Saturday, June 28, 2014

Caffenol Development Part 3 - Delta 100

I found a few rolls of shot film in the bottom of my dresser draw recently, and one of them just happened to be a roll of Black and White Ilford Delta 100. Don't know when I shot it, but it must have been a few years ago.

Spurred on by my recent success developing Fuji Across 100 in Caffenol, I figured I may as well keep going and try it out with the Delta 100. Until recently I didn't even know I'd shot the film, so I had nothing to loose even if it didn't turn out.

I couldn't find any development times for Delta 100 on the web (400, but not 100 - go figure), but through my experience with Kodak TMax and 'thin' negs, I decided to continue following the 'longer is better' train of thought. So I chose 15mins as a development time (don't ask me why), and adjusted the Caffenol recipe for a single 35mm roll.

Ilford Delta 100 Caffenol Recipe: Add 3 level teaspoons of Washing Soda to 125mls tap water, 2 heap teaspoons of coffee to 125mls of tap water, and 1 heap teaspoon of vitamin C to 100mls of tap water. Mix them all separately, and then add them together  - making sure all have dissolved completely.

Just a quick note on the dissolving technique. The coffee dissolves really easily and quickly - no surprises there. The Vitamin C takes a little stirring, but eventually all dissolves as well. The Washing Soda, however, is a stubborn powder that takes quite some stirring to dissolve completely. Initially it will clump together quite badly, but persevere. It will dissolve completely after a while - it just takes a lot longer than the other two powders.

The Marmite Kid. Ilford Delta 100 in Caffenol
After I've mixed all three liquids together, I let it sit for 5 minutes, while the film is pre-soaking in running water (through the top of the developing tank). Don't ask me why I'm pre-soaking the film, I just am. I think I read somewhere that it helped? I've never pre-soaked film in my life, but with Caffenol I am. And it's working, so I'm not going to stop :-) Your own results may vary.

Anyway, after the five minutes is up I rinse out the water and pour in the Caffenol. Agitate for 30 seconds, and then 3 times each minute. After the 15 minutes was up, out with the Caffenol (down the sink), and in with a few water rinses as a stop bath. Then fix the film with the fixer of your choice for the recommended time (usually about 5 minutes) - and a final wash, rinse and squeegee in wetting agent-soaked water. The results this time with Delta 100? Just look for yourself. Crazy beautiful!

'Emily'. Ilford Delta 100 in Caffenol
The negatives are amazing - and scan beautifully (just like the Fuji Acros 100). The grain of the Delta 100 is smooth and negligible (as it should be), and the tonal range is superb. What more could you want from a developer!?

I'm only three films in - two successful and one not so much - but I have to say I'm hooked (and sold) on Caffenol. For a developer that you 'make' yourself out of household products, it's truly astounding. I live in a very small, rural town, with no access to photo chemicals - so being able to develop film with a few store-bought products is a great advantage. Yes, I still have to use a photochemical fixer - but that's it.

'Home James'. Delta 100 developed in Caffenol.
I'm really digging the 'hybrid' workflow at the moment. I get to shoot with film on some amazing cameras, process at home in Caffenol (as long as you only want black and white) - or alternatively get the film developed at a local photo lab (process only), and then scan at home and import into the image software of my choice. It's so much more hands-on than a full digital workflow and I'm finding that I am 'connecting' with the images more this way.

Hey, I appreciate it might not be for everyone. And maybe if I was a working 'pro' I might think differently? But then again, there are quite a few working pros who have either stuck with film, or who have moved back to film for aesthetic/lifestyle/workflow choices. Jose Villa springs to mind as a well known photographer who still shoots his weddings on film (he probably doesn't process his film in Caffenol though).

So yes, I am very happy still shooting film. And more than happy with the results it's giving me. Can't ask for any more than that.


  1. These blogs are fantastic Wayne, makes me want to pick up my old film cameras and have a go myself... Is there a homemade fixer that you could concoct aswell?

    1. Hamish - mate! Been meaning to call you recently. Ask about your father over in Ukraine given all the conflict there recently?
      Don't know about the homemade fixer. Might have to investigate further. Will call soon buddy :-)

  2. I found some recipe's for color development. If that doesn't work for you the arista kits from freestyle are simple and cheap. been doing e6 now. Love it.


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