TMax-400 developed with Caffenol-DeltaSTD. What went wrong?

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Hello everyone

Yesterday I had my first attempt at developing film. I used a Tmax-400 film shoot at 200 ISO since it had been experied for around 10 years. My recipe for Caffenol was the so called "Caffenol-DeltaSTD" and here's how I did it:

- 16 g Instant Coffe
- 7 "tablets" of 1 g each of Vitamin-C
- 9g of Washing Soda
- 350 Ml of solution (the Paterson tank says it's necessary only 290 ml for one roll).

I developed for 13m with continous agitation on the first 30s and then 10s agitation after each minute. I want to point out that the Vitamin-C tablets I used were the effervescent type, which is likely not the best.

After developing I did a "stop-bath" with just tap-water for about 1m to get all the developer out.

For a fixer I used the so called "plain hypo" fixer. I used 101g of pentahydrated sodium thiosulfate for 400 ml of solution, following Ansel Adam's 20 - 24 % "plain hypo" solution. With the test strip fixing times was about 5m so I did 10m with the whole roll.

The results were, well, mixed. I was happy because I was able to get images out but the negatives came way to thin. The arrow label around the film reels are barely visible. My diagnostic says I underdeveloped the film. Now, 12- 13m seems to be rather standard developing time for that solution, is that correct? I`m wondering if the whole "squared grain" or something likee that from TMax would require more time perhaps? On the massive devel. chart they actually point out to around 25m of developing.

So my question is, what went wrong? Developer or my developing time with Tmax? If I used another emulsion (I've got an Ilford FP4+ just waiting to be shoot) would 13-14m be fine or should it be longer? Is Tmax really a emulsion that needs a longer developing time?

I've attached some pictures of the negative, but those were taken with a digital camera and the negative flatted out against a white image on the computer screen, so, they look... bad. Still I've attached it just in case it might help someone helping me out. Do you guys think those negative can be somewhat scanned ? They're really dirty and thin.

Thanks

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hi

i don't recognize the recipe you are using. are you sure the vit c tablets you are using are pure vit c ?
i know from using caffenol c for ages people often times run into trouble when they
use the wrong ingredients, or ingredients they think are the same but might be a little different ...
im thinking it was your vit c tablets might not be pure vit c. i know you are in brazil, can you order some powdered vit c
off of amazon.com or from a chemical supplier ?
a lot of the time caffenol based negatives look kind of thin and lacking density
but they print really well and scan really well, so you might try to scan or print them to see how they look
... you might also post your questions on reinhold's and the other caffneol blogs, there might be people in your region
who can give you tips on where to get the ingredients ... ( if your vit c isn't right )
i have been using caffneol for IDK 12 years ? as my main developer but i tend to do things a little differently
i over expose my film a little bit and over develop a little bit ... AND i add about 15-20cc / 1L of dektol or ansco130 or whatever
stock print developer i have lying around. i never liked the thin film caffenol gave me so i boosted the contrast with a shake of print developer ..
good luck !
john
ps before i read your post i saw the screen looking prints and was going to say
that you had the 1980s adam and the ants dirk wears white socks album down to a science :smile:
 
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If you're new to developing film then it's better to use a pre-mixed developer like HC-110 or Rodinal and manufacturer provided times for developing. If you're not able to procure either HC-110 or Rodinal, then at least strictly follow a well-tested caffenol formula. Random vitamin c tablets will do no good to your film and you'll waste film and time doing unnecessary tests.
 

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I'm gonna jump on board with the others.

Get some fresh film, D-76 and fixer. There are too many variables with your current method. Gotta learn to walk before acrobatics.
 

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I'm gonna jump on board with the others.

Get some fresh film, D-76 and fixer. There are too many variables with your current method. Gotta learn to walk before acrobatics.
HUH?
caffenol c is not acrobatics or anything exotic ..
the problem with the OP might be s/he is not using the right vit c, other than that caffenol is every bit as good as
d76 or hc110 or rodinal, probably better because it is probably the most forgiving and easiest developer to use
as long as you have the correct vit c, washing soda and coffee .. and who knows the negatives s/he has currently
might be perfectly fine seeing many caffenol negatives seem thin but print / scan beautifully ...

OP scan your film and see how it looks, or print the negatives they might just seem thin but are perfectly fine..
 

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Just use real film developer.
Caffenol and other alternative methods may be fine once you've learned how to process film using traditional chemicals.
Why make the process more complicated than it needs to be?
D-76, HC110, ID11 are all standard chemicals that should be available to most anyone today, with easy instructions and reliable results.
 
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Hey, thank everyone for the help.

Jnanian, I've picked that recipe from a couple of differente places ( http://www.caffenol.org/recipes/ ; https://caffenol.com.br/). One of theses website is ran by a brazillian who used the exactly same Vitamin-C I used. As far as I can tell they're only Vitamin-C (no zinc) and whatever else is needed to make it effervescent. Since some people had good results with it, and indeed my pictures did developed (but came out rather thin) I was wondering what could've happen. Since the vitamin-C seems to work for other people maybe mine wasn't completly dissolved? I actually got some gas bubble forming when I started agitating the tank that could be because of leftover Vitamin-C that did not dissolve. That would explain why I needed a longer developing time I guess. Or could it be film? I'm really stressing out the possibility of it being the film since I've read that T-max e Tx emulsions have a type of "tabular" grain that might take longer to developed.

I appreciate the tip about getting an "offical" developer. For people stressin it out, I just wanted to say: those developers are not so easy to find, and far from cheap, here in Brazil. "Official" developers from Kodak and Ilford are way to expensive in my opinion. What I might try is some small-time chemist who mix their own and sell it. Apparently there's a guy selling a copy of the D-23 developer that sound more safe for sure. Is it a friendly developer for begginers? But, since I actually got caffenol to work I'm just wondering what went "wrong". The whole thing could probably be a lot better with more developing time. But I need to get it consistent. In fact, I believe the fixer worked 100% fine and is a very cheap fixer, so that's good already. I will try to scan them on a not-so-good scanner and see how that go.
 

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If the image is faint and
1. Camera is working ok
2. Images have been given enough exposure
3. Images are fixed properly

Then either developer has been exhausted before it can properly develop the film or the film has not been given time in developer would be where i would start.
 

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.......could be because of leftover Vitamin-C that did not dissolve.....
.......Apparently there's a guy selling a copy of the D-23 developer that sound more safe for sure. Is it a friendly developer for begginers?....

Tablets contain ingredients to hold them together, and in this case, something to make them effervescent (possibly acid plus bicarbonate? like powdered sherbet?). So the pH (degree of acidity/alkalinity) which is important for film development is maybe hard to gauge.

Also, there are various types of Vitamin C. Ascorbic acid, often sold as pure powder, is quite acidic, whereas sodium ascorbate is much more neutral. There's also calcium ascorbate but calcium is not something you'd want in developer as it can cause powdery deposits on film in some circumstances.

D23 is a good developer, made of only two ingredients, metol and sodium sulphite. It will be much more predictable than what you've been using. Maybe there's a replenisher formula (I'll have a look) which would make reusing it economical.
 

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Hey, thank everyone for the help.

Jnanian, I've picked that recipe from a couple of differente places ( http://www.caffenol.org/recipes/ ; https://caffenol.com.br/). One of theses website is ran by a brazillian who used the exactly same Vitamin-C I used. As far as I can tell they're only Vitamin-C (no zinc) and whatever else is needed to make it effervescent. Since some people had good results with it, and indeed my pictures did developed (but came out rather thin) I was wondering what could've happen. Since the vitamin-C seems to work for other people maybe mine wasn't completly dissolved? I actually got some gas bubble forming when I started agitating the tank that could be because of leftover Vitamin-C that did not dissolve. That would explain why I needed a longer developing time I guess. Or could it be film? I'm really stressing out the possibility of it being the film since I've read that T-max e Tx emulsions have a type of "tabular" grain that might take longer to developed.

good to know you are reading sites done by brazilians about it !
can you email the site since they are familiar with your chemistry ?
ask if they had problems like you had and how they prepared the vit c tabs ?
its probably a simple thing that happened ... a "trick" with the tablets ..

i know there are some caffneol people who mix the developer and let it sit for a little while before
they use it ... maybe you need to crush up the tablets and dissolve them in warm water
and let it sit and dissolve completely before you mix the other ingredients ?
mix it in LAST and when you pour it in the coffee and washing soda mixture make sure the developer FOAMS.
whenever i make caffenol, as soon as i put the vit c in there it foams.

what went wrong could have been a few things
the vit c wasn't strong enough and it did not boost the contrast + developing?
your camera shutter is not giving enough exposure/ metering is off?
you are using old film?
your developer was cold so it wasn't very active ... ?
( for a long time i used caffenol c at about 70-75ºF worked great ! i wouldn't worry much about the tab film )
 

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There is a replenisher for D23 but it contains another ingredient which in Brazil might be difficult to find (sodium metaborate). Maybe borax (maybe more available?) could be substituted but a different amount..... Maybe too complicated.
 

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Hey, thank everyone for the help.

Jnanian, I've picked that recipe from a couple of differente places ( http://www.caffenol.org/recipes/ ; https://caffenol.com.br/). One of theses website is ran by a brazillian who used the exactly same Vitamin-C I used. As far as I can tell they're only Vitamin-C (no zinc) and whatever else is needed to make it effervescent. Since some people had good results with it, and indeed my pictures did developed (but came out rather thin) I was wondering what could've happen. Since the vitamin-C seems to work for other people maybe mine wasn't completly dissolved? I actually got some gas bubble forming when I started agitating the tank that could be because of leftover Vitamin-C that did not dissolve. That would explain why I needed a longer developing time I guess. Or could it be film? I'm really stressing out the possibility of it being the film since I've read that T-max e Tx emulsions have a type of "tabular" grain that might take longer to developed.

I appreciate the tip about getting an "offical" developer. For people stressin it out, I just wanted to say: those developers are not so easy to find, and far from cheap, here in Brazil. "Official" developers from Kodak and Ilford are way to expensive in my opinion. What I might try is some small-time chemist who mix their own and sell it. Apparently there's a guy selling a copy of the D-23 developer that sound more safe for sure. Is it a friendly developer for begginers? But, since I actually got caffenol to work I'm just wondering what went "wrong". The whole thing could probably be a lot better with more developing time. But I need to get it consistent. In fact, I believe the fixer worked 100% fine and is a very cheap fixer, so that's good already. I will try to scan them on a not-so-good scanner and see how that go.

In that case keep doing what you're doing.

When I caffenol I used fruit punch packets. They worked for me, no problems. I would suggest seeing if you can get some HC-110 somehow or another. It's shelf stable and will last a very long time. If you know anyone traveling to the USA or Europe have them bring you back a bottle. It should last you a few years.

I think you might try a longer stop wash, or make your own stop bath.
 

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as long as it worked its good .. :smile:

as you can read joel had troubles
with non-orthodox vit c :blink:
 

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This is a good case for Ilford's new Simplicity kits . I use XTOL, it can be a pain mixing 5L of powder.For beginners start with small packages of Ilford liquid chemistry. I like HC-110 it's easy. But it's a little expensive to start. And of course D-76 has been around for a hundred years and still is hard to beat.
If you want a good outcome you need to have discipline.
 

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This is a good case for Ilford's new Simplicity kits . I use XTOL, it can be a pain mixing 5L of powder.For beginners start with small packages of Ilford liquid chemistry. I like HC-110 it's easy. But it's a little expensive to start. And of course D-76 has been around for a hundred years and still is hard to beat.
If you want a good outcome you need to have discipline.

couldn't agree more mshchem !
the OP is in brazil and it seems from his posts
obtaining go-to chemistry that most people in the usa or england or western europe
are used to getting easily is not an easy task and rather expensive.
the thing a lot of new school skeptics don't realize is that caffenolC
is every bit as dependable and usable as d23, d76, hc110, ilfordPQ
pyro and every other film developer people use. i've been using caffenol c
( or my varient of it ) as my main goto developer since about 2005
( about a week after whiteymorange emailed me the teaspoon recipe )
i tend to have a gallon of it mixed most of the time in a clear tub on my sink
and it lasts about 5-6 months un-replenshed and i toss 1/2 of it out after about
500 prints and 500 sheets ( or rolls ) of film goes through it ( i share the developer between them both )
only the last year or 2 have i started tossing it sooner seeing i have about 40lbs of green robusta coffee beans
in my garage that i need to roast and process film through ( or sell off ) before i am burried with them ..
i just processed 17 rolls of film in something made with it this past week ...
 

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something to make them effervescent (possibly acid plus bicarbonate? like powdered sherbet?)
To make matters worse, this will create a buffer and that may very well be concentrated enough to let the pH remain stuck way too low for sufficient activity of the developer.

Caffenol is fine of course, but it remains experimental due to the many variants of the ingredients used. Without a basic knowledge of chemistry, inexplicable surprises may result.
 

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To make matters worse, this will create a buffer and that may very well be concentrated enough to let the pH remain stuck way too low for sufficient activity of the developer.

Caffenol is fine of course, but it remains experimental due to the many variants of the ingredients used. Without a basic knowledge of chemistry, inexplicable surprises may result.

hi koraks

the op used the same exact ingredients as someone who posted the recipe and the recipe poster got great results.
my guess as posted previously ( inexperienced with effervescent vit c tablets ) is that the OP didn't let the tablets dissolve completely in
his caffenol so the complete dose of active vit c which gives the developer some developing speed and contrast did not
completely activate. as mentioned previously caffenol negatives are known to have a very interesting fog and thinness to them
yet they scan and print probably better than hc110, d23/76 &c ... the problem with caffenol c isn't that it doesn't work well, or well enough
its that sometimes the ingredients aren't easily obtainable so a little experimentation with available ingredients is needed. FWIT i use
waterlogged washing soda, don't measuire anything ( eyeball my measurements ) and add vit c until it foams the developer ... and have
only had bad results with the developer when i was on a "kick" using it above 90ºF
 

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couldn't agree more mshchem !
the OP is in brazil and it seems from his posts
obtaining go-to chemistry that most people in the usa or england or western europe
are used to getting easily is not an easy task and rather expensive.
the thing a lot of new school skeptics don't realize is that caffenolC
is every bit as dependable and usable as d23, d76, hc110, ilfordPQ
pyro and every other film developer people use. i've been using caffenol c
( or my varient of it ) as my main goto developer since about 2005
( about a week after whiteymorange emailed me the teaspoon recipe )
i tend to have a gallon of it mixed most of the time in a clear tub on my sink
and it lasts about 5-6 months un-replenshed and i toss 1/2 of it out after about
500 prints and 500 sheets ( or rolls ) of film goes through it ( i share the developer between them both )
only the last year or 2 have i started tossing it sooner seeing i have about 40lbs of green robusta coffee beans
in my garage that i need to roast and process film through ( or sell off ) before i am burried with them ..
i just processed 17 rolls of film in something made with it this past week ...
You certainly have a lot of great work to show how well this system works! I know some things are expensive in Brazil. I visited Brazil several times in the past on business, wonderful experience. I am certain that the chemicals to make your own chemistry are available. Ascorbic acid is a well known developing agent, and as you and others have shown it works!
Seems like a waste of wonderful coffee :smile:. So I am interested enough that I will have to try this, I'm going to try cheap instant coffee. What's your best formula?

Frank Sinatra The Coffee Song:

Way down among Brazilians
Coffee beans grow by the billions
So they've got to find those extra cups to fill
They've got an awful lot of coffee in Brazil.....
Best Regards Mike
 

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You certainly have a lot of great work to show how well this system works! I know some things are expensive in Brazil. I visited Brazil several times in the past on business, wonderful experience. I am certain that the chemicals to make your own chemistry are available. Ascorbic acid is a well known developing agent, and as you and others have shown it works!
Seems like a waste of wonderful coffee :smile:. So I am interested enough that I will have to try this, I'm going to try cheap instant coffee. What's your best formula?

Frank Sinatra The Coffee Song:

Way down among Brazilians
Coffee beans grow by the billions
So they've got to find those extra cups to fill
They've got an awful lot of coffee in Brazil.....
Best Regards Mike

hi mike
thanks ! :smile:
if you have a scale there are some good formulas in the caffenol cookbook and the blogs are a'plenty
no scale, i started with the original teaspoon method... yeah ... it IS a waste of good coffee:heart: that's why the cheapest rot gut coffee
works best :smile:

john
 
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Thanks everyone for the help and advice given.

Looking back at those negatives they can probably be scanned and give somewhat good pictures. When I get acess to a better scanner I’m gonna try it and give you people the feedback.

I’ve decided to try one more roll of Tmax with caffenol. This time I want to make sure everything is dissolved before doing the development. Thing is, Ive read of people developing Tmax at ~20-25 m with caffenol - C so I might try changing that as well. Since Ill be changing a couple of variables it will provably be hard to pick out what the problem was first time. Any thoughts on that?

On a close future Ill probably be getting the D-23 developer. I’ve got some rolls of Illford that I dont really feel like messing around too much to get it right. But first, lets see how that second roll goes.

Cheers!
 

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the problem with the OP might be s/he is not using the right vit c, other than that caffenol is every bit as good
Quoting from https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Caffenol :
The chemistry of caffenol developers is based on the action of the reducing agent caffeic acid (which is chemically unrelated to caffeine).​
which concurs with statements that cheap instant coffee works better than fancy 100% arabica stuff.
jnanian, maybe you never encountered the problem if you use consistently the same supply of coffee, but "coffee" seems to be the least tightly specified ingredient in the recipe, rather than "ascorbic acid".

I agree with other responders: first establish you procedure with a commercial mix. There are soooo many variables that can compromise your results!
 
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I’ve decided to try one more roll of Tmax with caffenol. This time I want to make sure everything is dissolved before doing the development.

You can try to get maximum out of your roll by shooting only a small strip of 5-6 frames at a time and developing the strip. You get 5 or 6 chances to fine tune your developing technique.
 

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Quoting from https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Caffenol :
The chemistry of caffenol developers is based on the action of the reducing agent caffeic acid (which is chemically unrelated to caffeine).​
which concurs with statements that cheap instant coffee works better than fancy 100% arabica stuff.
jnanian, maybe you never encountered the problem if you use consistently the same supply of coffee, but "coffee" seems to be the least tightly specified ingredient in the recipe, rather than "ascorbic acid".

hi bernard L

IDK i have used cheapo grocery store coffee, for a long time,
different brands, even overseas, never an issue.
the wiki article isn't really correct. people say its the caffic acid and it has to be robusta but..
https://www.photrio.com/forum/threads/another-developing-agent-in-coffee.119446/#post-1582344

can't remember who on photrio does this, but there is someone who just brews a pot of coffee, and stand develops his film for a few hours
no additional ingredients and it turns out great ...
==
vinicius
good luck with your processing !
 
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