CAFFENOL Re-birth.

2020-19-iiic-24

7 years after my last failed experiments I am back again toying with Caffenol to process my black and white film. Do not try to figure out why I do not use standard methods, I cannot myself.

This time again I have put all the odds against me, I found a box of 5 year expired Fomapan P fixer in the cupboard, I shot the Caffenol unfriendly Kodak Tri-X on the Leica IIIc with the unreliable Summitar 50 and the new Chinese meter offered by a friend (more on this later).

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The set-up

From my past experiments I have a kitchen scale and a Patterson cuve, and some weights to hold the film when drying. (I just had to buy a 4$ battery for the scale)

Testing the fixer

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I found this idea on the internet to test the fixer by taking a piece of unexposed film, I cut the lead of a new roll found in the box, and drop it in the fixer (not the developer just right into the fixer) and let it sit a few minutes : it should go totally clear if the fixer still work as they should. Mine did so I should be covered from that angle.

I used in the past a recipe for stand development, but today I will try the Caffenol-C-M, recipe, the first on the http://caffenol.blogspot.com website.

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Testing the developer :

I planned to test the developer with one of the following two test cases, but actually after discussing with my assistant (my son), we decided that anyway we will not be able to resist trying the film whatever the result of the test is. Anyway here are the test cases:

  1. Test 1: once again I cut the leader of a roll and drop one into your developer and let it sit a few minutes then drop in your fixer and let it sit for a few minutes. It should turn all black.(as this part is generally over exposed), advantage is that you can use the lead of the roll you want to process.
  2. Test 2: use a piece of unexposed film, say, a few frames from the beginning of a fresh roll and make sure it’s loaded in the dark. Process as you should, you should see the frame numbers and DX codes along the sprocket holes develop and the unexposed frames should develop to be clear.

 

The process:

The chemicals:

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For one liter the recipe is to mix in order :

54 grams of washing-soda (Harm Brand 8$ for 1 kg)
16 grams of Vitamine C ( crap from Guardian 13$)
40 grams of instant coffee (Netscafe Classic 10$)

Time and temperature

This is the difficult bit, the original recipe gives 15 minutes at 20 °C for 100 ISO film. Digi

tal truth ( https://www.digitaltruth.com/devchart.php?doc=timetemp) helps converting this to my 28 deg average temperature for 6’44 @ 28 deg, for 100 ISO. ISO 400 should be shorter, but the same site gives you roughly the same duration. SO i settled for 7 minutes

Here we go

  • Pre-soak 5 minutes (this step is optional, but it is relaxing)
  • Pour the developer
  • Agitation first 30 seconds, then 3 times each minute.
  • Stop:

– Fill and invert the tank 5 times
– refill and invert the tank 10 times
– refill and invert the tank 20 times
– refill and invert the tank 30 times

  • Fix: 5 minutes
  • Rinse

– Fill and invert the tank 5 times
– refill and invert the tank 10 times
– refill and invert the tank 20 times
– refill and invert the tank 30 times with a drop of washing up soap

Results

  • the negatives are dense but images can be seen when back lighted and scanned with the Epson v800

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A few more samples

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Doggie goes for a walk
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Over the counter of the Japanese restaurant
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Hans Im Gluck birch trees

Where it goes wrong

The problem often reported for Caffenol is that the chemicals are not reliable, for instance, my coffee is a mix of Robusta and Arabica, where the active compound is more present in the robusta, so 100% robusta would be better. My Vitamin C contains sugar and flavoring which impact is hard to guess.

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Anything new?

Where to go from here

My film is over developed, so I already have some plans for the next roll : shorter time ( it was suggested to cut by 25%), or try the same recipe for a 100 ISO film, or cut the coffee.

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The ubiquitous Grab Food rider

Money wise

I can do 5 batches with my Vitamin C + coffee, with 2 films per batch. You probably have to factor in 0.5$ a roll for Fixer, 0.4$ for the soda, if you are discounting the water you will be around 3.5 to 4 $, definitely cheap. 5 rolls would cover the 7$ a roll I pay to the lab for processing, so if you like the result its worth trying.

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Kiss
CAFFENOL Re-birth.

SOFT LOCK-DOWN WEEK 6

Time of the week again!I think I just took the camera with me three times this week, and I did not made a single shot today.

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Deserted Clark Quay

The weather is still indecisive but we have some nice moments, and some late afternoons with beautiful lights. I started the week with the old Summitar 50 that is on the M262 for a couple of weeks now.

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Strange lights on this office building (or is it a hotel?)

Despite its back focusing issues, it performs quite well.

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Hair Dressers are re-opening

… enough to capture the event of the week : the re-opening of hair dressers.

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Clark quay still empty

Saturday, I decided for a change and picked from the magic box the 28mm Cron Asph v1. You can think how nice the old lenses are, and you can challenge me to tell objective differences between the two shots of Clark Quay, but the newer Leica lenses rock, they are the one who justify owning a digital M body. I always recommend to everybody who wants to go the digital M way to get at least one newer lens.

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I have set the M body in auto aperture mode, but as much as it generally work, I always end up shooting at a too low speed. You will tell me this mode should be used with auto ISO, but yeah OK, it really needs some practice to be put to good work.

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A human

Yes I managed to shoot a human, that was a while since last one.

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An eateries at Chinatown MRT

I think it is always easy to take random pictures and rather difficult to shoot something that means something to you and on which you want to express something. I wanted to shown the blocked Chess game area where a lot of old folks gather usually.

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The area is now locked as you can see. I hope you get the feeling

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Finally a shot of Potato Head, in a very quiet Keong Siak Road as night was falling down,

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A very quiet potato head

Good night, keep safe.

SOFT LOCK-DOWN WEEK 6

SOFT LOCK-DOWN WEEK 5

5 weeks ! No much shooting this week. I still go out once a day to keep my sanity, but the repetition kills the creativity (if there was ever any).

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The cocks and hens are also wandering in our park (fort Canning), but it seems as if they also feel that something is amiss and retreat in the trees (I learned a few years back in Eater Island that chickens like to fly and rest on trees, I am a city boy, I would have never guessed,…)L1009810

Marina Bay Sands viewed from the grounds or our condo displays its love for the country, but the 1 North Bridge Road building hides the middle pillar of MBS and the letter … guess.

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We had a nice walk along the river Saturday when the light was going down and the sky and river were beautiful (if it was not for the crowd of joggers and cyclists on the walking path).

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My wife noticed that the Fullerton hotel was for once only displaying the national flag, is it national pride or just the lack of foreign customers?

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The last two shots in the CDB show how nice the light was on the office buildings and how a lens build around World War II can perform nowadays (even if back focusing).L1009823

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The building replacing Golden Shoe

All shots with Leitz Summitar 50mm F2.0 on Leica M262.

Keep safe.

 

SOFT LOCK-DOWN WEEK 5

SOFT LOCK-DOWN WEEK 3 and 4

The soft lock down was extended two weeks ago until 1st of June, so all in all that will be 8 week of lock-down.

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No swing!

Conditions are a bit more strict, but all in all I cannot complain. I can work from home, we have plenty of hardware here so we don’t fight over PCs, and we can within reason go out if we wear a mask.

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Fort Canning at dusk

We are allowed to go out for shopping in the neighborhood or for exercise, which is flexible enough and can be used without abuse. We generally walk an hour at the end of the afternoon, go for our food shopping and go home.

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Anderson bridge

The photographic practice is a collateral victim of the lock-down, I am quite busy with work, so I have no leisure to (re) invent a “shoot at home” activity, and while going out, there is not so much happening and we always roam the same aeras.

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The Summitar Swirly Bokeh

I have stopped shooting film after the first week : I do not process at home so there is no incentive until the labs open again. I am carrying the Leica M262 Body (Coming to its 4th birthday soon)  and some vintage lenses : the Summaron 35mmF3.5 ltm on the first two shots and the Summitar 50mmF2 for the others.

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Exercise by the Merlion

The Summitar is back focusing a bit, but its quite easy to adjust after a couple of shots. Wide open it gets this “swirly” Bokeh, which is funny.

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The colors for both lenses are quite nice, but unfortunately the weather is also pretty nasty, it generally rains lightly when I can go out.

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The philatelic museum

What to shoot to show the emptiness and halted activities? Not much really. Although activity is very quiet and the traffic is noticeably smaller, it is rare to be able to picture a usually busy street that is empty.

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Singapore Management University

But surely there are a lot of signs like the public areas where seats are blocked as above.

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Window shopping at Camera hospital (not for sale)

Or below, bar areas who are wrapped away.

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orchard road
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Chinatown

Empty parking places in the city center are definitely a sign that something is going on.

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This seating area seems to be still functionning

 

 

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Hairdresser

Hairdressers which were ordered to close two week ago, will now reopen before the rest of the businesses.

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Circular road was pretty quiet today

 

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Finally when reaching the river on the way back home today, there was a very nice light on the buildings of the city center.

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Central
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Court of justice
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Once George Street
SOFT LOCK-DOWN WEEK 3 and 4

Japan Camera Hunter – JCH 400 FILM

During my trip to Melbourne where I discover the FilmNeverDie  shop, I bought a couple of rolls of their SHIROKURO but also one roll of JCH StreetPan 400 film (why only one?)! I am always looking forward to try new or uncommon films, this is part of the magic of chemistry of film photography, to make me expected something new and exciting that does not depend on my technical skills (if I have any) to happen on the roll.

You can find the announcement of the film and read more about it there.

streetpan-400iso

This does not look to be  a re-branded film as the negs have the mention JCH.

This is not a technical review, I am by noway an expert, I understand that pan chromatic does not mean much other than a reproduction similar to human eye. Not sure what this means for black and white. This film is supposed to have a higher sensibility to red and a low grain.

I loaded the roll in the newly repaired Leica IIIc, and the following shots are done during Chinese new year in Singapore using a Summitar 50mmf2 lens. The Summitar is a bit back focusing so this is probably not a proper set-up to judge the quality of the film, but I have a soft spot for the IIIc.

Exposure is measured with a handheld Sekonic 308s lighmeter.

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Peanut stall

This picture is shot under a red tent and gives for interesting palette of grey, probably due to the sensitivity to red.

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There’s a cow behind the bins

For those who wonder, this was processed by the usual lab used by Ruby photo, no idea what chemical they use.

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Cookie stall
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Fellow film shooter, using a Canon 7s and Summar 50mm (but I saw he has more tricks in his bag)

The grain is actually quite controlled, and the sharpness, if you keep in mind this is shot with a vintage soft lens, is quite good. I am not a big fan of high grain film like the TriX (although I use it a lot), and always preferred the soft TMAX100 or Fuji Acros

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Kueh shop

Actually the contrast is quite smooth, unlike the Rollei Retro 400s I used recently, so for higher contrast scenes it gives  nice gradation of grey.

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The ladies selling newspaper on Keong Saik Road
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Happy fellows
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Night shot in Chinatown, a Bakua shop
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Preparing for Chinese new year

Even this night shot with back-light could be salvaged and give a nice rendering.

All in all this is quite a satisfying experience, if I manage to get more rolls they’l deserve to be shot with a better camera like the M6 or the “never-fail” EOS 1N.

JCH has sold all his stock, so only retailers will have some rolls now, until more are produced. I don’t think anybody has some in Singapore but you can find a list of suppliers on the JCH web-site.

 

 

Japan Camera Hunter – JCH 400 FILM

The year of shooting with Leica(s) – Part 1

 

I bought my first Leica in 2009; it was a very nice M4 paired with a Summilux 50mm version2; both from 1967 as close as I could to by date of birth (I was a bit worried at the time about getting involved in the double stroke or single stroke on the M3).  In 2009 I was already back into film for 2 years, I was lusting for a Leica. After much considerations I splurged the equivalent of 2500 USD on the above combo.

M4

If was not love at first sight with the Leica. First I was back to the shop (actually another) to invest in a light meter (Sekonic 380s). Then I brought it in  couple of trips, but with mixed feelings.

Japan 2010

I enjoyed using the little fellow, but really the results were no all great and also I have a trouble bringing the Leica on travel : I though the 35mm was redundant with my DSLR; at least in term of format.

The following years I bought a few other film cameras and got distracted, so indeed the love story with the M4 was not going the right way.

In 2013 I invested in a small LeicaIIIc and a Summitar 50mmF2; this fellow had a couple of problems, but I quite liked it for shooting around.
The Leica IIIc

I got a couple on third party lens in various stage of in-usability to pair him with (a back focusing Jupiter 35mm, a non-focusing Canon 135F4, not mentioning  the Industar of the Zorki 1) , but all in all we had good fun. Around this time I also invested in a 21mmF4 Color Skopar, that I always found difficult to use. And I made my first Leica trip only to Taiwan.

LeicaIIIc Taiwan 2013

Leica M4 Taiwan 2013

Last year finally when Lee Kwan Yew passed away I shot a lot of the funerals with the M4 and my interest was aroused again by the Leica M, so finally for a similar amount of the M4 kit, I bought a minty M6 Classic (Back) and a Summaron 35mmF2 (The version with the goggles).

And so started the year of shooting with Leica(s) (to be followed)

The year of shooting with Leica(s) – Part 1

Going Digital with the Olympus E-PL2

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Jazz up this old lens – Leitz Summitar 50mm F2 wide open

I was a bit restless last week-end, still scanning the backlog of films I needed some less intensive activity. Plus my son has a field trip in Indonesia and we were thinking he would be better off wit a cheap camera, just in case he lost it, drop it or got robbed.

So I scratched my head and after a while (and a bit of google-ing) went down to the shop and bought a Olympus E-PL2 and 12-24mm lens plus an adapter for Leica lenses.

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Lunch time – Leitz Summitar 50mm F2 wide open

For 140 USD my son have a very good camera although “obsolete” said the shopkeeper. And I can attach my Leica lenses including the russian and japanese ltms to a digital sensor. I can let you see some results.

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Gong xi fa cai – Industar 22 50mm F3.5 wide open

 

Like everything this takes time to get used to and I am no expert in micro four-third cameras, but it looks this can be a fun toy. A few things to take into account:

  • the E-PL2 has a crop factor of 2, so the 50mm becomes a 100mm and the Serenar 135 becomes a 270mmF4 lens !
  • even with the adaptor depth there is not much room for recessed lenses, so the Jupiter 8 with its big inner element cannot be used (damn I really wanted to use this one)
  • on the good side you cannot hurt the sensor with the collapsible lens.
  • mmm the camera uses the back screen for focusing which is very difficult for me; and EVFs are a bit expensive just for fun, so I don;t know how much usage I’ll do with thus.

Gong Xi Fa Cai everybody, happy year of the monkey.

Going Digital with the Olympus E-PL2

Leica M240 – A rented friend for a lonely week end (Day four, Monday)

So this is (was) Monday and time to bring back the camera to the shop. I woke up early and decided to walk there armed with the old Summitar 50mmF2.0 and the Voigtlander 21mmF4.0 Color Skopar.

First stop is at the Hong San See Temple on Mohammed Sultan Road.  The M240 shows no mercy for the WWII area screw mount lens : it is obvious the lens back focus; as I said yesterday no point using it if not with live view. The back focusing problem is visible even on the location, so no bad surprise when going back home.

Yes on the close and wide open shots the lens shows some “character”…

A bit frustrated I follow my journey along the Singapore river and put on the Color Skopar.


It is almost midday, the sky is cloudy as usual, so the light is not great. The colorful Alkaf bridge looks very dull on the above. Including the fact that the pictures are coming out with a wide purple band on the right side, even with the leica 21mm profile selected, this is really a no go.


The above is a bit better, but also required a bit of tweaking in Lightroom to remove the purple fringing on the right side.

 

CONCLUSION

So time for conclusion, I have played with the M9 and the M240 this summer, used some new and old lenses and…

1- I won’t rush to buy it: I think this is the most fair assessment I can do: I can probably afford to go to the shop and get a M240 + an Elmarit 28mmF2.8 but my test did not convince me that I really need to do it now.

2 – No mercy : the M240 has no mercy for lesser lenses : you may be lucky with a gem of an old lens, but clearly for me all these old ltm lens I have are useless. No point getting such an expensive kit to produce such below par shots. The weather in Luxembourg and Singapore is quite different but the 28mm Summicron results were far superior to the Elmarit.

3 – Back to film : Do not be mistaken, I really enjoyed the experience, going through the 800 to 900 shots of the week end was a bit painful, I could have done some things better and I may try again next year. Meanwhile I think that I would be more tempted to get a newer Leica film camera and a nice lens like a Summicron 35mm and wait before going digital. But meanwhile the meanwhile, I’ll go back to “junk” gear and Nikon digital. On a side note, I have been shooting recently with the D700 and 1980’s manual lenses again and unlike the Leica I am amazed by the results.

 

Leica M240 – A rented friend for a lonely week end (Day four, Monday)

Haw Par Villa on Film – Singapore

Back to Haw Par Villa after exactly 6 years. Nothing changed much, appart we all grew older; well and there is also a MRT that goes there now.

 

 

Different gear though bye bye the Nikon D80 Dslr.

The Leica IIIC back from the second turn to the repair shop; it looks like it’s working ok now.

Summitar 50mm f2.0 or Voighlander 21mmF4

Film: Kodak Ektar 100ISO

 

 

Haw Par Villa on Film – Singapore

The Leica IIIc is back from the shop

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The Leica IIIC has shown some defects in the summer after 6 or  rolls shot. One of rolls was showing a white line 3/4 horizontally and one roll from Taiwan was half black. Both defec

ts were characterized by the web and the repair man as issues with the curtains. The repair man was quite frank and told me that well this was a nice camera, but not as much though after as a IIIf, so I may consider if I want to repair it or not. But after much thoughts and a bit of walking into various shops I finally decided to have it done.

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I am not sure I would dare give the price of the repair; but let’s say that it is more than what I paid for the body. 2 long weeks to wait (Time ) and here is the beast. The old curtain sure shows some holes and the new one looks …. like new. The body is uber clean and the guy has cleaned the rangefinder and the viewfinder and it’s a pleasure to peep through them.

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Now for the story I went to my lab next door and bought a roll for test (Kodak trix, what else) but when I started asking for a pair of scissor to proceed with cutting the lead, one “specialist” showed me the proper way to load the film without cutting … 2 hours and 36 shots later I realized the operation failed ! Damn’it

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Also after 36 missed shot and two films (including these pictures) the trigger is locked in depressed position and I have to bring it back to the shop (still waiting for the verdict, but I suspect this may be either something that went wrong during the repair or related to the savage loading).

Anyway, I did a bit of way around with the Summitar 50mm F2 for the first roll and here are some shots.I really like this small camera, but I hope I will get it in a better shape soon.

Below taken wide open at dusk, probably 1/60s F2.2

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First picture in Chinese Thanks Giving on orchard road in Singapore

Three next are taken during the night at a restaurant in Chinatown Singapore

The Leica IIIc is back from the shop