Last post I whined and cried about the quality of my pictures. Well no more of that! I am taking steps! Steps I say! And I am taking them!
I have been searching around the web to see if there is a tweak to the Caffenol C recipe that might result in finer grained negatives. I re-read a few posts on Reinhold’s blog about his Parodinal experiments. It seems that Parodinal is a home-brew substitute for commercial Rodinal using acetaminophen (Tylenol) as its main agent. Both Rodinal and Cardinal also contain sulfite which I understand is thought to exert a solvent effect upon the developing silver crystals. This slight dissolution of the crystals is supposed to reduce the size of individual grains, thereby reducing (you guessed it!) the apparent graininess of the negative.
Ok, I’m interested.
I saw another author questioning whether or not this sulfite “solvent” business is real, but it’s worth a try at least. Sodium Sulfite is a very common food preservative and is readily obtained. I could simply add a bit of it to my developer and see what happens. And I may do just that in the future, but I had two rolls of exposed FP4+ at the ready and didn’t feel like waiting for another Amazon order to arrive, so I resolved to try a similar but different approach.
I had a bottle of sulfite-containing Rodinal sitting on my shelf. Why not just add a bit of it to Caffenol C-L and see what happens.
Stand development with Rodinal calls for a 1+100 dilution, meaning 10mL of Rodinal in 1L water. I didn’t want to use Rodinal as a “full-strength” developer, but as an additive to the Caffenol, so I decided to use 3mL/L for a start.
This seems almost laughably dilute, but it is only a few mL less than the standard mix. And only a single gram per liter of potassium bromide is called for. Apparently these “homeopathic” concentrations are enough to get the job done.
Since I had two rolls ready for processing, I put together a head-to-head competition between regular Caffenol C-L and my Rodinal-added version. The subject material of both rolls was very similar so some kind of comparison between them should be useful.
I mixed up a full liter of C-L and divided it into two 500ml portions [I am fighting the urge to use the term “aliquots” here, it’s a word I almost never get to use…].
In my usual style, I proceeded to make a silly error. In order to make a 3ml per liter dilution I needed to add 1.5 mL to one of the 500 mL portions. Instead I added the full 3 mL, so my experiment went forward with a 6 mL per liter solution. Ah well, no big deal.
I processed the films side-by-side in two separate tanks. Stand development for 60 minutes at 20°C with gentle agitation for the first thirty seconds, then no agitation for the remainder of the time.
I went with 60 minutes rather than 70 because I feel like I have been over developing all my negatives up to this point. The next time I use “regular” development I’m going to go with 12 minutes rather than 15.
Both rolls came out of the tanks looking very nice, so there doesn’t seem to have been any huge difference between the two developers (neither was visibly over or under developed compared to the other). Hopefully the scans will reveal something.
At present I have only scanned the C-L+Rodinal negatives. I should be able to get the others scanned and posted this afternoon. I’ll wait to comment on the quality of the first ones until I have something objective to compare them to.