25. august 2011

Making your own film developer from coffee??


It actually IS possible to make your own developer from more or less common house-hold items. Haha, funny! \o/

Canon 1v with Canon 85mm f1.8.
Kodak TMax 100, developed in Caffenol-C-M, 20 degrees, 15 minutes

Ok, I messed around on google after the Bettie Page shoot, to research a little more into vintage film and analogue processing and stumbled upon a very interesting site The caffenol blog

I've heard some talk about developing film in coffee before, but never really looked into it, thinking the results would be pretty lousy.

Anyway, the first entry on that blog here, gives the base recipe for Caffenol-C-M, which is suitable for film-speeds below 400 ASA.

The ingredients (1000ml solution) are
- 1 Liter of water
- Coffee (duh): 40 grams
- Sodium Carbonate: 54 grams
- Vitamin-C (Ascorbic Acid) 16 grams

Optionally also 1 to 0.5 grams of Potassium bromide (Nor. Kalium Bromid), to reduce fogging on film, developing film with speeds 400 ASA or more, or when pushing.

The following notes are based upon cutting the ingredients in half. I am a low volume film-guy, developing the odd film now and then, so I only need to mix 500ml solutions.

In Norway, you can get Sodium Carbonate at "Meny" in the form of "Krystallsoda". It's water free (I heated it in the oven and checked it for weight-loss), cost almost nothing, and the 450 gram bottle will last you for about 16 rolls of 135mm film at 500ml solutions.

The vitamin-C component is a little more tricky, but it isn't harder than going into your local pharmacy and ask for ascorbic acid.
It's a little expensive, but the recipe yields only 8 grams of this stuff per film at 500ml solution, so a typical 100 gram bottle will last you for about 12 films.
Edit: I was in Sweden and found Ascorbic Acid in the spice-rack at MaxiMat, 10,90 SEK for 35 grams, so if you can, take some with you the next time you are there ^^

Potassium bromide (Nor. Kalium Bromid), herby referred to as Kbr, is insanely expensive here in Norway, the cost is around 1200,- NOK per 1000grams.
- On eBay you can get 500 gram for $12, but the purity is probably a little different from the pharmaceutical stuff, still it's good enough for this use.

Canon 1v with Canon 85mm f1.8.
Kodak TMax 100, developed in Caffenol-C-M, 20 degrees, 15 minutes

- I did NOT use Kbr on these photos, as my film speed was 100 ASA. Also, internet hobby researches suggest that you can use regular salt with iodine instead. (depending on the country, iodine content in salt vary)

The last component, coffe, MUST be of the instant coffee kind.
From what I've read, the higher the Arabica coffee part in the blend, or the darker the coffee, the better. (and probably more foul tasting, I wouldn't know, I actually don't drink coffee ^^).
Anyway, never go for the more expensive stuff, the cheap kind will probably work better.

Weirdo at Karl-Johans gate, Canon 1v with Canon 85mm f1.8
Kodak TMax 100, developed in Caffenol-C-M, 20 degrees, 15 minutes

I have no idea what kind of blend I got, but I bought some really cheap stuff from "First price" at Meny, a 500g glass. At a 500 ml solution recipe, the coffee should last you for about 25 rolls of film.

So, the expense for around 15 rolls of development, is around 200,- NOK, in which the C-vitamin component is the most expensive. I've seen that you can order this from eBay to cut cost considerably.

You can in other words get the cost down to as little as 50-60,- NOK for 15 developer solutions if you research a little.

In comparison, the commercial one-shot developer XTol, 5 liter powder solution, cost 110,- NOK.
This will give you 20 rolls one-shot development solutions, at a 1:1 strength.
Transport cost will probably land you at around 150,- NOK when mail ordering.

Canon 1v with Canon 85mm f1.8.
Kodak TMax 100, developed in Caffenol-C-M, 20 degrees, 15 minutes
It would probably have been a little cheaper to order XTol, but not half as much fun and the whole point was to try out caffenol. :)

- Besides, caffenol is non-toxic and eco-friendly, so I guess I can drive my fuel guzzling RX-8 around with a good counciness now :P

I will purchase ascorbic acid from eBay or in Sweden the next time around and I will end up having more fun AND save money. (ha!)

But, after all this, is coffee any good as a developer?

Rose hanging on the fence blocking off the bomb-site from the 22/7 terrorist attack.
Canon 1v with Canon 85mm f1.8
Kodak TMax 100, developed in Caffenol-C-M, 20 degrees, 15 minutes

Well, after getting all the components I needed, I went downtown with my Canon 1v with a roll of TMax 100 film in it and snapped various stuff to shoot up the roll. A few photos have been spread around this blog entry to keep up the interest in between my boring jabber. ^^

When I came home, I followed the recipe to the letter, cutting all the ingredients in half, to create a "one film, one shot, coffee developer".

(The stuff stinks pretty bad when you add the coffee, so mix it when no one is around)

Then I developed the roll at 20 degrees for 15 minutes, agitating the first 30 seconds and after that, 3 tank-inversions every minute.
I used filtered water as a stop bath, then the usual TMax fixer I already have and then rinsing in some more filtered water after fixing was done.

White dog, difficult light, original had detail in all the whites, but I increased contrast for the fun of it anyway =)
Canon 1v with Canon 85mm f1.8
Kodak TMax 100, developed in Caffenol-C-M, 20 degrees, 15 minutes

Unfortunately, blogpot reduced the size of the photos, so when you click on them, you'll not get the 9 megapixel photos I uploaded. Too bad, because it is hard to check grain, sharpness and so on.

All in all, I was very impressed! \o/

TMax 100 ASA lends particularly well to caffenol it seems!

The negatives came out evenly developed, no blotches, no coffee stains (haha). They were smooth and with low grain.
- Remember that these are scans are from a dedicated negative scanner, so the grain is slightly more apparent than if you were to make prints from these negatives......it's just the way scanners work.

The results I got in the past with XTol 1:1, had harder grain and less shadow detail, the TMax developer was "ok" concerning grain, more grain than the caffenol, but didn't have the shadow detail these have.

Caffenol-C-M proved to yield very sharp negatives, less and smoother grain and incredible shadow detail, while preserving highlights, wow!

For a Norwegian thread on Caffenol development, check out The 65 page long thread at APUG lots of knowledge and experience.

For me, I am not ordering developer again....seriously, at least for TMax 100, which I will be using more or less exclusively from now on. =)


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