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09-08-2019, 11:16 AM   #1
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Stand development failure.

Film: Kentmere 400, shot in a Pentax MX.

Method (taken from a Caffenol site):

Patterson tank.
8g anhydrous washing soda
5g vitamin C powder
10g iodized salt
20g instant coffee
Made up to 500ml volume.
Agitated for one minute continuous, left to stand for 70 "for 400 films"

Water stop bath (repeated rinses and inversions till ran clear)

5 min in Ilford Rapid Fix (fixer tested OK with leader)

Result: NOTHING. The film behaves as essentially unexposed, except possibly at the corners of the frames.


Should I be even more extreme? Should I leave it for two hours? Or should I have gone for semi-stand? My last film in caffenol wasn't exactly the greatest either, which makes me wonder if one of the ingredients is "off". The instant coffee brand is unchanged. Maybe I should replace the anhydrous soda with a fresh batch. Replacing the Vitamin C would be expensive.

09-08-2019, 01:10 PM   #2
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Has it developed the numbers and film code along the edges?
09-09-2019, 12:31 AM - 1 Like   #3
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Caffenol is a joke, Try hc110 or rodinal. they are reliable
09-09-2019, 02:11 AM - 1 Like   #4
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QuoteOriginally posted by niels hansen Quote
Caffenol is a joke, Try hc110 or rodinal. they are reliable
Are you kidding ?!

QuoteOriginally posted by pathdoc Quote
Should I be even more extreme? Should I leave it for two hours? Or should I have gone for semi-stand? My last film in caffenol wasn't exactly the greatest either, which makes me wonder if one of the ingredients is "off". The instant coffee brand is unchanged. Maybe I should replace the anhydrous soda with a fresh batch. Replacing the Vitamin C would be expensive.
Recipe is correct, time is correct.
If the markings are normal, perhaps an exposure problem. If not then most of the Caffenol problems come from the soda or incorrect weight.

09-09-2019, 04:22 AM   #5
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QuoteOriginally posted by graeme83 Quote
Has it developed the numbers and film code along the edges?
Not at all reliably that I could see.

The amounts were weighed on a balance that is sensitive to fractions of a gram, so I don't think that's the issue. I will dump the soda, refresh it and try again with a non-stand method this time. If it fails again, I'll try a film in a different camera... but my MX has been quite fine up until now, and the exposures the meter is giving me correspond well to previous experience.

Of interest, I have scarcely ever managed to get the crisp black-and-white "just like normal chemistry" look that some of the Caffenol gods seem to be able to achieve. I look at the Caffenol communities on Flickr and keep on asking myself what I am doing wrong. Perhaps in the mixing? They were all mixed together in the same water and then made up to 500ml before pouring in, but that should not matter - they're all together in the broth for over an hour anyway. I added the ingredients in the order I listed them, and then poured them into the tank as soon as the mixture had been made up to volume spec.The film was definitely in the lower part of the tank (I've made that mistake before), and with 500ml of solution it should have been well covered.
09-09-2019, 05:07 AM   #6
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QuoteOriginally posted by pathdoc Quote
Of interest, I have scarcely ever managed to get the crisp black-and-white "just like normal chemistry" look that some of the Caffenol gods seem to be able to achieve. I look at the Caffenol communities on Flickr and keep on asking myself what I am doing wrong. Perhaps in the mixing? They were all mixed together in the same water and then made up to 500ml before pouring in, but that should not matter - they're all together in the broth for over an hour anyway. I added the ingredients in the order I listed them, and then poured them into the tank as soon as the mixture had been made up to volume spec.The film was definitely in the lower part of the tank (I've made that mistake before), and with 500ml of solution it should have been well covered.
I dissolve soda, vitamin C and coffee (with Kbr) separately in glasses with some hot water. Then I add cold filtered water from the fridge until I reach 20C-68F or 15C-59F for the CS variant (Cold Start). Then I mix them together with a filter so no particle can go inside the tank.
09-09-2019, 11:04 AM   #7
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QuoteOriginally posted by pathdoc Quote
...

Of interest, I have scarcely ever managed to get the crisp black-and-white "just like normal chemistry" look that some of the Caffenol gods seem to be able to achieve. I look at the Caffenol communities on Flickr and keep on asking myself what I am doing wrong.
How does the captured density on the film look. Stand development is really dependent on the chemistry of the developer to move around in the tank on its own. I see a lot of good mid tones lately from Caffenol but a lack of dynamic range with rather substandard highlight reproduction. This could be from the digital conversion but assuming the scan grabbed most of the density off the negative it leaves doubt about the developing or contrast curve adjustment.

When you are working with a DIY developer, an arguably must-have tool is a densitometer. It would help so much. Normally you expose to place dark values in your scene. And then to control if your highlights are going to be too dark or too bright you nail down a "normal" development time assuming your metering captured that range properly. A densitometer will tell you this; otherwise, you'll have to use judgement, experience and a lot of feedback from trial and error. And then comes all the hand waving and speculation. Of course with stand development you don't need to nail down a dev time but the results should not be less than having a good development time with normal development.

So if you know your metering is placing deep shadows just above the base + fog of the film and you can reproduce good highlight detail for your medium (condenser or diffusion enlarger or computer screen) of say puffy, white clouds to a level of about 3 stops above the middle gray exposure, you know you have a good development time/stand development process and then you can say if the developer produces the look you want or not. Doing some Sunny 16 exposure tests can be a good measure of your development time if you're in a good Sunny 16 light level conditions (eg not at an extreme latitude and time of year). With the Sun at your back, a Sunny 16 exposure should place a patch of unpolluted blue sky well above the horizon to a level of gray about 2 stops above the middle gray. In other words, without a colored filter, you should not see a really dark or white sky.

Last edited by tuco; 09-09-2019 at 11:53 AM. Reason: info
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