For those who want an simple way to dive into home negative developing, I can’t think of an easier way of getting started than to get your hand on the Agfa Rondinax 35U.
The Awesomeness of the Rondinax
The Rondinax 35U is daylight film developing tank, meaning that you don’t need a darkroom for developing 35mm negatives. For those people who previously have used traditional plastic / steel tanks to load film, you are are in for a treat:
- No Darkroom Required. You might need a change bag for certain situations, but I’ll cover that later.
- Spooling Film is no fuss! – This is great for beginners. You just put the clamp on the film and the Rondinax will almost do all the rest for you. Although I can now easily spool film now, I still prefer the Rondinax I have minimal contact with the film. This means less scratches and scuffs on the negative. That is always a plus.
- Minimal Amount Developer Needed. I think the smallest single developing tanks use 300ml of developer, the Rondinax only uses 200ml. Save your precious developer fluid. Its very economical, especially for colour development.
- Colour and B&W – though the instructions in the manual are for B&W film, its just as easy (so long as you keep your temperatures constant) to develop colour film with a Tetenal c-41 kit.
- Very consistent development – I’ve developed in tanks and the Rondinax, I’ve always gotten the most consistent results out of the Rondinax over my other tanks.
The sub-awesomeness of the Rondinax
So whats bad about the Rondinax? There are a few things to consider:
- One film at a time: Rondinax is a film-at-a-time type of tank. This means that it can take a lot of time, especially if you do colour development. I don’t mind at all, if I wanted speed I’d shoot digital 🙂
- Its made of Bakelite: There is nothing wrong Bakelite if you take care of it, however it doesn’t seem to age a well as other plastics. I’ve had a couple of chips in my Rondinax, but nothing a bit of super glue couldn’t fix.
- Temp Control: -The Thermometer doesn’t go up to 38 C for colour development, so you’ll just need to buy an extra thermometer.
- Needs the film leader out. This is a nuance with modern 35mm cameras. By default, many automatic cameras will rewind the film all the way into the canister. The film leader, that small strip at the end with perforations only one edge gets sucked in. Well, you’ll need to have the leader out. I know of two methods for retrieving: film leader retriever and cracking the film open in a darkbag. I haven’t used a film leader retriever before but have used the darkbag method several times. What you’ll need is the film canister, can opener, Rondinax, and darkbag. Once in the darkbag, crack open the film from the bottom (not the top bit with the plastic bit sticking out). Place the film in the Rondinax and spool it.
A couple of final tips:
- If you have manual rewind camera, don’t wind the film all the way into the cartridge, leave a little something for your friend, the Rondinax.
- When spooling your film, don’t ever tug needlessly after you meet resistance. Use the Rondinax cutting lever as soon as you feel a firm tug. If you are not sure, check the exposure counter to see where you are at (eg if its pointing at 36, and you have 36 exposure film, then its time to cut). The only time I messed up a roll in the Rondinax was when I pulling too tightly after feeling the first sign of resistance.
- While it is Daylight box (meaning that you don’t need a dark room or dark bag), having a changing bag is going to be really useful for emergency situations such as removing stuck film in the camera or the above mentioned film leader rewind problem.