Developing Tri-X shot at 1600 in Rodinal 1+50 yields excellent results. I shot these with a Leica MP and 35mm Summicron IV. I took a meter reading off my hand in each area I shot.

It’s the season for not using Diafine: the cabinet in which I keep my chemicals never breaks 70 degrees during the cold months, and mixing a one-shot developer like Rodinal or HC-110 is a lot faster and easier than warming my Diafine A & B bottles in a tempered bath. Diafine’s working range is 70-85 degrees Fahrenheit. I still use it, but I extend the development times from 3 minutes in bath A and 3 minutes in bath B to more like 4 minutes/5 minutes. I don’t know if that overcomes the temperature being too low.
So I’ve been using a lot of Rodinal and HC-110, and I’m very happy about it. It’s more disciplined: Diafine is a lazy person’s developer, and while I love its results, there are films and speeds that I think I could get better results from using another developer. I’m also a speed freak, and I like to push films and take photos indoors and in lower light. Stand development in Rodinal brought me to a state of bliss, shooting in near-darkness, but a more “normal” processing recipe with Rodinal may have just knocked Diafine off its perch as my go-to goop for pushing Tri-X. For context, I shoot Tri-X at 1000/1250 for Diafine. I do not like the results I get pushing Tri-X to 1600 with Diafine.

Here’s the recipe:

18:30 in Rodinal 1+50: 10ml Rodinal in 500ml water at 20°C/68°F
Agitate 30 seconds initially, then 2 inversions every 2 minutes
Rinse/stop with 20°C/68°F water for 1 minute
Rapid fixer
Perma-wash 30 seconds
Rinse 30 seconds
PhotoFlo 30 seconds
hang to dry

I’m sure this is nothing new to many black and white enthusiasts, but it was the first time I really got the tones I wanted while shooting at 1600. At 1600 I expect high contrast, visible grain, and a lot of shadow detail loss. That’s the opposite I got with these two rolls I just developed using the above recipe. Incidentally, I actually tried a different agitation regimen on one of the rolls, and it made no apparent difference in the end. The recipe above includes the simpler agitation scheme of the two.

The hot spot on the floor above the girl goes white, but you can still see the details of the floorboards. And look at all these marvelous grays!

Some notes:

When you see a Rodinal recipe, 1+50 means 1 part Rodinal to 50 parts water. It does not mean 1 to 49–the Massive Dev Chart iPhone app (which has a cool tool to help you calculate dilutions) gets this wrong.

When using Rodinal “normally” (i.e. not for stand development), a minimum of 10ml per film is a good guideline. I’ve used much less for stand development, but that’s an entirely different approach.

You need room–500ml water plus 10ml Rodinal means 510ml of liquid in your tank for each film. Which means you can develop one roll at a time in your Paterson double tank. And none in your double stainless steel tank (which holds about 450ml of liquid), without bringing down the amount of Rodinal, which I don’t recommend unless you use it a lot and know what to expect.