One of the oldest black and white developing solutions is called Rodinal. In fact the patent for Rodinal dates back to 1891. With local camera stores quickly closing it is becoming harder and harder to develop films and if you care to take the adventurous DIY path the folks at Dr. Frankenfilm have the perfect recipe for making your home-brew Rodinal.
It involves some nasty chemical agents (that you can probably get within one walk around the block) and a hefty amount of Tylenol.
The good thing about Rodinal (or bad, depending on how neat you are) is that it is a one off agent, meaning that it is dead after being used once. On the other hand Frankenfilm calculated the cost to be around 3 cent per roll, which is less than the postage you would pay for shipping film to a developer.
Kyle of Frankenfilm explains:
Rodinal is one of the oldest developer formulas, patented in 1891, it has great edge sharpness and can be used with both film and paper. Rodinal is a one-shot developer, meaning that once it has been used, it can be discarded. I am terrible at remembering how many runs have gone through a developer batch, so throwing it out each time guarantees that I’ll never be using exhausted developer…
…This developer is in concentrate form and common dilutions are from 1:25 all the way up to 1:100. I normally use it in a 1:100 dilution to maximize contrast and edge sharpness. Using this dilution also decreases the cost per roll developed…
…The process is fairly straight forward and can be done safely indoors with proper ventilation. Make sure to wear gloves and eye protection when dealing with Sodium Hydroxide as it is very corrosive. Purchase separate measuring cups and label them for darkroom use only.
If you are unfamiliar with these chemicals, I encourage you to read their MSDS sheets and follow the recommended safety procedures.
Here are some typical photos developed with Rodinal
[HOMEBREW RODINAL | Frankenfilm], Thanks for the heads up Kyle