Thursday, October 28, 2010


The Tools and Ingredients of the Magic Caffenol

The Tools and Ingredients of the Magic Caffenol  © Dirk HR Spennemann 2009, All Rights Reserved

Yes, I know this blog is about classic cameras but, as you already know, I like to use them.
I also like to do some experimentation.

I have a very dear friend, down under, Dirk aka Heritagefutures, who is a keen experimentalist. I especially admire is TTV work and the Caffenol-C processing that he have been perfecting.
You can see his set in Flickr it's great.
He also, graciously, granted me permission to use his photos and research in this post.

As you, for sure, have already guessed I had my first successful experiment with Caffenol-C.

I followed Dirk directions:

Standard receipe, taken from various sources on the net.
Instant Coffee (not decaf)
Washing Soda (Sodium carbonate)
Ascorbic Acid Powder (Vitamin C)
Dishwashing liquid
12oz water
5 teaspoons Instant Coffee
3 1/2 teaspoons washing soda
1/2 teaspoon ascorbic acid
Premix solutions can be set up. But do not premix the whole developer as it a short shelf-life (less than 1 hour). For ease, create premix solutions of required strength for each of three developer ingredients so that in the end all that needs to be done is to mix equal amounts of each of the three premixes
Strength for premixes:
Instant Coffee: 10 teaspoons / 12 oz
Washing Soda: 7 teaspoons / 12 oz
Ascorbic acid:1 teaspoons / 12 oz
when ready to develop, mix required quantity in three even parts.
Small Patterson Tank
120mm roll film requires 550 ml (20 oz)--ie 3 x 7 oz for the development of a roll of 120 film (which gives 21 oz, but makes life easier).
SET UP for 120 roll:
Premix 21 oz developer
Premix 20 oz fixer
Premix 20 oz final wash (with one drop of dishwashing liquid)
Developing 12 mins (work with this, later films all use 15-16mins)
Continuous agitation first minute
thereafter agitate 3 x / minute
3 rinse baths @ 6 x agitation each (first bath can contain some vinegar to act as stop bath)
5 mins @ 3 agitation /minute
Final Rinse
Fill, agitate 3x
Refill, agitate 6x
Refill, agitate 12x
Refill with soapy water, agitate slowly 24x

The above directions are the original ones from Dirk.
I only translated it into metrical:

Strength for premixes:
Instant Coffee: 50ml / water: 350ml
Sodium carbonate: 35ml / water: 350ml
Ascorbic acid: 5ml / Water: 350ml

Magic Coffee...enough Ingredients to develop ten rolls of 120 film..

Magic Coffee...enough Ingredients to develop ten rolls of 120 film.. © Dirk HR Spennemann 2009, All Rights Reserved

As I processed a 35mm film in a small Paterson tank, I needed 290ml of solution, to simplify I made 300ml, 100ml of each of the premixed solutions.

The film I processed was a Kodak Portra 160, Expired 2002-05 and these are some of the results:

201010 ExaktaVarexIIa Portra 160 - 029

201010 ExaktaVarexIIa Portra 160 - 13

201010 ExaktaVarexIIa Portra 160 - 04


Don't forget to visit Dirk's set. I leave here some of his shots to tease you:

Holden EK, Rose Street, Collingwood

Sitka Falcon

Soaring Heavenwards Italianate Style

Stay tuned (o;


  1. Esta agora!... :D
    Tenho de experimentar...

  2. I am quite keen on purchasing the Agfa Optima Sensor camera . Having to know you own them, will you be able to let me know on the major differences between the Optima 535 and the Optima Sensor? Optically, are there any differences between the sharpness of the lenses? ( or comparison to the 1035 if you have any reviews on them too ) thanks!

  3. @Raul PC: Só uma coisa: usa mesmo ácido ascórbico, nada de vitamina C, tipo Cebion & Cia, tive uma má experiência com isso )o:

    @Hot2whellS: They are almost the same. They had two types of lenses the Solitar 40mm, 2.8 and the Agnatar 40, 3.5. The Solitar is better.
    I can tell you also that these cameras are very nice but they didn't aged gracefully.
    I have 4 of them: 335, 535 and two Sensor that I managed to turn into one, that is the only one that works )o:
    So be aware when buying it.

  4. oh lovely, thanks! will probably contemplate either on the optima sensor or the optima 1035. but they're currently for sale for the same price for a zorki 4 with an industar 61. How do you rate the optima against the zorki 4 ( i know they are two different types of camera ) but maybe just some feedback? sorry for the million of questions. thank you :)

  5. @Hot2whellS: We are comparing oranges to apples but I would trade, in a blink of the eye, an Optima for a Zorki.
    The Zorki is a real camera for men with hair in the chest(o;
    The Optima is nice and I particularly like them because they were made in Portugal, but they are no competition to a FSU range finder.

  6. cause intially I was looking for something small, like a rollei 35 ( something cheaper though ) ... i usually shoot on med format bronicas and a ql19 as well. but i figured since the price of a zorki 4 is almost equivalent to the optima, why not just get the zorki 4 . well thanks for the feedback!

  7. @Hot2whellS: May I sugest the Olympus XA, if you want more control or the Olympus Trip 35 if you want a great camera, that's lots of fun, simple and a very nice performer.

  8. Superb! I have read that colour negative can not be prove it can! ^_^

    This will change my photographic world, thanks!


  9. Ah! Revelação de C41 em caffenol-C, bela ideia! :)

  10. Okay, now I'm going to have to try Caffenol...just have to pick up a couple more items to do it. Your shots came out great!

  11. @ M:
    Yes, it works very well both with BW and colour films.

    @ @nibes:
    Cheira mal mas resulta bem.
    Fica engraçado sendo digitalizado como filme colorido, senão fica um PB normal.

    @ Kathy Hunt:
    Thank you, Kathy. I have a friend that uses it a lot with great results what made me try it.

  12. Yay! Got my Ascorbic Acid today, so all I need now is the washing soda and I'm ready to go! And the Ascorbic Acid will do double duty by being used in my home made facial scrub also ;-)

  13. @analogsoulphoto:

    Let me know of the results, both (o;