March 31, 2011

new film - Rollei RPX 400

Update:  I'm convinced that the recent RPX400 is a different film from the very first production run. I never could repeat the great results I had with these first 20 rolls that I had. I checked the recent RPX 400 and Kentmere 400, imho they are now the identical, and got ugly grainy negs. I do not use this film anymore. Sorry that I have no better news. I guess that the first RPX400 was too good for the low price and the manufacturer Harman reacted

Anyway, here's the original post, it was a great film, r.i.p.

Hi everybody,

the german distributor - well known for the Rollei films and developers - introduced 2 new films in late 2010, the Rollei RPX 100 and Rollei RPX 400. Both films are produced in Europe and are classic cubic emulsions. We were waiting a long time for a replacement of the Agfa APX 100 and 400. and  Maco finally succeeded. A test with the 100 ASA film is intended for April by me and I could get first impressions of the RPX 400 in 35 mm format. 120 format is also available  In the US the films will be availavle at Freestyle in a couple of weeks, 35 mm earlier than 120. The films have a regular panchromatic colour sensitivity.

Improvements are said to be made with the new films and I can confirm that the RPX 400 is really a great new film and works very fine in Caffenol-C-L! Aren't that good news?

So lets have a closer look. The first batch was devoloped with my standard routine in Caffenol-C-L 70 minutes semi-stand at 20 °C. In the first row you see exposures from EI 400 - 3200 without any postprocessing in brightness or contrast, the second row is edited as I thought it looks good and tried to make them all look as similar as possible. Already the EI 400 picture needed some brightening and contrast enhancing, indicating that the development was not powerful enough. Nevertheless the results at 400 and 800 are very pleasing, at EI 1600 you see some loss in shadow detail, and the 3200 exposure is quite bad if you look at the 5x5 mm crops (neg size), where the grain is only pretending non existable shadow detail. Obviously the film needed more development. In every other relation the film is very easy to handle. Scratch resistant, good halo protection, perfect film flatness etc.

For the next test I've choosen a more delicate subject with a rather big contrast due to the strong side light and a dark surrounding. I didn't care for an EI 400 exposure but started with EI 800 going up to EI 3200. Development was 80 minutes in Caffenol-C-L with 1.2 g/l potassium bromide,  5 mins presoak , 24 °C pure stand development and agitation only for the first minute. Yes, 80 mins @ 24 °C! To keep the temperature I used a mantle bath with water of the same temperature. The stronger development should give the best film speed and more contrast, and the lack of any agitation after the first minute should avoid burnt highlights. When I took the wet negs out of the tank for drying I immediately knew: yep, that's it! The EI 800 exposure is spot on, almost no postprocessing needed, the grain is very fine for EI 800 and the contrast is simply perfect. No blown highlights at all. Base fog is still low enough for easy to enlarge wetprints, perfect even development. I was amazed. Rarely I've seen such fine negs at that speed. EI 1600 is still usable when enhancing the shadows a bit at the price of some more visible grain in the dark areas and a very slight shift of tones. Again EI 3200 was unusable with very ugly grain in the shadows and it's not displayed here.

March 10, 2011

sidestep - hot soup

Ilford HP5+ @ EI 2000

Caffenol-C-L with a few drops Rodinal added (1:200 diluted not in water but Caffenol), 1 g/l potassium bromide, 60 minutes semi-stand development, 20 °C, 5 minutes presoak, agitation continuosly the first minute, 3 times at 2, 4, 8 and 16 minutes. Fog is very low, negs are quite thin, lights are dense but nice shadows anyway. Maybe 75 or even 90 minutes full stand would be optimal. Can we gain 3200 with good shadows? Probably not, but 2500 could be possible.

March 8, 2011

available light - HP5+ @ 1600

Hi again,

after Wolf got fine results with the Ilford HP5+ at EI 1600 in Caffenol-C-L and I had splendid shadow details in Caffenol-C-H at about EI 800 I gave HP5+ another try as 35 mm film in Caffenol-C-L because  I'm still looking for a replacement of the Neopan1600. HP5+ could be the film I will stick with. I could verify exactly Wolfs results, nice fine grain and still acceptable tonal range.

Minolta X-300 with Rokkor 2.8/135, 1/30 at f/4 handheld. Simple average metering. Amazingly I almost got no camera shake.

Caffenol-C-L with 1 g/l potassium bromide, 5 minutes presoak, semi stand development 75 minutes at 20 °C, agitation first minute constantly, 3 times at 2, 4, 8, 16 and 32 minutes. Very low base fog level, very easy to scan from negative (Canoscan 8800F + Vuescan Pro) with only minor postprocessing.

Compared to Neopan1600 grain with HP5+ is smaller, tones are a bit more compressed and Neopan1600 easily goes up to 3200. As a replacement for the discontinued Neopan 1600 I like the HP5+ most so far. Tri-X was really disappointing @ 1600. But EI 1600 is probably end of the line for HP5+ if you want some shadow detail. TMax 400 could be a second choice, but I prefer the look of HP5+.

Cheers- Reinhold

PS: fixed the mistake, of course I used Caffenol-C-L, not -C-H for the semi stand development.

March 6, 2011

large format on Fomapan 100

Hello coffeeholics,

I asked Gerald - - for a  contribution when I saw his pictures taken with a large format camera and a 150 years old lens. Isn't that really frugal? He immediately agreed and here I proudly present his contribution. Thank you very much, Gerald.

Click on the images as usual for a bigger size.

Best - Reinhold

Dear Reinhold,

Please find attached as requested two Caffenol-C-L developed photos, the one you liked and the companion shot of the skyline. I thought the pair had good tonal range with the Caffenol. These are the straight scan black-and-white versions.

Tech details:

Both shots were done in the mid-morning facing west with a 4x5 Speed Graphic mounted with a E.&H.T. Anthony & Co. Single Achromatic No. 2 barrel lens (a landscape meniscus) that probably dates from 1860-70s. Skyline shot was at f-22, shutter 1/50; the scrap heap shot was at f-18, shutter 1/50.
Film was Arista Ultra 100 (= rebranded Fomapan 100). 5 minutes preasoak, developed for 70 minutes with Caffenol-C-L in Nikor daylight tank., agitated initially for 45 seconds (= 12 inversions), then let stand for entire remaining time. Water stop, Ilford Rapid Fix.
Scanned negative straight as is on Epson Perfection V700. No post processing on these version (except to crop scan and remove a little dust from scan).
Coffee used was Folger's Classic; Arm & Hammer Washing Soda, powdered Ascorbic Acid, and KBr from Photographer's Formulary. Followed Caffenol-C-L recipe but used 1.5g KBr in 1000ml water.


Day job is as university professor (Modern Japanese history and culture) at Vanderbilt University. I've authored Civilization and Monsters: Spirits of Modernity in Meiji Japan (1999) and several articles.

After many years of digital photography as a hobby and work tool, I began film photography about 18 months ago in the fall of 2009 with my deceased father's medium format Brownie Hawkeye Flash and with homemade pinhole cameras (paper negatives and medium format film). At the same time, I taught myself black-and-white film processing and began collecting old cameras of various formats, 35mm to 4x5. After obtaining a 1949 Speed Graphic, I started to acquire vintage lenses for it, conventional and non-conventional ones to experiment with. Lately I am shooting majority LF 4x5 black-and-white alongside medium and large format pinholes. Occasionally I take out my Yashica Mat 125G TLR (which I love), and for "snapshots" I tend to use a 35mm Pentax MG and Pentax Super ME. My "special occasion" camera is a 1926 Kodak Autographic 3A that I modified to take 6x14cm panoramic photos with 120 film.
My aesthetic tendencies are sympathetic to the Pictorialists, but I also appreciate good straight photography. I try to do both.

I love Rodinal, but lately it is getting jealous of my affair with Caffenol-C-L. Like many Caffenolholics, I like the idea of mixing a developer from common substances that are eco-friendly. I also like that it is very inexpensive, but that would not matter if it didn't produce good results. I have had such consistently good batches of 70-minute stand developed Caffenol-C-L -- no fogging, no uneven development, and great tonal range -- that even if all developers disappeared from the world I would be happy to use only Caffenol (okay, I would miss my beloved Rodinal).

Thanks again, Reinhold, for researching these recipes!


Gerald Figal

Finally a beautiful portrait taken with a 240mm Voigtländer Heliar at f-5.6 on the Speed Graphic., developed in Caffenol-C-L as above. Extremely fine tones and note the clever diagonal line of sharpness only possible with the sophisticated settings of such a professional large format camera. Impressive work! Thank you very much, Gerald.

Best - Reinhold