Tag Archives: caffenol

Classic Camera Revival – Episode 6 – The DIY Show


We’re switching away from our usual format and making like Paddington Bear and doing it ourselves! And there’s plenty out there from making your own developer, mounting old lenses on modern cameras, even some basic repairs you can do yourself at home. As always, we be held responsible if things mess up, we’re not professionals or trained in this matter, please do these at your own risk.


Kodak Hawkeye Lens Flip
Discussed back in Episode 2, it is possible to flip the lenses on the Kodak Hawkeye and Hawkeye Flash models of the iconic 1950s snapshot camera. Being a single element lens, this only exaggerates the soft edges and sharp center, it almost feels like you’re in a time warp! And the best part, this modification is easily done without serious damage to the camera and can be easily reversed.

You will need the following items:

  • A Kodak Hawkeye or Hawkeye Flash – Easily obtainable from an antique store often for 20$ or less
  • A Phillips No. 1 Screwdriver
  • Parts Tin
  • Pocket or Craft Knife
  • Tape and a Sharpie

The disassembled camera and tools all laid out neatly

Now the fun part, on a clean surface, lay everything out. Remove the back from the camera as if you were loading film, then using the screwdriver remove the two screws on the inside by the lens. Remove the film holder, the lens should just fall out or can be gently pushed out with the butt end of the screwdriver. There should be two registration nubs on the lens to show which is the right way in. Shave these off carefully with the knife, make sure to leave some indication that the nubs were there, so you can reference these for reversing. Once shaved off, you can reverse the lens. Place it upside down on the metal flange on the shutter assembly then place the two screws back in the film assembly and gently place it down on the shutter assembly and tighten down the screws. The results…interesting for sure!

MCC - Winter Photowalk 2015

MCC - Winter Photowalk 2015

Desqueeking the Shutter on a Canon SLR
Ahh, the joys of the Canon A-Series cameras. Well, here’s the thing with the A-Series. They are old! I mean, we’re talking now going into the 40 year old range. With the AE-1 released in 1977, followed by the AE-1 Program and A-1, they aren’t exactly new cameras. The oil on the plastic gear (known as the mirror brake) has most likely dried up and caused it to slow down. This causes the squeal and, not forget to mention, the mirror goes stupidly slow up and stupidly slow down. The shutter, however, works as it should. This is a good thing since if the shutter was as slow as the mirror was moving you’d never be able to take a single shot with it other than ‘long’ exposures.
This is a very simple fix and one that can be attempted to anyone with even the tiniest bit of mechanical skill can do. It is also very much worth it, considering that the A-series of camera (from Canon) are well built and designed.

The Tools

  • #00 Phillips Screwdriver
  • Gun Oil/Machine Oil/Synthetic Lubricant
  • Vit. B-12 Hypodermic Syringe (needle should be about 2 inches to 2½ inches long)
  • Patience
  • Facial Tissue (for cleaning up any drops of oil)
  • Small magnetized tray (if available for the screws) or any kind of tray will do provided you don’t knock it over.

The Proceedure

  1. Remove the battery.
  2. Remove the bottom of the camera via the screws on the bottom plate.
  3. Open the syringe and open the oil then add a very tiny amount of oil to the syringe.
  4. Insert the syringe as shown in photo
  5. Depress the syringe and remove it from the body.

Now let it stand for a good 10 to 15 seconds, insert the battery (with the camera still upside down) and actuate the shutter 5-10 times.
If still squealing repeat steps four and five. It can take several applications of oil, but never add more than a tiny drop of oil each time.

Once you have got the camera no longer squealing, let it stand upside down with the bottom off for about 10 minutes, replace the bottom and enjoy it.
That repair will last several years and give you much enjoyment!

Word of advice, there are many videos online using WD40 for this repair. Never ever use WD40 or mineral spirits for this repair. Do no use Motor Oil or any kind of vegetable created oil (olive, Canola, Corn, Vegetable, etc.) as they are too thick to use, hence using Synthetic, Gun, or Machine Oil. WD-40 is NOT a lubricant, but a penetrating fluid. You cannot control where it needs to go and can easily get everywhere inside the camera where it isn’t supposed to be and cause a whole host of other problems. Anyone using WD-40 on a camera should have their camera equipment taken away from them and then they should be buried under used 35mm canisters!

Mounting a Brass Lens on a Press Camera
Getting that classic look is very ‘in’ at the moment, Lomography has their Petzval lens for sale, but what if you happen to get your hands on one of the actual 1890s brass lens and want to use it on your large format camera. Well you’ll first need to mount it on a proper lens board, you can either make them yourself or get someone to do the work for you. Almost all of these lenses don’t have a shutter, so a Speed Graphic or similar LF camera with a shutter in the body does help, but you can also do the old lens cap as a shutter trick, just make sure you have the scene metered properly and know how long you have to hold it open for. Not as accurate, but many who use these lenses are shooting for wet plate or paper so exposures are usually in the 1 second or more range.

Here’s the beast! (He’s holding the camera/lens combination)

And here is a sample image from this combination of camera and Petzval lens!

My Friend Brent

Hand Tinting B&W Darkroom Prints
Hand tinting darkroom prints is a very fun and enjoyable way to make your black and white images really pop and gives you a bit more creative control. But this process takes a lot of patience and time to complete well. But in the end is well worth the effort.

What you need

  • A Fibre Based print, either printing on Ilford Art 300 or Ilford Semi-Matte Warm Tone
  • Photo Oils, these are the actual pigment, both Arista and Marshall have a line of oils
  • PM Solution and Marlene, these are for preparing and finishing up the print
  • Brushes, these can be cotton balls, spotting brushes, toothpicks with sheet cotton, and pink erasers

If you’re looking to pick up the materials needed, you can head over to Freestyle Photographic to get what you need!

The developer you make with instant coffee and really easy to make and modify. You can use it both to develop film and paper. Now it is a staining developer so similar to pyro style developers, but don’t let it worry you the film still looks great. And on paper it leaves an awesome sepia tone. As an added bonus it’s pretty non-toxic so if you have curious kids or pets, if they drink it, it won’t be pleasant but it won’t kill them!

The best place to start is the Caffenol-C-M, it gives fantastic results and you can get the ingredients you need at most stores in your town.

  • 500mL of Water
  • 50mL of Washing Soda – You can use shock for your home pool – pool supply store
  • 8mL of Vitamin C powder – local health places will sell this
  • 80mL of Instant Coffee – grocery store

Mix these up in the order presented using a graduated cylinder. Then just you a water stop bath and regular fixer. It’ll smell bad, but so does a lot of chemistry in developing and printing. The massive dev chart has a lot of starting points for times online or on their app. Now as for your choice of coffee, most people will say go with the cheapest coffee out there, but any coffee will work. You can check out host Alex’s blog on his experimentation with Caffenol.

Some results:
Strange Brew - Roll 1 - Folgers Blend
Rolleiflex 2.8F – Carl Zeiss Planar 80mm 1:2.8 (Yellow Filter) – Fuji Acros 100 – Caffenol-C-M (Folgers) 12:00 @ 20C

Strange Brew - Roll 2 - Nescafe Blend
Rolleiflex 2.8F – Carl Zeiss Planar 80mm 1:2.8 (Yellow Filter) – Fuji Acros 100 – Caffenol-C-M (Nescafe) 8:30 @ 27C

Strange Brew - Roll 3 - Davidoff Blend
Rolleiflex 2.8F – Carl Zeiss Planar 80mm 1:2.8 (Yellow Filter) – Fuji Acros 100 – Caffenol-C-M (Davidoff) 10:30 @ 24C

You can find more on this developer online at: caffenol.org, the original caffenol blog, and the cookbook!

Looking for a good spot to get your gear and material fix…check out Burlington Camera, Downtown Camera, or Film Plus if you’re in the GTA region of Ontario, if you’re on the West Coast (British Columbia) check out Beau Photo Supply. Additionally you can order online at Argentix (Quebec), the Film Photography Project or Freestyle Photographic.

Also you can connect with us through email: classiccamerarevivial[at]gmail[dot]com or by Facebook, we’re at Classic Camera Revival or even Twitter @ccamerarevival

Classic Camera Revival – Episode 3 – Rangefinders


A favoured camera of the street photography group, the rangefinder, is one of those niche cameras that is often associated with brands like Leica. However while none of us have a Leica to present this episode we have some fine (cheaper) alternatives to the Leica that are sure to get your attention. The main feature of the rangefinder is that the viewfinder is often off-set from the taking lens, and uses a super-imposed image that you ‘line up’ to get the focus. However, composing takes a bit of work. The first rangefinders were produced by Kodak back in 1916, but really got popular in 1925 with the first Leica camera.

The cameras featured on this episode are:

Minolta Hi-Matic 7s – The Upgraded version of the Hi-Matic 7, this beautiful fixed lens rangefinder has a Rokkor 45mm f/1.7 lens, hot shoe and an auto exposure system from the SRT line of SLRs. But since it takes a mercury cell is no longer usable. But being mechanical the camera still works like a charm!

The Collection - September 2012

Foggy Dew



Kodak 35 RF – The coupled rangefinder version of the original Kodak 35, this ungainly looking camera was introduced in 1940 but don’t let the weird looks fool you, it’s a solid camera with legendary Kodak optics backing it up.




Olympus 35 SP – Another cult favourite of Olympus with both a centre weighted and spot metering system built in, and a 42mm f/1.7 Zuiko lens to back it all up, this compact rangefinder is very user friendly with wickedly sharp optics!





Voigtlander Bessa R – The only interchangeable lens rangefinder on the show today, the Bessa R, gives all those folks who are fans of the Leica Thread Mount (LTM/M39) a camera with TTL metering and easy loading! While not actually from the famous Voigtlander name, but rather designed and built by the Japanese company ‘Cosina,’ the the Bessa R is a solid contender.





Of course, this is far from a complete list of rangefinders out there. In addition to the iconic Leica lineup there are some other good cameras to look at.  Such as the Yashica Electro 35G, Canonet QL17 GIII, Konica S3, and Olympus XA.

The Darkroom
A topic that will get any traditional photographer going for hours (thankfully it didn’t for this episode) is developers! Even today there are still a pile of different developers available for black and white films, and they come in two different varieties. First being powder which you combine with water to create a stock solution which can be used on its own in many cases or diluted down with water. Second is liquid, which can be mixed into a stock solution (like Kodak HC-110) or diluted straight with water into a one-shot working dilution, such as Rodinal.

Some of the developers mentioned in today’s show include.

  • Rodinal – The oldest commercial developer still in production today, however it’s known as Blazinal, Adonal, or Agfa R09 One Shot. Produces incredibly sharp images but does enhance grain.
  • Pyro Developers – These are staining developers that produce amazing tones, fine grain, and sharp images. They do leave almost a sepia stain on the negs. Two types are mentioned, Pyrocat-HD and PMK Pyro, both are avalible from Photographer’s Formulary.
  • Diafine – This unique two bath developer (don’t mix the two baths) will produce ultra-fine grain, and increase film speed, sharpness, and resolution. Oh and the stuff lasts forever!
  • Kodak Xtol – A powdered fine grain developer from Kodak that produces good sharpeness and fine grain. It’s also one of the more environmentally friendly developers out there being based on Vitamin C. The downside is that you have to mix it up 5 liters at a time. A jerry can is a good idea for storage.
  • Caffenol – a developer that you can mix up yourself and you can make it in so many different ways. At the core is instant coffee, then you add additional stuff to change the results. Best part there’s nothing really dangerous that mixes in with it, just don’t drink it. Co-Host Alex did a good experiment with Caffenol a year or so back.
  • Kodak HC-110 – One of the more interesting developers because of the alphabet dilution table, and introduced without much fanfare. You can mix it up as a stock solution and dilute from there, or just dilute straight from syrup. If you want that ‘Tri-X look’ HC-110, Dilution B.
  • Kodak TMax Developer – Designed for use with the T-Grain (TMax) films, but don’t let that scare you, this is a fantastic developer that makes most film (even Tri-X and Plus-X) sing! There’s a little more grain but you do get nice sharp negs.
  • Ilfosol 3 – A general purpose film developer designed for use with slower films with great results especially with Pan F and Delta 100

If you want to try mix up your own developers you can find a pile of great recipes online at the Unblinking Eye. Also check out the Massive Dev Chart to get starting developing times. If you’re just starting out with film developing a good one to start with is Kodak D-76 or Ilford ID-11, as it’s cheap and works with almost every film out there! And more importantly don’t be afraid to experiment and find your favourites that get the results that you want! Just note that if you order liquid developers from US distributors you may not be able to ship them across the border, you may even face some restrictions with powder as well. New York City isn’t that far away and totally worth the trip just to see the awesomeness that is B&H!

If you are in the Toronto area be sure to check out host, John Meadow’s first gallery show: The Silver Path. Running from the 10th of April to the 19th. Check out his site for more details: johnmeadowsphotography.wordpress.com/the-silver-path-film-photography-by-john-meadows/!

Looking for a place to get this chemistry, check out Burlington Camera, Downtown Camera, or Film Plus if you’re in the GTA region of Ontario, if you’re on the West Coast (British Columbia) check out Beau Photo Supply. Additionally you can order online at Argentix (Quebec), the Film Photography Project or Freestyle Photographic.

Strange Brew – The Caffenol Experiment

I’ve honestly smelled better in abandoned buildings than this dark brown almost black solution sitting on the counter in my film lab (read: laundry room), but will it actually develop film, everything I’ve read and seen online says it will, my brain and nose say otherwise and I pour it into the tank. So as I agitate the tank, I am hoping that this strange brew (with apologies to Bob & Doug McKenzie) does its job.

So before I continue, let me answer the question that some of you may be asking, what exactly is caffenol? Caffenol is a film developer that you can make at home using various ingredients that are readily available and is generally non-toxic and definitely not restricted. The blend I will be working with is known as Caffenol-C-M. Within this blend there are four ingredients, the first being water, 500mL of it in my case, next is 50mL of washing soda (Sodium Carbonate), 8mL of Vitamin-C powder, and then 80mL of instant coffee. When it comes to coffee the going theory is that the cheaper the coffee is the better job it will do, so to that end I decided to prove this through experimentation. I shot four rolls of Fuji Neopan Acros 100; three rolls I would develop in Caffenol-C-M, and one in HC-110 (a traditional film developer). Of the three developed in Caffenol, the first would be developed in the Folgers Blend (cost of the bottle, $5.00), the second in the Nescafe Blend (cost of the bottle, $8.00), and the final in the Davidoff Blend (cost of the bottle, $11.00). But how exactly does this blend develop film? There are three different agents at work here, the first two are developers. The instant coffee contains a chemical called caffeic acid (C9H8O4), this is the same stuff you find in your average aspirin, this acts as your reducing agent and does most of the heavy lifting converting the silver halide salts found in b&w film into metallic silver leaving them on the film base to create the image. The second developer is ascorbic acid (C6H8O6) this is where the Vitamin-C powder comes into play. Although this doesn’t do the same amount of work as the caffeic acid, it does speed up the process, reduces fogging, and prevents staining. The final addition is the sodium carbonate this is the accelerator, raising the pH level of the solution and allowing the developers to do their job.

The process I’d use to develop is as follows, Caffenol-C-M (500mL water, 50mL washing soda, 8mL vitamin-c powder, 80mL instant coffee) develop for fifteen minutes, then a water stop bath for one minute, then fix with Ilford Rapid Fixer (1+9) for five minutes.

Control Images – Kodak HC-110 Dil. B 5:00 @ 20C
Strange Brew - Roll 4 - Control

Strange Brew - Roll 4 - Control

Strange Brew - Roll 4 - Control

The first roll through the tank was the Folgers Blend, the negatives were rather dense, and I was afraid there were not any images on them, but after holding them up to the light I could see the frames. Next step was into the scanner, and this is where I was really blown away, although fairly flat, the tonal range and grayscale were fantastic, and the sharpness of the images were truly something else.

Folgers Blend – 12:00 @ 20C
Strange Brew - Roll 1 - Folgers Blend

Strange Brew - Roll 1 - Folgers Blend

Strange Brew - Roll 1 - Folgers Blend

The second roll was developed using the Nescafe Blend. Again the negatives were rather dense, but again images were there. When the scans came out the tonal range was much more flat than what I had gotten out of the Folgers blend, and the images were not as sharp. Although the images were pleasing, and decent separation of tone, there wasn’t any depth.

Nescafe Blend – 8:30 @ 27C
Strange Brew - Roll 2 - Nescafe Blend

Strange Brew - Roll 2 - Nescafe Blend

Strange Brew - Roll 2 - Nescafe Blend

The third roll was developed using the Davidoff Espresso 57 Blend. Wow, just wow, overall the negatives were a lot cleaner than the other two blends with the images much clearer to the naked eye and when held up to the light, but the real surprise was again with the scans. The image were much sharper than the Folgers blend there’s lots of depth and separation in the tones which are equal if not cleaner than the Folgers hands down.

Davidoff Blend – 10:30 @ 24C
Strange Brew - Roll 3 - Davidoff Blend

Strange Brew - Roll 3 - Davidoff Blend

Strange Brew - Roll 3 - Davidoff Blend

So in conclusion, does the theory of the cheaper the instant coffee stand? Not really, all three types proved that they could develop film without any major issues, but in my mind the Davidoff (most expensive) did the better job by far. How does caffenol stand up to regular film developer (HC-110) well it really doesn’t, Caffenol produces much more grain in the film, which really isn’t a bad thing) and does produce a much denser negative compared to HC-110. But Caffenol does hold one thing that HC-110 does not, it’s something that you can blend, and modify all you like to produce the image that you want. So if you take anything out of this, it’s a springboard to try it yourself and continue to play and have fun. I’d like to thank the Caffenol Blog, the Caffenol Cookbook, and Deputy Dan Domme for their help in making this a success.