Wednesday, March 30, 2011

TCB + GP3 ... Lookin' Good!

So I'm thinking of a good way to test my bottle of TCB developer, I grab my TLR and a roll of Shanghai GP3 to get this:

This is Shanghai GP3 @ EI 400, in TCB with minimal agitation (5 min pre-wet, 60 sec initial inversions, 10 sec inversions at 60 min) for 120 mins.  It's scanned on a Nikon Coolscan 9000 as 16-bit TIFF grayscale with no adjustments except for re-size and JPEG conversion.  The streaks are my fault due to soft emulsion and a self-induced "processing error" ;-)  About the mess ... one word ... kids!  I figured that since p-aminophenol is also the developing agent in Rodinal that extended stand development might work here too and it did.


DIY Developers - Are They Really Inexpensive?

There is a general premise in the DIY developer community that our developers are inexpensive. I've been doing a bunch of experimenting lately and noticed that I'm going through some of my chemicals at an alarming rate so decided to take a step back and calculate the real costs of the developers. I'm comparing recipes from the Caffenol blog, PCB/TCB that I've mentioned here, and XTOL for reference.

My final calculation is based on cost per roll in a 250mL tank. My findings (USD) are as follows:

Caffenol-C-M = $1.47/roll
Caffenol-C-H = $1.47/roll
Caffenol-C-L = $0.93/roll
PCB = $0.14/roll
TCB = $0.18/roll
XTOL 1:1 = $0.23/roll
Rodinal (R09) 1+25 =  $0.28/roll

For the Caffenol recipes, prices for Sodium Carbonate and Ascorbic Acid are from Photographers' Formulary, price for Coffee is from Amazon (least expensive).  For PCB, prices for Borax, Ascorbic Acid, and Phenidone are from Photographers' Formulary.  For TCB, prices for Borax and Ascorbic Acid are from Photographers' Formulary, price for Acetaminophen is from Amazon (least expensive).  For XTOL and Rodinal/R09, price is from Freestyle Photo.

I have to admit that seeing the actual numbers was an eye-opener for me. Cost isn't everything but it is a factor.  Speaking as a frugal photographer, keeping costs less than $0.50/roll is reasonable for an every day developer.  Erik's work on re-using Caffenol-C just might be the answer for Caffenol ... we will see.

DISCLAIMER: These are all costs based on one-shot use of Caffenol and ingredients from the retailers mentioned.  Sourcing ingredients from different sources may change the posted costs significantly and your actual costs may vary.


Sunday, March 27, 2011

Citric Acid as a replacement for KBr - a look at the pH variation

I will consider Reinholds CC-H and CC-L, since these are the best documented and at separate ends as far as concentration and pH goes.

Coffenol CC-H

Soda 54 gram
Vit C 16 gram
Inst. Coffe 40 gram
1 gram Kbr  (no influence on pH)

Mix in half the volume 
Water to a total volume of 1 litre.

we find the molarity of each ingredient :

Soda 54/106  =  0.50943M  ~= 0.51M
Vit C 16/176  =  0.090909M  ~=  0.09M
Coffe (40/10)/180 = 0.02222M ~= 0.02M

The pH calculates out at pH 10.81, KBr is not active in the ph-calculation.

CC-H (citric)

Coffenol CC-H
Soda 54 gram
Vit C 16 gram
Inst. Coffe 40 gram
2 gram Citric acid

Mix in half the volume 
Water to a total volume of 1 litre.

Soda 54/106  =  0.50943M             ~= 0.51M        pKa = 3.67
Vit C 16/176  =  0.090909M          ~= 0.09M         pKa1 = 4.10 pKa2 = 11.60
Coffe (40/10)/180 = 0.02222M      ~= 0.02M         pKa = 6.7
Citric acid 2/210.14 = +.00951M   ~= 0.001M       pKa1 = 3.09  pKa2 = 4.75 pKa3= 6.41

Citric acid is a weak acid, but is has 3 pKa-points, in other words looses 3 atoms, this could get very complex!

The pH for this mix calculates out to ph 10.70

Conclusion :
2 gram of citric acid only varies the pH in this with ca pH 0.10.

This is insignificant, any reduced activity in this developer from this small amount of citric acid is not dependent on pH, if there is a marked difference between KBr and Citric acid, it probably depends on other interactions between these organic substances, and since nnone can say anything specifica about the particular brand of coffe at hand, it reains a mystery, if its noticeable.


Coffenol CC-L  (low)

Soda 16 gram
Vit C 10 gram
Inst. Coffe 40 gram
1 gram Kbr  (no influence on pH)

Mix in half the volume
Water to a total volume of 1 litre.

we find the molarity of each ingredient :
Soda 16/106  =  0.1509M            ~= 0.15M       pKa = 3.67
Vit C 10/176  =  0.05681M         ~=  0.057M     pKa1 = 4.10 pKa2 = 11.60
Coffe (40/10)/180 = 0.02222M   ~= 0.02M       pKa = 6.7

The ph calculates out to pH 10.25  KBr is not active in this ph-calculation

Coffenol CC-L  (low)

Soda 16 gram
Vit C 10 gram
Inst. Coffe 40 gram
2 gram Citric acid 

Mix in half the volume
Water to a total volume of 1 litre.
we find the molarity of each ingredient :

Soda 16/106  =  0.1509M            ~= 0.15M       pKa = 3.67
Vit C 10/176  =  0.05681M         ~=  0.057M     pKa1 = 4.10 pKa2 = 11.60
Coffe (40/10)/180 = 0.02222M   ~= 0.02M       pKa = 6.7
Citric acid 2/210.14 = +.00951M   ~= 0.001M       pKa1 = 3.09  pKa2 = 4.75 pKa3= 6.41

The ph calculates out to pH 9.90 

Citric acid adjusts the pH somewhat more in this mix, that means the buffer capacity of the Soda is less (not surprizing!)

Now since these are theoretical calculations, and we need a lot of datapoints in the actual mixes  (they will be forthcoming, from now on mixes will be measured by a calibrated ph_measure...) and IF the actual pH in the low-soda mix is lower before citric acid is added, we COULD reach a point where CC-L don't work.

Conclusion high- and low-soda mixes of caffenol :

Since the pH-number for ascorbate activity remains unknown, its my conlusion so far that it is better to avoid citric acid as a fog controllant i LOW-SODA mixes. In high-soda mixes its influence is insignificant.

Sodium Ascorbate, SALS 12

I have recently added Sodium ascorbate powder to my arsenal.

Sodium ascorbate is what is said to be the net result of the chemical reaction that takes place when we mix Di-Sodium carbonate with vitamin C  (Na2 CO3 + ascorbic acid).
It is said that sodium ascorbate is the (most) active developing agent in all the coffenol C recipes.

Since I have that on hand, and haven't really tried it, save for an experiment that failed (yes I will write up my failures also, not afraid of that, so that others can learn from what I have failed), I decided it was time to try this out.

But what recipe? I haven't seen much other than discouragement, and wrnings that this does not work. I was told it was a waste of time, on Sites that waste endless amounts of time discussing coffe......

I want something simple, of ingredients I have in the house, save for the sodium ascorbate thast was ordered 100% pure powder from the pharmacy, where others get their life-saving medicines.

So... I have washing soda (Na2CO3), i have lye, in the form of little pearls (NaOH), the first is a medium base, with a pH around 12 in a 1M solution, the other is a very strong base, with a pH around 14 in a 1M solution, thats a difference of 1:100.....

Na2CO3  molecular weight ca 106g;  1M solution = 106 g/litre
NaOH  molecular weight ca 40g;        1M solution = 40 g/litre

I want a little weaker mix to take down pH and hence activity.

A mixture of
NaOH        0.01 M
Na2CO3    0.05 M  calculates out to a pH of ca 12.0  that is a good, robust pH, which should faciliate dev. agent activity.

So my tenative, experimental recipe will be :

SALS 12 :

Water 500ml
Lye pearls (NaOH)             : 0.4 gram
Washing soda (Na2CO3)   : 5.3 gram
Potassium bromide KBr    : 15ml   10% solution
Sodium ascorbate powder  : 15 gram
Water to 1000ml

* note I added 1,5 gram KBr to the recipe in order to avoid chem. fogging.

I have 2 films ready, exposed identically in two Canon IX Lite bodies at the same time under identical light. I develop my C41 APS films myself in an adapted tank, it is fun and it frees me from the 1-hour lab, that has been detoriating over the last few years....

I intend to do both in this developer, since that puts this experiment in comparison with my other work with Cofenol C-M and C-L and since I have two identical films, it should allow me to get two datapoints on activity and development times.

Initially I view this proposed developer as a developer that will keep in a closed bottle, almost like D-76, and that needs to have the development times adjusted as more and more films are developed, just like D-76.

My starting point will be 16 minutes @ 20 degree centigrade, standard agitation regime.

Developer now mixed with no problems, ready to start experiment.
Film is Kodak Advantix Ultra, APS C41 film, 25 exp.

First result : very thin, barely scanable negatives.  I gave it extra agitation also, still just a few barely useable negatives.  Need to find my thinking cap.....

Pictures  when the film dries by tomorrow the soonest.

Descision: I just will up the pH in this mix, as it is I need to at least increase dev. time 4-fold, and maybe go for 60min to 70 min time and stand development.


Water 500ml
Lye pearls (NaOH)             : 4.0 gram
Washing soda (Na2CO3)   : 10.6 gram
Potassium bromide KBr    : 15ml   10% solution
Sodium ascorbate powder  : 15 gram
Water to 1000ml

pH is now around 13.0 - up a full pH unit.

To make this easy I just added 3.6 gram NaOH and another 5.3 gram to the developer and will try the nest film tomorrow with a dev. time of 20 minutes @ 20 C, extra agitation.

And it works!

I developed a 25 exp roll of Agfa APS Star 200 today in the revised SALS13 brew.
Did an educated guess (guesstimate) on the development time and was very tense when I did brak open the tank!

Development time 32 minutes plus 1 minute extra for the roll developed in the brew yesterday.  Yesterday the brew turned a little yellow (slight yellow thinge in the fresh mixed brew) after I fortificated the mix with extra lye and soda, elevating the pH to 13 or thereabouts, the mixture immediately got a deeper color.
Today after the second roll, I immediately spotted that *something had happened* inside the tank, the brew that got poured back in the storage bottle was definiteli getting a light brown color.

After normal fix in a rapidfixer, and normal wash (8 changes of water, plus two extra with two drops of detergent, should reach nearly archival quality) I got the film out, now hanging to dry. 

The base color on Agfa is a little deeper yellow-brown than Kodak, The negatives are strong and musty.  I'd say this was a complete success.

Also one could get way with about 3,5 gram per litre of Lye pearls alone, plus sodium ascorbate, with just a gram of sodium bromide, one cannot find a simpler developer.

If one changes sodium bromde with citric acid for fog control, the ingredients are not hard to find.

I will publish scans from both films in a separate instalment, so far I'm satisfied and will now go on using this litre until its exhausted, adjusting development times as I go along, have to run to make some exposures, trying out 1+ and 1- exposures to see the latitude.


Saturday, March 26, 2011

PCB - Another Quick Sample

Nothing very technical in this post, just showing another example of the PCB developer.  This is my youngest daughter at play:

This is Tri-X/400TX at EI 1600 in PCB with minimal agitation for 20 mins @ 19C.  It is from a Nikon Coolscan 9000 with no adjustments and no post-processing whatsoever except for re-size and JPEG conversion.

PCB is my personal "go to" developer as the negatives require little to no post-processing.


Friday, March 25, 2011

Chemistry 101 the calculated pH in the Coffenol mixes.

 My makeshift "lab" at home, one need not the most advanced of anything, just a few quite ordinary and cheap things, and a good thinking cap!

It is quite interesting to look at how these kitchen-table developers have evolved.

Moments of inspired ingenuity, paired with a deep knowledge - sometimes, at other times one can speculate, sheer luck og just haphazard randomness that sort of worked anyway, until somebody saw it, refined it and madse it into something close to the "store-bought" versions.

As far as recipes goes, its my impression that anything that is given as a "scoop of this, and a dab of that" with no firm data, is based on very little actual knowledge and understanding.

My biggest eyeopener was Reinholds blog who offered true, measured recipes.
He has done a great work of standardizing this and deserver credit for that.

However the long hidden chemist in me, soon started to want to look under the hood, what is it that makes this recipe work, and work like it actually does, and that recipe to fail?  In doing that I more or less automatically fell back on the classic chemistry I was thaught when I studied to be a chem. engineer many many moons ago.

In doing that I brushed off long forgotten tomes and decided to try to usort as many of the myths as possible.

Today we will look at concentration.

Most anyone will know that chemicals work better the more there are of them in a given volume og solvent.

Since our solvent is water, we need not concern us much over that, most people think they know everything there is to know about water....

The other chemicals however is interesting.

Most lay-people work out concentration as a percentage, and think that is all there is to it.  For instance the standard recipe for Coffenol C-M:

Soda 54 gram
Vit C 16 gram
Inst. Coffe 40 gram
 Water to a total volume of 1 litre.

It is fairly easy to establish the initial concentration of each of these :
Soda 5,4%
Vit. C 1,6%
Also Its very hard to predict anything from these numbers. We need to dig deeper.

These 3 chemicals have a very different chemical composition, coffe even have a nearly unknown chemical composition.

We need to base ourselves on atomic numbers, atomic weights and molecular weights.
This is not difficyult, but maybe a little unfamiliart to most people, so here goes:

Soda, Na2CO3 has a molecular weight of 105.998 gram  rounded to 106 gram
Ascorbic acid which is our Vit. C has a molecular weight of 176,12 gram, or 176 gram

Coffe on the other hand is a mix of chemicals, since this was a living thing.
We are after one substance caffeic acid, which has nothing to do with coffeine the active ingredient to humans drinking coffe.

It is safe to say that caffeic acid must be a smallish portion of the total coffe weight, we know the molecular weight, and if we stipulate the percentage in the roasted beans to be no less than 10%, no more than 15% we have a base to work from.

Caffeic acid has a molecular weight of 180,16 gram or 180 gram flat, good enough for our purposes.

What is the importance of molecular weights? We use them to find a special form of concentration : if we mix a fluid with the exact molecular weight of a substance, we call that a 1 Molar concentration.

A 1 Molar concentration contains exactly the same number of atoms or molecules in the case of large molecules like ours.

Now the exact same number of molecules seems like a good idea, from that it is possible to deduce anumber of things : like how well a reaction goes, and the acidity, the pH number for instance.

If we look at our recipe again :

Coffenol CC-H
Soda 54 gram
Vit C 16 gram
Inst. Coffe 40 gram
1 gram Kbr  (no influence on pH)
Water to a total volume of 1 litre.

we find the molarity of each ingredient :

Soda 54/106  =  0.50943M  ~= 0.51M
Vit C 16/176  =  0.090909M  ~=  0.09M
Coffe (40/10)/180 = 0.02222M ~= 0.02M

These molar concentrations is the base for pH calculations, the numbers are plugget into professional software, and pondering upon that gives some surprising results!

a single 0.51M solution of Na2CO3 gives a pH of 11.98 

Mix that with 0.0909M of ascorbic acid and we have :

Soda 0,51M
Vit C 0.09M  pH 10.85

Mix this with 0.022M of caffeic acid and we have :

Soda 0,51M
Vit C 0.09M
Caf. acid 0.022M  pH 10.75

I think this is moderately interesting, pH is lowered one full unit by the vitamine and just a few tenths from the cafeine acid.  That points to the fact that the vitamine is the more active ingredient, but is certainly no proof of that!

But this gets way more interesting when we study and disects both my very own inermediate recipe CC-I,  and the "low pH" recipe CC-L!  I can promise an eyeopener there, but that will have to wait.


Lets look at Cofenol CC-I  (intermediate)

Soda 35 gram
Vit C 13 gram
Inst. Coffe 40 gram
1 gram Kbr  (no influence on pH)

Water to a total volume of 1 litre.

we find the molarity of each ingredient :

Soda 35/106  =  0.3302M  ~= 0.33M
Vit C 13/176  =  0.07386M  ~=  0.074M
Coffe (40/10)/180 = 0.02222M ~= 0.02M

a single 0.33M solution of Na2CO3 gives a pH of 11.89 

Mix that with 0.07386M of ascorbic acid and we have :

Soda 0,33M
Vit C 0.074M  pH 10.74

Mix this with 0.022M of caffeic acid and we have :

Soda 0,33M
Vit C 0.074M
Caf. acid 0.022M  pH 10.61


Lets look at Cofenol CC-L  (low)

Soda 16 gram
Vit C 10 gram
Inst. Coffe 40 gram
1 gram Kbr  (no influence on pH)

Water to a total volume of 1 litre.

we find the molarity of each ingredient :

Soda 16/106  =  0.1509M  ~= 0.15M
Vit C 10/176  =  0.05681M  ~=  0.057M
Coffe (40/10)/180 = 0.02222M ~= 0.02M

a single 0.15M solution of Na2CO3 gives a pH of 11.71 

Mix that with 0.07386M of ascorbic acid and we have :

Soda 0,15M
Vit C 0.057M  pH 10.44

Mix this with 0.022M of caffeic acid and we have :

Soda 0,33M
Vit C 0.074M
Caf. acid 0.022M  pH 10.20

Now hat happened here?  Ph went down just a little, quite contrary to what has been said and expected!  Why??

Well its simple, Soda is a quite capable BUFFER, it takes a large amount or a very small amount of soda in the water appreciably, it tends to keep pH stable.

At the same time we decreased the amount of ascorbic acid, this prevents the pH from coming down also, and the contribution from caffeic acid remains small.

Just look at the numbers :

Caffenol CC-H  expected pH = 10.75
Caffenol CC-I   expected pH = 10.61
Caffenol CC-L   expected pH = 10.20

This was far, far above what was expected. From my school days I still remember how tricky it was to calculate pH in a 3-chemical mix with weak acids and bases, like here, fiddling with a slide rule, modern PC programmes makes minchmeat out of this!

However one still needs to understand what one are doing, this is probably the cause of the misunderstandings reported elsewhere.

One should hoiwever keep in mind that if one has the wrong soda or other things goes wrong these calculations will be far from the resuklting mix!

I was under the impression that pH, not actual amount of developer or concentration thereof, was tha main factor in this developer, I think I will change my mind about that.

Also I will reconsider and go back in my notes, my earlier failure with Cofenol CC-L must have been a flaw with the film, not a case of too low activity in the developer because of low pH.

Conclusion so far.

While CC-H remains the robust all-round alternative, CC-L is perfectly safe if mixed correctly, and should give excellent results, as demoonstrated by others.

Tylenol and Ascorbate - It Works!

I had success using Parodinal with Vitamin-C and Borax to make a pretty good developer.  That got me close to the goal of a simple Tylenol developer but what bugged me was having to use Sodium Sulfite.  After much research and trial/error, I found a combination that works.  We'll call the developer TCB (Tylenol / Vitamin-C / Borax) and it is as follows:

Sodium Bicarbonate - 2g
Ascorbic Acid - 4g
Water to make 200mL (wait for bubbles to clear)
Acetaminophen - 15g (dissolve in ascorbate solution - heat if necessary)

Once the acetaminophen is dissolved there will still be the binder and other "stuff" floating around.  You can filter this through a paper towel before adding the hydroxide to avoid getting any on your fillm.

Sodium Hydroxide - 8g (use 80mL of 10% solution to avoid heat)

Let this stand for 72 hours in a sealed container.

Borax saturate solution - 400mL
Ascorbic Acid - 6g
Tylenol solution
Water to make 1L

This first portion is what we'll call TCB Part A.  It is too active to use as-is so we must dilute it but not in the traditional sense with water.  We will dilute with a borax/ascorbate mixture which we'll call TCB Part B as follows:

Borax saturate solution - 400mL
Ascorbic Acid - 6g
Water to make 1L

This will keep the levels of borax and ascorbate up while using smaller amounts of p-aminophenol.  Use parts A:B 1:2 for a normal developer (7 mins) and 1:3 for stand development. 

Here is a sample:

This is Tri-X @ EI 400 in TCB for 7:00 @ 19C.  Grain looks good and it could use a bit longer development time.  It requires further testing but the results so far are promising.  The other potential complexity is sodium hydroxide as it may be difficult to find for some.  I get it from the local hardware store (a.k.a. Lye and Caustic Soda) and it's available from soap making suppliers.  Erik alluded to not having to use Sodium Hydroxide but I'm not much of a chemist and that's beyond me.



This is a place holder for copies and/or links to successful ascorbate developer recipes we use.

Vitamin C Developers:

The Synergism Between Phenidone and Ascorbic Acid:

Preservation of Ascorbate Developers:

Photo Sensitive Easy Film Developers:

Volumetric measures.
Use standardized teaspoon measure = 5ml

Kafenol 327
Source = ErikP this blog
 Soda 3 tsp
Vit C 2 tsp
Instant coffe 7 tsp

Water to 11 US fl. oz
Will fill one tank 35mm

Start time is 15:00 @ 20C

Kafenol 5313

Soda 5 tsp
Vit C 3 tsp
Instant coffe13 tsp

Water to 18 US fl. oz
Will fill one tank 129, capacity for 2 120 films developed at the same time,
or two spools of 35mm film

Start time is 15:00 @ 20C

SCTk- developer 

Source = ErikP this blog

Soda anh. 35 g
Ascorbic Acid - 10g
Tylenol - 1.5g
Potassium bromide KBr 1g
Water to make 1L



Water - 250mL
Acetaminophen - 15g (30 x 500mg tablets)
Sodium Sulfite - 50g
Sodium Hydroxide - 20g

Mix in order indicated, let stand in sealed container 72 hours before using. Keep crystals from bottom of container with liquid when decanting, stir before drawing off concentrate for dilution. Use dilutions and times as for Agfa Rodinal. Use within 30 minutes of dilution.
This isn't an ascorbate developer but can be combined to make a good one.


Sodium Carbonate - 2 1/2 tsp
Ascorbic Acid - 1/4 tsp
Water - 8oz
Instant Coffee - 4 tsp, slightly rounded



Sodium Carbonate - 54g
Ascorbic Acid - 16g
Instant Coffe - 40g
Water to make 1L

Start time is 15:00 @ 20C



Sodium Carbonate - 54g
Ascorbic Acid - 16g
Potassium Bromide - 1g
Instant Coffee - 40g
Water to make 1L

Start time is 15:00 @ 20C

Caffenol-C-I  Intermediate mix

Source : ErikP, this blog, APUG 2010

Sodium Carbonate - 35g
Ascorbic Acid - 13g
Potassium Bromide - 0.5g
Instant Coffee - 40g

Water to make 1L

Start time is 30 to 35:00 @ 20C



Sodium Carbonate - 16g
Ascorbic Acid - 10g
Potassium Bromide - 1g
Instant Coffe - 40g
Water to make 1L

Start time is 1:10:00 @ 20C with stand agitation


Source: APUG post by Patrick Gainer - need to find it

Borax - 19g
Ascorbic Acid - 6g
Phenidone - 0.15g
Water to make 1L

Use the same start times as D-76.  Re-use the developer as 1L will process at least 12 rolls of film.


Part A:
Propylene Glycol - 70mL
Ascorbic Acid - 10g
Phenidone - 0.25g
Propylene Glycol to make 100mL

Propylene glycol should be heated to help dissolve the ascorbic acid and phenidone.  Dissolve each ingredient before adding the next.

Part B (Carbonate):
Water - 750mL
Sodium Carbonate (anh) - 5g
Water to 1L

Part B (Borax + Lye)
Water - 750mL
Borax - 6.1g
Lye - 1.7g
Water to 1L

Part B (Bicarbonate + Lye)
Water - 750mL
Sodium Bicarbonate - 2.8g
Sodium Hydroxide - 1.55g
Water to 1L

Use 20mL/L part A diluted with part B.  I prefer the borax+lye solution as it plays nice with my hard water and is compatible with acid stop.  Start times are the same as D-76 1+0, generally 7:30 for most films.  If using as a print developer use 40mL/L part A and add 1g/L Potassium Bromide.  If using for stand development add 0.04g/L potassium bromide to ensure even development.


Source: Original recipe by Michael Madio

Parodinal - 20mL
Ascorbic Acid - 6g
Borax Saturate - 400mL
Water to make 1L

Tested with semi-stand development (5 min pre-wet, 60 sec initial inversions, 10 sec inversions at 60 min, 120 min total time).  Expose film at +2 for best results.  Gives the tonality of rodinal with much finer grain and highlight compensation.


Source: Various, insipired mainly by posts from Patrick Gainer

Part A (a.k.a. PC-Glycol):
  Ascorbic Acid - 10g
  Phenidone - 0.25g
  Propylene Glycol - 100mL (warm/heat to fully dissolve ingredients)

Part B:
  Potassium Bromide - 0.2g (make a 10% solution as it's easier to measure)
  Sodium Metaborate 1% - 1L (6.92g borax + 1.45g sodium hydroxide in 1L water)

Use 8mL part A (0.8g Ascorbic Acid + 0.02g Phenidone) for every 1L part B.  Start time is 8 mins @ 20C.  Full stand development (60 sec initial inversions only) for 90 mins gives a +2 push with highlight and contrast control.  For C-41 film, full stand development (60 sec initial inversions only) for 60 mins gives a +1 push.


MF-1 Fixer (Michael's Fixer #1)

Source: Original recipe by Michael Madio largely inspired by TF-3

Ammonium Thiosulfate - 120g (200mL 60% solution)*
Sodium Sulfite - 15g
Borax - 5g
Water to make 1L

*Ammonium Thiosulfate 60% solution is also available as 12-0-0-26S liquid fertilizer.

Use undiluted and 1L will fix 20 8x10 prints or rolls of film (very conservative).  This is a low-odor rapid fix that is simple to make.


MF-2 Fixer (Michael's Fixer #2)

Source: Original recipe by Michael Madio, an evolution of MF-1

Ammonium Thiosulfate - 120g (200mL 60% solution)*
Sodium Sulfite - 15g
Borax - 5g
Boric Acid - 5g
Water to make 1L

*Ammonium Thiosulfate 60% solution is also available as 12-0-0-26S liquid fertilizer.

Use undiluted and 1L will fix 20 8x10 prints or rolls of film (very conservative).

From a functional perspective this is no different than MF-1.  The addition of boric acid is to reduce the ammonia odor.


Thursday, March 24, 2011

Tylenol and ascorbate - an addition

Adding to Erik's post about tylenol and ascorbate, I do have some success with this but it still needs work.  I use parodinal with vitamin-c and borax to make a pretty good developer.  Advantages over straight parodinal are less grain and working strength solution longevity.

I use parodinal from Donald Qualls as follows:

Water - 250mL
Acetaminophen - 15g
Sodium Sulfite - 50g
Sodium Hydroxide - 20g

Mix in order indicated, let stand in sealed container 72 hours before using.  Keep crystals from bottom of container with liquid when decanting, stir before drawing off concentrate for dilution.  Use dilutions and times as for Agfa Rodinal.  Use within 30 minutes of dilution.

To make RCB (Rodinal / Vitamin-C / Borax), I use the following:

Borax Saturate Solution - 400mL
Ascorbic Acid - 6g
Parodinal - 40mL
Water to make 1L

This developer is quite active with good speed and relatively fine grain.  The grain with normal development is about the same as PCB with minimal agitation.  This is much better than my current best with Caffenol-C and much better than normal rodinal development.  There is no fog.

Here is a sample from the "corner of horror":

This is Tri-X, EI 400, in RCB for 7:30 @ 19C with normal agitation.

The working strength solution has been in a closed bottle for 2 weeks now and shows the same level of activity.  As with PCB it appears that the ascorbate is preserving the p-aminophenol.  I found that using parodinal like normal and adding ascrobate increases activity but causes significant fog.  I also found that using parodinal like normal with borax significantly reduces activity (expected ... lowers pH) but improves grain.  I figured that ascorbate would maximize activity and adding enough borax would keep the pH down for good grain and I got RCB. 

My only real complaint with this is the use of sodium sulfite as this is still a somewhat specialized photo chemical and it would be nice to do without it.


Tylenol and ascorbate - a dynamite combination?

SCTk - Soda - asCorbate - Tylenol & Kbr

A pack of Tylenol/Paracet 20 tablets 500mg

This spells out the active ingredient, 500 mg paracetamol, which is 0.5 gram.
Use this as data for mixing your test developer.


Since Michael saved me a lot of work writing up on PCB, iI will start another project and another run of tests here on Ascorbate developers.

This time the focus is on yet another alternativ of getting rid of the coffe, which is not a proper chemical, but an uncontrollable mix of unknowns.....

Michael has shown that Phenidone is a viable alternative, this is at least equal to instant coffe, if not far, far better.

I like to focus on an alternative that is also available in foodstuff stores, unlike Phenidone, namely what is known under the trade name Tylenol in USA.

The active ingredient in Tylenol is Paracetamol which is the same ingredient as used in the well known home-brew replacement for Rodinal, known as Pa-Rodinal.

Tylenol is a well knwon pain-killer sold all over the world under different names and brands, here locally it is most popular and sold as Paracet, and can be found in pharmacies, ordinary food-stores and small kiosks and gas-stations, in short everywhere nearly round the clock.

I have already done a small test, that was a failure - more on that later.

First I want to know if other has any practical experience on this?

Just for testing purposes I would suggest to start here

SCTk- developer :

Soda anh. 35 g
Ascorbic Acid - 10g
Tylenol - 1.5g
Potassium bromide KBr 1g
Water to make 1L

 - Mix the ingredients in the order given and give ascorbic acid ample time to react with the soda as usual.
 - Tylenol tablets contain sugar and tablet-forming stuff, dissolve the tablets in hot water taken from the 1000ml total, and filter out the gore wit an ordinary coffe filter.
 -  The paracetamol will be in the water, make sure to wash out the filter with pure water to get all the paracetamol.
 - Potassium bromide is best added from a 10% solution stock bottle, 10ml containing 1 gram. This volume is counted into the total volume.

Use the same start times as D-76.

This developer should keep nearly as well as D-76 (ascorbic acid/ sodium ascorbate will NOT die in solution, that is a misconception, on the contrary, it will protect the OTHER developer from oxidation and death, consult the immaculate writings of Gainier on this, see Michel's links).
The developing times will have to be extended along the lines of D-76.

I mentioned I did a tentative test, already.
But that failed. However the reason for that was in part due to the fact I tried to add Potassium bisulphate, which seems to have eaten both developing substances, leaving a very, very weak image, and that I tried to recreate a home brew version of Diafine.

I should have known, I should have followed what I always try to teach my wife (doing kitchen service) - NEVER TRY TO DO TWO THINGS AT THE SAME TIME.

Here I changed 3 things : got rid of coffe, used bisulphate and tried to make a two-bath developer, a perfect recipe for disaster.

Stepping back and mixing the ingredients into one mix did not work either, because of the 10X concentration of of potassium bisulphate.....

But I think the mix given above could be a viable alternative, and urge others to try it out, and report back, or report other experiments along these lines, and other mixes as well.

As usual never try out stuff like this with films containing valuable images! this is deep-water, you're-out-there-alone stuff! 


Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Testing, testing testing....

Since we have spent so much time, discussing volumetric measurements, I think its time to round this up.

By nature I measure everything in the metric system, I grew up in a 100% metric society, I was formally trained as a chem. engineer using that system.

I've been reloading ammunition for close to 30 years, however, and noticed early on that they used another system in USA, this caught my interest. I have tried and uses volumetric measurements in reloading ammunition, both for high-powered rifles and pistols for years and years, and it is every bit as reliable and safe as using weights.....

So when I came across people on the net that used volumetric measures for mixing developers, I shaked my hhead at first.  Becuase, contrary to home reloading, there exist no standard measures. For powder a company named Lee Prescision, among others have produced and sold measurement kits for years, and done research into
powder specific weights, and updatetd those over the years, to make a reliable system.

Nothing like that exists in photo chemicals.

Still a LOT of people uses this system, because they don't know better, don't know the metric system, and because they have some measuring utensils in the house.

So I set about trying to dechipher some of the recipes, and to try and see if they can be translated......

I have published in this blog a reliable sytem on how to do this, based on Reinholds recipes on his Blogspot blog.

I cannot stress enough : all my recipes are in fact Reinholds CC-M or CC-H recipe, adapted to specific use in practical situations! 
(CC-M and CC-H is one and the same recipe, the difference being ca 1 gram KBr per litre to control fog levels in the CC-H recipe, since I have ample supplies of KBr, I use CC-H most of the time...)

I have a prescise and \reliable weight, so I have checked my volumetric measurements over and over again.

In a little debate with Reinhold he raised the point of specific weight, even if I think that is moot, I have given it a little thought.

The theory is simple measure out with the meaure, weigh it, and divide by volume, THAT is specific weight.  This I have done and reported and reiterated here in this blog.

Yesterday it dawned on me: I took it for granted that the 5ml-marked teaspoon measure was reliable, that it really contained 5ml.  But I have never tested that!

OK. Must do that.

Also, since there are many measures around the world, acn anything be said about OTHER measures sold?  Definitely, I went on a shopping spree and found two kits of measures here locally.

Then I tested all my 3 kits, to see if there are any differences.

This is my standy Aluminum kit, I have a hunch its a french kit, I think my wife got it from France via the net.....

I concentrated on the teaspoon and the tablepoon measure, mared 5ml and 15ml respectively. Since 1ml is equivalent to 1cc, this has been my base for calculating specific weight also.

But what if 5ml is not 5ml, what if the measure is a bit off?

OK a test is simple and practical :
I set up a weight and a reliable, old german Schottky-glass measuring cylinder.

Then I used clean water, and measured out 20 meaures from the 1 teaspoon measure (5ml), noted the volume and then weighed the resulting water. After that I did the same with the tablespoon measure (15ml).

I rounded up the test with my other two, brand new measurement kits:

These are the plastic measures, they cost NOTHING, since the store was selling them off and anyone that want one, just mail me - I got 3 and can get more for a song!!
The store in question was -Nille a cheap chinese goods chain over here...

I concentrated on the teaspoon and the tablespoon, this kit is made in Sweden and marked in swedish : 5ml Tesked and 15ml Matsked, number 2 nad 4 from the right respectively.

These seem to be sooper quality chinese brand measures, made from stainless steel, thhe store was Jernia, which is a kitchenware and tools chain over here and these where expensive...

Again I concentrated on the teaspoon marked 1 Tsp 5ml and the tablespoon marked 1 Tbsp 15ml, those are number 2 and 4 from the right respectively.


Aluminium measures (France) 
1 Tsp (5ml)      :    4,84 ml    weight of water = 4,76 gram
1 Tbsp (15ml)  :    15,50ml   weight of water = 15,23 gram

Plastic measures  (Sweden)   
1 Tsp (5ml)      :    4,78 ml    weight of water = 4,69 gram
1 Tbsp (15ml)  :    15.25ml   weight of water = 14,97 gram

Steel measures (China)   
1 Tsp (5ml)      :    4,85 ml    weight of water = 4,80 gram
1 Tbsp (15ml)  :    14.33ml   weight of water = 14,17 gram


Deviation from marked volumes :
My 3 kits did show marked deviation from what is marked:

Teaspoon : Average volume : 4,82ml,  deviation 3,5%
Tablespoon : Average volume : 15.03ml, deviation 0,1%


This does not undermine the volumetric measures already published here.
It does however have a bearing on the specific weight published.  Specific weights measured and published needs to be adjusted for actual volume in the measuring device, I have now claibrated mine, and here published how to do that for others.

For practical use, this is of moot interest. Just go about, use any measure, and wegh out how many grams YOUR mesaure gives, and use that weight as a base.

For me I'm still perfectly happy using my measures, measuring out 3-2-7 measures (tsp) to get one (small) tankfull of developer for my JOBO or Paterson tanks, to develop 1 35mm film with 11 oz of developer to be sure I cover all the film in both tanks, or measuring out 5 - 3 - 13 measures (tsp) of developer to develop 1 or even 2 films of 120 on the same spool with 18 oz of developer.

Volumetric measurements are quick, reliable and very practical, once you do your homework!

And I will stress once more, this is the same recipe as published by Reinhold, Coffenol CC-H 


Finally a deviation of 3,5% is well within what can be expected with weights, simple kitchen weight have far bigger deviation, even small chemistry-kit weights might have more, but simple, gravity-driven weights have usually excellent REPEATABILITY.

Electronic weights on the other hand are (sometimes) far worse.  Often their claimed acuuracy is far from the advertized, and repeatability sometimes not reliable at all, and worst they sometimes give totally false reading without warning. Therefore prudent use of electronic weights are in place, the upside usually is that when they fail they fail spectacularly, so it will be obvious to everyone.

Volumetric  measures in comparison is utterly simple to use, the only danger being counting out the wrong number of measures!

Good luck, whatever path you choose.

Monday, March 21, 2011

After much deliberation......

I got an early comment here on this blog, and I REALLY didn't want to get tangled up in some in-fighting at the time. Since that the same points have been raised several times, although later posts here, and the recent post by XXXX which also adresses the issue, I decided I will finally adress this and offer an explanation :

"Hello Eirik, one cannot stress enough that you first MUST determine the specific weights of the used ingredients. F.e. your 3-2-7 recipe translates to 8-1-10 for the kind of VC, soda and coffee I use. And what sense does it make to publish a recipe for 320 ml instead of 1 liter? I use 260 ml for my Jobo-tank, another one will use 250 and the next one will need 350 ml. Your x-y-z recipes always MUST include the amount of water, the millilitres your teaspoon eqals and the specific weight of the used soda, VC and coffee to be comparable and reproducible. Isn't that really confusing? I agree that you CAN measure by volume with sufficiant accuracy, but recipes basing on volume ALWAYS are unreliable if not declaring ALL these parameters. Best regards - Reinhold"

I'll address them point by point :

" one cannot stress enough that you first MUST determine the specific weights of the used ingredients"

Now, if one did read and understand what I wrote, all would be easy!  Let me reiterate.

I have a set of standardised volumetric measures.
Whenever I contemplate to use them with anything I CALIBRATE them.
Calibrating is a simple enough process : if you measure out ONE measure you have a measurement error, typically up to a few percent.  If you repeat measuring out and weigh and divide on how many measures is measured, you diminish that measurement error.
Statistical analysis will reveal easily enough that if you measure out 100 measures there will be *virtually no error*, and if you limit yourself to 10 measures the error will be reduced to a good deal less than 3 percent.

You now know how much a measure will hold.  Since I'm after how much to put into solution, I paid little notice to specific weight, that is just an interesting tidbit of surplus information here.

But finding the specific weight is easy enough, since I know the volume each meassure will hold :

I simply take the weight in grams that each measure will hold of each type of chemical, and divide by the volume, translating to whatever units that might be interesting.

Example :

I weigh out 10 measures of Soda (anh.) and find the weight at 58,30 gram.
That means that each measure holds 5,83 gram ON AVERAGE, and that there is a good chance that this will be more than 97% accurate.

Since the measure in question was a teaspoon, marked 5 ml - which is the US standard for a teaspoon, the specific weight is arrived at this way :
 5,83 gram / 5ml (5 cc) = 1,166 gram/cc.  Simple and easy.  But totally without interest to us - in this context.

What is important is that each measure will hold 5,83 gram ON AVERAGE, which means I need a little more than 9 measures per litre, i.e. ca 9,5  teaspoons per litre.

This is repeated for each type of chemical used and should need no further explanation, it is self-evident.

"F.e. your 3-2-7 recipe translates to 8-1-10 for the kind of VC, soda and coffee I use"

I'm perfectly fine with that, if that is your numbers, it reflects YOUR chemicals and YOUR volumetric meassures and how you calibrated yours.


But this does not mean I have confidence in your numbers - I think frankly you did something wrong along the way....

"And what sense does it make to publish a recipe for 320 ml instead of 1 liter? I use 260 ml for my Jobo-tank, another one will use 250 and the next one will need 350 ml."

Well in that case you need to work out how many teaspoons you need yourself, for your tanks and for each specific tank. I clearly stated I mix this for MY tanks which is an old JOBO and a Paterson System 4, one will need just 260 ml per 35mm film, the other 290 ml per 35mm film, mixing at 320 ml give me a small safety margin for both, and both will HOLD 320 ml. You do your math and adjust accordingly.

Your x-y-z recipes always MUST include the amount of water, the millilitres your teaspoon eqals and the specific weight of the used soda, VC and coffee to be comparable and reproducible.

Here our roads separate, you need not confuse anyone with specific weight, although it IS there, intrisic in the measurements, specific weight is what I really measure, I just don't confuse anyone with it.

I'm after the WEIGHT, the weight is the product of volume and specific weight. What is so hard to understand by that?

Since I know the volume of the measuring instrument, and state that CLEARLY :

1 teaspoon = 5 ml
1 tablespoon is 15 ml
1 pinch = 1/5 teaspoon = 1 ml
1/2 teaspoon = 2.5 ml

And the weight each measure gives from each type of chemical,
I can now measure out with great confidence the grams needed in order to get

54 gram soda
16 gram Vitamine C
40 gram instant coffe

Water 1000 ml


17.3 gram soda
5,1 gram Vit. C
12.8 gram inst. coffe

Water to 320 ml

And go on developing 35mm films in both my tanks with great confidence!

"I agree that you CAN measure by volume with sufficiant accuracy, but recipes basing on volume ALWAYS are unreliable if not declaring ALL these parameters. Best regards - Reinhold"

If you did care to read what I have stated several times I already and always DID declare all the parameters. Everything is in there, if you don't try to confuse people with unnecessary facts.

So what was all the fuss about, my friend?


PCB Developer - It Does C-41 Too!

Here is a quick scan of Kodak Gold 200 (C-41) at EI 200 in PCB for 20 mins (19.5C) with minimal agitation (60 sec initial inversions, 10 sec inversions every 5 mins).  It was scanned on a Nikon Coolscan 9000 with no adjustments as Color Negative 16-bit Grayscale TIFF, re-sized and converted to JPEG.  Please excuse the mess and water marks.

It has more grain than proper B&W film.  Not bad considering no post-processing was done.


Sunday, March 20, 2011

Do I Really Need A Scale?

As a follow up to Erik's posting of my experience with Phenidone / Vitamin-C / Borax developers, a theme that comes up often is the issue of accurate measurement.  There has been, and still is, considerable debate over the methods and accuracy of how we measure the quantities of chemicals we use in our developers.  Ultimately you cannot beat an accurate scale but for what we're doing, is a scale really necessary?  Volumetric measurement (e.g. teaspoons) of dry ingredients is a source of constant debate so we'll leave that for another day and examine a different approach ... percentage solutions.

For the sake of this discussion, percentage solutions contain a certain amount of ingredient X g in a quantity of liquid Y mL (e.g. 10g of Sodium Bicarbonate in 100mL water is a 10% Sodium Bicarbonate solution).  We will also assume general room temperature (20C) as funny things can happen when you significantly decrease/increase temperature of solutions.  Advantages of percentage solutions are that you don't necessarily need a scale, measurement accuracy is significantly improved, they are easy to handle, and can be easy to prepare.  There are two approaches that I use to avoid the scale, the first is to purchase pre-measured and convenient quantities of ingredients, the second is to use saturate solutions.

Is it possible to accurately measure 0.15g of phenidone with a teaspoon ... the answer may surprise you.  Using pre-measured quantities is almost cheating but it works so we'll use it.  The most common example from my own work is measuring phenidone.  It's used in such small quantities that even "good" scales can have a hard time.  I learned from various forums that phenidone, among other things, is soluble in propylene glycol.  What is particularly convenient is that you can easily get 10g of phenidone and 1L of propylene glycol.  Both quantities are pre-measured so all you need to do is dissolve the entire 10g bottle of phenidone in the 1L of propylene glycol and you now have an accurate 1% solution.  When you need 0.15g of phenidone just measure 15mL of this 1% solution.  Incidentally, 15mL is exactly 1 standard tablespoon or 3 teaspoons so to answer the question about accurately measuring 0.15g of phenidone with a teaspoon, the answer is a definitive YES!  Another common example is sodium hydroxide.  A 100g container of the stuff in 1L of water makes an accurate and convenient 10% solution.  As in life, nothing is free and there is a catch ... not everything can be put in solution without consequence.  For example, adding phenidone to water will quickly oxidize it and make it useless.  Before making a solution make sure that the components are compatible.

Saturate solutions leverage simple chemistry to ensure a consistent quantity of ingredient in a quantity of solution.  Many dry ingredients have different states of hydration that makes accurate measurements difficult.  Often you do not know how much of what you weigh is the actual ingredient and how much is water.  Saturate solutions can eliminate the water variable and facilitate accurate measurement.  Using borax as an example, I learned that 4.71g of borax dissolves in 100mL of water at 20C ( and any excess simply remains undissolved.  If we add 10g of borax to 100mL of water and let as much dissolve as possible you will get a clear solution of 4.71% borax on top with excess at the bottom.  Use the same math as before to make whatever quantity you need using the solution.  As you use the solution add water to replace what you have used and ensure there is excess borax at the bottom.  This will ensure a constant 4.71% solution as the replaced water will dissolve more borax.  As in the percentage solutions, make sure the components are compatible (e.g. don't put phenidone in water).

Do percentage and saturate solutions eliminate the need for a scale ... sometimes.  In the case of the PCB developer I use in the previous post I can accurately mix the entire developer without a scale.  Even if you have an accurate scale (I do), mixing solutions is much less tedious and quicker than dealing with dry ingredients (try mixing borax in water ... you'll be there for a while).  These methods won't necessarily work for all the ingredients we use but when we can use them the general convenience is appreciated.


PCB-developer, letter from a correspondent.

This blog has received a very interesting mail:

I came across your blog (
which is very interesting. 

I am also into vitamin-c developers and use Caffenol-C and Phenidone-C developers exclusively. I also like that you try to be frugal with your developers as that means more money for film :-) I have been using different versions of Caffenol-C, particularly the ones from, have had good results with medium-speed (ISO 100) films, but mediocre results with high-speed (ISO 400) films. With high speed films (e.g. Tri-X) I find the tonality quite good but the difference in the grain is obvious and in my opinion can be intrusive. Overall, my results using Caffenol-C with Tri-X are okay but I do have other preferences and this is why I'm writing you, to tell you about another vitamin-c
developer which we'll call PCB (Phenidone / Vitamin C / Borax).
I came across this developer on APUG

and it piqued my interest as I have been using PC-Glycol

with borax for some time and have always used it one-shot. These developers behave like a cross between XTOL and D-76, both of which I like. 

This post proposes 1L of developer that can be re-used at least 12 times (I have tried 15 times with no noticeable change in activity) with simple ingredients. More importantly, the results I get with fast films are great ... very nice tonality, minimal grain (I use a Nikon Coolscan 9000 which seems to magnify grain), and full box speed. Using medium speed films (e.g. Plus-X) I can barely see the grain and using something like Acros I simply cannot see it.
The APUG post is not completely clear on all the details as it is part of a much longer thread so here are my notes that explain everything.

The PCB developer is as follows:

Borax saturate solution - 400ml
Ascorbic Acid - 6g
Phenidone - 0.15g
Water to make 1L
Use the same start times as D-76.
Phenidone - Because quantities of phenidone are so small it’s easier to make a percentage solution. 
Add 1g phenidone to 100ml propylene glycol to make a 1% solution. 
This will require heating to dissolve (15-30 seconds in the microwave should do it … heat in 10 second bursts then stir as you don’t want to over-heat, just enough to get phenidone in solution). 

Phenidone will keep indefinitely in propylene glycol provided there is no water. You will use 15ml of this to make a batch of developer. You can get phenidone from a chemical supplier or Photographers' Formulary. You can see that you don't need very much as 1g makes over 6L of re-usable developer. 

Propylene glycol is available at the pharmacy but you may have to ask the pharmacist for it.
Ascorbic Acid - Same concerns as with Caffenol-C. Make sure it's 100% pure ascorbic acid powder which can be obtained from a pharmacy or health food store.
Borax Saturate Solution : 
Add 200g borax and water to make 2L.

Agitate and/or slightly heat the water to get as much borax into
solution as possible. The borax will not completely dissolve. Let it
stand for a few hours and you will have a clear solution on the top
with excess borax on the bottom. 
The clear portion will be a saturate solution of 4.71% at 20C (this is what you use to make the developer).
Keep adding water to this solution as it is used and add borax as necessary so there is excess (if the borax is completely dissolved you no longer have a saturate solution and concentration will be less).

Replenishing the water and keeping excess borax will maintain a constant 4.71% saturate solution. Borax can be found in the laundry section of grocery/hardware stores, from Photographers' Formulary, or chemical suppliers.
I hope you try this developer as it is easy to make, easy to use, inexpensive, and works well with films where Caffenol does not. Keep up the good work with your blog.
Regards, Michael.

This answer from yours sincerely followed shortly :

Michael, I respectfully ask your permission to use your mail as an entry in the blog!
Preferably boosted by some of your pictures as examples, I think this is interesting and merits acknowledgement from others.....

Very interesting indeed, and it piques my interest too!
In fact that is WHY I named my blog ASCORBATE developers, to shift the focus from coffe, which is something I drink, to ascorbate(s) in a mix with other developing agents.

I have to be short, but feel free to mail me.

In closing I think you'll find that Cafenol C-L which is something that Reinhold touts on his blog, will give you finer grain, also in Tri X.
However, since Cafenol is a very fine grain, COMPENSATING developer, contrast tends to be lost with extended development time.

Personally I have had little success with Cofenol C-L, the negatives are so lacking in contrast that I need to Photoshop everything, how this would fare in a darkroom I can only speculate upon, since I no longer spend time in one!

Thats why I'm looking for alternatives, alternatives to coffe, which usually yelds extremely low contrast (I did a testrun with just soda and coffe which was unsatisfactory), and have been eyeballing Tylenol, but so far have not had time for my next big experiment!

Keep in touch and if you want it, I can set you up as a co-author on my blog aloso, where you could post whatever you like, as far as it is within the broad context of the blog, under your own name.

Keep burning film!


In a matter of minutes this answer landed in my in-box :

By all means, you can post this to your blog. I was just running some additional tests today to confirm some theories and have attached a few samples. They are both 35mm Tri-X with the "normal_dev" one exposed at EI 800 then developed for 8:45 (18C) with normal agitation and the "minimal_agitation" one exposed at EI 1600 then developed for
20:00 (18C) with minimal agitation (5 min pre-wet, 60 sec initial inversions, 10 sec inversions every 5 mins). I find that using minimal agitation when pushing creates a compensating effect that controls contrast and gives negatives that require little to no adjustments. The penalty for minimal agitation is more apparent grain which is still significantly less than my best results with Caffenol.

They were scanned with a Nikon Coolscan 9000 at 4000dpi 16-bit grayscale TIFF with no adjustments or corrections, re-sized then saved to JPEG. Please excuse the mess as this is the "junk pile" in the corner of the basement but it makes for a good torture test due the contrast. Also, please excuse the water marks ... I was being lazy and did not dry the film properly as it was only to be used for testing purposes and wanted to scan it as soon as possible.

Incidentally, adding 1g/L of Potassium Bromide makes this a good print developer as well.
Regarding Caffenol, the mix I prefer most is Caffenol-C-L by Reinhold (I do notice finer grain compared to other Caffenol recipes).

However, for whatever reason, the development with Tri-X was way too active (thick grey negatives, I posted about this on flickr) and I found that reducing the instant coffee to 1/4 the amount produced negatives that are still thick but usable. 

I definitely see the compensating effects but I find the dynamic range compression with Tri-X to be too much (it is better with medium speed films). It so happens that my scanner can resolve grain (this is what got me complaining about Tri-X and grain, the same negatives on an Epson V750 don't look nearly as bad despite technically having more resolution) and the same scene side-by-side with Caffenol-C-L vs PCB shows a dramatic difference with Tri-X. Plus-X looks good in Caffenol-C-L but side-by-side comparisons with PCB show significant differences in favor of PCB. 

Don't get me wrong, I'm not trying to knock Caffenol, I like it, it has it's place, and I will keep using it, but not as a
general purpose developer. I believe the strength of PCB is that it is in fact quite plain which means, similar to D-76 and XTOL, you get good results with pretty much any film and once you understand it, you can make it sing.
Regarding Tylenol, I am currently doing testing with a TCB (Tylenol / Vitamin-C / Borax) developer and the results are promising. I will let you know when I have more conclusive data to share.
Regarding your blog, I would love the opportunity to co-author and post my findings as my primary interest in film photography is around vitamin-c developers. I think having a vitamin-c developer centric blog is an excellent idea as much of this information is spread in different places on the Internet and having it all in one place would be extremely convenient (I wish I had this when starting out).
Regards, Michael

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Discussion on Coffenol

Today I developed two films in one batch of Kaffenol 327.
In between films I added one teaspoonful of instant coffe, good results from both films, they hang to dry....

First was Fujichrome Sensia 100 at 20,5 minutes at 20 degree centigrade
Second was Jessops 400 with one extra tsp of coffe (making it Kaffenol 328.....) at 16 minutes at 20 centigrade.
I have had trouble with Fuichrome, 25% longer developing time than C41 films seem to have done th trick.

This effectively cut developer price in half.

I have saved the batch of developer, and will develop yet another fiolm in it tomorrow, to test the keeping properties of used Kaffenol.
Earlier I have used prepared, unused Kaffenol that was stored in a bottle for oen and two days.
It will be interesting to see if the keeping properties of this developer is better than advertised.

Its safe to say it is NOT a one-shot developer!

Q :"Thank's for sharing!
Do you think that Caffenol C-L can also be reused after one hour of stand development, just by adding an extra teaspoon of coffee?"

I personally haven't tried it, but why not?
And why not add one pinch of Vit c as well?

1 tsp = 5ml
1 Pinch = 1 ml.

The reason for NOT loading two films in one tank :

1 35mm film = 290ml
2 35mm films = 580ml
1 film + 1 film = 290 ml plus 5ml coffe.....

yes I'm frugal, isnt this what its all about!

Q :"Try it Is that not what this is all about? I use Rodinol 1-150 after I use it for a normal roll to develop microfilm or other HC films as it tempers it.
But I must ask why not just put 2 rolls in one tank and do them together the first time? "

Still you're wasting develing agents!,
All that have tried using the same brew for two films report a success.
Give it a spin, save money

Stock bottles for caffenol originated by me I think over on the scandinavian section of APUG. Thats in scandi-language, so you need to translate it. It was picked up by Odd Magne, who did show first pictures AFAIR. I never did show pictures, but described the technique in detail.

I also sendt it to Reinholds blog, but never got published.......

Personally I have moved on from stock bottles, since unexpected problems surfaced during winter, if not stored under warm conditions, Na2CO3 (soda) will crystallize out of solution, and make the excercise moot. I now mix with the fast and sure Kaffenol 327 formula!

Currently I'm working on a Diafine version, but so far has met up with unexpected difficulties, and need to find one chemical that cannot be bought in the Mall (oh well, you cant have everything!). I thought I had ity licked, but to my surprise vitamin C & coffe reacted violently with the "preservative"!

Reinhold's blog and the clear and prescise descriptions of the ingredients and how to do stuff, and excellent pictures, was what set Caffenol developers on the right track, IMHO, and took this out of the realms of those that just brag and throw inaccurate descriptions around, stuff that only assures the newbies fail and give up.

The blog is and remains an example for everyone!

Q: "I have developed successively two 120 film in the same Caffenol C-L bath (600ml of developer, 60min stand development @21°C) .
It worked like a charm! I didn't add any extra coffee or vitC after the first development.

The second film was an old film of Kodak Verichrome Pan 100, I found in an Agfa Clack camera. The film is at least 50 years old. It worked quite well considering the film was largely consumed by fungous.Thanks to the KBr, the fog was not too bad.
I'm really happy with the result!"

Magnificent! I also has developed several old films like that, CCH / CCM though.

I've found that what you call fungus is more like a chemical exposure, due to the print on the backing paper in contact with the film (120 / 127) and with moisture over the years, I think its nearly like a form of development in itself!

I also have ghostlike double exposures like that overlayed with strang effects from decades of storage.
35mm on the other hand has survived 35 years of storage with flying colors!

Interesting you did this with no extra coffe or Vit C, this was suggested by Odd magne I think and I just went along not wanting to "risk" anything. We now need a few daring guys willing to offer 2 - 4 films and carry on the experiment, continued use until its depleted with no extra additives!

I'm gonna try 3 films tomorrow, developed back-to-back, but WITH extra coffe & time, I will change only one factor at a time!

I have prepared a bit more Caffenol (600ml instead of 500ml) with 2 developments in mind.
I thought there would still remain enough agent after the first development to process the second one. That's why I didn't add any extra coffee and VitC.

Hopefully its not cold where you live, or make sure you don't store those bottles in a cold environment. The 3X concentrated bottle of soda will most assuredly crystallize, and turn the entire 1/3 to 1/2 of the bottle into a collection of magnificient crystals!
Thats why I stopped using 3 stock bottle solutions.....

The soda bottle contains up to 162 grams per litre (Coffenol CCM) max solubility of soda is 220 gram (anh) per litre @ 20 centigrade, and only 70 gram per litre @ 0 centigrade (freezing).

The crystals can be put back into solution quite easy, no harm done, but this takes away the only advantage of this technique : TIME.
It takes far longer to redissolve the soda crystals, than just mix a simple brew, especially if you have finetuned your volumetric measures!

I no longer advocate this.