Ultrafine Xtreme 400 in Caffenol Delta

Passer by with phone (Roll 43)

Brace yourself for a long post today, with many pics selected form two rolls of Ultrafine Xtreme 400. If you look through this blog, you will find out that in 2018, I shot an entire 30m roll of Ultrafine Xtreme 400. I quite like this film and my usual lab was doing a good job processing it.

The ubiquitous delivery man (Roll 43)

This year is another game as my friend Ray Toei, the serial shooter who introduced me to this film, offered me two of his hand rolled film, with 24 shots each, and this year as you may know is the year of Caffenol.

Teo Hin Tyres (Roll 43)

The are not many resources on the web about processing this film in Caffenol, or maybe I was not able to find hem, so I decided to start with the Delta Recipe which is now my go to recipe for Ilford Delta and HP5+.

Hang them high (Roll 43)

The first film (Roll 43) was processed for 4’40” at 28 Celsius, time from pouring in the mix, to pouring it out (I start pouring out at 4’35” ). The resulting negative is quite thick, meaning over processed. I cut the time down to 4’15” for the second film (Roll 44) and the result is much much better, maybe I can try to cut down few more seconds.

Wrap me some of those, uncle (Roll 43)

I had another problem with the first film : I did somehow manage to not load it properly on the spool, so some areas were not properly processed, giving some vast white areas in the pictures (black on the negs). Ths is very clear on the first shot of this post. That’s a lesson learned : when the spooling does not sound right it is not right.

Deepavali shopping (Roll 43)

To make this a bit more difficult I have shoot these two rolls with my antique Nikon F3 and 50mmF1.4 AIS. I have dug the F3 out of the dry box for my last travel in February where I shot a quite nice roll of HP5, and I though he deserved a second round this year.

Framed (Roll 44)

I bought the F3 in 1992 already pretty battered, and I was never totally satisfied with it. But I long so much for this little fellow that I cannot drop it totally.

Catwoman (Roll 44)

I never have so many out of focus focus pictures with any of the Leica’s. I have changed the micro prism focusing screen for a vertical split screen in 2008 but it did not bring much improvements. I am happy to blame my eyesight of my technique.

A fish stall at Whampoa market (Roll 44)

This said, the pictures that are technically ok have a different quality to them than those taken wit the Leica. Not better (impossible 🙂 ) , just different, and its quite appreciable.

Saving the planet one tree at a time Whampoa (Roll 44)

For those interested, I carried last week both the F3 combo and the Leica M6 with the 35 Cron Asph v2, and the Leica is about 200 grams lighter, the F3 being just short of 1 KG. Still it is not big camera and discounting the fact I miss-focused 6 images at least on these rolls, it is a pleasure to use.

The newspapers stand – Whampoa market (Roll 44)

I went to Whampoa to bring a roll of color film to the lab there, not remembering that Saturday was a public holiday (Deepavali), so being confronted with the closed shop I walked to Whampoa market.

Family visit to the temple (Roll 44)

A few kilometers away, on Serangoon road, Hindu’s were visiting the temple, like this young family with a baby. I walk close the 11 km Saturday.

Chinatown Kueh Stoll (Roll 44)

Aperol Spritz (Roll 44)

My Delta recipe is as follows:

Caffenol C-MDelta
Water0.75
Washing Soda18
vitamin-C15
coffee32

I kept last week Caffenol, but decide not to use it, let’s brew some fresh stuff for the moment. For those interested in stats I shot 44 rolls sofa this tear, and 24 processed in Caffenol (probably 4 can be considered as having been sacrificed on the path to knowledge).

I hope you enjoyed the reading.

Ultrafine Xtreme 400 in Caffenol Delta

Money matters or the Caffenol break even

This is the roll number 40 of 2020, and the one for which I break even on my Caffenol investment. At 7$ per roll at the local lab, I am now breaking even on my dark bag, Vitamin C, Soda ash, Fixer and first batch of coffee.

October is a big period for Taoist faith, known as Nine Emperor Gods. I could not see any big ceremony, but its a good time to visit temples I never see before.

Ok I break even but I have finished my Nescafe so I have to get another pack, I will check the cheaper local brand for roughly 8$. Also I screwed up a few rolls (at least 4) so do I have to factor this is my cost as well?

Accordion

The picture above taken indoors has very nice tones I think. I am now using the Delta recipe and this roll was processed with a new batch, and turned out very fine. Not much dust to clone.

Finally 4 shots done during a stay-cation on the island of Sentosa. The island of fun seems a bit carceral at the moment with the beach being all locked down and some buildings in advances dereliction status.

All shots taken with Leica M6 and Summicron 35mm Asph V2. This is a 24 shots roll of a bulk Ilford HP5 that I handroll myself (I am really money conscious these day)

Money matters or the Caffenol break even

The Hakka Cemetery

I wanted to visit this place for a very long time : a cemetery enclosed in a housing block is the west of Singapore city center.

Hakka, are a Chinese population originating from the eastern part of Hunan, you can read more on https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hakka_people. They form about 8% of the Chinese population of Singapore.

The cemetery is home to about 3000 graves, below which urns of ashes are buried. Unlucky for me the place was closed when I reached there after a 40 minutes bus ride. I could still make a few shots, but there seems to be some very interesting views to catch so I will try to go back at a better time.

The Ying Fo Fui Kun cemetery as it is known, is part of a heritage trail that looks promising, I will dig into that in the near future. You can find further reading here https://lionraw.com/2014/03/18/the-hakka-cemetery/

Today’s pictures where taken on Ilford Pan F 50ISO film with the Hasselblad 500cm and 80mm F2.8. They were processed soon after in Caffenol using the batch I prepared last week, then scanned with the Epson v800. I had 3 shots left when leaving the cemetery, so I head back in town. I made a first stop at Tiong Bahru at QiTian Gong temple. It s the 100’s birthday of the temple this year and it has been renovated, but due to the Covid there are no celebrations this year. You can find pictures of past ceremonies there :

https://waex99photo.wordpress.com/2016/09/17/tiong-bahru-qi-tian-gong-temple/

or

https://waex99photo.wordpress.com/2016/09/17/tiong-bahru-qi-tian-gong-temple/

After this I head to the old railway station which is under work (no idea what is suppose to happen to it in the future) and finally to the small Hock Teck See Temple, a small Taoist temple surrounded by construction sites.

I hope you enjoyed the reading …

The Hakka Cemetery

A rainy sunday morning

Patience

I am not sure if we are officially in the rainy season but we are definitely heading for it. After a very wet bike ride Saturday morning, I joined some fellow photographers last Sunday. What started as a very cloudy morning ended being very wet as well.

China square

I went armed with the Leica IIIc now paired with the Elmar 50mmF3.5, and as it was rainy I loaded a roll of Shanghai GP3 400. This is supposed to be a new film, I could not find much information on the web.

Sam at the Kopitiam

We spend quite a while at the Kopitiam close to Circular road waiting for the rain to stop

The wild bunch

Finally we set out as the rain stopped and walked around the area.

If you read so far and wonder what happened to the pictures, I will inform you that I am currently in a Caffenol frenzy and my process is currently not working so well after some initial success.

Slowly the city wakes up

My last roll was a disaster (you can read here ), this one is quite close, I have made steps to improve my process thought:

  • I have invested in a changing bag
  • I bought some proper fixer (the images on this post are relatively clean)
  • I learned to bleach my spirals to help loading the film ( it is a breeze now)
  • I realized that my recipe was for 1 liter but my bottle was 0.75 so I reduced the doses of chemicals
  • and I ordered some pure vitamin C to have a more predictable result (but I don’t have it yet)

So the result is crap, but I scan still make a post with it : yeah! Ok there is no information anywhere on this film, left alone about Caffenol processing. I processed 5’50” at 28 degrees. As it’s over cooked I reduce by one minute this morning for my film of this week and … its not developed at all. I am a bit clueless.

Many take away from Lucky Cafe some years ago

As usual there is no lesson, lets do better next time. Maybe go back to 100 ISO films. Or start cooling the developer.

After the party
Good bye (Cruel world)
A rainy sunday morning

When its so bad it s almost good

Today’s roll of film has been perfectly ruined, the experience showing that I am not yet the master of Caffenol.

Busy

This was a roll of Fuji Across 100, shot with the Leica M6 and a mix of Summicron 50mm and then my “new” Elmar 50.

I processed the roll with my second batch of Caffenol which is now 4 weeks old, and my dodgy Fomapan fix expired for 5 years and used for the 9th roll. A recipie for disaster you call it. The only new variable on the batch of Caffenol was the addition of table salt to act as restrainer for higher ISO films, could this cause the problems seen here? It did not seem to improve the processing of the Ilford Delta 400, so I wont try it again.

I decided not to clean the negs in photoshop, but just to enjoy the artistic look after the usual adjustement. I have a mixed feeling, because the processing looks to be working quite well, the quality of the greys and finesse of the grain below is just great to my taste.

Marina Barrage

Finally the Elmar is working just fine, focusing and all seems good as you can check below. This is a great addition for my LTM kit, lets check the next roll.

Sri Senpaga Vinayagar Temple

Dont worry I have taken good resoltutions: I binned both the Caffnol and the Fixer and will shop for some new fixer this week. I also ordered some pure ascorbic acid to replace my lemon flavoured vitamine pills.

A mundane shot to show of the Elmar quality

On this note I whish you a good week, happy shooting and maybe next week a good roll for a change?

When its so bad it s almost good

The Social Kitchen at Orchard YMCA

Today I am posting a few shots salvaged from a friendly “reportage” we did with a group of friends last week for The Social Kitchen at Orchard YMCA, in Singapore.

The Social Kitchen, is the Cafe located on 4th floor of the YMCA. It is a social enterprise that provides employment to disadvantaged individuals. The intention was to give them a few pictures to put on their website.

I must say I did not perform very well, and I am bit ashamed of it. I pleased myself in my choice of gear, but the result is not really usable by our friends at Social Kitchen. Luckily some more conscientious photogs were there.

I brought the Leica M6 with Summilux 50 v2 loaded with Ilford Delta 400. Above are the shots processed in Caffenol, my eights roll and the worst so far I must say. Very nice opportunity to shoot in a kitchen, but also quite difficult as the place is small and was packed with 3 staff and 4 photogs.

I also carried the Hasselblad 500CM loaded with Cinestill 500. There are only 3 “good” shots on 12, I don’t use the blad so often these days, so I mixed up mix and max aperture, and the first 6 shots were blank. The Cinestill roll was shot at ISO640 as usual, and all shots were done at 1/60 F2.8.

It’s nice to have fun, delivering good and usable pictures is another matter.

The Social Kitchen at Orchard YMCA

Walking around with color film

A quick post about last two weeks walking around with the Leica M6 loaded with a roll of Kodak ProImage 100 and paired with a Summicron 50mm V.

This is a bit awkward in the middle of my Caffenol frenzy, but it helps changing perspective. Also I brought the film to Whampoa Photo, and the scanning is very nice. I usually scan myself, but that time I decide to give it a try and the result is surprisingly good.

Walking around with color film

Did I fix the Agfa Isolette rangefinder?

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The young film photog and his model

So a few weeks ago, after the last roll shot with the Agfa Isolette, I decided that  something must be done with the rangefinder. My easiest solution was to order a second Agfa from Ebay. But actually when he finally reached home, the camera was in very good condition but the rangefinder was stuck and so was the lens focusing ring. So I took  step back and decided to leave it alone (for the moment) and try to fix the rangefinder of my original Agfa.

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Potato head

I think I mentioned earlier this is a family camera bough in 1958 in Germany by my dad who was in the French forces there. It was my first medium format camera, I used it for the first time in 1990 (30 years ago already). I looked at this link and proceeded to fix my rangefinder : The Classic Camera Repair Forum: CLA’ing an Isolette III.

 

 

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The photographer’s wife

I don’t have much to add to the procedure, this precise camera has other issues so I think I will proceed with repairing the other one soon, or maybe send it to repair, depending on the time I have at hand.

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A chair’s story

Once again I used a roll of Rollei 80s because I have a few hanging around and because I love it. Shot at 100 Iso, this is a slow film for the weather conditions so some shots were taken at 1/50s F4.5.

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Public transport

I processed the roll in my second batch of Caffenol, so this is my Caffenol roll #7. The results are good I think, but there is a lot of dust or particles compared to the roll#6, I am not sure where it comes from and I am  bit disappointed as I took care to filter both the Fixer and the Caffenol before using them. I also added 1 minute to the fixing time, just in case.

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The chess players #1

It also seems there is some unevenness on the processing. I will have to reach out for some advice.

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The chess players #2

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Ah yes so what about the rangefinder ? Well see for yourself, but it looks to me that it may not be spot on but it surely can focus.

Did I fix the Agfa Isolette rangefinder?

Caffenol rebirth : week 3

I am pushing my luck by trying the my brew from two weeks ago again this Sunday.

First things first, shooting a bit of film. The weather is not improving and I did not had a chance to shoot much this past week. So this morning I loaded the old Agfa Isolette with a roll of Rollei 80s (my favourite film) and hit the road in direction of Arab street with a detour by Little India to finish the roll of Acros I processed last week.

The Agfa uncouple rangefinder is no longer working so distance are guestimated. I also use the EM-01 KEKS light meter.

For processing I used the two week sold Caffenol stored in a green bottle in the shade at ambient temperature (more or  less 28 C). I think it turned out quite well (5 minutes processing at 28 degrees, 30 second inversions then 3 inversions every minute). The negatives are of average thickness, maybe I could have added 30 seconds. The caffenol is now old and this is the 3rd film processed with this batch.

I made a fatal mistake by wiping the film with my kitchen towel, lot of dust I had to clone in Photoshop. I will have to find how to do this properly. The fixer is starting o have some deposit. Maybe it wont last after the next couple of films.

Plans for next roll is to start a new batch of caffenol to see if the process is repeatable.

Caffenol rebirth : week 3

The lock down roll

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Banana-ah-ah

This is not actually a full roll of the lock-down, I did not shoot much and probably on the first 20 frames of this roll.

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Cooking for take away only

This is a roll of Kodak Tri-x shot with the Leica M6 classic and the Summicron 35mm Asph vII.

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Deserted hawker center

The first part of the roll was taken on a Saturday around lunch time in the Balestier area. Shops were half closed, hawkers were deserted and the rare shoppers wearing masks.

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The masked shopper

Little traffic rare cyclist allowed not to ear masked while ridding, life seemed to have come to a halt under the scorching sun. We had dreadful weather for a while, but the day I go out at lunchtime with a 400 ISO film, I am forced to shoot at F1/500 and F16.

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The unmasked rider

There is always a nice outcome : I stumbled across the coffee shop below, I first stopped to take a shot (the symmetry of the arrangement caught my eye), then the chord bring the entry puzzled me and finally I bought some coffee. I usually use some arabica in my old Moka machine but they sell only robusta. In the end for a bit more than 5SGD for 250 grams that was a ok deal.

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The old style coffee shop

Of course life is full of encounters, an sometime you meet fellow Leica Shooters

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Another M6 with 50mm cron

I am no sure that Grab food riders made a fortune during the lock-down (my good sense tells me otherwise), but they were ubiquitous during the period and thanks to them we managed to have entertaining food at our table. (Thanks guys and gals).

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The ubiquitous Grab food rider

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Hawker at work

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Tiger’s haunt

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The other unmasked rider

As no many activity goes on to finish the film I walked the places where people were going out to exercise or just take a bit of fresh air while respecting the prescribed social distancing procedures. It is funny how here again  you meet some acquaintances.

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A well known Leica figure caught during his jogging (hard to resist)

The Singapore river was usually packed with joggers and cyclist, we  will surely do great at next Olympics when they eventually happen. The Marina Bay Area, though not empty was really a lot quieter that it used to be.

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Sorry ladies can you get out of my the view

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MBS in black and white

Skaters did had much problems crossing big roads carelessly.

The last few shots where taken after the lock down when we entered what was known as phase 1 and now phase 2. More freedom to roam around, retail shops reopening, still as nothing exceptional is happening, back to my usual vice : random shots of people in the streets, preferably with masks.

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Hope you enjoyed the roll. I manage 38 shots on this roll again, unfortunately the process suffers from reticulation (same as the one I took a couple of month back ), I ll tell about it to the photo shop and maybe i ll try to process the films myself going forward.

 

The lock down roll