December 12, 2014

arabica coffee or not

We recently had a discussion at Apug if pure arabica coffee without Vit-C would do any development, one guy reported that he had no development at all with arabica coffee. We can read at different places that the cheap and awful robusta would be the best for developing film and arabica would be worse, but no development at all? Furthermore, I didn't have single report here on my blog of any failure caused by arabica coffee. Au contraire, people told me that they used 100% arabica "premium" instant coffee, because it was at hand, and got excellent results. I also made such an experiment and could confirm, that pure arabica coffee was not worse than any other I tried so far. But I made the test with Caffenol-C. Now I decided to make a side by side comparison of 100 % arabica and the cheapest instant coffee available here without Vit-C, to get the results from coffee with washing soda alone. To make it worse, I used decaffeinated(!) arabica. Both samples were developed at the same time side by side. To make a simple story simple: I can't distinguish both! They look exactly the same, even held against a lamp for better judgement: identical blackening. To be honest, I wasn't surprised very much. But of course using a more expensive coffee is a waiste of money.

PS: my old flickr buddy Larry aka inetjoker just said that he only once had a failure with caffenol, and it was a deacidified coffee. Again no big surprise, caffeic acid is regarded as the main developing agent of coffee. Thank you so much, Larry for all your help and simply for being around always.


Both developments were made with snippets of Polylan F, I cut off 1 edge for the arabica developement and 2 edges for the "cheap" development for further reference. The recipe for both was:

40 g/l instant coffee and 40 g/l washing soda waterfree, that's it. pH was about 9.9 for both. Fixing and rinsing as usual.

Stand developed 60 minutes at room temp with some stirring every 10 minutes or so. That was a quick and dirty test, everybody can repeat it with a minimum effort.

See you guys, happy developings


December 7, 2014

the new old RPX 400

 Hi coffee users and abusers,

good news about film and Caffenol. The "original" Rollei RPX 400 is back!

The RPX 400 from the very first production was a great film with good pushing behaviour and nice grain. Then the emulsion was changed obviously without any announcement. I couldn't see any difference to the Kentmere 400 now, and I never liked this film. 
Here is my original post on the RPX 400 with an update adressing that point:

Many people, incuding me, complained about this inaceptable behaviour. After the new package design was launched recently the emulsion obviously changed again, now showing again all the great features of the first batch. Obviously our lament was successful. Shadow detail is splendid, even with extremely contrasty subjects. EI 1600 is possible. The RPX 400 needs a powerful development to show his best side.

I used exactly the same development as before: 5 minutes presoak, Caffenol-C-L with 1.2 g/l pot. bromide, 80 minutes at 24 °C stand development with constant agitation only for the first minute. And I got the same great results as almost 4 years earlier. EI was 800, all shots done with a Dynax 5 (Maxxum 5) in multi-segment metering mode with aperture priority at f/4, no manual exposure compensation. The subject contrast was big to huge up to more than 10 stops! Only very small adjustments were made in postproduction. Shadow detail was so splendid that I had to darken them a bit.

Credits go to a friendly guy who sent me 2 films for this test. Thank you very much! And thanks to the 2 charming girls who let me take the picture.

Best - Reinhold

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