Best Film and Paper combinations

Discussion in 'Color: Film, Paper, and Chemistry' started by Richard Harris, Nov 28, 2007.

  1. Richard Harris

    Richard Harris Member

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    I guess this question has been answered many times before but I can't find an old thread so I'll pose it again.
    For analogue printing what do people think is the best film and RA4 paper combination? I currently use fuji CA and fuji pro400h superia400 and Reala films. I'm looking for more natural and/or more vivid colours. I think my current combo gives muddy looking prints and the fuji paper blows out so easily. I used to like fuji superia printed on Konica paper but that's not available to me any more. PE stated on another thread that he thought Kodak paper would give me a result similar to the Konica paper, but what does everybody else use?
    Please don't tell me what your local digital minilab uses. The software incorporated in to these machines makes the results of little relevance to us optical printers.
    Thanks in advance, Richard.
     
  2. pentaxuser

    pentaxuser Subscriber

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    There's not a lot of choice. Efffectively there are two paper manufacturers, Fuji and Kodak and two film manufacturers. Fuji and Kodak. If your combo of Fuji film and Fuji paper is muddy looking but you have saturated colour in Superia and more natural in Reala, it would seem time for a change. You could stick with Fuji film and go to Kodak paper with maybe a reasonable hope of more success, according to PE but not to Kodak film and Fuji paper with the likelihood of the same degree of success. Might be time to go the whole hog and switch to Kodak Portra VC and Kodak Supra Endura or, I think it is Ultra Endura.. Then you're at the limit in both film and paper in terms of colour film and paper.

    I presume that muddiness wasn't a problem before but has been a consistent probem since switching to Fuji paper ie. it hasn't been just some prints or some printing sessions which might suggest some negs or age of chems etc. I have used both Kodak and Fuji papers and couldn't see a lot of difference but I found Kodak paper easier to deal with in terms of finding the right filtration.

    pentaxuser
     
  3. Richard Harris

    Richard Harris Member

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    Thanks Pentaxuser.
    The muddiness is just my feeling of what fuji film and paper delivers. Of course sometimes I get fantastic prints and the subject is always more important than the film etc. In the U.K. as you know, much of the time the sky is overcast and the lighting flat and dull. The last thing I need is a flat film and paper combo.
    I have noticed over the years that fuji films struggle to give good yellow reproduction. I once had some Kodak Royal Gold film developed by a kodak lab and remember being impressed with the yellows and the general glow of the prints. This may have been just a lighting difference. I tried to find the prints this evening, but no luck.
    I shoot a lot of weddings and have noticed that when I use superia 400 (not often) instead of my normal pro400/NPH that the couple immediately like the superia shots. It seems that skin tones are less important than a bit of pop. NPH has great skin tones but hell, it's dull. Reala is beautiful but dull for outdoors in England. I have lots of minilab prints on various agfa papers and they are pretty dull and uninspiring too, all from superia films. I would try some Kodak film but don't know what is available in the UK; Kodak change their film names more than I change my underwear and, my wife says I have OC dissorder. PE says that Kodak doesn't print on Fuji paper so I guess that changing film would mean changing paper, hence the question.
    Just one last point, Price! Fuji is available for good prices from Mailshots, my normal supplier, but Kodak is always at a considerable price premium.
     
  4. PHOTOTONE

    PHOTOTONE Member

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    Kodak color film DOES print on Fuji paper. What PE was saying was that Kodak and Fuji color films print more easily and closer to each other in color balance on Kodak paper.
     
  5. Photo Engineer

    Photo Engineer Subscriber

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    This is correct.

    Fuji on Fuji by the same token should yield beautiful results. I suspect something else is going on.

    If you process your own C41 film and use a Blix process, whatever the film, it will muddy the colors to some extent. Improper C41 development will muddy colors.

    OTOH, Kodak VC film and Gold film are designed for brighter colors than NC. So, it could be the film. I've used Fuji and find the colors to be nice, but a bit more muted than VC.

    Thats about all I can add.

    PE
     
  6. pentaxuser

    pentaxuser Subscriber

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    Richard. Try MORCO. I don't think its price for Kodak Supra Endura can be beat. It also sells one of the few, maybe only, C41 kits I have seen which uses separate bleach and fix stages. However the kits are rather large for small volume users. Before going down the separate bleach and fix route, can I suggest that you try a mini-lab which uses separate stages. If the negs then print better as in less muddy then you know that this is the way to go in terms of home processing or stick to mini-labs for neg processing.

    Lets us know sometime in the future the results of any changes you make.

    Thanks

    pentaxuser
     
  7. Richard Harris

    Richard Harris Member

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    Thanks both,
    However I do use Kodak C41 chemicals Dev, stop, bleach, fix, stabilise. The films I develop are to my mind every bit as good as those developed by other labs that are in my collection. I develop 1 shot so never have problems with exhausted and or dirty chemicals and I find my negatives entirely consistent under a loupe; fine grained, clean with nice film base colour. I am sure that I have just fallen out of love with NPH and superia400. Reala which I adore for its grain and sharpness is just too dull for the U K except in good summer conditions. Fuji have stopped doing cut paper for most of their Paper lines which leaves me with standard CA paper designed I guess for digital minilabs. This, I also guess, is the reason for the difficulty in maintaining highlight and shadow detail. Digital minilabs have effective control over local contrast through the software I think.
    I so wish that we photags could still persuade people to watch a slide show. I run a few Velvia and Provia through my old manual minoltas occasionally and just love the results, sharp, clear, bright and saturated. Kodak 6 bath E6 of course.
     
  8. Photo Engineer

    Photo Engineer Subscriber

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    Kodak Endura paper and presumably Fuji CA paper are made to work with mutiple types of light sources. I know that the Kodak product works with all types and yields almost the same curve shape. I would presume Fuji had done the same.

    PE
     
  9. Heinz_Anderle

    Heinz_Anderle Member

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    Is there anything left like a soft color paper with moderate gradation? I always get the impression that today's papers have been deliberately optimized for "punchy" colors and high, not to say unnatural contrast.
     
  10. Photo Engineer

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    Endura and Supra Endura represent 2 contrasts. The highest contrast is the photofinisher grade.

    You might say then that there are 3 grades with Ultra the highest.

    IDK offhand if all 3 are still made or still available.

    PE
     
  11. Jedidiah Smith

    Jedidiah Smith Member

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    Hi Richard,
    I am just about the enter the world of color printing myself...Wil from here has sent me the Nutek processor! :smile: Getting excited.
    Anyway, from what I could research - try Kodak Portra 160VC or Ultra Color 100 - and print on Kodak Ultra Endura paper. I don't think there will be anything muddy about that combo! At least, that is what I plan to try first. I sure love the look of slides as well. And I also shoot manual Minolta gear. Some41 thing about a well exposed slide shot with a Rokkor prime lens. A slice of heaven. :smile:
    Well, I think the more saturated Kodak C-41 films with the Ultra Endura paper will give you the punch you're looking for.
    All the best,
    Jed
     
  12. Richard Harris

    Richard Harris Member

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    Thanks Jeddiah et al,
    I think I am going to have to try Kodak Endura again and I will try Glossy from Morco, I assume there stock is fresh. I have tried Kodak Portra films in the past, 160NC, 400VC and 400NC. I found them quite grainy and contrasty with punchy colours though. From my results am I right in thinking that like slides, I should really give Kodak less time in the soup than fuji. My fuji negs are always softer and much smoother grain wise.
    P E have you ever processed Fuji at home (I use a Jobo) If so, do you give it less development than Kodak?
    Thanks to you all,
    Richard.
     
  13. Jedidiah Smith

    Jedidiah Smith Member

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    Richard, that was certainly true of the older portra films. However, Kodak has re-worked them, and the grain is quite fine now, especially the 160 version. The VC does have decent color punch, but I think 100UC would be even punchier if you're looking for "a slide on print film" type look. I noticed you shoot a lot of 400 iso - I mainly shoot lower, ie 100 or 160, but I've seen some great results from Kodak 400UC. Its grain is quite fine for a 400 iso film - might give that a try. Very punchy, but skin tones seem to be OK with that film, unlike some other punchy films which look good for landscape, but as soon as you throw a person in there, watch out. :smile:
    Jed
     
  14. Photo Engineer

    Photo Engineer Subscriber

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    To all;

    The Formulary has all of the equipment to have a full workshop on color processing and printing but has never seemed to have any demand for it. The Jobo and drums are safely stored away in a back room not generally used for workshops and not generally seen by the students.

    If there is enough interest, I might be willing to conduct such a course, but I cannot do it in 2008. It would probably have to be in 2009 to give me and the Formulary time to ramp up on this. IDK how long it has been since they used their Jobo, nor do I know the condition of the facility to do color. I just never checked.

    I would give free tutorials here, but my space is all taken with emulsion making and coating equipment, so I'm down for the duration. (Free exept for materials)

    PE
     
  15. bdial

    bdial Subscriber

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    I hope it's not too far off topic, but what is the best choice for home-user RA-4 chemistry? No kits seem to exist from Kodak. Should I assemble my own kit from the Kodak components, or go with one of the packaged kits from other companies? My volume for color printing would be fairly low, I think.
     
  16. Photo Engineer

    Photo Engineer Subscriber

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    Kodak sells RA-RT developer-replenisher in 5L and 10L kits and Blix in 1 gallon kits. Unless things have changed, I can get either locally and our stocks come from Atlanta GA.

    PE
     
  17. Richard Harris

    Richard Harris Member

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    PE can i ask you the question again? Have you processed fuji at home or work and did You find that it needed more development than Kodak? I'm asking about C41 not E6; I always give Kodak less first development in E6.
    This question is open to all of course.
     
  18. Photo Engineer

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    When I needed Fuji negatives for work at Kodak, I always had 'approved' Fuji processing done on their products to avoid any possible argument about the authenticity of the test materials or results that were found from the work.

    When I have used Fuji here myself, I have sent them out to the local pro lab. So, I have only run Kodak products in C41 myself. My understanding is that Fuji negative products can be intercut with Kodak products with no problem, but that there are several problems with E6 products from Kodak and Fuji being intercut. It is my understanding Fuji has given solutions to this to the general public.

    PE
     
  19. Richard Harris

    Richard Harris Member

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    Thanks PE, It's just that I find the grain and contrast consistent with overdevelopment is a feature when I develop Kodak materials. Now I know that many say that Kodak is grainier than fuji but, Kodak wouldn't. I just feel that if I developed less I may be happier with the Kodak products. Guess there is only one way to find out. I may have a word with my local Kodak branded minilab guy, he's a nice chap, but I do not like to pester when he knows that he aint going to make no dosh out of me.
    Richard.
     
  20. Photo Engineer

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    Richard;

    I've talked to a lot of pros and done a lot of evaluations myself. I give Fuji an edge in reversal films and Kodak an edge in negative films. This has seemed to be true ever since Fuji jumped into E6 and C41 in the 80s. I would personally say that they are probably too close to call if you make identical comparisons, which most are not inclinded to do. So, the results I read are subjective, but the tests I have run are based on exact color measurements using people, color charts, definition charts and doing grain and sharpness studies with the proper instruments.

    Granted, I have not done much of that latter in several years, but I can speak from use subjectively to say that the situations with the two companies products remains much the same as what I observed when I was running the tests regularly.

    As for what you observe, contrast and grain of ALL products goes up with overdevelopment and down with underdevelopment. This is true of color and B&W. It is also a fact that grain goes up with underexposure and down with overexposure. This is the nature of the photographic system itself.

    PE