Last year in summer my wife and I started a trip to Namibia. We travelled around 3000 miles with a rented 4×4 on mainly dusty gravel roads. The tour was organized by ourselves, as we prefer to have stops on our own initiative. On a journey like this, it’s a good idea to limit oneself on the equipment. So I took only my Mamiya 7II together with his excellent 43mm f/4.5 wide-angle lens. Ok, there was also the 80mm standard lens in my pocket, but on almost every picture I used the wide-angle.

I took only one type of film with me: the well-known (and sometimes hated!) Rollei Retro 80s. In the past, I made many trials to find my personal development procedure for this capricious film. I ended with stand development in “Caffenol”. This soup consists of washing-soda, Vitamin-C and Instant-Coffee. Right, coffee! I tested this developer also with Kodak T-MAX 400, FUJI NEOPAN 100 ACROS and even with ILFORD’s XP2 Super and was excited.

Together with stand-development “Caffenol” needs a small additional amount of potassium bromide to guarantee a uniform development. Caffenol stains the emulsion and grain seems almost invisible on the print.

Retro 80s is well-known for his extended red sensitivity and his poor shadow contrast. So I exposed it at only EI 25 and developed all films with a high dilution Caffenol-CL recipe to prevent the highlights from blowing out and to achieve enough shadow detail. Particularly, the rendering of clouds is important to me.

A film speed of EI 25 seems very low and it may be a risk to have only this single option on a journey like this. But with this combination, I didn’t need any red or even yellow filter in most cases. The high red sensitivity of the 80s helps so much! Due to the soft electronic leaf-shutter of the Mamiya 7II and the bright sun in the south of Africa, the tripod could remain in the car.

~ Frank

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About the author

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Frank Wesp

I am an amateur photographer, based near Frankfurt (Germany). I did not return to the analogue side of photography, because I never stopped shooting film! I use formats up to 4x5 and are happy to own a large, well equipped darkroom, where prints up to 16x25...

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  1. Your photos are wonderful and inspiring to me. I’m just starting to experiment with Rollei Retro 400 and with Caffenol.
    Can I ask what your development time/temps were?

  2. These are wonderful Frank! I have 5 100’ bulk rolls of 35mm Retro 80s that I got cheap from a local shop that ordered them by mistake. Would you mind sharing your Caffenol recipe please?

  3. My favorite camera with my favorite lens, almost my favorite film (I use Retro 400 S at 100 Asa) and one of my favorite landscapes.
    Congratulations. Great pics.

  4. Well done Frank.
    Actually sensitivity is even lower of Rollei 80S. With Caffenol CL diluted 1+1 only ISO 16 to ISO 19.
    I got quite good results with semistand ~ 20 mts.

  5. Well done Frank.
    Actually sensitivity is even lower of Rollei 80S. With Caffenol CL diluted 1+1 only ISO 16 to ISO 19.
    I got quite good results with semistand ~ 20 mts.

  6. These are superb. I have a couple of rolls of Retro 80S in 120 format. You have energised me to try them and perhaps even to try the homebrewed developer!