I'm new to film photography and since I've started i have developed my film on my own using the Caffenol recipe.

I have developed some film Rolls with success but this time the film came out completely blank. The film I've used it's Kodak Ultramax (ISO 400) and it's a cheap c41 film that i developed using Caffenol ( because It was the only One i had at home ).

The First Time i developed this Kodak film It came out very dark, the images were hardly visible and i assumed that the developing time was too long. So this time I reduced the developing time to 13 minutes(the original One was 24 minutes).

I looked at the film that came out and it's clear with a brownish color. I can see also very hardly ''Kodak'' printed on the film and the frame numbers on the film ( very hardly by Just pointing light directly on the film ).

Is my camera broken? I used a Yashica T3 camera (It was the First time that I've used It).

I don't understand what I'm doing wrong.

Thank you for your replies.


3 Answers 3


The point behind shooting a film at box speed and developing with recommended dilutions, agitations, and time is consistency. If your film is properly exposed, then doing everything by the box will yield usable images.

Anytime you deviate from the recommended process, you are experimenting. As with all experiments, you should change a single variable at a time.

Caffenol is an experimental process. In order to understand how it affects your shots, you'd need to shoot a test role of UltraMax400 at varying over and under exposures of a known subject using a camera that you know is good to go...and then you'd need to develop and agitate for varying lengths of time...to observe the best results: some combination of exposure setting and developer timing (for example: stand development is also experimental and I've discovered that I need to shoot some films slightly overexposed if I'm going to soup them in Rodinal).

At the end of the test, you should know whether you need to shoot your 400 speed film at 400, or 300, or 500, and how long to develop it.

If you have not yet conducted this test, then anything you do is simply hit or miss.

At this point, I don't think anyone can say with any certainty why your film came out the way it did. You need to test your process on your film and, if you're worried about your camera's accuracy...well, that's only going to make life harder.

  • I understand. I'll try to make some tests to understand how this film works. Your advices were precious, thank you!
    – alf01
    Mar 9, 2020 at 9:37

If you can read the edge markings on the film, your development worked, at least to some extent (half time with Caffenol may be a bit short -- C-41 film in Caffenol will generally come out pretty dense because the orange mask adds to the fog/stain from the coffee).

Given this, if your frames are completely clear, your camera's shutter may not have fired, or you may have inadvertently underexposed -- and given the thinness of the edge markings, most likely you've underdeveloped as well. Instead of developing half the time (which, with most B&W chemistry, is equivalent to N-2 or a two-stop pull process, if not even more), try developing for 80% of the recommended time to reduce density -- or order a few rolls of actual black and white film to remove one uncontrolled variable from your process.

FWIW, I've developed many rolls in Caffenol and variants of it (including variants I formulated myself). It might be an "experimental" process, as mentioned in the other answer, but I've never seen it fail -- produce blisters from stop bath reacting with the developer's alkali, stain the film so badly it was hard to scan, stink up the house (to me it smells like an broiler pan left overnight without cleaning) -- but never fail completely.

  • I, too, have never seen it fail. Same thing with stand dev...seen a lot of horribly underdeveloped images but never an outright failure. Still, OP is going off the beaten path with regard to developer and doing so with a film that most won't be using with Caf (c-41). OP is in prime experimentation territory now. Might as well see what food grade items bring out the dyes while they're there :-)
    – OnBreak.
    Mar 11, 2020 at 20:24
  • I don't think anyone expects to develop color images with improvised chemistry -- that's a very different problem from getting an image of some kind. Developing C-41 film in Caffenol (which now has a 20+ year history, and I'd classify as more of a "homebrew" than "experimental" developer) isn't really any different from processing it in D-76 or ABC Pyro, other than the smell and required precautions.
    – Zeiss Ikon
    Mar 12, 2020 at 11:57
  • Thank you all for your replies. I've come to the decision that in the future I'll develop only b&w film with Caffenol. Considering that film costs a lot today online (I live in Italy and no One sells film anymore) I don't wanna risk too much by using color film and Caffenol
    – alf01
    Mar 13, 2020 at 11:16

The first thing you need to do is eliminate the possibility that it is the camera.

Research and test your camera's shutter and light meter to see it is functioning properly and you are using it properly, Take a test roll and have a lab develop it.

If the camera is fine AND you have exposed the film properly ( a big if ) then you know it is in the development. I have never heard of using Caffenol for color film, i suspect that you will have to do many tests for each color film you want dev in Caffenol.

I can not image getting "printable" color negs from Caffenol, i did find this discussion and this discussion on it.

From what i have read it does produce very dense negatives ( like your first roll ) that are scan-able but might be sub-optimal for printing.

  • Thank you all for your replies. I've come to the decision that in the future I'll develop only b&w film with Caffenol. Considering that film costs a lot today online (I live in Italy and no One sells film anymore) I don't wanna risk too much by using color film and Caffenol.
    – alf01
    Mar 13, 2020 at 11:20

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