Developing smaller format B&W film

A couple of good things that have emerged from 2020! Me finding more time, with the right equipment, to make more photographs – via RZ67 Pro II (stolen in 2019, recovered in 2020) and new-to-me Leica M3.

While I now tend to reserve slide film to large format – 10×8 especially, alongside FP4+ – , I’m now getting along well in 120 and 135 with the combination of Kodak Portra and Ilford Delta films. I now process all my colour film at home using the recent Bellini kits, which I’m confident last longer and are more cost-effective than the Tetenal offerings.

For B&W other than the Pyrocat HD I use for 10×8 to make negs for alt-pro as well as digitising, I had previously been using Ilford DDX as my go-to. The drawbacks of DDX are that is expensive, relatively unsound for the environment, and comes from a shop(!). For both 135 and 120 I’ve now moved over to experimenting with Caffenol recipes, which are fun and produce results that so far – when I choose the right recipe – seem to work fine.

For Delta 100 and 400 I’ve had good results with Caffenol C-L/S, which is as follows:

Prepare separately:
21.6g of supermarket soda crystals in 115ml distilled water;

5g vitamin-c powder in 115ml distilled water

5g iodised salt in 115ml distilled water

20g instant coffee granules in 153ml distilled water

(all ingredients inc. water measured by weight on a micro scale).

Leave to stand for a few mins to dissolve while film is loaded into tanks.

With chemistry at 20º, before starting, prewash the film in the tank at 20º for 5 mins, then develop as follows:

Delta 400 @400 – stand development
total dev time 60mins, with gentle agitation for the first minute.

Delta 100 @100, and Delta 400 @800 – semi-stand development
total dev time 70mins, with gentle agitation for the first minute, and 3 inversions at half way.

Delta 3200 pushed at least one stop:

in 135 I’ve had OK-ish results with Delta-STD as below:

32.4g soda crystals in 150ml water

10g vitamin-c powder in 150ml water

22.5g coffee in 200ml water

developing time: 15’50”, with 5min prewash as before.

10 inversions initially, then 3 per subsequent minute.

However, my emerging sense is that Delta-STD doesn’t work that well with Delta 3200 – my rolls of 135 were still rather underexposed; I used this mix to develop a roll of 120 exposed at 1600, with a developing time of 10minutes. While I’m not convinced that the chemistry was at 20º, the roll came out blank.
So for 120 I’ve reverted back to semi-stand with the C-L/S recipe. For 1600 EI I developed a roll for 80mins, with 3 inversions at 40mins, and this looks like a solid baseline to begin from, since I have good shadow detail.

For all the above, I finished off the processing with a 1 min stop-bath of water, 5mins of fixing with Ilford Rapid Fixer, 3 sets of inversion-washes using the Ilford method, then a final Ilfotol rinse before hanging to dry.

Delta 100:


Delta 400:

Delta 3200 (Leica M3 / Delta-STD)

Delta 3200 (RZ67 Pro II / C-L/S)

100% crop of digitisation



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