Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Caffenol Development Part2

Ok, so my first foray into developing film with Caffenol (Coffee) wasn't a huge success. The negatives were too thin, there were strange blotches all over the images, and getting a halfway decent photo out of the scanner was a long, slow process. So I'm giving up on Caffenol, right?

Let's not be too hasty. With any home film development there is a spirit of experimentation required and you're not always going to get it right. Even with the brand name developers, things can go wrong. Start developing your film in coffee and washing soda, and things can go horribly wrong! But, I had also seen enough beautiful images and read enough positive experiences on the net to know that it can also be a resounding success. So I wasn't about to give up just yet. And besides, I still had a full bag of coffee, washing soda and vitamin c to get through :-)

So undeterred, I decided to give it another go. I also decided to up the ante and expose my first roll of 120 medium format black and white film at home as well. In for a penny, in for a pound (as they say).

Pentax 67 with Fuji Acros 100 developed in Caffenol.
I had shot a roll of 120 Fuji Acros 100 black and white film in anticipation of needing more experimentation with Caffenol, with one particular blog mentioning it as a film that gave very good results. I changes the development time to 17 minutes, and the recipe to include more Washing Soda and less Coffee. For the Kodak TMax development I had used 6 tsps of coffee and 4 of washing soda, but this time I swapped that around.

Fuji Across 100 film recipe: 4 heap tsps Coffee in 250mls tap water. 6 level tsps Washing Soda in 250mls water. 2 heap tsps Vitamin C in 200mls water. Dev: 17mins.

I mixed all the ingredients separately, then poured them together and let them settle for 5 mins. During this time I pre-soaked the film under tap water in the developing tank (I loaded the roll of 120 in a film changing bag). Pour out the water, pour in the developer and develop for 17mins; agitating for first 30secs and then 3 times per minute. Pour this out, then a couple of water rinses as a stop bath. Pour in the Ilfofix and fix for 10 minutes (my fixer is quite old, so I doubled the usual fixing time). Final agitation wash in water to get rid of the fixer, and a soak in wetting agent. Squeegee the film between my fingers soaked in wetting agent (I must admit I worry about scratching the neg doing this, but it seems to work ok), and then hang the film up to dry. Final results - AMAZING!

Wow! The resulting negs are gorgeous! Beautiful! Perfect. Clean, clear and contrasty. And an absolute dream to scan. After my initial mishap with the Kodak TMax, I must admit I wasn't expecting much. But the results this time around blew me away.

Pentax 67 with Fuji Acros 100 developed in Caffenol.
Some Caffenol enthusiasts have written that they believe Caffenol to be the equal of some of the best commercial film developers out there, and have started using it exclusively to develop their films. When I read this on the internet I thought "Yeah, right. Not going to happen". But one look at the negatives from the Acros 100 and I'm fast becoming a believer. Many skeptics have asked 'why' when Caffenol is mentioned as a film developer. I'm looking at these negs and thinking 'why not'?

Maybe the grain is a little more pronounced with Caffenol - maybe. But maybe that's not such a bad thing? It gives a definite 'film grain' look to the final image and the neg is still amazingly sharp - even scanned on a flatbed scanner like the Epson V700.

It's still early days. But I must admit, I never really expected Caffenol to be that good. But is it. And I'm very excited about processing my own films at home again, now that I know how good it truly can be. Now that I've had success with developing 120 medium format film, can I translate that back into success with 35mm? Let the experiments continue...

1 comment:

  1. you have a Pentax 67? Why don't you show THAT wonderful beast???

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Wayne