November 5, 2011


.... clicks in about 1.5 years. Time for a little celebration and - above all - to give credit to everyone who encouraged and supported me or contributed with her/his knowledge here or elsewhere. Also the film donations I received were extremely helpful, so THANK YOU VERY MUCH.

White rose shot with 3.5/50 Canon FD macro lens, illuminated with a 40 watt clamp lamp, exposed on long expired Kodak Technical Pan, stand devloped for only 12 minutes in Caffenol-C-L with 0.1 g/l pot. bromide at 20 °C, gentle agitation 1st minute cont., then let stand.

Cheers - Reinhold

October 19, 2011

first exhibition

Since last sunday, more than 30 of my pictures, mostly portraits of musicians, are exposed in the Jazzhaus Heidelberg. Most of them are shot on film that was developed with one of my Caffenol variants. Thank you Peter Antony for capturing this kind of "interview" :-) and sorry for the typo.

September 18, 2011

microfilm or high res low speed film

To be honest these are my first experiances with this kind of films. Resolutions of about 600 - 800 linepairs/millimeter at 1:1000 contrast and a gamma of about 3 in their typical applications are the benchmarks. For regular photography they need to be developed very compensating, often used are special developers. But also high diluted Rodinal can be used, f.e. 1:100 and a very short dev time below 10 minutes.

I was given a big box of long time expired films like Kodak Technical Pan, Kodak Imagelink, Agfa Ortho etc. in 35mm format and the first result with Technical Pan in Rodinal was very promising.for the second try I used Caffenol-C-L and it came out even better. 15 minutes with regular agitation (initially 10 times, then 3 times every minute) at 20 °C and with 0.4 g/l pot bromide, because I read that streaks are a common problem with this kind of films. I exposed at EI 50, but 25 or so maybe would have been better, but I need more data for this rating. As the negs were slightly underexposed, I had to brighten the images a bit in postprocessing, but not too much.

I am very pleased with the results, no fog at all, perfect even development, crystal clear transparent base. The TechPan with the panchromatic sensitation (up to 700 nm) has a nice tonal rendering, the grain is invisible and not resolvable with my scanner, sharpness is extraordinary.  A pity this film is not available from new production. Despite of strong backlight no tonal rendering probs and no halation effect at all, the tiny cables are resolved perfectly against the bright sky even in the distance. That's really something!

If you want to go into high resolution film based photography I recommend that you try Agfa Copex Rapid, that is made by Agfa-Gevaert in Belgium. Drawback is the PET filmbase, so the film must be loaded/unloaded in almost complete darkness. The ESTAR base of TechPan is easy to handle besides a strong ugly curl.

Inportant note: I found that using demineralized water is necessary for the developer and the final rinse and I very gently wipe the wet film, otherwise I get masses of small dots on the film. Treated as described here and the dots are gone completely.

Cheers - Reinhold

August 25, 2011

it's so easy

Hello coffeeholics,

some new interesting facts from the still growing worldwide community using coffee as a main agent for b/w-film development. I was never really satisfied with TriX in Caffenol, but when I saw the fine results of Thomas I had to think over my estimations. Secondly his system for developing at boxspeed and a 2 stop push with Caffenol-C-L is simply brilliant. You mustn't tweak your developer depending on the used film brand or desired speed, simply adjust the dev time. He did it with great results and many different films at different speeds and temperatures and his method is incredibly easy. Let's read what he wrote:


i did develop my b&w films for quite some time using highly diluted rodinal and stand development and was very happy with the results and especially also with the uncomplicated way of doing it: one developer for normal and push development, no tweaking for film type or room temperature. the only problem i got was uneven development, especially in medium format. as i was not able to solve this problem i looked around and at that time - about a year ago - i read about your stand- and semi-stand development experiences with caffenol and gave it a try. i wanted to try this strange idea of developing films anyway. i just followed your caffenol c-l recipe and it worked perfectly for me (prewash for 5min, agitating 30sec at the beginning and then 3 times at 2, 4, 10 and 40 minutes and dumping the develper at 70min). the results were amazing and had much of what i liked about the rodinal stand development. at some point i also wanted to be able to use the films not pushed at box-speed and tried to reduce the development time to get there. after some experiments i ended up with 5min prewash, 30sec agitation at the beginning and then 3 times at 1, 5 and 15 minutes and dumping the developer at 30min.

these two strategies for developing film at box speed or with a two stop push i'm using since and it always worked. and that at temperatures from 20-25 degrees celsius and films varying from acros (100+400), agfa apx 100 (100+400), kodak tri-x (400+1600), tmx (100+400), tmy (400+1600), ilford fp4+ (100+400) and some others (the numbers in brackets are the filmspeed i used the films at). the results were always very good. to see some images developed that way, you may have a look at my flickr stream

vielen dank und liebe gruesse



Thank you very much, Thomas, for these easy to follow instructions. I have no doubt a similar procedure would work f.e. with Caffenol-C-M, maybe 7 or 8 minutes for boxspeed and 15 minutes for a push +2 development and regular agitation.

Cheers - Reinhold

July 12, 2011

Rollei Retro 80s again

Hi everybody,

the Rollei Retro 80s, that in fact is an aerial film from Agfa-Gevaert/Belgium, I used it once before and the film shows extraordinary sharpness and finest grain together with an unusual tonal range. The 80s is extended sensitized for the near IR-range, not as much as the Efke, but still shows the typical IR effect. I supposed that optimal results would be achieved if an EI of 50 - 100 will be used at about 40 - 50 minutes stand development and it seems to be the sweet spot for this film. Gerald already has shown beautiful infrared pictures with this film on flickr, and Yannick uses a slightly different setup with a IR-filter that probably is not as strong as Geralds, and also does fine regular, non-IR photography with this film. It's a matter of taste, but I prefer the decent wood effect over the one from the Efke. The latter may look a bit overdone, the 80s has a more "natural" look imho.

Also non-IR photography works beautiful with the 80s, due to it's sensitization it's predestined for landscapes, but also portraiture works very nice and eases some skin irritations due to the low blue sensitivity. So this film behaves quite contrary to an orthopanchromatic film. A great film for many purposes and with a unique look. But now let's read and see what Yannick did with
this film. Thank you very much for your contribution, Yannick. Cheers - Reinhold

"Thanks to Gerald Figal, met on Flickr, I decided to use Rollei Eetro 80s film as he did, with an infrared filter and then developed in Caffenol-C-L. For this try, I wanted to use a twin lens reflex in order to see exactly what I wanted to photograph. I used a Rolleiflex old standard from the mid thirties because I had a push on infrared filter made by Agfa for Rollei in the thirties to.

I shot with the IR filter during a sunny day, at f/16 and 1 sec exposure (actually near 2s because the shutter is a bit tired). It means that the film was exposed for 3 iso. On the same roll, I exposed the RR80S without filter at 80 iso. The sniper was shot at f/8 and 1/5 sec, camera on a table. I stand developed the film as Gerald did, in Caffenol-C-L, at 20°c for 50 minutes.

Washing soda"Phoenix" (not waterfree!) : 20 g
Vitamine C : 6 g
KBr : 0,6 g
Instant coffee Granarom (Lidl market) : 24 g

Kind regards from Troyes/France.


Note: Yannick uses a hydrated washing soda. He determined the water content and recalculated the needed amount. So it's a standard Caffenol-C-L recipe with 1 g/l pot. bromide. If you want to use iodized salt I suggest starting with 10 g/l (Reinhold)

July 11, 2011

the salt in the soup

Hi coffeeholics,

good news, using regular, non-iodized salt works as a restrainer and can replace iodized salt or potassium bromide.

For the test I made a demanding setup, Rollei RPX 400 @ 800 stand developed @ 24 °C in Caffenol-C-L urgently needs a restrainer, without you will have huge problems concerning massive fog and uneven, cloudy, streaky development. Last afternoon I shot the 35mm film and cut it into 3 peaces. One was developed with 20 g/l regular non-iodized table salt aka sodium cloride. For the second piece 12 g/l iodized salt (0.0025 % iodate) was added and the third piece got the addition of the well working 1.2 g/l potassium bromide aka KBr.

Regular table salt without iodine (20 g/l) works good enough to prevent any streaks or uneven clouds in the image, that you will get with stand development if no restrainer is used. Yellowish stain and quite a lot base fog can be noticed. Again, base fog is not as evil as often told as long as the develoment is even. I guess that 30 or even 40 g/l will be fine for fast films.

Iodized salt (12 g/l), although much less is used, works slightly better with a bit less base fog, but still even enough developed that the image is not disturbed, only some unevennes at the borders where the spiral covered the film during development. And the stain is also less. Iodine does a good job. I would now adjust the salt to 15- 20 g/l for fast films, slow films need less salt.

You can see that KBr (1.2 g/l) gives the least fog and no stain, perfectly even developed, no surprise at all.

I couldn't notice any significant differences in grain or effective film speed. EI 800 was fine.

Here's an example with the regular table salt, no post processing exept a bit unsharp maskening and scaling. The neg was really quite dark due to the high base fog level. Do you notice any drawbacks? I can't. And increasing the amount of salt will probably reduce the fog. But most important, the development is even, no streaks, no clouds, simply fine.

It was a rainy day, so an orange filter was used. Probably I overdeveloped a little bit. It was really war in my lab and temp increased up to 25 or 26 °C during development. There's a break point in time and temp, if you exceed it, the RPX 400 shows immediately increased fog and grain. So that was probably a little bit too much. But all three chunks were developed simultanously under the same conditions.

These are my very first experiances. Go and try regular table salt and let me know how it works for you. It will work with other Caffenol variants to. Sharing your experiances via The new Caffenol Home on flickr is much appreciated.

Cheers - Reinhold

important update: my flickr buddy Rob showed that salt (sodium cloride) causes dichroic fog. Since iodized salt is widely available it's recommended to use it because you need much less salt and dichroic fog is less. Adjusting the amounts for your needs is quite easy. Potassium bromide still is the best restrainer but I love the idea of using commonly available agents.

June 28, 2011

reuse or not?


sometimes I reused a caffenol batch. Up to 2 weeks of storage I could not find any major drawbacks, maybe a slight loss of contrast. Here I reused an only 2 days old one, one 24 exp. 35mm film was developed with it. The negs were underdeveloped remarkable, the border printing was faint and overall density quite low. So I had to brighten up the images and work on the curves quite a lot. Fortunately there was still enough substance to do that. It whould have been a shame if this picture would have been ruined. So I stay on the safe side in the future and will discard the developer after a single use like I did in the beginning. But there's no need to hurry, the developer will remain usable at least some hours without degradation.

Rollei RPX400 @ 800, Caffenol-C-L with 1.5 g/l pot. bomide. 90 minutes 22 - 23 °C stand development. Presoak 5 minutes, constant agitation in the first minute, 3 gentle inversions at 2, 10 and 40 minutes.

Cheers - Reinhold

June 19, 2011

Vit-C worldwide seller


since Vit-C is difficult or not available, or only very expensive or in poor quality in some parts of the word, I thought it might be useful to post here a wordwide supplier of affordable 100 % pure ascorbic acid (Vit-C). It's a family owned business in the 4th generation, located in Germany and usually supplies bakeries and grain mills with bigger quantities. Smaller quantities he sells via an shop worldwide. Mr. Breinbauer's answer on my email inquiry was very fast and friendly. Prices and worldwide shipping are very attractive, no additional taxes.


You should store the Vit-C in the dark and in airtight boxes or bottles.

Added to the link list. I'm not related in any way to the owner of the shop, I just post the link for your conveniance.

June 16, 2011

Infrared: Efke IR820


things "develop" more and more. Today I got a message from Gerald (Nashville, USA) about successful developments of the Efke IR820 in Caffenol-C-L. To be honest, I've seen some really ugly pictures (from a technical point of view) with this film souped in Caffenol. Gerald demonstrates impressively what's possible. WOW! Also you might want to have a look at his magnificent flickr stream:
Gerald @ flickr

Here's what he wrote:

"These images were taken with a Yashica Mat 124G loaded with medium format Efke IR 820 film. Exposures were in bright sun at f-16 for 1 second on a tripod, using a Hoya R72 deep red (infrared) filter, making the effective exposure index about iso 3.

The film was processed in a daylight tank using Reinhold's Caffenol-C-L recipe without modification for a 70-minute stand development at 20 degrees celsius after a 5-minute presoak in distilled water. Initial agitation was for 45 seconds (about 12 inversions) and then I did not touch it for the rest of the time. I used a plain water stop bath and Ilford Hypam to fix.

My source of sodium carbonate (washing soda) was Spa-Kem pH Plus (100% sodium carbonate) from Kem-Tek ( I used crystalline ascorbic acid and Folger's Original Instant Coffee. The potassium bromide came from Photographer's Formulary.


Thank you very much, Gerald, for the detailed explanation, the supply sources and of course the beautiful pictures. I'm really proud I can post this report here.

BTW, I'm not related in any way to any of the merchands, producers etc. mentioned here on my blog. This blog is and always will be free of advertisements as long as the hoster supports that. I don't sell my soul ;-)

Best - Reinhold

June 15, 2011

Ilford Delta 400 @ 800 - Caffenol-C-L

Here's a report from Kyle who got nice results with the Delta 400. Let's read what he writes:

"Hello my name is Kyle LeNoir. I have been doing film photography for 6 years. I currently work freelance as an event digital photographer and film photography tutor in chicago (USA). Stand processing is my preferred way to process film since I darkroom and alternative print or scan depending on the print size. So far I have done 10-12 rolls with C-C-L. I found the results comparable or better to standing in rodinal 1:100 or GSD-10. I am thinking of changing my times to 60min to ease printing in wet darkroom.

Caffenol C-C-L @70 degrees Fahrenheit
nescafe clasico instant coffee
jacquard soda ash (anhydrous)
Vitamin Shoppe C-1000 Powder (Ultra-fine ascorbic powder)
photoformulary potassium bromide ( I used 1.5g per liter)
Ingredients weighted with black box jewelry scale
Camera was an agfa isolette II with apotar lens and metered with a sekonic studio deluxe (incident)
Epson Perfection V750 (no post processing except for cropping,setting white and black points,resizing)

slow agitation for first min (15 tilts) left still for 60min.

Ilford Delta 400@800 was a pleasant surprise. I have never been a fan of the look of this films tonality. I decided to give it another chance while on my local film store visit. The results were better in C-C-L than any other developer I used with this film so far. I got the tones I wanted from the film finally. The roll gave an good amount of overall detail and printed in the darkroom very well. I feel pretty confident that it should do pretty well at @1600."

Thank you very much, Kyle. Indeed looks like EI 1600 is very possible.

Cheers - Reinhold

May 31, 2011

iodized kitchen salt can replace bromide

Hi folks,

good news. Thanks to Rob (Robbek) for his inspiration. I used iodized kitchen salt as a restrainer substituting potassium bromde. About 6 g/l may be a good starting point for medium speed films, and 10 - 12 g/l for high speed films. No need to adjust anything else, the pH remains the same. Also much cheaper than peanuts. Bingo.

The blackpoint was misadjusted during scanning by intension to show the perfect even development and not only black borders.

I guess that's a real breakthough for people having problems getting bromide. And the FP4+ and RPX 100 had a very clear base, almost as clear as a transparency film. Semi stand developed like here would have been desatrous if the iodate wouldn't have done the job so excellent.

Since I use about 0.5 g/l pot. bomide compared to 6 g/l iodized salt for medium fast films, and 1 - 1.3 g/l pot. bromide compared to 10 - 12 g/l iodzed salt, the conclusion is to recommend about the tenfold amount of iodized salt compared to pot. bromide as a good starting point. Adjust for your personal needs, more iodate will cause speed loss. So far I have great results with PanF, FP4+, HP5+, Rollei RPX 100, and RPX 400 (see image below) even at 24 °C full stand development. These are all classic emulsions, maybe flat crystal emulsions like Tmax or Delta need an adjustment, maybe less salt? And if you use another salt with another iodate concentration you of course have to recalulate the amounts to.

The salt I used was a very cheap one from the supermarket, 500 g for 29 Eurocent. it contains 0,0025 % potassium iodate. The very small amount in the salt is sufficiant. For the experts: the iodate is probaly reduced by the developer to iodide that's known as a strong restrainer in literature since decades.

There's also a salt with iodates and fluorides. I didn't use that, but only iodized salt. Fluorides might cause some trouble, maybe more trouble than benefits, but I don't really know.

Cheers - Reinhold

May 2, 2011

some pictures - Caffenol-C-H

Kodak Tmax100 @  EI 400 (image above) and Rollei RPX 100 @ EI 400 ( image below), developed in Caffenol-C-H with 0.5 g/l potassium bromide. 12 minutes @ 23 °C regular agitation, equaling about 15 minures @ 20 °C. EI 200 would have been better for both films.The Tmax additonally was quite underdeveloped. Bought short before the expiring date he was stored in a small shop at probably unsuitable conditions some years without any cooling. During summer that could have been easily much more than 30 °C, the shop has no air condition. Seems he didn't like that too much. Anyway, I like the pic.

Cheers - Reinhold

April 12, 2011

next new film - Rollei RPX 100

Hello again,

here's the 2nd new film from Maco/Germany, the Rollei RPX 100. Like the RPX 400 it is made in Europe, a classic cubic emulsion with 100 ASA boxspeed and shall replace the old Agfa APX 100. To say first things first: this film in my opinion is far better than the old APX 100 and much more than a substitute. The RPX 100 is a  very fine grained, easy to handle and easy to develop film with excellent tonality. Speed in Caffenol-C-L is enhanced and grain is still very small, almost invisible. Again Maco brought us  one of the best classic emulsions available today, it could turn out that this beautiful film will be my first choice for medium speed films in the future. Available in the US as the RPX 400 about end of April, 35 mm earlier than 120 format. Here we go with progressive exposures from EI 25 to 400.
Semi-stand developed in Caffenol-C-L, 0.8 g/l potassium bromide, 20 °C, 70 minutes. No presoak, agitation first minute continuosly, then 3 times at 2, 4, 8, 16 and 32 minutes. Perfect even development, very fine grain. EI 25 to 100 are overexposed, EI 200-400 is perfect for scanning purpose. Maybe a bit too contrasty for silverprints, so I would reduce the dev time to about 40-50 minutes at EI 200. I have no doubt this film will also perform very well in Caffenol-C-M at about 10 minutes developing time. Look at the following scan, exposed at EI 400!
The scan almost didn't need any postprocessing, only a very slight contrast adjustment was necessary. When I took the wet film out of the tank I immediately said "WOW". The rest of the film exposed at EI 100 was very dense, still scannable without probs but probably too dense for silver prints. So expose sparingly and/or reduce dev time. This film has blown me away. Attractivly priced, perfect quality. Drawbacks? I haven't seen any.

Cheers - Reinhold

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

February 28, 2011

trouble shooting

Some people report of problems with coffee based developers and I get some inquieries every once in a while, but not very frequently. You can get very reliable and reproducible results with Caffenol developers if you know what you are doing.

First of all the basic darkroom techniques are exactly the same as with any other developer. If you are a newbie to film development, look for instructions you find a lot of in the web or very often in public libraries. It doesn't matter if the book is 50 years old. If you can develop a film with proper results in Rodinal f.e., you also can with Caffenol. And vice versa :-)

What are the special items to notice for a proper Caffenol development? It's the kind of "agents" you use and the kind of measuring.


Different coffee brands aren't so different as some people might think. Even expensive coffees work, I got reports f.e. for Nescafe Gold, but why wasting money? There may be very few exeptions, but if any other step of your procedure is OK you will get something and may eventually have adjust the amount of coffee slightly. By the cheapest "strong" or "classic" instant coffee available. Don't use deacidified coffees that are frequently branded "mild" and don't use decaffeinated coffee at all. Use pure instant coffee, no mixes with surrogates etc.

Vitamin-C (ascorbic acid) doesn't make any problems if you get pure one. Crushed pills or something like that may be another thing, try to get pure ascorbic acid. Here in Germany we are lucky to get it in any pharmacy at a very low price.


Soda definately can make probs if you don't know exactly(!) which kind of soda you have in hands. Please read this post first:

I asked in some discussion groups for veryfied data concerning the quality of soda they use. I didn't get too much feedback and I must believe that many users don't know what they have. But that's important to know, and demanding to know for developers containing a low amount of soda like Caffenol-C-L.

So dry your washing soda in the oven and meter the weight before and after. The loss of weight is the water that was in the soda before drying. All my recipes and most others are based upon anhydrous, waterfree soda. When you know the water content, it's easy to recalculate the amount of soda.

Verified data i have got for different brands of soda:

"Holsten reine calzinierte Soda" (and most other brands in Germany) is anhydrous/waterfree, containing neglectible 2 % of water. So far I didn't hear from a hydrated soda sold in Germany.

"Arm & Hammer washing soda" (US) is also anhydrous/waterfree with 2 % of water.
Update: Jeff reports that his recently bought A&H soda contains about 9 % water, so better check yourself if using low pH mixes like Caffenol-C-L

Senzora Soda (Netherlands, Ukraine) 20 % water. Monohydrate as stated by the manufacturers lab.

"Soude cristeaux" (France, Belgium) contains 50 % water. You need the doubled amont measured in gramms! It seems to be neither a monohydrate nor a decahydrate but something in between.

These are only examples showing that it's important that you determine the water content if not absolutely 100 % sure. There are different kinds of hydrated soda with different water content. Store the soda in an airtight box, otherwise it will attract water from the air. BTW, anhydrous, waterfree soda is a very fine white powder.

If you can't get washing soda (sodium carbonate, Na2CO3) you can use baking soda (NaHCO3, also known as Natron) but you must heat it in the oven or a pan and not only water but also CO2 gas will evaporate in quite large quantities. No warrenty for your safety if you inhale a lot of CO2 gas!!! You will end up with waterfree washing soda. How long it takes? No clue. Heat above 120 °C until it doesn't loose any more weight as you do when drying a hydrated washing soda.

You can use hydrated washing soda once you know how much water it contains. You can't use baking without transforming to washing soda, it will fail.

Don't use any other washing additives like bleech.

Dilute always in given order, first the soda, then Vit-C (let bubbles clear), coffee at last, let stand for some minutes and stir gently.


Last and winning hands down as a source for trouble is measuring. I highly recommend using a scale/balance. Digital kitchen scales are fine for measuring 100 gramms or so, but may have a big deviation at low weights like f.e. 10 gramms. My digital kitchen scale is unusable below 50 gramms but precise above 100 gramms. I bought a cheap lab scale for about 12 Eur with a resolution of 0.01 gramms. If you have no scale precise enough you may use premixes with larger quantities that are easier to measure. Ezzie explains how to do this on his fine, fine blog:  
Thanks a lot Ezzie for your invaluable support. And maybe you find the idea of premixed dilutions to be very charming.

If you stick to volumetric measuring it's important to determine the density of the agents you have in hands Scientific density data are absolutely useless. Believe me. You must do it yourself. That's why recipes based on volume are so unreliable. They are only suitable for the agents you use. Different brands of coffee, Vit-C and Soda can vary extremely regarding the volume, but not the weight. 1 gramm is 1 gramm. Always. But also pay attention to the water content of your washing soda. Once you determined the densities for your agents you may use your now individually calibrated teaspoons.


So as an extract : Know which kind of soda you use. Use a scale/balance. Or at least calibrate your teaspoons for each agent. A scale is better ;-)

Happy developings - Reinhold

February 16, 2011

lab gear

All I need for my "R+D". The lttle scale is the most important tool, it did coast me about 12 Eur and has a resolution of 0.01 gramms. All mugs have ml-calibration.

January 31, 2011

sidestep: direct positive paper


I received a message from Anton, who developed the Harman direct positive paper in Caffenol. Read the french report here: is very funny, but you will understand the sense.

Best - Reinhold

January 19, 2011


I found this recipe and it's one of the best examples why I only use international standard units:

I do not recommend using this recipe! Does it deserve the name "recipe"?
300ml water with 12 scoops of Instant Coffee
400ml water with 8 scoops of Soda Wash
2 tsp of Powdered Vitamin C
Developed @ 70 C for 9 Minutes
Kodak Stop bath for 1 minute
Kodak Fixer for 5 minutes
10 minute water wash.

He mixes scoops and teaspoons (tsp). What the heck is a scoop? And he mixes scoops and teaspoons, ha??? Does he boil his films in 70 °C(elsius) hot coffee, or does he mean 70 °F(ahrenheit)? Other authors use tablespoons, knife tips, taels (???) and everything else you can imagine.

In anglo-american cultures 1 teaspoon is defined as 5 ml (milliliter). But that is not obvious for the rest of the world. What, if my teaspoon is 3 ml and yours is 8 ml? It makes a huge difference and will spoil the cake. If using 35 or 45 grams instead of recommended 40 grams because of unprecise measuring probably will not spoil the cake. 1 gram is 1 gram, whether you sit in NYC, Rio de Janeira, Paris, Capetown, Beijng or Tasmania.

Everybody uses measuring mugs for fluids, so why not at least use them for volumetric measuring instead of teaspoons and others? The rest of the world will be grateful. For some more precision buy a weight scale. They aren't expensive anymore. Mine did coast 10 Eur.

Beeing creative is cool. Measuring with obscure methods isn't creative at all if you do it all the way wrong. That's totally un-cool. Please understand that I don't want to blame or offend anybody, but also pleeeease, hear my prayings.....and be gentle with comments. Please use international standard units like liter, milliliter, grams, °C (degree celsius). Shouldn't we all be a big family? Worldwide like the www? That would be cool. Very cool.

Thank you very much for your patience and best regards - Reinhold

January 12, 2011

Lucky SHD 100 - Caffenol-C-M


my name's Frank and I started developing film about 1.5 months ago. I have developed various drugstore C41 films with B/W-chemistry to be familiar with the development (it was just cheap) and to test my analogue cameras. Then I developed some APX100 and TMax100 using Rodinal.

Being a lover of drinking coffee I immediately was enthusiastic about developing film with coffee as I heard about it. Searching the web I found Reinhold's blog and was grateful for the recipes in grams and liters. Looking for cheap films to experiment with I got notice of the Lucky SHD 100. The film has no halation protection  and is said to produce what sometimes is called an "aura" effect.

The images shown were taken with an Olympus 35 RC rangefinder at EI 100 and developed in Caffenol-C-M for 15 minutes at 20 °C. The first minute I agitated constantly, thereafter 3 times per minute. Fixing was 4 minutes in Tetenal Superfix (1+3).

Subjectively, I would say that the film can be compared to Caffenol-C-M developed APX100. A strong aura effect is not noticable, but I had exposed the critical subjects sparingly.

I also shot at EI 200 up to EI 800. EI 800 was unusable. EI 400 still seems to be working well. Since I have not documented the settings and I'm not so sure I don't want to make an "official" statement.


Thank you very much, Frank. Again the pictures show all the good properties of Caffenol. Excellent contrast handling, awesome shadow details, sharpness and very nice grain. And the good quality of the film is quite a surprise for me. Read more (german language) about Franks very first experiances with film development and more:  Well done, Frank
Best - Reinhold

January 3, 2011

Eiriks blog

Have a look at this fantastic blog. Eirik from Norway uses premixed dilutions of coffee, soda and Vit-C. And he's a gorgeous photographer, livin in one of the most beautiful countries.

Thank you very much for your awesome research and my highest appreciation, Eirik.

Best regards - Reinhold

January 1, 2011

Happy New Year 2011

May your butts always stay warm - Reinhold