What's your experience with Caffenol?

Discussion in 'B&W: Film, Paper, Chemistry' started by 4strinbass, May 9, 2011.

  1. 4strinbass

    4strinbass Member

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    I've attached two images. The one of the room is Caffenol-C @ 20min. The monkey is Caffenol @ 30min.

    The Caffenol-C negatives came out looking dark. I couldnt put my up to them and see through them like tinted glass. However, when put up to extreme light I could see tons of highlights. They scanned like crap though. There wasn't enough range and I think the scanner had to blast too much light.

    The Caffenol negatives came out with being able to clearly see through them. The highlights werent black enough so I know I must simply adjust my development time.


    I'm wondering why the Caffenol-C behaves so much differently. The negs dont seem to be underdevloped, but they don't seem to overdeveloped. Yet I can't see the images at all with my naked eye like I can with regular negs.

    *Extra Info:
    Caffenol Negs - see images with eye, see through, tinted
    Caffenol C Negs - only see images with backlight, not tinted, not much range
     

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  2. ntenny

    ntenny Member

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    The development looks pretty uneven on both of them, which makes it that much harder to judge what's going on. 20 minutes is a long time for Caffenol C, assuming we're using the same recipe (mine is 8 rounded tsp coffee, 5 tsp washing soda, 1/2 tsp ascorbic acid, to make 16 ounces)---I use 12 as a starting point.

    Is there general fog on either roll? I occasionally get a pretty foggy roll out of Caffenol C, which makes it harder to judge the negatives by eye, but it usually seems to be OK for printing/scanning through.

    -NT
     
  3. 4strinbass

    4strinbass Member

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    I'm using:
    5tsp of coffee
    2tsp of soda
    1/4tsp of vitamin c

    There's no fog on the C negs. Only on the Caffenol negs but that's expected.

    I read one guy got the same result from C and said he fixed it by fixing the negs longer.
     
  4. 4strinbass

    4strinbass Member

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    It's confusing how the negs are so black but under intense light the images can be seen. As you can see, my scanner has a hard time scanning them.

    Sent from my DROIDX using Tapatalk
     
  5. Denverdad

    Denverdad Subscriber

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    Clearly there is something wrong with both (with a good formula and development you should be able to get much better results). I agree that the 20min for the Caffenol-C is long based on most of the formulas out there. However you will need to specify the volume of water in your formula in order to make any comparisons to what others are using. A couple other things to check - that's washing soda, not baking soda, right? And for the vitamin C, is it pure vitamin C powder/crystals or something else? It makes a difference.
     
  6. bwrules

    bwrules Member

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    I don't understand why anyone would bother with this poor developer. We have much better homebrew developers available. Such as PC-TEA. Total waste.
     
  7. 4strinbass

    4strinbass Member

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    Your opinion. I'm a college student. I'd rather buy tons of coffee and washing soda and vitamin c and develop from that than order developers or ingredients for home brew developers online right now. It's a hassle ordering to a dorm building.

    Different strokes
     
  8. 4strinbass

    4strinbass Member

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    Yes I'm using washing soda. I'm using 8oz of water. The Vitamin C is ascorbic acid and rose hips.

    I fix for 4min, agitation for 1st min then 10sec for each. Is it possible that I'm not fixing long enough to get rid of the silver that wasn't developed and clear the necessary parts of the film?
     
  9. Denverdad

    Denverdad Subscriber

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    It is amusing to me that some still make such claims given the number of people who are now getting very good or even excellent results. Check out for example the Flickr Caffenol group or Reinhold's blog for samples, as well as a ton of discussion on how to tweak the formulas. I think the mis-perception that caffenol can only yield poor results is in part an unfortunate side effect of its relative popularity and the fact that it can be formulated entirely from household ingredients. The latter means more potential variablity in those ingredients and a lot more trial-and-error experimentation going on. The wider audience also means that there is bound to be a lot more discussion of the fundamentals of formula and developing technique than one finds for other home brews that are more well-established chemically, or which tend to be practiced mainly by the more seasoned experts among us. As such, it is in no way a detraction from caffenol's potential and certaninly no reason to jump on it as a "poor developer," every time someone experiences a development failure or asks basic questions about it. It is to be expected.

    In my opinion, results speak for themselves and there are enough technically excellent images being produced via the various caffenol concoctions, that it cannot be considered a "total waste" by any stretch. I have no doubt that the OP will start realizing good results too once the the kinks are worked out in his/her formula and development regime refined.
     
  10. jnanian

    jnanian Advertiser Advertiser

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    LOL your attitude about caffenol is the same attitude digital photographers
    have to say about using film " digital cameras and digital methods
    are so much better, using film, paper and chemicals is a total waste "

    i have used caffenol c for 5 years and have found it to be one of best
    and most forgiving developers i have ever used ( i have been processing film since 1980 ...)
     
  11. 4strinbass

    4strinbass Member

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    Haha, uh, could I get some help?
     
  12. bwrules

    bwrules Member

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    Ok, I may have been too harsh, but how long does it take to iron the kinks out of it, and why this fascination with coffee developing agents? For one thing the amount of developing agents in coffee varies widely.
     
  13. jnanian

    jnanian Advertiser Advertiser

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    hi 4stringbass

    i never make this developer without the vit c just because
    it works much better ... i have also increase the amount of
    vit c to be about 1/2 + a little bit more of the
    amount of of vit c compared to washing soda, so for example
    instead of 1/4 tsp i would use a little more than 1tsp for your recipe.

    did your developer fizz / foam when you finished with the vit c ?

    what "brand" coffee are you using?

    i have reduced the heavy stain by soaking in wash-water for an extended period of time.
     
  14. OzJohn

    OzJohn Member

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    I've been developing film since 1965 and I'd never heard of caffenol developer until I joined this forum but them I'm not very adventurous with photo chemicals. I've tried many different commercial brews over the years but I'd guess that 75% of my films have been developed in D76.

    Good on those who discovered this technique and those who want to give it a go - what an absolute gem of kitchen table chemistry! It's not often that everyday household ingredients can be cobbled together to replace a commercial chemical product. Is it true that it works best with the cheapest instant coffee? If so a decided victory for the proletariat!
    OzJohn
     
  15. 4strinbass

    4strinbass Member

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    Hey jnanian,

    My developer did fizz when I added the vitamin c. I'm using folgers caffeinated instant coffee.
     
  16. Denverdad

    Denverdad Subscriber

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    I use folger's instant too. :smile:
    But I almost forgot - what film is this (sorry if you already listed it)? I recall that there were one or two films which for some reason just don't develop well in caffenol - so that is a possibility.
     
  17. jnanian

    jnanian Advertiser Advertiser

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    hey 4strings

    i totally agree wiht denverdad
    you should check out and read both
    the caffenol blog and read
    the caffenol group at flickr -
    while i have used caffenol for a number of
    years i don't have the experimental experience the
    some of the science-related caffenol junkies tend to have.
    you might be able to glean from what you read ( from others
    who had the same problems ) or ask questions and get answers.

    john
     
    Last edited by a moderator: May 9, 2011
  18. MichaelMadio

    MichaelMadio Member

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    My experience with Caffenol, specifically Reinhold's recipes (http://caffenol.blogspot.com/), has been interesting. I found that some films just do not work well with it while others are great with the general trend being that it's good for low/medium speed films but not so good for high speed ones. The variable of coffee also adds complexities in establishing consistent and repeatable formulas. Consider the recipes a starting point and be prepared for some experimentation. Incidentally, if you can source Metol and/or Phenidone, you can use them in place of coffee to make more "standard" developers. This would give you the flexibility to use Caffenol-C where appropriate and use Metol/Phenidone + Vit-C developers for other situations while minimizing cost and chemicals.
     
  19. 4strinbass

    4strinbass Member

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    Ilford Delta 400
     
  20. Lawrenceu

    Lawrenceu Member

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    Could the addition of rose hips be an issue?
     
  21. jnanian

    jnanian Advertiser Advertiser

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    4stringbass

    how are you developing your film
    pre-wet for a few mins ..
    then the 20mins agitate for the first min and then 10seconds every min ?

    i think the vit c is OK ( rose hips are a form of vit c from what i have been told )
    and it fizzed so that is good ...
    you might cut your development a bit if you are getting heavily over developed film. or strip your film of its density with some sort of bleach ( like farmers reducer or another )

    with the caffenol-c film you might try to make contact prints from them .. and you might
    like the results ...
    i sometimes have negatives so dense i can't see through them, and i either make sunprints
    on regular photo paper and scan them or contact prints with a 300watt bulb
    and process the prints in regular developer. you can use your caffeonol c as a print developer
    as well, even after you have processed film through it ( its not 1 shot )
    it takes about 2x the time for prints to appear but it works fine ...
    the sun prints take a little time for the uv/suns rays to stain the paper,
    and you only really get 1 or 2 chances to scan the image, but you get an image with details
    that you can tweek your levels to, as you did with the scans you presented in the thread ...

    you might also try a different film, and see if it is just an emulsion that
    disagreeable to your offerings at "le 4stringsbass café"

    have fun !
    john
     
  22. jp498

    jp498 Member

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    I think the problem here is probably the use of 400 speed film.

    After experimentation, I have confirmed 400 speed films like fomapan 400 and tmy2 aren't well suited to caffenol-c. 100 speed films work much nicer. I use store brand instant coffee, arm & hammer soda, and some ascorbic acid crystals from some winemaking business. I haven't found it to be cheaper than xtol or pmk, but it's another nice option. I use it for 13-15 minutes for fomapan100 in a tray.

    Check out what ezzie is doing with mostly caffenol-c and tmx film:

    http://www.apug.org/gallery1/browseimages.php?do=member&imageuser=39149
     
  23. jnanian

    jnanian Advertiser Advertiser

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  24. MichaelMadio

    MichaelMadio Member

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    An important point from jp498 above is that Caffenol-C is not generally the cheapest developer so looking at it strictly from a budget perspective there are better options. That being said, it has it's place as the ingredients are generally easy to find (don't forget that you need to source chems for fix as well) and it has a different look. Highly concentrated commercial developers (e.g. HC-110) may be more practical in a dorm situation though.
     
  25. 4strinbass

    4strinbass Member

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    Thanks for everything guys! I think the problem with the film I did in Caffenol C is that it's 400 speed. If I had a better scanner I could get the images out a bit better. Like you said, low speed films work a lot better.

    I just developed another roll in my Caffenol though and it came out great. I just added 5 more min to my dev time and rinsed longer. This was Caffenol not Caffenol C.
     

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