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.
Submit your own 5 Frames With...
Get your 5 frames featured on EMULSIVE. Submit your 300-350 word article using this Google form. If you would prefer to submit another way, please use the @contact@ link at the top of the page.
This series is being produced in conjunction with Hamish Gill's excellent 35mmc.com. Head on over to read the other half of these stories there.
Write for EMULSIVE
EMULSIVE is all about promoting knowledge transfer across the film photography community. You can help by contributing your thoughts, work and ideas to inspire others reading these pages: check out the submission guide.
If you like what you're reading you can help this passion project by heading on over to the EMULSIVE Patreon page. There's also print and apparel over at Society 6, currently showcasing over two dozen t-shirt designs and over a dozen unique photographs available for purchase.