March 19, 2010

Interview with Stephen Schaub

R.: Dear Stephen, I'm very proud to have on my blog one of the very few professional photographers in the word who is developing film with Caffenol-C. You are the leader of the figital revolution (, you combine analogue, film based photography and digital editing and printing.

There are many great working commercial developers outside, does the world really need another, an experimental B/W-film developer?

S.: Caffenol and Caffenol C have several advantages from economic to environmental and depending on the film it can have a wonderful ability to help control tonality for scanning purposes. I have tried many, many different developers over the last 20+ years and Caffenol C as I use it has been one of the most rewarding.

R.: Do you use both, Caffenol and Caffenol-C and what makes the difference?

S.: I have tested both and in the end settled on Caffenol C for two reasons:

1. The processing times are much shorter... in the range of 10-20 minutes whereas Caffenol is more like 20-40 minutes depending on the film.

2. Caffenol C negatives do not have as much of a brown stain as Caffenol negatives do, in fact some films have no stain at all... I found no real advantage to this stain unlike the stain from a developer like PMK Pyro and as such it just made my negatives more dense and harder to scan.

R.: One of the most discussed themes about Caffenol and Caffenol-C is fog. With medium speed films it is not a big thing, even when they are pushed, as far as I can say. But with higher speed films, 400 ASA and above, my trials were more or less disappointing because of too much fogging and a poor usable speed. What is your experience?

S.: About the same. Caffenol and Caffenol C in my opinion work best with slower speed films. My favorite films are Tmax 100 and Fuji Acros... both are fantastic in Caffenol C and both scan quite well.

R.: Are there any other drawbacks?

S.: Not really... the smell is easy to get used to and I sorta like it now. It is not perfect for all films as mentioned before and I don't know how it would be for wet darkroom work but for the films I use day in and day out it is now my go to developer.

R.: You shoot EI 25 to 1600 with 1 film, 1 developer and 1 processing time. The images look top-notch. That sounds too crazy. Are you kidding?

S.: Some films with Caffenol C have a tremendous latitude for scanning. This of course depends on the quality of your scanner, I use an Imacon- and it also depends on the range of the scene. I have found that films like Fuji Acros can indeed have a usable EI from 25-1600. I have now tweaked my process for two different times for this film.... one time for 25-400 and then a second time for 400-1600... it just makes the scanning a bit easier and will make it possible for users who don't have a scanner like an Imacon to fit the range of the film within the range of their scanner. But in a pinch as the test images show, yes one film, one processing time and EI 25-1600 is very possible. It does sound crazy but fantastic as well.

R.: Stephen, thank you very much for this interview. I highly recommend your website and for more details. Is there anything you still want to tell my readers? And all the best for your ongoing caffenol and future projects.

S.: Always remember why you got into photography in the first place... because it was fun! and Caffenol is not only fun but also amazing for the hybrid workflow... what more could you ask for.

Viva la Revolution!

March 15, 2010

Micha's first

I received a submission from Micha, a friend from a german analogue photography board.

The 2 images were shot during a walk in the city and later in a small cafe. It was his very first Caffenol development, using the standard Caffenol-C-M recipe described here in a former post. Micha reports that developing was easy and the negs are great. He especially emphasizes the good shadow and highlight rendering and the suitability of Caffenol-C-M for high-grade B/W photography.

I love both images. Perfect composition and craft.

Hasselblad 500 C/M, CF 150mm, Fomapan 100 exposed at EI 100, both shots handheld, scanned from negative, CanoScan 8800F. Click on the images for bigger size.

Thank you very much, Micha, for your submission.

Best regards - Reinhold

March 14, 2010

Juliette a charming young french jazz singer. After the show I could shoot this portrait. Lit only by one small lamp, not brighter than a couple of candles.

Minolta X-300, Rokkor 1.7/50 open stop, Fuji Acros100 @ 1600(!), Caffenol-C-M, crop 15x20 mm neg size, scanned with Canoscan8800F and Vuescan, edit with The Gimp.

The Acros 100 was exposed at EI 1600, developed in Caffenol-C-M for 20 minutes at 21 °C. I added +10 % of each ingredient. The neg is thin and needs some edit work. I would not recommend this 4 stop push for daily use. But not too much noise and very small grain here. Probably the smallest grain I ever saw with a 1600 ASA exposure. Watch the bigger size!

Best regards - Reinhold

March 13, 2010

rotation development, sample from Harald

I'm glad to present a report from Harry about rotation development with Caffenol-C-M and scanning from a wetprint made with Agfa MCC baryt paper.

"Inspired by Reinhold´s Blog, I was curious, whether the described recipe would bring me similar results with my accustomed developing procedure. I am using a Jobo ATL-1500 processor for convenience and to get always reproducible results. The ATL-1500 can run only by 24 degree Celsius for B&W mode, and it is a rotating processor. Usually, I begin processing with 5 minutes predunk, so certainly I had to adjust the given developing time of 15 minutes to something less. So I started the first example by using the Agfa APX-100, ISO setting 100 and a developing time of 12,5 minutes.

The results where good, but the density was a little bit high. So I reduced the time to 11,5 minutes for the next film and found it to be perfect. The negatives looked very good and I could not see any drawbacks in terms of quality, compared to my standard developers. The next example I did with a middle format film Agfa APX-100, same processing as before, but I mixed the soup only for 250 ml and I was not very accurate in scaling ... The results, again, where very good. Now I wanted to test the negatives against a print on the very nice Adox MCC baryt paper. What should I tell ? Results where great as you expect it from a good negative.

So my conclusion: This recipe can be used as a serious developer with reproducible results without any drawbacks.

Thanks to Reinhold for this useful blog :-)"

Thank you very much, Harry.

March 7, 2010

Soda: myth and truth

Sometimes I get messages about not successful Caffenol developments. It almost always turns out that the used ingredients are not suitable! "Better" coffees like Nescafe, or labeled "mild", "100% arabica", "gold" etc may be not suitable. But most confusion is about soda. In some countries it seems to be difficult to get the waterfree one. How can you determine which kind of soda you got?

First of all, waterfree soda is provided as a white powder. If you have small crystals, it will be either the monohydrate or decahydrate. Take an amount of your soda, determine the weight and put it in the oven above 120 °C. If it looses weight after some time, you have a hydrate. I tested my waterfree soda and it only looses about 2 or 3 gramms of 100 gramms, neglectible. If you loose about 20 %, it's the monohydrate. If you loose more than 50 % of weight, it's the decahydrate. Above 34 °C the decahydrate turns to monohydrate, above 107 °C the monohydrate turns to waterfree soda. When you don't loose weight anymore, all the water has evaporated and you now have pure waterfree soda. It might take hours, I have no clue how long.

Once determined which kind of soda you have, you can also use the mono- or decahydrate. Take 1.2x the weight (!) for mono- and 2.7x the weight (!) for decahydrate. Volumetric measuring is not possible, I don't know the specific densities and the scientific determined densities are not usable because they don't regard the huge amounts of air between the crystals/powdergrains.

So you can use the other kinds of soda than the waterfree, anhydrous one, but it makes things complicated. Btw, if you have a pH-meter, the final mix must have a pH of about 9.7. Using the wrong soda or miscalculating will result in a lower pH and reduces the developers activity dramtically.


The image was shot on TMax100 35 mm film @ about 800 ASA without any change of the process. The negs are quite thin and you have to do some adjustments during and after scanning, but it works - not too bad as you can see ;-)

Important note for recipes: when I say "XYZ" I mean "XYZ" and not "ABC".

Cheers - Reinhold

March 4, 2010

Caffenol-C-M details

1. picture: Fomapan100, EI 400, whole image
2. picture: EI 400, crop 10x10 mm negative size
3. picture: EI 100, crop 10x10 mm negative size
4. picture: TMax100, EI 200, crop 10x10mm negative size

Click on the images for bigger size.

All images developed in Caffenol-C-M as described in former post. On my desktop screen, the 10x10mm crops represent whole images of 1.30x1.30 meters print size for 120 film and still 50x80 cm for 35mm film! Caffenol-C-M enhances film speed without changing anything. Compare the EI 100 and EI400 images, both from the same roll, there is almost no loss. Just a tiny little bit more grain.

The last image is a 10x10 mm crop from the TMax100 exposed at EI 200 ASA. Almost no grain, extraordinary rendering from highlights to shadows, usable exposure range from 25 to 800 ASA. The subject had a contrast range of 9 stops. All in all this combo can handle a contrast range of 13 - 14 stops! And you need an extremely good lens to scratch the resolution limits. That's what I call "state -of-the-art".

Images 1-3 made by a 65 years old Voigtländer Bessa 66 with uncoated 3.5/75 Skopar, image 4 made by Pentacon Six with 2.8/80 Carl-Zeiss-Jena Biometar and z-ring.

Stay tuned. More to come ...... Reinhold

March 2, 2010

Caffenol-C-M, recipe

Hi there,

so lets start the show with my basic recipe and some words about the ingredients. You already know that Caffenol-C is made of instant coffee, washing soda and vitamin-C.

All recipes are based upon 1 litre solution, measured in gramms and milliliter (ml, 1/1000 of 1 litre). No teaspoons allowed here! No ounces, inches, quarters, barrels, °F etc. I only use international standard units. In many households you will find small measuring mugs f.e. for doing the laundry. These will be usable if they have scales. A weight scale will be of course a bit better, but is not neccessary.

UPDATE: You can use volumetric measuring with Caffenol-C-M, but NOT with Cafenol-C-L, that will be introduced later. Using a scale is HIGHLY recommended for every recipe.

If you live in a country using not international standard units, you have to calculate the amounts yourself. Sorry! Now here we go:

Instant coffee: granulate (crystals) with lot of air included. Buy the cheapest brand you can get. More expensive ones might not be so good. Get the "strong" labeled version if possible. Not the "mild" ones. The active substance in coffee is caffeic acid, that behaves similar to pyrogallol and is a very compensating developing agent. I tried some cheapest brands here in Germany from Aldi, Lidl and other supermarkets. They all taste the same (awfully) and I guess they are all made by the same company or at least the same method. So it shouldn't be a problem to get reproducible results. 200 gramms for 3 Euro.

Vitamin-C: ascorbic acid, the second active developing agent. Works similar like Hydrochinone, giving more contrast and is hyperadditive to caffeic acid. Also reduces fog and of course developing time. Whenever possible, buy pure Vitamin-C, small crystals. Here I buy 100 gramms for 2-3 Euro, available in any pharmacy. Don't use vitamin pills or tablets, there will be other substances added and you might have to adjust the recipe. Buy only pure crystals for reproducible results. Used also in a famous commercial developer.

Washing soda: sodium carbonate (Na2CO3), waterfree (anhydrous). Be sure to get the waterfree one, white powder. If you should have crystals, it is not waterfree and I do not recommend it. You need much more and depending on the kind of hydrate you must recalculate differently. Soda is used for making the solution alkaline, that is important for activating the developing agents. Available at drugstores, supermarkets, zoo shops, swimming pool suppliers. Here at drugstores less than 1 Euro/500 gramms.

Recipe for 1 litre Caffenol-C-M, means for medium fast 100 ASA films (adjust yourself for other quantities)

1. 1 litre water
2. 100 ml washing-soda or 54 gramms
3. 16 ml vitamin-C or 16 gramms
4. 160 ml coffee or 40 gramms

Dissolve one after the other in the given order. Wait until each agent is dissolved completely. Stir while adding, especially the soda should be added slowly for good solution. I use tap water, no probs so far. The dissolving of the soda will heat the solution for about 3 °C. Keep that in mind for a proper temperature. Little fogging of the solution caused by the soda was no prob so far. When adding the vitamin-C small bubbles will appear, wait until they have cleared before finally adding the coffee. This is important! Then add the coffee, stir well and let stand the soup for about 5 minutes. The coffee needs some time to dissolve perfectly. Do not store, use within 1/2 an hour.

Develop for 15 minutes at 20 °C. Agitation first 30 seconds, then 3 times each minute. Intermediate rinse or stop bath, fix and rinse as usual. Tested with TMax100 and Fomapan100 so far. Other 100 ASA films may need slight adjustments. Not recommended for ASA 400 films or faster.

1 litre will cost about 1 to 1.20 Euro. Of course you will need less for developing 1 film, so depending from film and tank size, 1 development will cost about 30 to 60 Euro-Cents. Rodinal stand development will be much less expensive, but Caffenol-C competes well with commercial developers and the results are outstanding. No joke!

Image info: Pentacon Six with 2.8/80 Biometar and z-ring, KodakTmax100, exposed at exposure index EI 200 ASA, Caffenol-C-M. The image from the first "Hello"-post was made with Fomapan100 at EI 100 and the same soup, time, temperature.

More details and sample pics for Caffenol-C-M with the next post.

Important note for recipes: when I say "XYZ" I mean "XYZ" and not "ABC".

Now I need a cup of coffee.

Cheers - Reinhold

March 1, 2010


Hi there,

this blog will be dedicated to a wonderful film developer you can mix yourself at home with ingredients you can buy in almost any supermarket, drugstore or pharmacy. It's names are "Caffenol" and "Caffenol-C".

Added Vitamin-C improves the quality in such a degree that it rivals the best commercial developers. The posted image was made with a 65 years old camera called Voigtländer Bessa 66, it has a beautiful uncoated 4-element lens named Skopar (3.5/75), exposed on Fomapan 100 film (type 120) and developed in Caffenol-C. Details like recipe and other tech stuff later.

More to come .... Reinhold