B&W prints from colour negs

Discussion in 'Color: Film, Paper, and Chemistry' started by pentaxuser, Sep 3, 2005.

  1. pentaxuser

    pentaxuser Subscriber

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    Looking at the few threads on this, the classic answer seems to be to use Kodak Panalure paper for best results. It appears from the threads I have seen that oridinary B&W paper is a very poor substitute.In the UK which is where I am, David Wolliscroft is an advocate of Panalure and I have had some helpful correspondence with him.

    He seems to import it from the Calumet in U.S. I have looked at Calumet's site in the U.S and it is still available in limited sizes but very expensive. In the U.K. there is none in stock at the primary warehouse and I cannot get a reply from Calumet UK on the likely availability of Panalure.

    My questions are:

    1.Has anyone in the UK had any dealings with Calumet or know of another Panalure stockist.
    2. Has Panalure been discontinued by Kodak as part of its B&W paper policy so that Calumet's stock, limited as it is,will eventually run out?
    3. As an alternative to Panalure,does anyone have experience of using Kodak
    Portra paper which is processed in RA4 chemicals and of which there seems to be no shortage in Calumet UK.It is a reasonable price but only worth buying if it does a better job of printing B&W from colour negs than B&W paper. So how does this compare to Panalure and if inferior how much better is it than ordinary B&W paper?

    I do B&W and will continue to do so but a good B&W print from a colour neg would be a real advantage on those occasions I have colour loaded but realise that the shot calls for a B&W print.

    Thanks for any help from any members on questions 2 and 3 and from UK members on question 1.

    Pentaxuser
     
  2. Donald Qualls

    Donald Qualls Member

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    With Kodak dropping all B&W papers, including Panalure and the B&W RA-4 materials, in the near future, it would probably be simplest (long term) to make an interpositive on panchromatic film, then an internegative to print from. I've seen examples of this done using TMX sheet film, so I presume the same could be done with other panchro films of similar speed. ISO 100 is about four stops faster than the fastest enlarging papers, however, so you might have to stop down your enlarger a long way to get comfortable exposure times, and of course you'll have to work in total darkness, at least from pulling the film out of the box to getting it into some kind of daylight processing unit. Reversal processing is easiest with a daylight fill tank of some kind, but it might be simpler to make an interpositive on the panchro film, then a copy negative on ortho film (Kodalith equivalent), which is both slower, and can be used in safelight, so more comfortable to work with. You might find you need to filter the light for the first printing step in order to get a good panchromatic response, due to the orange mask of C-41 negative films.
     
  3. Dave Miller

    Dave Miller Member

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    I realise that I’m not directly answering you question, but can I query if you have tried printing on standard paper? Whilst I accept that the results may not be quite as good as when using the Kodak product they may well be acceptable. I have never used Panalure, but have printed on to Ilford multigrade and achieved reasonable results, albeit some 6 years ago. The main problem that I remember is finding the filtration setting that will overcome the orange negative cast to achieve a satisfactory contrast, and also putting up with the long exposure times that result.
     
  4. George Papantoniou

    George Papantoniou Member

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    I've seen panchromatic paper marketed by Wephota, the German firm that rebrands B&W paper. I don't know where it originally comes from (is it rebranded Panalure ? I doubt it) but it might still be available.
     
  5. ann

    ann Subscriber

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    We have students print color negative all the time using standard black and white materials. Usually Ilford paper and LPD developer.

    We work in a gang darkroom and couldn't or wouldn't use panalure as it is not practical as that paper must be handled in complete darkness.


    Success varies, but it can be done, with patience and work. The times will increase and the contrast issues are always a challenge
     
  6. pentaxuser

    pentaxuser Subscriber

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    Thanks for all your prompt replies. In summary, the Kodak situation in respect of Panalure and its B&W Porta paper seems clear enough. It's time is limited and there's no chance of a reprieve. However using B&W Ilford paper receives a reasonable vote of confidence.

    I have not tried B&W paper but I am an Ilford paper user although I use Nova's own developer in a Nova Quad Slot processor rather than Ilford developer. Quite frankly I had discounted B&W paper as being a very poor second choice based on replies I had previously seen on the subject. One of the problems with APUG or any other open forum especially for a beginner is getting a balanced and objective view. Rodinal is probably the best example of this. It tends to be love or hate. It's the film developer equivalent of the elixir of life or it's the last resort depending on the member. Sometimes its like the old joke: If you lay all the economists in the world end to end you still won't reach a definite conclusion.

    I often think that it's a pity that members don't submit evidence of their views more often where this is possible. In this case example of Panalure prints and Ilford prints. However I am digressing now.

    It would appear that Eastern Europe does seem to be prepared to step in where Kodak and Ilford(almost) were no longer going to tread so I'll try and check this out.

    Maybe it's laziness or lack of confidence but going down the route of pancromatic film and producing internegatives seems an awful lot of trouble and time unless I was sure the resulting print was going to be something very special. The learning curve sounds steep. Nevertheless my thanks to Donald Qualls for his reply on this as a possible solution.

    Pentaxuser
     
  7. psvensson

    psvensson Member

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    I haven't tried the Portra RA4 paper, but I would bet that it's better than regular B&W paper. Kodak notes that it's useful for enlarging color negatives, and like Panalure, it has to be handled in complete darkness, so it seems to be panchromatic. Tray processing RA4 isn't very hard.
     
  8. pentaxuser

    pentaxuser Subscriber

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    As you say Portra RA4 should be better than regular B&W paper although the other replies suggest that B&W is better than I had assumed. Hopefully some member who has used both Portra and regular B&W paper will answer. I'd feel happier if I had an actual comparison of the two or better still several comparisons before I commit to a box of Portra.Even that will be gone very soon with Kodak's decision to stop all production of its B&W paper including Portra.

    Looking at various sites via a search engine suggest that a supply of Panalure may already be be a thing of the past except via individual e-bayer sellers who are all North America based. It seems that Panalure was a minority tool in the U.K.

    My search tonight has increased my concern for the long term viability of film and the traditional darkroom. An ex England football (soccer) team manager called Terry Venables wrote a book about the future of football entitled "They used to play on grass". I fear we'll take our grandchildren to museums and point to items saying " They used to take pictures on a thing called film, using a darkroom where there was no daylight. The kids will look at us in disbelief and awe in the same way kids do now when you tell then that for thousands of years we survived without electricity.

    Pentaxuser
     
  9. psvensson

    psvensson Member

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    You're looking for a product that was kind of niche even in the heyday of the analog photo business. We don't take our kids to the museum and tell them "Look at this, people used to paint pictures instead of photographing." Plenty of people paint, even though it's messy, expensive and completely obsolete as an imaging tool (its main original purpose) so I'm not expecting the complete demise of film.
     
  10. Steve Roberts

    Steve Roberts Member

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    Likewise, I've used Ilford Multigrade and a 4/5 filter. Exposure times are nearly long enough to go and make a cup of tea whilst it's do-ing, but the results can be surprisingly good, especially when considering that it's really making the best of a bad job and trying to get the film to do something for which it was never intended. I have a shot I took of Acker Bilk in action on 400 ASA print film that is far better as a "fudged" B/W print than it ever was in Glorious Technicolour!

    Steve
     
  11. pentaxuser

    pentaxuser Subscriber

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    Steve. Any chance of a thumnail of the print?
    Can you recall even roughly the exposure time and aperture. I'll have to do test exposures of course but narrowing it down would help. My lens will open up to f2.8 which even allowing for the increased exposure, would reduce exposure quite a lot compared to my usual f11 opening for about 8-10 seconds for B&W negs. I know that conventional wisdom says that it ought to be stopped down at least a couple of stops but this raises the interesting question of what difference to quality it makes to stop down weighed against the convenience of a shorter exposure.

    Clearly the current Cyan setting on my colour analyser for exposure using a diffuser under the lens is irrelevant as it is set for colour prints but would it be applicable once I get the exposure right if it was then re-calibrated or would it make sense to use my B&W analyser which has a spot probe and re-calibrate this. The exposure is measured against the darkest part of the B&W neg. Is there an equivalent part of a colour neg against which to place the probe or if there isn't then would the use of the diffuser under the lens for an intergrated reading result in reasonably accurate exposures once the first colour neg had been properly exposed and the probe calibrated to that setting under the diffuser?

    Or is any exposure aid of no value and it is simple a question of a test strip each time?

    My understanding is that with a grade 4/5 filter and Ilford paper the exposure has to be doubled compared to grades 1-3.

    This will be a voyage of learning by doing but any comments anybody has on my questions above will be very welcome. It may save some paper!

    Thanks

    Pentaxuser
     
  12. Mick Fagan

    Mick Fagan Subscriber

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    Hello, first post here and although I've been looking around for a while, nothing got me going until I met this thread.

    I run a Durst Printo for RA4 and I have used Portra paper through it for C41 B&W prints. All the prints I've done have been using Reala 35mm film, from the first type through to the latest incarnation. One exception was a picture on Ektar 25 Professional.

    I will say though, that I only purchased one box of 8x10" Portra and eventually used that up. Prior to that I used Panalure, I still have a few sheets left.

    Normally though, I've just use standard Ilford B&W paper with quite aceptable results.

    The way I see it is this:-

    Portra works brilliantly if you can do it with, and, it's the quickest way to do great B&W from C41 negs, especially if you have a roller transport machine.

    Panalure is great and it was really a boon for when I was printing B&W prints from C41 negs prior to RA4 being available

    Normal B&W paper (Ilford) is acceptable, except if you have a lot of blue or red in the picture. Blue goes white so someone with blue eyes will end up with whiteish eyes, or a blue dress goes white, or the blue sky goes virtually colourless. Reds go dark to almost black and this can be a problem for a girl wearing red lipstick as her lips will go black.

    Normal paper also has a bit of a contrast problem, which I think comes from there being some of the colours in the negative not printing. One of the ways I tried to alleviate this quirk was to pre-flash the paper to lower contrast. This was a bit of a hit and miss affair and I sort of gave up on that practise, although it can and did work in lowering the contrast on negs I really wanted to print.

    Normal paper will also show an increase in grain, which isn't grain but it looks like grain. I think this is due to it's inability to see all of the colour sprectum that colour paper does.

    None of the so called problems I've mentioned will, or should stop you from making a B&W picture from a C41 neg onto standard B&W paper.

    In short, it's another interesting facet of the analogue world

    Mick.
     
  13. PeterB

    PeterB Subscriber

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    another possible solution...

    Does this mean that if a suitable colour combination is dialed up with a colour enlarger such that reds are attenuated and blues are accentuated, then one could faithfully reproduce the image onto regular B&W paper?

    regards
    Peter
     
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  15. Mick Fagan

    Mick Fagan Subscriber

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    Peter, I see you'e up late as well.

    In short the answer is no!

    This is because "B&W paper is sensitive mainly to blue light". That is a quote from my 1974 fifth edition Kodak publication of Printing Colour Negatives. I went to the dark room to check this out before I replied.

    I run a free standing Devere 4x5 colour enlarger with a colour head. I can tell you that I've run the dials around the clock trying to get B&W prints out of C41 negs. No discernible amount of attenuation or accentuation occurs from memory, although it would be nice.

    Actually, using coloured filters can get you more dramatic results over a colour head, as the dichroich filters run out of steam, compared to the filter gels at the extremes. However I've been running colour heads for about 17 years now and wouldn't go back.

    Mick.
     
  16. PeterB

    PeterB Subscriber

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    So it sounds like the relative intensities of the red and blue components required is much larger than the dynamic range capable using either dichroic or gels.
    I still think that it must be possible to make a custom dichroic colour filter which could do the job. Surely a sufficient attenuation of blue light could can be achieved. This may result in a long exposure time and the need to tailor the filter to the particular response of the B&W paper being used. Is there an aspect of dichroic filter technology that would prevent this from being fabricated?

    regards
    Peter
     
  17. Mick Fagan

    Mick Fagan Subscriber

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    Peter, if you are using normal B&W paper, you must remember it is blind to certain colours, otherwise you wouldn't be able to use a safelight. It is this blindness that is the problem when using C41 negs.

    Normal B&W film is panchromatic and therefore sees the whole spectrum (well for these purposes anyway). When in the darkroom you use the B&W neg which only contains shades of grey, going more or less, from black to white. As the paper is sensitive to all of these shades you are able to obtain the entire tonal range of the image on the neg.

    With C41 negs, some of the image is in a part of the range that the paper cannot see, therefore you cannot get the entire tonal range of shades. But one can certainly get quite acceptable results, even with this so called set back.

    Mick.
     
  18. PeterB

    PeterB Subscriber

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    Very good point, however I STILL think it is possible!! The normal B&W paper is not totally blind to red light, just very insensitive. Which is the reason that safelights will eventually fog the paper given a sufficient amount of intensity and/or time.

    So.... as I suggested above, just make a filter that transmits as close to 100% of the light at the red part of the spectrum and only say 1% of the light at the blue part of the spectrum (of course the exact filter characteristics would need to be determined), et voila! Who cares if the exposure time is 5 to 10 minutes!

    Call me crazy, but I still think it's possible :smile:

    regards
    Peter
     
  19. Mick Fagan

    Mick Fagan Subscriber

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    I'll call you crazy.

    Also anything is possible, but I don't think it's feasible, in this case!

    If you do though, let us know.

    Mick.
     
  20. pentaxuser

    pentaxuser Subscriber

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    I thought my original thread had come to an end until you and a few others added to it. Many thanks for that.

    While B&W paper may be acceptable and I will give it a go, your listing of the difficulties suggests that it is a very poor second to Portra paper. I sometimes end up with poor skies even in B&W prints from B&W negs so would rather not accept white skies if I can avoid it. If there are no skies such as in mainly people shots, white eyes and black lips sound novel but not particularly inviting. My viewers belong to the school that says that the world is in colour and prints should be the same. They believe as do many non photographers that B&W belongs to the poverty stricken world of the 1950s which they escaped from in the 60s and 70s when colour and better cameras became affordable. I have been able to sow elements of doubt in this philosophy with some B&W shots of a wedding. If I show them white eyes and black lips then I undo all my good work on demonstrating a place for B&W. I can just see them saying: Who are these people with white eyes and black lips - the Adams family?

    I think I'll take your reply as a vote for Portra for tone authenticity. I may need to keep my Ilford people prints for my next wedding assignment in Transylvania where flash is always needed as available light photography is forbidden.

    Regards

    Pentaxuser
     
  21. philldresser

    philldresser Subscriber

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    Pentaxuser

    I have had mixed results with colour negs on B&W paper and it all depends on content colour as to how it looks on the resulting paper. However I printed this elephant image this evening from a C41 neg and it looks great. It was on Sterling Fibre warmtone MG, image was 7x15 inches, exposure was 64 seconds@f8. The work prints on Ilford multigrade took 40.2 seconds but were slightly smaller in size.

    I dont think the times are unreasonable but the flat colour range cerainly helped.

    Phill
     
  22. nworth

    nworth Subscriber

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    The few times I've tried it, I've been very disappointed in the results from printing color negatives on ordinary Multigrade or Polycontrast. Analytically, it is similar to taking a black and white photo through a light red filter - skies are darkened. Practically, it requires log exposures and a high contrast grade - which further reduces the exposure of green things (cyan dye in the negative). The long exposures also increase the chance of fogging. I have used Panalure, and I have even got some decent prints out of it, but I don't think it's a great paper. Agfa used to make a panchromatic paper, but I never tried it. Is it still around?

    I'm afraid that we may have to go digital for good black and white prints from color now. That's tricky, though. Black and white is not a trivial job in Photoshop or any of the other digital programs. Fortunately, the latest HP and Epson printers can do a decent job of printing black and white, though maybe not up to the highest darkroom standards.
     
  23. pentaxuser

    pentaxuser Subscriber

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    Thanks. You're the first to show actual evidence of the results which I appreciate. The skin texture and tones look fine but then an elephant is all texture and grey.At the risk of sounding demanding and ungrateful which I do not intend to sound,do you have any other pics which cover a range of scenery and colours. Anyone else who can submit a C41 colour neg would be appreciated.

    The exposures seems incredible for someone like me who is used to about 5-8 secs from his normal B&W negs. As someone else said there's time to make a cup of tea during the exposure.

    Panalure is still obtainable from the U.S. but at a pretty high price and currently the vote still seems to be for Portra RA4.

    Pentaxuser
     
  24. Steve Roberts

    Steve Roberts Member

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  25. pentaxuser

    pentaxuser Subscriber

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  26. benjiboy

    benjiboy Subscriber

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    Handle With Care

    Why not phone Calumet they have a shop in Manchester (061-2740500) I have dealt with them before and found them very helpful. If you do locate Kodak Panalure Paper, please take care it is a panchromatic paper, and like film MUST BE HANDLED IN COMPLETE DARKNESS!! I Just wanted to warn you because although its nearly fifteen years since I used it, I had visions of you getting a box of 100 10x8 and opening the box with your safelight on !!