February 20, 2014


for my german friends... Don't worry, this blog stays in englisch language. This post is an exeption.

Das Bild kann wie alles von mir ohne weitere Nachfrage nichtkommerziell frei benutzt werden. Klick ins Bild für eine größere Darstellung.
Viele Grüße - Reinhold

January 2, 2014

How to avoid spots

Often it's not easy to get clean negatives without spots, drying marks etc. Fernando e.g. asked what he can do to get rid of these spots. Instead of a reply as a comment here my thoughts about avoiding spots with all kinds of films:

Hi Fernando, the thin emulsions of microfilms show every fault unmercifully. No, I don't filter the mix, but I found that using destilled water for the developer is neccessary for microfilms no matter which developer you use. And the fixer can make problems. I sometimes had masses of white spots with most films and after trying a lot there was no other explanation left that the fixer had to be blamed. Now I use a more than 30 years old Agefix (no joke!) and have the cleanest negs ever. When the bottle is empty I will buy only premium branded fixer and nothing else. And again, use destilled water for the fixer! I had 2 different but cheap fixers causing many problems.

Rinsing I do with tap water, the final one again with destilled water that got a dash of dish soap. Put the film completely in this bath, then hang to dry and pour the bath with the dish soap over the film on both sides. No wiping.

January 1, 2014

happy new year

Happy new year 2014 everybody.

Medium format quality with slow technical (micro) 35mm films and Caffenol-C as a great and cheap developer compared to the dedicated and expensive soups? Yes, why not? The results are first class using a proven recipe and adjusted dev times. Using really fine resolving zoom lenses at bright sunshine make it possible to get great results even handheld, of course fast prime lenses are first choice for every subject.

There are also films from fresh production as Rollei ATO, Rollei Ortho 25, Rollei ATP, Agfa Copex Rapid, and of course the new Kentmere/RPX 25. The latter are not technical films and will probably need some more minutes dev time.

Another sample from the excellent Kodak Technical Pan, developed 12 minutes at 20 °C in Caffenol-C-L with 0.1 g/l pot. bromide, regular agitation, means first 60 seconds continuously, thereafter 3x every minute. Excellent tonal range even at heavy backlight.

Love and peace - Reinhold

click for a bigger size

June 10, 2013


Hello Coffeeholics!

Since the disastrous change at flickr many of my friends left the site and moved elsewhere, and so did I. You can see us here now:


The new Caffenol group and my own account are shown in the linklist.

Don't look back - Reinhold

Agfa Copex Rapid 35 mm film, Caffenol-C-L

May 6, 2013

more microfilms - Copex Rapid

Microfilms are a little bit delicate to process, because the extremely thin emulsions are very contrasty as they shall be regarding the original purpose. Anyhow, for pictorial use we don't need specialized and very expensive developers as some distributors want to make you believe. Simple Rodinal 1:100 or 1:200 already gives nice results. And Caffenol-C used in an adapted manner produces state-of-the-art results.

Here we talk about the Copex Rapid from Agfa Belgium. I got it in an older package as the so called "gigabitfilm", and yes, the naming imho was a serious aberration of taste and the film was sold together with an expensive and very doubious developer. That initially brought the whole category of microfilms into discredit.But enough wining about people who only want to empty your pockets. This blog is ad-free and will stay so as long as the host will allow it. Caffenol strikes again!

Caffenol-C-L is a weak or compensating developer ideal for extended stand development or for a low contrast development in some minutes. Here I used Caffenol-C-L with no restrainer (no KBr or salt) for 13 minutes/20°C, regular agitation (30 sec initially, 3x every min) and the film was exposed at EI 50. The strong backlight is a challenge for any film/developer combo and of course you need a proper exposure.I metered the foreground, added 3 stops (for the zonies: it was set to zone 2) and still have a good tonal resolution in the sky. The Copex Rapid is told to handle a contrast range of 14 stops, try that with your full format DSLR ;-) Grain is virtually not existent or not resolvable with my humble Canoscan 8800F. The density range of this negative is D = 0.2 - 1.8, so it should be printable perfectly on silver paper.

The very thin emulsions of microfilms only need a very short fixing time, maybe less than 10 seconds, in normal strenght fixer, so you should dilute your fixer much more to get at least a fixing time of 1 minute to not overfix the negs. Make a clearing test!

Best regards - Reinhold

February 5, 2013

Kodak BW400CN

Recently I shot my first roll of Kodak BW400CN, a chromogenic b/w film. A first experiance in C41 color developer slightly pushed turned out very good at EI 1600, and I wanted to try Caffenol. I'm not a big fan of color film developed in b/w developer, but this BW400CN developed in Caffenol-C-L is as good as developed in color developer. No doubt. This film is ideal for high speed purposes and hybrid workflow. You can push this film a lot and still don't get to much contrast, for the sample image attached here I even had to enhance the contrast in pp. Grain is still very small, almost unvisible with my Canoscan 8800F. The look is very different from other films, probably ideal for taming highest contrasts. The orange mask is very transparent and the base fog very low.

So here's a sample, no masterpiece for sure, but showing the character of the film under very low light conditions at EI 1600, simple average metering with my trusty Canon A1. Developed in Caffenol-C-L semi stand with 0.5 g/l pot bromide, 20 °C, 70 minutes, fixed in regular bw fixer, increased contrast (s-curve) in Gimp.

Best - Reinhold

November 26, 2012

The Caffenol Cookbook and Bible

.... is a project surely worth not only an entry in the link list but also an extra posting. And no, the book is not sold for money to make us rich, it's available for everyone online and totally free by Community Spirit Publications. Made by nine well known Caffenol cooks under the project leadership of the fabulous large format photographer Bo Sibbern-Larsen. I'm very proud to be part of this project. See a bunch of fine Caffenol developed pictures and get lots of infos about this marvellous developer. There are still some minor imperfections of the web design, but really enjoyable to look and read. So here I proudly present:

Thank you very much for your enthusiasm and patience, Bo.

October 6, 2012

Caffenol-C-F and Cardinal

After a few more results with Caffenol-C-F I have to state that compared with my other Caffenol receipes this is a weak developer giving thinner negatives. It has less Vit-C and the sulfite is also slowing down the development. So for boxspeed you might need about 20 minutes development time, Also less sulfite may be good for better film speed, maybe 30 or 40 g/l. You can play with the amount of sulfite without any other change, but you probably have to adjust the dev time. We see exactly the same behaviour as with regular fine grain developers, smaller grain -> less speed. But together with Rodinal/Parodinal we get a developer on steroids, still producing acceptable fine grain. And still we need more experiances with Caffenol-C-F and the Cardinal developer.

And no, there won't be a pope developer. The original latin "cardinalis" has nothing to do with katholizism, nor do I.

TMax 400 @ 800, Cardinal developer 12 minutes, 20 °C, regular agitation. The Tmax 400 was difficult in Caffenol-C, a lot of fog and rather large grain. Now we have reasonable fine grain, no fog and speeds up to 3200.

Best - Reinhold

August 15, 2012

New recipes

Hi guys, something new after a long time. I had lots of fun with Caffenol-C developers in the past and wanted to try something new for me.

Caffenol-C and it's many variants are not real fine grain developers, although Caffenol-C-L is better than most others in this regard. Many commercial fine grain developers use sodium sulfite as a silver solvent agent, making grain smaller in high concentrations. One of the most famous for sure is D-76, containing 100 g/l sulfite in the stock solution. Lower amounts are used as a preservative. For another purpose it is used in waterbeds, it's sold here sometimes as "bubble ex". And that's how I got it from a waterbed supplier, 400 g for 4,60 Euro, shipping included. Not a big venture ;-)

Another thing was adding Rodinal to a Caffenol-C, using a third developing agent for synergistic work and hopefully better film speed. It already worked, but grain was pretty big. Could sulfite be the solution? And could homebrewed Parodinal from Paracetamol painkiller pills substitute the Rodinal? Will we get the desired film speed? Will we get reasonable fine grain? The target is at least EI 1600 from an ISO 400 film, more is better, and grain should be much smaller than with a Delta 3200 for example. That's a great film, speed and shadow details are splendid in many developers, but very expensive and grain is pretty huge for 35 mm film.

So here's the new Caffenol-C-F recipe, F means fine grain:

washing soda waterfree 17 g/l
Vit-C 4 g/l
sodium sulfite aka "bubble ex" 50 g/l
instant coffee 40 g/l
pot. bromide 1 g/l

Together with Rodinal 20 ml/l = 1:50 it worked perfect, so I brewed Parodinal according to Donald Qualls recipe:

250 ml water
30 tablets @ 500 mg Acetaminophen (Paracetamol, Tylenol)
sodium sulfite, anhydrous, 50 g
sodium hydroxide 20

Again the sulfite was the "bubble ex" and the hydroxide was "drain free" or "Rohrfrei" in german. If there should be small aluminium chips in there, remove them with a plier.

Use protective gloves and glasses. Never pour water over the hydroxide, give small amounts of hydroxide into the water at the time. Cool the mug in cool water while diluting the hydroxide. Be careful! Stay away if any doubts!!!

I let stand the fresh Parodinal for 3 days, then I use it. See how it worked.

The Cardinal developer - Caffenol-C-F with Parodinal 20 ml/l 

This is a completely homebrewed developer.

The first one is HP5+ as 35 mm film at EI 3200 in Caffenol-C-F with Parodinal 20 ml/l developer, I call it the Cardinal developer.

So the grain is razor sharp and small, scanned with a high resolving Minolta Scan Dual II. Some brightening was necessary in postprocessing, but nothing too dramatic.

Now I tried the TMax 400, 35 mm film, in Cardinal developer. The film was a delicate candidate in Caffenol so far, lots of fog and quite ugly grain at high speed. So again the TMax400 was exposed at EI 3200, developed 15 minutes @ 22 °C in Cardinal, agitation first minute constantly, then 3x every 2 minutes.

Shot in bright sunlight with a Minolta Dynax (Maxxum) 700si with battery grip shutter speed of 1/4000 and a stopped down tele lens, the neg is really contrasty and reminds of a transparency. How I love the look! The 35 mm film was scanned with the reliable Canoscan 8800F, needing some unsharp masking in postprocessing but with better tones and I love the result. The Tmax400 shows almost no fog, very, very small grain for EI 3200 and - of course - a bit compressed tones. For better shadow detail and easier silver prints you should restrict the exposure to EI 1600 and are rewarded with splendid tones, very fine grain and exquisite sharpness at EI 1600 - I'm glowing! Let's hope that Kodak will survive.

This thing is whole new for me. Strangely enough I didn't use the new Caffenol-C-F alone, without Rodinal/Parodinal, but I have no doubts that it will be a great Caffenol-C developer and maybe surpass and replace my other Caffenol variants easily. I will report - promised!

Finally I have to give credits - huge credits! I didn't invent anything. I only collected some infos spread in the web and put them together according to my needs:

- Dr. Scott A. Williams and his 1995 technical photography class at the R.I.T. - the Caffenol pioneers!
- Donald Qualls and his omnipresence in the universe of homebrewed developers
- Steve Anchell for his great "darkroom cookbook"
- all the guys at "The new Caffenol home" group at flickr for their constant help, encouragement and inspiration
- and the many mostly unnamed friends in the www like Rob, Mike "the englishman in France", Larry, Henrique, Dirk, another Dirk, Gerald, Jon, Khoa, Adrian, Volker, Micha, Berthold ..... just to name a very few by their first names, they will know.......

Thank you very much!

Best - Reinhold

April 26, 2012

Fixer 2 - errare humanum est

Hi folks,

I stated before that salt will not fix photographic film, but I was wrong. Yes, I tested it and it didn't work, but under special circumstances you can use kitchen salt as a fixer. So how to?

You must use a highly concentrated solution of table salt of about 300 g/l. That's a lot! That's really a lot!!! Maximum solubility is 359 g/l, so the suggested solution is almost saturated and the diluting process takes some time and/or a lot of stirring. Furthermore the fixing takes a lot of time, after about 24 hours the exposed at room light but undeveloped little piece of APX100 was clear. Since fixing time is said to have to be doubble of the clearing time, expect a total fixing time of 2 days! Rising the temperature to 30 or 40 °C will shorten the time to a couple of hours, but I don't want to "cook" my bw-films.

The perfect clear snippet of the film then was developed and no blackening at all occured, indicating that no silver halide was hold back in the emulsion. I developed with Caffenol-C-M and the film snippet got a remarkable brown tint. I noticed before that some films have a stronger brown tint if they are developed with salt as a restrainer, of course with much less salt. But of course usually the negs are first developed and then fixed, so I expect no problems.

I tried regular non-iodized table salt and iodized table salt, both work about the same. Both contain a small amount of anti-caking agent: E 535 aka hexacyanoferrat(II). Since the amount is very small - max. 20 mg/kg - I don't think it has an influence. But never say never again, hahaha.

So it's good to know that there is an alternative to thiosulphate based fixers. Be it if you live abroad or can't get regular fixer for what reason ever or simply because you like it, it's good to know. I will continue fixing with the regular one because it only takes a few minutes, but NEVER SAY NEVER AGAIN. 

All these insights I owe Sir Henrique the "Cronocrator" and his fine blog: http://caffenolcolor.blogspot.de/ and the corresponding discussion in "the new Caffenol home" group at flickr. Thank you very much, guys.

Some questions are left, f.e. we have no explanation why it works and how other films behave, especially films like TMax or Delta. So before using this method you should make own trials with the film and salt you use before you ruin important negs. It's simple. Cut a small piece from the leader of 35 mm film, put it in a solution of 300 g/l salt, wait and see. Should be done in a simple glass mug.

Now after so much salt I urgently need a COFFEE!!!

Best - Reinhold