August 28, 2010

large format photography - Caffenol-C-L

Hi there,

large format sheet film seems to be a little bit more sensitive for uneven development, as you can see in the first image, developed with Caffenol-C-M. I discussed that with Bo aka Fiatlux at Apug, and he did some helpful research and found that Caffenol-C-L finally was the breakthrough. Perfect even development, no more bromide streaks at the edges. All images by Fiatlux on Tmax100 4x5 sheet film with a Linhof Tecknika IV, Voigtländer Apo Lanthar 150. Unedited but resized, haha, original scans must be huge! Landscape developed in Caffenol-C-M, portrait in Caffenol-C-L. Thank you very much for your contribution, Bo. Here is what he wrote:

Hello everyone, my name is Bo and I´m a photography addict.. :)

I originally started taking photos as a serious amateur back in the early 80´s, my first camera was a Olympus OM10 but I soon found that it was a bit too automatic so I got hold of a full manual Olympus OM1 and also adopted the zone system to gain some serious control over my B/W negatives and prints.

I learned the darkroom techniques the hard way by reading tons of books, the Paterson system with the awful multi reels and a used Durst M605, mostly by trial and error during those early years in my little make do darkroom @ my parents house.

Anyway, as the years passed I started working for several photographers as an assistant and darkroom-slave :) gaining loads of valuable experience until I finally took the big jump in the late 80´s and became a pro, earning money on my photography mostly doing commercial studio stuff and interiors for magazines etc.

Well, I grew out of that eventually.. I got tired of book-keeping, discussing prices and other mondane stuff at every shoot, so I quit the pro career in 2001, got myself another job and went back to shooting for passion and not for petty cash.

And here I am today, I have a passion for portraits, love landscape photography and now with the Caffenol-C-L I´ve found a developer that has everything that I´ve been looking for: Cheap, easy to mix, environmentally safe, extreme contrast range, perfect grain structure and a wonderful stain.

Happy experimenting

August 22, 2010

Rollei Retro 80s - Caffenol-C-L


news from the coffee game. A friend gave me 2 rolls of Rollei Retro 80s as 35mm film to test it with my ugly tasting coffee brew. Thanks a lot , Nils! The RR 80s is known as a slow speed, extremely fine grained and somehow delicate to develop film. It also has an extended colour range up to mild infrared sensitivity. I never did IR-shots before and probably won't, so I decided to to see how it works under daily use conditions. No filter was used for the shots!

Exposed from EI 80 to 320, and developed in C-C-L stand development for 60 minutes at 21 °C. Sidestep: I get a lot of inquiries like "film X was bad in C-C-L at 60 minutes developing time". Pleeeeease, these questions are completely useless without specifying the temperature and agitation regime! Allright? OK, back to the theme. The RR 80s came out quite contrasty - means overdeveloped - and not too much shadow detail and very dense highlights. Fog free and perfectly even developed. EI 320 is unusable, 160 works better if the shadows are brightened during post processing, EI 80 is quite nice but for my taste still a bit too much for darkroom prints. Scanning is OK. I guess that best results will be achieved with EI 40 - 64 for wet prints with reduced development time, maybe 40 - 50 minutes at 20 °C stand development. 

The tonal characteristics are very special. Blue is rendered darker, clouds and blue sky are seperated nicely without filtering. The look is like using a light orange filter. Sharpness is extraordinary as is the almost unvisible grain. The 5x5 mm crop from the negative at 2400 DPI clearly shows the limitations of my scanner. Having no experiance with real slow films of 25 ASA or so, these are the finest grained and sharpest images I ever took, even at EI 160 for the RR 80s! If someone wants to support me, donate a Nikon Coolscan *lol*

The Rollei Retro 80s must be exposed and developed carefully. If so, you are rewarded with the finest grain and sharpness you maybe ever saw with 50 - 100 ASA speed films.It works great in Caffenol-C-L when regarding the notes above. Dont't push too much or even pull, develop at less time as shown here.

Best regards - Reinhold

August 17, 2010


Welcome everybody,
after more than 15000 hits and readers from more than 60 countries in less than 5 months, here's a chart for your conveniance. You may use it free without any permission for non-commercial purposes.

Again, click on the image for a bigger size and for saving.

Thank you for all contributions and feedback. It's just a beginning .....

I love coffee - Reinhold

August 16, 2010

Caffenol-C-L stand development

Real stand development with TMax100 as 120 type film. Shot with my 65 years old Bessa 66, vignetting of the first picture caused by filter (old fashioned yellow-green) and lens shade. Coloured with Gimp. First image EI 400, second EI 100, same roll. Click on the images as usual for bigger size.

Recipe as posted before, but only 1 g/l bromide. 5 minutes presoak in tap water, 10 gentle turns at the beginning, then let stand without further agitation. 60 minutes at 22 °C. Stop, fix and rinse as usual.

BTW, C-C-L has a pH of about 9.0

Perfect transparent film base, no fog, very little yellowish stain from the coffee. Usable on the same roll from EI  50 to EI 800.Scans very easy and surely will print at EI 200 - 400. For wetprints from EI 100 and below you should reduce dev time, otherwise negs become very dense, but no blown highlights!

My best Caffenol so far.

I love coffee - Reinhold

August 12, 2010

Caffenol-C-L + high speed film

Recipe and semi-stand development as in former post. 50 minutes at 22 °C. Remember to adjust dev times as usual for differing temperatures.

Neopan 1600 exposed at about EI 1600, difficult to tell with night photography. I'm confident to gain real 3200 with longer development.

Shot with a 35mm SLR and very cheap telezoom lens. Crop 10x10 mm negative size

Caffenol-C-L is a breakthrough with high speed film imho. Very low fog level, sharp, nice and small grain for 1600, very wide tonal range, perfect even development.

I love coffee - Reinhold

August 4, 2010

perfect development with Caffenol-C-L

2 posts belowyou can see the effects of different agitation. From extreme uneven development with stand development to a dramatic improvement with standard agitation. 

When adding the restrainer potassium bromide (KBr), we see perfect even develpment up to the reel covered borders - even with minimal agitation as shown here. With intension I made no proper black adjustment here to show the improvement in the clearest possible way. 

So here's my recommendation:

If you are satisfied with "regular" Caffenol-C like C-C-M, be happy. If you experiance uneven development, agitate more (you will have to adjust developing time). If still not satisfied use Caffenol-C-L. 

The benefit of C-C-L besides the 100% perfect even development are reduced grain and almost fog free negatives.

Caffenol-C-L will be my standard in the future.  My 100 g box of potassium bromide will last for a couple of films ;-) Caffenol-C-M will still be my standard as an easy to use and easy to get developer with enhanced film speed..

 So if you can get KBr for a resonable price in your country, buy it! You won't be disappointed.

Cheers - Reinhold

August 1, 2010


First results, Minolta X-300, 50mm Rokkor, orange filter, APX 100 in Caffenol-C-L

16 g/l washing soda waterfree, 10 g/l Vitamin-C, 40 g/l instant coffee, 1,5 g/l potassium bromide (KBr)

Use 1 - 2 gram/liter KBr, 1,5 seems to be a good idea. Do not use more than 2 g/l, it will restrain development too much up to blank negs.

40 minutes semi-stand development at 24 °C. Agitation first minute continuos, 3 inversions each at 2, 4 and 8 minutes, then let stand.

No fog, fine grain, perfect even development, about boxspeed.

Maybe some minor tweaks in the future, but looks fine so far. 

Maybe not everybody is able to get potassium bromide easily? I got it from my next door pharmacy. It's not toxic and environmentally safe with the used quantities.

Looks promising that C-C-L may also be good for high speed films.

Do not try (semi-)stand development without a restrainer like KBr -> agitation is the key! 

PS: I didn't use semi-stand development for another reason than comfort, I don't like shaking for half an hour. ;-)

Cheers - Reinhold

uneven development

 click on the picture for bigger size

 Some people report uneven development and/or disturbing fog. That effect appears almost always with classic (cubic crystals) emusions like Ilford PanF+ or Agfa APX 100. Not enough agitation is the cause. A drastic example is stand development with Caffenol-C, as you can see in the image above.

What is happening? Lets regard the left picture. Stand development makes it visible. Classic bw-emulsions contain a lot of silver-bromide, the silver is reduced by the developer to form the blacks, and the bromide is set free. Bromide is a strong restrainer, but without or too less agitation it sinks down in the tank and produces less development, marked with a red "x" in the left picture.Also below parts of high exposure more bromide is set free and causes streaks. Below the sprocket holes, less bromide is set free leading to stronger development. Finally the bromide accumulates at the bottom and there we find the least development and - the least fog!

In the right picture with regular agitation we see no eneven development or fog at all exept for the small upper and lower parts covered by the reel during development. The bromide is dispersed evenly and so we have a constant restraing effect over the whole area. The uncovered upper and lower borders are developed evenly  with low fog level, see the red "x"-es.

So agitation is the key for even development. Of course there is some remaining general fog,  but doesn't disturb because it is spread evenly over the whole film. If you get uneven development or disturbing fog, agitate more! Try the heavy agitation regime recommended f.e. for Xtol, 5 times in 5 seconds every 30 seconds. That's almost shaking! And reduce dev time when doing this! Time, temperature and agitation are closely related, keep that in mind always.

My trial with stand development was very revealing. It was done when experimenting with low-pH Caffenol-C. As the development times with low-pH will increase and I didn't want to shake the tank for 20 or 30 minutes, I gave stand development a try. With the shown faults. But - when adding the bromide in a good amount from the beginning as a separate agent, unevenness and fog will be gone! So stay tuned and await a new Caffenol-developer by me, it will be named Caffenol-C-L. Only a little bit of fine tuning necessary.  Compared to C-C-M it will have a bit film speed loss, but probably still boxspeed, finer grain and fog free even with stand development!

With "modern" medium speed films like Acros100 or Tmax100 things are different. They contain much less bromide and are much less fog sensitive and show perfect even development with C-C-M. Maybe C-C-L will also be recommended for high-speed films. So some things to do in the future, it doesn't get boring at all.

Time for a cup of coffee - cheers - Reinhold