dry.

All this is at normal room temp, which in my house is somewhere between 65 and 70 degrees Fahrenheit. I measure the starting temp of all chemicals at 68F when I pour them in the tank. Some people say temp is not critical when using stand or semi-stand development, but by keeping the start temp of chemicals at 68F you can remove one possible variable.

I do not use stop bath for stand development. I use the water rinse and then go right to fixer. 


HC-110 at box speed.

I have not yet fully tested HC-110 at box speed with stand or semi-stand development.  My plan is to finish testing, and share that info once I can verify it. If this works as planned, I will be able to share a verified recipe with the exact mix strength and development times. As I write this, it is Sunday August 12, 2018 and I hope to get the recipe tested and verified this week. I will post a follow up when the tests are complete.

As always, thanks for stopping in.