Saturday, December 31, 2011

Happy New Year!

This little blog now celebrates its first full year.

I started out this a year ago in frustration, moderators over on other places - "high-priests" with a full blown court of supporters, made it difficult to present facts and interesting tidbits without a constant stream of negativism.....  So I went for this blog. Hopefully this has been of some help to someone.

Along the road I have been lucky enough to meet a couple of individuals that I share values with, Michael and Tore, who are both valuable co-authors and contributors on this blog.  We don't necessary agree on everything, but share the interest of presenting the facts, not fiction, and not something that is out of line or downright not true.....

When I started out, I was surprised after the first couple of moths when I noted that the audience had reached a staggering 1000 people!  So I started to take this more seriously and set myself a target, 12 000 readers by New Years eve 2012.
Now the numbers are in, we did just pass 15 256, so the goal has been reached and surpassed by a good margin.

I wish you all a Happy and Proseperous New Year, and hope you continue to visit these pages and find something of value.

If you have comments- praise or criticism, please don't hold back, each and every opinion is valuable, and will be treated seriously.


Sunday, December 11, 2011

Quick and dirty Reducer

Reducer (simple and probably not the most effective in this world...)

A simple reducer bath might come handy if one has troble with fogging, this happens sometimes with unfortunate combinations of film types and ascorbate-type developers.

The idea is to bleach away the image, and then re-develop the film in bright light, so that all of the silver is available for re-development, and in bright light, very controllable so one can stop the process after the image is back, but before the fogging is redeveloped......
The trouble with traditional recipes always was toxicity, chemicals was used that posed a definite threat if misused, and in ou4r search for a simple alternative, these two recipes cropped up.

I haven't tessted and compared these with the old industry standard, Farmer's reducer, so these simple recipes most likely ain't too effective, but, they should work and make do if needed.

I have no idea of how these will keep in solution, but they are both cheap and simple, and can be discarded after use, and one should also be able to just dump this in the drain since no deadly poisons are used.

Eder suggest :

Water 750 ml
Copper sulphate 50 g
Sodium chloride 50 g
Water to 1000 ml

Agfa suggest :

Water 750 ml
Copper sulphate 100 g
Sodium chloride 100 g
Sulpuric acid conc. 25ml
Water to 1000 ml

Negatives to be treated in subdued light, preferably a darkroom with darkroom lightning, until one has a white-color "image", then be watered for 2 .. 3 min (3 changes of water, agitated like the Ilford method).

Then the image must be RE-development in daylight, in a normal or a finegrain developer, until satisfaction, but before one get fog, and then a normal acid stop, fixation and a thorough washing, like normal development.

Make a careful note bleaching and reduction will save some of the picture qualities only, one will ALWAYS loose picture quaklity with this procedure!  Loss of detail sharpness and large grain are traditionally connected with this, but the use of a fine gran RE-developer sometimes negates the large grain, this usually comes with a cost of low contrast.

All taken together this technique should be carefully considered before one risks destroying valuable negatives!

The ingredients :

Concentrated sulphuric acid is impossible to get over here, after 09.11.01 and 22.07.11, since it is a effectice raw material for explosives production.

Instead we use battery acid (33%) multiply with 3 and simply fill with water to 1000ml ,
Copper sulphate should be available at Radio Shack, it was used in making amatuer printed circuits back in the 1970's AFAIR.
Sodium chloride is ordinary table salt! Can't be simpler than that!
And  finally a viable USE for table salt in photography!

Thursday, December 1, 2011

A TCB developer with long life.

While working with the testing of several developers I came to the conclusion that TCB and PCB developers have good shelf-life, but when used and re-used as D76, they became less active rather quickly. This because the ascorbic acid is destroyed by arial oxidation during use.

To overcome this problem I added some sodium sulfite to the TCB developer.
The tests shows that this fortified TCB developer doesn't loose it's breath so quickly. In fact it closely follows other reuseable developers. For a 1000ml stock bottle, add 6% of the developing time for each film developed.

Use the same table as shown in the article about the Fenomenal developer.

Mixing instructions.

You will need Parodinal to make this. The mixing instructons are outlined here.

Making p-aminophenol from Tylenol/Paracetamol with ascorbic acid as anitoxydant doesn't work as good as doing it the proper way.

500 ml water.
8 g Soduim carbonate. (Soda)
10 g Ascorbic acid. pH at this moment is 9.6
80 g Sodium sulfite
10 ml Parodinal
20 g borax.
Water to 1000 ml. pH at this moment is 9.15

Starting time: 10 min @ 20C for Fomapan 100

This triplet is exposed +-0EV, -1EV and +1EV.

This is the image exposed according to the meter. Contrast increased a bit.
Sharpness is good. Grains are fairly small.

These images was extracted from the film through a 500ml batch of the developer.
Development time was 14 minutes @20C. This complies with the table for increasing time for each film. Since this is a 500ml batch, the starting time is multiplied with 1.42, giving me 14.2 minutes. The correct time is 14 minutes and 12 seconds, but the 12 seconds isn't going to make any visible difference at 14 minutes, so let us forget about them.

I am going to put this stock bottle on the shelf for now. Sometime i February or March 2012 I am going to develop a film or two in it to make sure it can survive some weeks on the shelf.

I am quite sure it still will be active by then.

Monday, November 28, 2011

The Fenomenal developer. A universal fine grain developer

During the last weeks I have tested a new developer mix, the Fenomenal.

It consists of basic ingredients like phenidone, ascorbic acid, sodium sulfite and a small part of parodinal.
The reason for adding the parodinal is that I wasn't competely satisfied with the contrast without it.

Mixing it is a two step operation since you will need Parodinal.

Parodinal is mixed in this way:
75ml boiled and cooled water
Add 8g of lye (NaOh) pearls one gram at the time. (Red devil)Keep it cool! Temperature will rise.
20g sodium sulfite.
6g tylenol/paracetamol. Crush 12 tablets to fine powder.
Use the rest of the water to wash the rest of the powder out of your mortar if needed.
Add this water to get 100ml in your bottle.

Be sure that each ingredient is completely dissolved before adding next.

Use a plastic bottle so you can squeeze as much air out of it as possible before you cap it.
Shake the bottle to make sure the crushed tablets are dissolved.

Let this bottle rest for at least 72 hours. Don't shake it, don't open it during that period.

After the 72 hours has passed, you have Parodinal.
It can be used as Rodinal, but in this case it is needed in the Fenomenal developer.

Since this developer contains phenidone and KBr, you are adviced to make solutions containg this chemicals.

KBr: To 100ml water add 10g KBr. Each 10ml of this is 1g KBr.

Phenidone: To 100ml methylated spirits add 1g phenidone. Each 10ml of this is 0.1g phenidone.
Ok, now it's time to mix a serious developer.

800ml boiled and cooled water.
100g sodium sulfite
6g ascorbic acid
0.15g phenidone. Use 15ml of the phenidone solution.
5ml parodinal. This is 1:200 mix.
20g borax
0.5g KBr. Use 5ml of the KBr solutuion.
Water to 1000ml.

This is a very potent developer. In fact so potent that I prefer to dilute it 1:1 with water.
Take half of it (500ml) and dilute with 500ml boiled cooled water.

This batch of 1000ml is your working solution.

Use as D76. Start time as D76. Fomapan 100 needs 6.5 min@20C.
For each film, add 6% develpment time.

This makes this table.

Film no.
Multiply time by
1 1
2 1,06
3 1,12
4 1,19
5 1,26
6 1,34
7 1,42
8 1,5
9 1,59
10 1,69
11 1,79
12 1,9
13 2,01
14 2,13
15 2,26
16 2,4
17 2,54
18 2,69
19 2,85
20 3,03

The table is valid for a 1000ml working solution.

If you choose to use a 500ml working solution, you have to skip every other entry in the table.
Film no. 2 time is multiplied with 1.12, and so on.

Based on my tests you can develop 10 films in this one liter working solution.
That is 20 films from the initial mix.

Keeping qualities seems to be good. I haven't seen any degradation of activity during the testing period, but it is a bit early to conclude yet. The high level of sodium sulfite and relatively low pH of the borax alkali makes it a bit more stable than developers that have higher pH.

Some sample pictures.

No adjustment of contrast or brightness done on this triplet.
Exposure is +1EV, +-0EV and -1EV

This is the image that is exposed according to the meter.
No adjustment of contrast, brightness and sharpness. No grain reduction in the scanner process.

I mixed a 500ml working solution to do the initial testing. This to reach developer exhaustion earlier. This is the fifth film developed in this 500ml working solution.This equals the in 1000ml working solution. The table for extending time for each film developed seems to work just fine. Since I use just 500ml, I jump two steps in the table for each film.

Go ahead, mix yourself a batch of this developer. In my humble opinion it is a great developer.

Monday, November 14, 2011

Phenidone-Ascorbic acid - fourth film in the developer

Camera Canon EOS 50e, kit lens 28-80mm
Film Kodal Gold 200 C41  11 minutes @ 20C

Altered recipe, added phenidone from 1:100 vs ascorbic acid to 1:40
Upped the phenidone from the previous amount and adjusted the development time accordingly (to what was said to be the activity)

Development time based on a baseline for std. B/W film 6,5 minutes (said to be comparable to D-76 at this concentration of Phenidone)
Compensated for C41 film (ca 25% longer time, and a 6,5% longer time per film through the developer)
6,5 minutes x 1.25 x 1 x 1.065 x 1.065 x 1.065 for a total of 9,8 minutes @ 20 centigrade.
Since we've had many films through the developer already, I added 1 minute to be on the safe side.

Kanon Gold 200 extra phenidone added, straight scan
Exposed at boxspeed, -1 step and + 1 step

 Exposed at box speed, straight scan
Box speed postprocessed 1 step

Exposed at - 1 step, straight scan
Exposed at - 1 step, postprocessed.

Exposed at + 1 step, straight scan
Exposed at + 1 step, postprocessed.

Exposed at boxspeed, -1 step and + 1 step

Exposed at box speed, straight scan
Box speed postprocessed 1 step

Exposed at - 1 step, straight scan
Exposed at - 1 step, postprocessed

Exposed at + 1 step, straight scan
Exposed at + 1 step, postprocessed

This seem a pretty good mixture, the negatives are better, but still there is no real blacks.  Also there is the small matter of fogging, not in this C41 Gold 200 film, but on B&W films.
The recipe will be adjusted with a little KBr, but as reported by Trond 0.5 gram /litre was to much so we'll try with less.

Also what remains to be proven is how many films can safely be processed in a litre, we're now at 4 films, with a 2 gram / litre ascorbic acid / 1:40 Phenidone mix, so more films will be processed.

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Phenidone-Ascorbic acid - third film in the developer

                              Camera Canon EOS 50e, kit lens 28-80mm
                              Film Kodal Gold 100 C41, unaltered recipe.

Development time based on a baseline for std. B/W film ca 8,5 minutes, compensated for C41 film (ca 25% longer time, and a 6,5% longer time per film through the developer)
8,5 minutes x 1.25 x 1 x 1.065 x 1.065 for a total of 12 minutes @ 20 centigrade

Triplet exposed a box speed, -1 ISO and +1 ISO

Box speed, straight scan, no postprocessing

Box speed, enhanched 1 step

-1 ISO, straight scan, no postprocessing

+1 ISO, straight scan, no postprocessing.

Triplet exposed a box speed, -1 ISO and +1 ISO

This looks quite good, what now matters is how many films we can develop in the mix.
Small matter remaining is the fact that we do not get true blacks with this recipe, we get scannable negatives, but the film leader, fully exposesd to light and developed at the same time as the negatives does not get BLACK, I'm niot quite sure if that matters, it keeps the contrast down to a certain degree, but I think the overall results will be better if we manage to get true blacks.

Feedback from Michael who championed this early on indicates that Gainers early work has been supplanted by a stronger mix, which should give rich blacks and a more films through the developer.
Michael stated that instead of a ratio of 1:100 between Ascorbic acid and Phenidone, it should be replaced with a ratio of 1:40, this being the "sweet spot".  So in the name of science more Phenidone will be added.

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Phenidone & Ilford FP4 - second film in this developer

I had this camera, bought chep in an "antiques" store back in the 1970's, a Certo Durata II, fitted with a Meyer Trioplan lens and a simple shutter. At the time I knew nothing about this camera, except that I wanted a folder. At the time I was considered to be a lunatic, I already had 3 Canon SLR bodies, and wanted an outdated, old fashiomned folder?

Foolishly enough I sold it, or rather gave it away for a pittance to a collector many moons ago. (That Trioplan lens annoyed me too, I had learned that Certo fitted them with proper Zeiss Tessars also, I got a copy of Abring's book : "von daguerre bis heute", where 5000 cameras where listed.....

Long story short, about a year ago I found another Durata, this time with the good lens, Tessar 2,8/50 and the good shutter, and I've given it a spin.

I found my old bulk loader, for reloading 35mm casettes, still containing about 50 feet of very, very old FP4 that has survived in haphazard storage conditions maybe since I got the original Durata. This film, the FP4 has been tried out with caffenol, and developed just fiine in C-CM with 1 g/L KBr, virtually no fogging.

I decided to try this film with the new developer and here are the prelimnary results :

Certo Durata, CZ Tessar f:2,8/50 Ilford FP4
developed 9 minutes @ 20 centigrade

The time was guesstimated from a baseline of 8,5 minutes for first film through the developer, adding 6,5% development time per film through the mix.
The mix in question was phenidone/ascorbate with soda :

Soda  (anhydrous)         5,77 gram
Ascorbic acid powder   2,11 gram
Phenidone                     0,0215 gram

Negatives came out just good, looks like this is correct development time, but there is a problem getting the blacks, even the leader, totattly exposed to light when loading/reloading the film is not totally black it CAN be seen throuh it, in that respect this developer is a bit on the weak side.

On the strong side is the fact that the tone scale is fine, grain is fine and the film is sharp, contrast is better than most caffenol mixes I've seen.
Hoiwever, one fly in the oinment, concerning this old and VERY! outdated film, there is sløight fogging. Nothing too bad, but an overall layer of fog, this takes the contrast down a notch with this particular film. I have no reason yet to believe that fogging will be a problem, others have tried Fomapan and T-max and I've seen the negatives. Sweet.

The pictures :

Straight scan FP4 9min @ 20C
Slightly underexposed

Same picture, enhanced contrast, less saturation

Straight scan

Enhanched 1 step

Straight scan

Enhanced 1 step

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

First results with Phenidone/Ascorbate developer and learning to use it.

My first experiments with this developer resulted in underdeveloped films.
To demontrate what it looks like I'll post these images here.

Take a look at the shadows. There is no details in the shadows. The highlights have some details, but not like it should be. The tonal scale is somewhat strange. Not directly short, but there is something missing. Grains are also visible. All kinds of microscopic dust shows up so to make a half-decent image it takes a lot of cloning away dust spots.

I tweaked the settings of the scanner in all ways to make some useable scans.

This image is captured on a Kentmere 400 film, shot at ISO 400.
Take a look at the shadows. No details!

This is a crop from the previous image.
Here it is easier to see that the shadows lacks details.

I have use an unsharp mask to increase sharpness. This makes the grains and scanner artifacts more visible.

The images are useable, but not perfect.
This is the results from thin and underdeveloped negatives.

You can get this from using any developer, including Caffenol and this one.

Michael mentiones that the activity in this blend is a bit off the sweetspot, so the development times is a bit longer than anticipated.

In addition to this, I used the temperature-time correction chart at Digitaltruth to correct development time for 23C instead of 20C. It seems that this chart isn't correct for this film and this developer. Reading Kodaks charts reveals that they are different for each film and developer. Both time differences and slope of the curve varies from film type to film type.

Increasing development baseline time from 6.5 minutes to 8.5 minutes and NOT correcting for 22C temperature gave me the close to perfect negatives for the images I posted earlier today.
Not correcting for temperature will give about 0.4 stops push according to the time-temp chart and push-processing tables. Looking at the negatives I will say that it may be about 0.2 stops push. Nothing to worry too much about with other words.

This image is from the last fil through the developer. Take a look at the shadow details in this image. There is a lot more detail in the shadows. The scanner software was not tweaked in any way to get this image. Just set white and black points. Turned down brightness just a tad.
The image has much better tonality and the grains are quite fine. The scanner hasn't generated any strange artifacts caused by a thin negative. All in all a much better result.

Some small adjustments now, and we have a real good developer.

More tests.

Using the same phenidone/ascrobate developer as as Erik, I adjusted start time to 8.5 minutes and got great results.
I haven'thad time to scan many images yeet, but the few I have scanned shows that I am about spot on with Fomapan 100 exposed at ISO 100, developed for 8.5 minutes + correction for being film number 6 through the developer. Temperature was 22C instead of 20C, so I expected the negatives to be a tiny bit denser than optimal, and I was right. It is so close to perfect that it doesn't really matter, but we are striving for the perfect, aren't we?

This sample triplet is scanned as one image. Just set the correct white and black points. Nothing further done with brightness or contrast.

Camera used is an old Werra 3 with 50mm f2.8 Carls Zeiss lens. 1/30 sec. f2.8 to f5.6.
The leftmost image is exposed +1EV according to the metered light. In the middle -1EV, and to the right just as the meter said.

In my opinion the development is about right on. In the middle image the shadows has lost some detail and the image to the left has less details in the highlights.
There might be neccessary to do some small adjustments in devlopment time for temperature correction. This would make the "correct" exposed image somewhere between the middle and the rightmost image. That would be absolutely perfect.

Monday, October 31, 2011


It's been a while since Michael first wrote a piece about phenidone developers here.
He strongly urged me to try this, and a few months back I secured 100 gram of the good stuff.  However unforeseen events on the national level that impackted me / my family took the drive away from doing experiments, we had more than enough with getting back to a normal life after tre tragic bombing & shooting here this summer.
But life goes on and I was also fortunate enough to connect with amnother photographer living here, that has started doing caffenol. We got together, swapped stories & experience (and a couple of cameras, collectors are like stamp collectors, there are always a duplicate in a dark corner....).
I suggested he band together with me in an experiment I've been contemplating, and here goes.

We have decided to share the burden and split the mix between us, so that we test separate films, this way we will be able to build experience quickly.

The plan is to test out 4 or 5 different recipes, developers based on Vitamin C and Phenidone, based on different types of alkali.  Up until now I does the mixing and have control over the recipes, but Trond is the more active testing the stuff quickly and prescisely, making valuable observations and reporting back.

He was the first out of the starting blocks, with a Foma 100 film, and have shown pictures on Flickr, hopefully they will be shown here in a few days.

The recipe so far is based on Patrick Gainers work, adapted and tweaked a little, to adapt to what is available here.

Michael - cowriter on this blog, also have a recipe shared here, it will also be tested by us, so we have cross-references.

The first recipe is very simple :

Washing soda (anhydr.)          5,71 gram
Ascorbic Acid                         2,11 gram
Phenidone                                0, 021 gram

This is broadly what Gainer termed his Standard recipe, what we should call it, I call it
FenoBate 52.002  which gives me a hint on the recipe used, but the name is not important, I'm standing on gainer's shoulders here, he is the inventor.

What is interesting and should be noted is that the whole idea here is very simple :

This is a stock developer to be used many times, developing time increased after every use, like good 'ol D76.  Instead of using Sodium Sulphite to protect the developing agent from oxidizing, one of the developing agents themselves, namely Ascorbic Acid does that, as long as it is present in excess in the solution, phenidone is protected, the rest of it is very simple Ascorbic Acid is hydrolysed into Sodium Ascorbate by the Soda, just like Caffenol, and the soda secured a basic working environment, like caffenol.
Developing time has been the only small problem, it was suggested to use the same time as D76, this has turned out to being a little imprescise. opne problem here might be that Kodak themselves altered D76 times a few years back, creating uncertainity.

First test was Trond with Fomapan 100, exposed at box speed with a some frames exposed 1 step over and one step under.

His exact data and pictures will be incvluded here.............

My first try was  was Kodak Gold 200 which is a C41 color film, my usual test vehicle.

Since Tronds experince from the first film suggest that he should have given the film a little longer time, I adjusrted the base time accordingly.

Base time B&W film (2. test)   9 minutes @ 20 C
Adjusted for C41 film (experience from Caffenol here)  12 minutes @ 20 C

Standard agitation regime, slow inversions for the first minute, with vigorous shaking to expel any air bubbles, then 3 slow inversions per minute at the top of the minute hand.

Stop bath : 2 changes of clean, plain water, NOT acidic stop bath for a soda-based developer!

Standard fix in a rapidfixer, and normal wash.

Make a careful note : this developer has no restraining agent, no anti-foggant and does not need one, so far  (Fomapan, Gold 200, Shanghai 100, Ilford FP4 so far)

The result from my first film, Kodak Gold 200 :

Simple unaltered scan of 3 negatives, from left to right :
Box speed (200 ISO), 1 stop under, 1 stop over
To me it seems Box speed and 1 stop over is best, indicating a slight over-development.

The 3 pictures in detail  :

Straight scan, box speed (200 ISO) 9 min @ 20 C

Same exposure, contrast and saturation enhanched 1 step

Underexposure one step :

Straight scan, 1 step underexposure (400 ISO) 9 min @ 20 C

Same exposure, contrast and saturation enhanched 1 step

Overexposure 1 step

Straight scan, 1 step overexposure (100 ISO) 9 min @ 20 C

Same exposure, contrast and saturation enhanched 1 step

Some more picture triplets :

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Traditional Soda-based recipes

I've been researching a little; how was developers, before developers was sold?

Back in the day people would buy glass plates or contact papers to the same size as their large negatives and make pictures. Since there was no photographers around in sparsely populated areas, people was supposed to do their own, and mix their own. Luckily since photography was invented and since people used a lot of what is now considered strange chemicals to do house chores, it was easy to find the basic chemicals. And there where druggists, or apotecharies who sold medicine, who quickly filled the need and supplied those special chemicals needed for film and paper development.

But where did they get the necessary recipes?  Dead simple, it was meticulously printed on every box for the glass plates or the photo paper.  In connection with a project for the local history chapter I've been scanning some old glass plate negatives. Some of those plates where still in their old boxes, and on the boxes was printed developer recipes.

Those I will share here.

The developers was soda based, because that was a common household chemical I believe, and used Metol, Hydroquinone or staining developers like Pyrogallol.  These was the early, stalwarth stuff they got by with, and frankly they didn't need extremely advanced stuff either, given the negative size they worked with.

Looking at the negatives and the scans I can see that when the old guys guessed exposure right, this worked very well for them, they got good developed negatives with good contrast and long tone scale with ample details in the shadows.

Since this was back in the pre-panchromatic days, this was done by tray development, and hence constant agitation, probably in a matter of minutes only.  These guys lived by the old adage "expose for the shadows, and develop for the highlights, and did so by inspecting each and every plate during development. This is probably why so few are hopelessly under-developed.

Fisrst a recipe on an old glass negative box :

Imperial Dry plate Company, Ltd of London

Here is offered two recipes and advice of how to use them for both under and over-exposure.

The Pyro-Soda developer is stated to be used for correct and full exposures, I think that translates to box ISO and plus one stop today.
The Standard developer i stated suitable to general snapshots and under-exposures, I think that translates to box speed and minus one stop today.

Or simply stated the Standard developer here is the more active, while the Pyro-Soda developer could possibly be a softer working, more fine grained recipe.

Measures is given in English and French measures which would be british and metric measures today and are equivalent.

Recipe,    Imperial Pyro-Soda
Dissolve chemicals in the order given

Stock solution
Potassium metabisulphite  10  gram
Pyrogallic Acid                  83  gram
Potassium bromide            13  gram
Water to    1000 ml
From this stock solution one mixes

Part 1
Stock Solution                            150 ml
Water (boiled or distilled)    to   1000 ml 

Part 2
Sodium Sulphite                         100 gram
Sodium carbonate                       100 gram
Water (boiled or distilled)  to    1000 ml

In use  mix one part 1 with one part 2. For underexposure increase part 2, for overexposure increase part 1.

Metric measures translates to these british measures :

Stock solution
Potassium metabisulphite 50 grain
Pyrogallic Acid 1 oz
Potassium bromide 60 grain
Water to 22 oz
From this stock solution one mixes

Part 1
Stock Solution 3 oz
Water (boiled or distilled) to 20 oz

Part 2
Sodium Sulphite 2 oz
Sodium carbonate 2 oz
Water (boiled or distilled) to 20 oz

In use mix one part 1 with one part 2. For underexposure increase part 2, for overexposure increase part 1.


Personally I think this could be translated to caffenol, if one replaces the Pyrogallic acid with Instant Coffe and tries that, but at this point this is pure speculation.


Recipe  Imperial Standard
Dissolve chemicals in the order given

Part 1
Metol                                      5 gram
Potassium Metabisulphite       14 gram
Pyrogallic Acid                        6 gram
Potassium bromide                  2 gram
Water (boiled or distilled) to   1000 ml
Part 2
Sodium Carbonate                  200 gram
Water (boiled or distilled) to   1000 ml
In use mix one part 1 with one part 2

Metric measures translates to these british measures :

Part 1

Metol                                  45 grain
Potassium Metabisulphite   120 grain
Pyrogallic Acid                    55 grain
Potassium bromide              20 grain
Water (boiled or distilled) to  20 oz

Part 2
Sodium Carbonate                    4 oz
Water (boiled or distilled) to     20 oz

In use mix one part 1 with one part 2


Personally I think this could be translated to caffenol, if one replaces the Pyrogallic acid with Instant Coffe  and replaces Metol with ascorbic acid, and tries that, but at this point this is pure speculation.

If one chooses to try this, make a note that the standard recipe when translated to Caffeine, stores better than the pyro-soda recipe, because the ascorbic acid in part 1 protects the instant coffe from oxydation. But also note that instant coffe as always is the weak link in all the Caffeine recipes, coffe is no chemical, it is a wildly variating mixtore of substances that we have no control over, that contains degradable foodstuffs and those will quickly go sour as all coffe drinkers know.

However this trip back a century in time or so is a valuable insight into how they did things back in the days, soda based developer is nothing new, on the contrary they once was the base and foundation that photography was built upon. These developers also was what guys like Patric Gainer was looking at, no doubt, when the alternative developers first surfaced some 20 years ago.

In closing a quick look at the fixer mentioned here :

Acid Fixer solution :

Sodium Hyposulphite            500 gram

Potassium metabisulphite         60 gram
Water (boiled or distilled)  to 2500 ml

Metric measures translates to these british measures :

Sodium Hyposulphite     1 lb
Potassium metabisulphite  2 oz
Water (boiled or distilled)  50 oz,

Since a soda based developer combined with an acid fixer can give rise to spots in the emulsion, at least the soda from the developer needs to be watered out by 3 changes of plain water as a stop bath, instead of a traditional stop bath.

Note a plain, non-acidic fixer can be made simply by not adding metrabisulphite, this might be preferred

More will follow

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Phenidone-C Developers - I've Learned A Few Things

I've been tweaking my phenidone/c developers recently and learned a few interesting things so I thought I would share.  Here are some quick points:
  1. The amount of phenidone is directly proportional to developer activity.  Using PCB (19g borax + 6g ascorbic acid + 0.15g phenidone + water to 1L) as an example, reducing the phenidone from 0.15g/L to 0.1g/L makes a huge difference in developer activity.
  2. The more phendone/c you have, the lower pH you need for active development.  I discovered that with enough phenidone/c you can have very active development at a pH of 7.2.  On the other extreme, you can use ridiculously small quantities of phenidone/c (e.g. PCM uses 0.8g/L ascorbic acid +  0.02g/L phenidone) but increase pH for similar activity.  This means you can adjust the activity of phenidone/c developers either by varying the pH or the amount of ingredients.
  3. More vit-c doesn't make much difference in activity but does extend shelf life.  For example, using ascorbic acid at 4g/L vs 8g/L shows no discernable difference in activity but makes a re-usable developer last longer.
  4. pH does not affect grain very much.  Grain from developers at pH 8.4 and 9.6 look very similar.  This is based on observations with a scanner and RC prints.
  5. Stand development doesn't work the way we think.  Testing showed no significant difference between full stand development (60s initial continuous only) vs minimal agitation (60s initial continuous, 10s every 5 mins) except for time when using a very dilute developer (PCM).  Agitation more frequent than 5 mins showed more highlight development and increased contrast.
  6. You really don't need much potassium bromide.  Even without potassium bromide, fog is minimal (most won't notice it), but adding 0.04g/L clears it up with no effect on developer activity.
If you like to concoct developers as I do I hope you find this useful.


Tuesday, September 27, 2011

TCB - Trouble In Paradise

I've been playing with p-aminophenol developers again.  I found that parodinal + ascorbate + borax (RCB) makes for a fine grain full speed developer.  I also found that substituting ascorbate for sulfite in parodinal works too (TCB).  However, doing side-by-side tests as a one-shot developer, I find that I need twice as much ascrobate-parodinal as I do sulfite-parodinal to get the same level of activity.  This bugs me a bit as ascorbate-parodinal is half as efficient as sulfite-parodinal which means I'm wasting a fair amount of  ingredients.

Activity levels aside, the visible difference between the two is the formation of long needle-like crystals in the sulfite version and not in the ascorbate one.  I don't know what the crystals are but if they are p-aminophenol that means that sulfite-parodinal is super-saturated while ascorbate-parodinal is not which would explain the difference in activity levels.  Could it be that the conversion of acetaminophen to p-aminophenol needs sulfite to complete?

I have nothing against sulfite and it's something I stock anyway as I use it in my fix.  I'm just curious about the chemical process here so I can better understand what is going on.  I am not a chemist in any way so I'm hoping to learn from others with more knowledge about this.


Thursday, September 15, 2011

Phenidone-C Divided Developer - Strangeness

I've been toying with the idea of a Phenidone-C divided developer akin to divided D-76 or Diafine.  Based on my experience with Phenidone-C so far, I propose the following formula:

Part A
Ascorbic Acid - 80g
Sodium Bicarbonate - 60g
Water - 750mL (make sure all is dissolved and effervescence stops)
Phenidone - 1g
Water to make 1L

Part B
Sodium Hydroxide - 1.45g
Borax - 6.92g
Water to make 1L

Agitate for 5 mins in part A then 5 mins in part B.

I did a quick test with the recipe scaled down to 100mL and use film clips to get an indication of activity.  What I expected to happen and what actually happened really surprised me.  I expected there to be no visible evidence of development in part A while the ascorbate + phenidone soaked into the emulsion and expected all the development to be visible when in part B.  To my surprise, after about 1 min in part A I noticed a slight darkening of the film and after two mins it was nearly black.  I thought I was going nuts here as everything I read and experienced showed that you need a higher pH to get decent activity out of Phenidone-C.  The time in part A is within range of a normal 8-10 min developer.  I thought I may have contaminated part A and increased the pH so I checked it with a calibrated meter and it showed 7.2 ... about what I expected being near neutral.  Now this is confusing ... ascorbate developing at a pH of 7.2?  I still don't believe it but I ran the same test 3 times with the same result.  I have no idea what's going on here and cannot explain it.  On the plus side I'm thinking with the really low pH this very concentrated phenidone-c-bicarbonate mix could be an extremely fine grained re-usable developer.

On one hand this really complicates my idea for a two part phenidone-c developer but on the other hand I may have stumbled across a new unexpected developer.

Next step is to actually process film instead of test clips to see real world results.  I propose two initial tests, one with just part A for 8 mins and one with part A for 2 mins and part B for 6 mins.

Saturday, August 27, 2011

Adox CHS-50 and Caffenol

Some experiments with Caffenol and Adox CHS-50 Art film; a range of development times. The images were all taken on the same day on 35mm, using an Olympus OM-10 in its default auto-exposure, manual focus mode. A cheerfully sunny day, so some high-contrast images at times.

A single batch of developer to the recipe below - nothing exciting, it's just the standard CCM at 1+1 concentration - was made and the film segments developed at approximately three-quarter-hour intervals; that means that the developer for the 16 minute strip had been hanging around open to the air for perhaps two or three hours. That may or may not be significant.


A point to note is that my sodium carbonate is in the decahydrate form; that means that it needs 2.8 times as much - by weight - as the anhydrous form. If you have the anhydrous form, you will need to use proportionally less than in this recipe; you should also note that it will raise, not cool, the water in which it is dissolved.

The vitamin C is a pure powder from a health-food shop; the coffee is the cheapest 'strong instant' from my local supermarket. The same supermarket provides the soda, from the washing department. My tap water here in the UK is rather hard.

Water at 25C - 800ml
Sodium Carbonate Decahydrate - 54g
Vitamin C - 8g
Coffee - 20g
Water at 20C to make up to 1000ml

Mix in order, allowing the fizzing to subside before adding the coffee. The temperature will be close after the soda has cooled the original water.
Prewash 2 minutes in water, wash after development 2 minutes in water, and fixed in Ilford Hypam 1+4 for 4 minutes.

Images are all scanned with no gain, black, or gamma adjustments to permit comparison of contrast range. These levels have been set for the positive images.

10 minutes:
The images appear slightly underdeveloped in the shadows, but produce acceptable scans.
Contrast range 22-224, gamma 0.8

12 minutes:
The image appears properly exposed - there is good shadow detail under the roof, for example.
Contrast range as for the 10 minute development, but gamma set to 1.0.

14 minutes:
Contrast range has decreased to 35-235; gamma at 0.8.
A high-resolution scan at 4800dpi shows resolution as good as the lens and no visible grain.

16 minutes:
Contrast reduced further: 45-235, gamma at 0.8 again. Still producing an acceptable picture, but the fine detail appears to be soft; this could be a focus issue but I doubt it.

For box-speed Adox CHS-50 35mm (and probably 120 roll) a development time in Caffenol 1+1 (20C) of 12 minutes is probably the best. Acceptable pictures will be produced at anything from 10 to 16 minutes, but increasing the time decreases the available contrast and may cause some softening of detail. I don't have a mechanism to explain this.
It's curious that the decreasing contrast is not due to increasing fog; there is none visible at any development time. Rather, the minimum black level, after inversion, appears to rise slightly. I can't explain this, either...
This does not apply to CHS-50 sheet film, which has a different response and upon which I am still experimenting.

Friday, July 29, 2011


Michael just offered a suggestion on Flickr:

".........I think metaborate (a.k.a. Kodalk)

is a more suitable non-carbonate alkali ( than borax) as it has much lower molar mass, much higher solubility, can hit a higher pH, and still have relatively good buffering characteristics. 1g metaborate = 0.692g borax + 0.145g sodium hydroxide if you're interested.

On a slight tangent, I did have an experiment in mind that is somewhat related to this but I have not had time to try so I'll share it here. My goal was to create a longer lasting two part Caffenol-C developer. I was thinking of mixing coffee + vit-c in a very concentrated solution (as little water as possible) with enough hydroxide to make it neutral (this is part A). Part B would be a suitable alkali solution (borax, metaborate, carbonate) with potassium bromide if necessary. My thinking for part A is that the solution might last longer due to the high concentration of ingredients, the vit-c being in sodium ascorbate form, and the pH being neutral. Part B would not have to work so hard as part A is already neutral.

Another possible permutation is to mix part A with alcohol (methanol, isopropyl, etc.) instead of water to minimize oxidation but I have absolutely no idea if coffee + vit-c is soluble in alcohol. "

Lets give this a spin!  I will ponder a bit upon this, hopefully Michael will be back with more inputs, and even more welcome, others might offer comments too, I think this is a good idea, and a possible alternative to now out-of-production Daiafine.  A two part developer with an extremely long shelf life, little if any time and temperature dependency is nice.

Comment from Michael :
"Haha ... I didn't expect to find this here ... cool.

Anyway, I'm pretty sure we cannot get this to work as a conventional two-part developer such as Diafine or divided D-76 because we need so much coffee for active development. I think it may work by using x volume of part A + y volume of part B + z volume of water, most likely suitable only for one-shot use.

I think that a Phenidone/Vit-C developer would make a better candidate for a true two-part developer like Diafine as so little developing ingredients are required.
The problem here is oxygen ... it's the oxidation of developing agents that makes them weak. I have a fair amount of experience dealing with this problem as Phenidone has this same issue and a few approaches have been used to address this.

Alcohol (methanol) has been used as it generally has little water, hence little O2. Ethylene Glycol, Propylene Glycol, and Glycerin have also been used as they have no water and no O2.
The potential problem with alcohol or glycol is solubility of the developing agents. Experimentation is required to determine how much coffee can be dissolved in various solvents.

Another idea that came out after alcohol/glycol was to use water but have excess preservative, vit-c in this case. The theory being that the excess ascorbate preserves what's there and it seems to work. These principles have been used and proven, the excess ascorbate one is used in PCB, and the glycol one is used in PCM.

If I were to attempt a Phenidone/C two-part developer I would make part A with an Ascorbic Acid to Phenidone ratio of 80:1 and enough sodium bicarbonate to neutralize the solution.
This could work out roughly as 80g ascorbic acid, 40g sodium bicarbonate, and 1g phenidone in 1L water.
Part B would be a 1% sodium metaborate solution.
The pH will be high enough to get some good development and the buffering should make the chemical reaction last as long as is required to exhaust the Phenidone/C from part A. I would do 3-4 mins agitation in part A and 5-10 mins agitation in part B.

I have absolutely no idea if any of this would actually work but I think it could.

Thank you Michael, I have to put my thinking cap on, will be back with questions.....

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Cafenol ingredients.

We get questions all the time of what is the right ingredients to be looking out for and to buy in different parts of the world.

This is important, because the wrong ingredient will leave us with a non-working or malfunctioning developer.

I ask you to submit pictures of the ingredients you use, and state what country, and where you found what you use.

I will set up an extra page, like the recipes page, where a log of ingredients sorted country by country will be kept.

Anyone can send me a short not and appropiate pictures on e-mail.  Thank you beforehand.

email :


Thursday, July 21, 2011

My final word on Iodized salt as a restrainer

Once again Reinhold has come forward with an excellent post in his blog :

he clearly demonstrates what one can expect, using ordinary non-iodiozed salt, iodized and comparing that to KBr, all done with the same type of film, and I think he has deliberately chosen a type of film that REALLY will give you fogging, judged on an example of a test with no anti-foggant added that he published some time ago.

His conclusion is simple : non-iodized salt will work, but one has to add more than what is accepted for iodized salt, and one run the risk of another type of fog. dichroic fogging.

Iodized salt will work, and better the higher concentration og KI in the salt.

He also demonstrates clearly that nothing compares to straight KBr, if you can find it, by all means go for that, all kinds of iodized kitchen salt seem to leave a certain fog level, and worse in the cases one really needs an anti-foggant.

Reinhold demonstrates this with pictures of the film, scanned side by side and shown as negatives, very enlighthening, and solid work as always by reinhold, he was and remains the master!

I have come to the conclusion, based on this and other examples from other blogs and net-sources that I need not concern myself any more with this. Reinhold has yet again saved me and other interested workers a lot of hard work and his recommendations are absolutes sound and solid.

I recommend Reinhold's blog BTW, visit it often and read all of it, it is well worth the time, he has put a lot of effort into his work.

Sunday, July 3, 2011

IKEA to the rescue!

Anyone that has a hard time finding volumetric measures now has an excellent source : the swedish furniture & storeys supplier meglamorate IKEA!

In their warehouse I recently discovered a set of excellent volumetric measures, 1 ml, 5 ml, 15 ml and large, translated to US measures these are 1 pinch, 1 teaspoon (1 tsp), 1 tablespoon (1 tblsp) and 1 coffee-measure.

It is very convenient to use volumetric measures, once one has calibrated & adapted one's workhabits to them.  As soon as one gets used to working with coffenol and mixing developer on the fly it is very easy and rewarding to leave the weights behing and enter the float-zone and rely on volumetric measures.'

I routineously use these measures, but at the same time issue a warning : whenever one of the components are changed, then re-calibrate the measure for said component. How this is done in a scientific manner is thoroughly described already in this blog, just have a quick look at the the instalment "What IS a teaspoon...." .

The IKEA-set of measures are so cheap, in the best IKEA tradition, that any worker can buy more than one set. Buy FOUR : one for the missus, to keep the calm in the house and 3 for the Master of the House, that way one can mark the measures with for instance nail polish and reserve one for Soda, one for Ascorbic acid and one for Coffe, saves time on cleaning for those concerned about that.

Also the teaspoon measures are fine for 1 tank - 1 film usage, while the tablespoon measures are fine for 1 litre mix use, they just needs to be calibrated for the purpose.

Myself I have calibrated my components thusly :

Water to fill 11 US fluid ounces (start with 8 oz and top up as soon as all components are in.
Soda  (anhydrous, decahydrate needs 2.7 times as much)  3 teaspoons
Ascorbic acid powder (pure powder marked E300 in Europe) 2 teaspoons
Instant Coffe (blackest, cheapest you can find, "office coffee)  7 teaspoons.

Now I strongly urge anyone to meticoluosly calbrate their own measures to their own chemicals.

But I note in passing : Coffenol is a very forgiving mix, many workers report success from wildly variating recipes, one can get away by slightly altering development times for instance.
Therefore, chances are you can use my recommendations here as is, and get a mixture quite similar to the mixture known as Reinhold's Caffenol CC-M. If you add ca 0.5 gram KBr (Potassium bromide to this mix, the result equals Reinhold's CC-M mixture.

Start times are 15 - 16 minutes for most film types, with a little longer for C41 and longer still for Fuji C41 films and 400 ISO films.  Feel free to experiment, it is fun!

STÄM set of 4 measures

Glanced from the IKEA catalog these comes in several colors,
I only found these green colored ones

From the label here one can clance all data,
it should be possible to order this by phone or the Net from Ikea
order number 801.523.58  several colors.

The catalog names these measures as :
1 spicemeasure, 1 teaspoon, 1 tablespoon (spiseskje in scandinavian) and 1 desiliter (1/10 liter)
These are marked 1ml, 5 ml, 15 ml and 1 dl respectively.

Update on mixing a litre :

Since 11 US fluid oz is close to 1/3 of a litre and since the difference between 1 teaspoon and 1 tabklespoon is also 1:3 it is *real easy to use volumetric measures for a litre mix also.
Just use the tablespoon measure and measure out 3 tblsp, 2 tblsp and 7 tblasp from each ingredient as outlined above and top up the water to 1 litre and you should be close enough to be able to home in on perfect results!

Best of luck and please do share examples of your work, either by sending them to me or sharing them on Flickr!