Monday, February 8, 2010

Kitchen table film developer

I've been scouring the Internet in search of easy-to-make "kitchen-table" developers. Why, when there are good commercial developers available?
Firstly because it is fun and secondly because I am committed to film and do not want to have to rely on the whims of companies whose only consideration is whether a product makes a profit or not.
In previous postings I wrote about Caffenol and Caffenol C but, with current the price of pure coffee, I wanted something cheaper. My search led me to a recipe published over 20 years ago in Shutterbug magazine. The beauty is it requires only two easily available components, in addition to water and the results were remarkably good. I adjusted the Shutterbug-published amounts slightly, to take into account the size of the tank I was using. The recipe is as follows: 300ml tap water (my water is pumped from a borehole so I am not sure if that makes a difference or not), 5 1/2 teaspoons of vitamin C powder and 7 teaspons of sodium carbonate, which can be purchased in a supermarket as washing soda.
Mix in that order until the powders are dissolved. The vitamin C powder I had on hand was coloured and flavoured orange and made the solution look a bit strange but appeared to have no effect on it's functioning.
Once the brew was concocted I scratched around for a roll of exposed film to develop and could only find a forgotten 35mm roll of Konica Chromogenic film. This is a film that gets processed in chemistry designed for colour negatives. I think it expired about 15 years ago.
I processed the film at 70F agitating for the first 30 seconds then two inversions every 30 seconds for 30 minutes. It was tedious and time-consuming but the results blew me away. The negs came out a dark, chocolatey colour but with lots of definition, sharpness and surprisingly fine grain.
I have published a few unaltered -- other than cropping and adjusting levels -- examples below.

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