Wednesday, November 11, 2015

C-41 without CD4?

A reader and friend of this blog, Matveev Vladimir from Russian Federation, is in contact with me since some time, maybe months now. And he is also trying to develop C-41 films without CD4. In fact, CD4 is only a modern stuff, if we read about the history of color photography, other substances came first.

Perahps this is the case of PPD, paraphenylenediamine, that has been used before CD4, besides CD4 is a derivative of paraphenylenediamine.

OK, nevertheless, old technics are sometimes forgotten and someday nobody knows how it was first. For instance, one of the first fixers in silver photography was common salt but nobody believes it today.

Returning to the theme, this friend from Russia, Matveev Vladimir, wrote me and shared his experiment of developing a C-41 film without CD4, but using PPD instead. And it worked very well indeed.

The first picture is the direct scan of the negative developed w/o CD4 and the second is the same picture automatically adjusted by the scanner. To be sure of this, I downloaded the first pic and made auto adjustments with a software and I've got the same result. 


This is, for me, an importante step in the search for an alternative C-41 developer using a common product and not a commercial one. This common product may be a product containing PPD, such as hair dye for instance. I have been trying it without success, but now I have a proof that PPD does develop color in C-41 films and I will be trying again, in order to find an alternative C-41 developer from scratch.

Friday, October 9, 2015

I am back to Dignan's 2-bath C41

I could use a 500ml batch of the multipurpose developer I suggested in the latest posts a couple of times, maybe 6 times in the period of one month or so. It is now exhausted and colors got a little less vivid. I decided to use the last prepared baths A and B of Dignan's (slightly modified by me) that stayed all the last month at shelf, after have been used a couple of times. They worked splendid, what means that this method is much cheaper than the one bath solution. My main and only problem now is to find the best agitation process because I already understood that C-41 needs a constant and gentle agitation during the bath B in order to avoid uneven development. The best would be a motorized agitation but certainly not that cheap. I have to see if I find some time to produce a homemade agitator.

And her are some pictures made with my Agfa Clack, one of the best simple cameras I ever found.

Sunday, September 20, 2015

Theory and praxis

Below you may see 2 photos, one in color and another in B&W. The first photo was exposed in a Clack camera, using Fuji Superia 100 expired 1998. The second was exposed in a Pentax MZ-60 using TMax-400 expired 2000.

In common they have the expired date but they have more in common: they were developed simoultaneously in the same tank with the same developer. Both were developed for 30 minutes, then rinsed and fixed. After this the B&W was taken off from the tank and putted to wash and the color film underwent a blix process to remove remaining silver and finally washed together with its 'black brother'. And then both were hanged to dry.

I made some changes to the recipe I gave in the last post and, like expected, it worked well, I might have to reduce developing time from 30 to 20 minutes because both looked a bit overdeveloped.

3 g Potassium Metabisulfite
20 g soluble coffee
6 g CD4
30 g Potassium Carbonate
1.3 g Potassium Bromide
Water to make one liter
Use at 20ºC, agitation first 30s then 10s each minute for 20 minutes

Saturday, September 19, 2015

A multipurpose developer

I've been long looking for a film developer that could be used both for color and black and white films. I have not yet the final formula but it will not take too long anymore to establish it.

If you are following this blog since its beginning, you will remember that I started developing color films with a very simple homemade soup which included only CD4, coffee and sodium carbonate. I succeeded but having to adjust colors and it was a one-shot thing you had to prepare each time, so not practical.

Then I started using Dignan's 2-bath developer (at room temperature) and I made several changes and experiments with the second bath in order to achieve better results. This was quite a long enterprise.

In a recent discussion with a net good fellow we came to the conclusion that color films may be developed in a one-bath developer at any lower temperature than the recommended by brands, if we only adjust the times. At 20ºC it takes about 20 minutes and the results are very good.

If you read this recent article of mine, you will understand how I discovered that coffee can replace an important agent used in C-41 developers called HAS (Hydroxylamine Sulfate). And having in account the several variants of the formulas of a C-41 developer, I composed following recipe:
3 g Potassium Metabisulfite
1,2 g Potassium Bromide
5 g CD4
10 g Coffee
25 g Potassium Carbonate
Water to make 1 liter
 This recipe has a lower amount of Carbonate for pH reasons and takes slightly more time, about 30 minutes to develop a C-41 film at 20ºC.

I made a 500ml batch of the recipe above and it developed several C-41 films in a time interval of about 2 months but now I think it is becoming weak and I will have to prepare another. Neverthless, I exposed the day before yesterday a B&W film and, after estimation of the developing time with a stripe of the same film, I gave it a try developing for 90 minutes. And it did develop the film satisfactory.

It would be much better if the development times for color and B&W were the same, but B&W is taking about the double of time. So, the next step is to prepare a new soup with twice the amount of coffee and adjusting Carbonate to get the same pH as the previous recipe, about 11.

If I succeed to have a developer that develops both color and B&W in the same time, I can imagine that it will be possible to load a developing tank with color and B&W films and develop them together. But, attention, B&W can't be bleached, only fixed. So, the procedure would be following:
  1. Developer - X minutes
  2. Rinse or stop bath
  3. Rapid Fixer - 3-5 minutes
  4. Open the tank, take the B&W film out and put it in water to wash for 30 minutes
  5. Blix the C-41 film to remove remaining silver and filter layers - 15 minutes
  6. Wash C-41 for 15 minutes
  7. Hang both films to dry

Long expired TMax400 developed in Caffenol-color

Monday, August 24, 2015

One roll, eight pictures

When using a 6x9 camera, like Agfa Clack, we have to be spared for not repent having spent one shot with nothing interesting. This is totally different when shooting with a digital camera. Recently I erased a card of a digital camera and I realized that in «quality» mode I still had about 1000 pictures to shoot. With so many shots it becomes difficult to choose afterwards what to keep and what is rubbish. And this is the only reason that maybe will limit our shooting digital addiction.

If I know that I have only a few shots, automatically I make a selection of what is worth and what is not much. And this will perhaps play an important role in the results. Of course you may not agree with me, I hope!

Saturday, August 22, 2015

Good news for caffenolics?

When I started this blog, I intended to find a C-41 developer using common household products like coffee, lemon juice, aspirin or whatsoever.

Of course I was open to several failures before something interesting appeared by chance or by searching. And, at that time, I knew very little about processes and my experiments were more or less dictated by trial-and-error.

But one of the first C-41 alternative developers I tried was this one:
1 tsp sodium carbonate, aka washing soda
4 tsp soluble coffee
10 ml of a 5% solution of CD4, CAS number 25646-77-9
water to make 500 ml
Yes, it worked like regular developer at about 40ºC but 30 minutes time. This is because maybe I used very little CD4, about 1g/l  instead  of the standard 5g/l. Never mind, but I remember the results were not so bad and this stayed in my memory until now.

Then I discovered the room temperature process Dignan 2-bath developer that was promising but it has been a long way until I found a way to improve it in order to get better colors, grain and sharpness. My latest improvement lead to:

Bath A
500 ml water
9 g Sodium Sulfite
1 g Potassium Metabisulfite
11 g CD4
Water to make 1 liter
Bath B
500 ml water
25 g Potassium Carbonate
0,6g Potassium Bromide
Water to make 1 liter.
10 minutes bath A and 15 minutes bath B stirring frequently but gently and it will produce stunning colors and acceptable grain.

But, recently I was discussing C-41 with Reinhold G. and he showed me that one-bath developers also develop at room temperature, it's only a question of more time, I do not need to complicate it with a 2-bath developer. So, I started making one-bath at room temperature. Searching for recipes at the internet I found these:

One special stuff used in C-41 developers is HAS (hydroxilamine sulfate) and it is said to be a stabilizer for the developer. Well, investigating about the paper of HAS in the developer, the most complete answer I found was this one at APUG. It is acidic, a weak B&W developer and a preservative.

Considering that COFFEE is acidic too and a weak B&W developer, adding a preservative like metabisulfte to the formula, could make HAS unnecessary. I would prefer that CD4 could also be replaced with something else but by now, I found no substitute.

Resuming, I prepared following developer:
3 g Potassium Metabisulfite
1,2 g Potassium Bromide
5 g CD4
10 g Coffee
25 g Potassium Carbonate
Water to make 1 liter
 I tried this formula with coffee and without and the formula without is very flat, low saturation, low contrast, unsharp. With coffee I had much better results. Besides, much less post treatment, just accepting automatic adjustments of scanner/software. Without coffee I had to adjust saturation and contrast until a certain point. To get more was almost impossible.

Without coffee

With coffee

Wednesday, August 19, 2015


Film Photography, B&W or color, have reached a very high quality. Lens, shutters, films, chemicals, papers, scanners, all parts of the process are pushed to the highest levels. But still we miss old looking pictures, watercolors and pictures on canvas.

Digital was supposed to replace all those ancient imperfect reproductions of reality. But, surprisingly, every image software offers the possibility of distorting the perfect pictures in a number of ways. And here are some examples that I produced using the free software FotoSketcher.

Vintage look

Watercolor look w/ frame

Watercolor with texture