Color Printing at Home

Discussion in 'Color: Film, Paper, and Chemistry' started by Nikkorray, Nov 25, 2008.

  1. Nikkorray

    Nikkorray Member

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    I've done exclusively b&w printing at home & was thinking about the feasibility of printing color on my Durst CLS450. I have absolutely no experience with color printing so I'm looking for some advice. Here are just a few questions that I have to start with:

    1) Is there a good website or book where I can get a primer on color printing?
    2) Is it way more expensive/complicated than printing b&w and are the supplies readily available?
    3) What are the basic chemicals do I need to get started?

    I'm not looking to developing film at home right now... just trying to get a handle on how to make prints.

    Thanks in advance.
     
  2. Greg Davis

    Greg Davis Member

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    Yes, you can print at home. I would recommend the monobath formulas that allow room temperature processing. Kodak formulas require much hotter chemistry than B&W. A good book would be Exploring Color Photography which I have used as a textbook during color courses. It is comprehensive. You will need a set of Lee Color Print viewing filters and a color corrected light source in order to judge the color of the prints. While large machines are usually used commercially, you can process the prints in trays or in a drum using a motor base or just the counter top. It takes some practice, but good prints can be made at home.
     
  3. Ben 4

    Ben 4 Member

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    Yes You Can!

    Less than six months ago I found myself in exactly the position you describe. I can tell you that it is neither as hard or expensive as I feared. I am now making color prints (from negatives) that I am very happy with.

    For guidance, I would suggest Kodak's website—there is a wealth of helpful information there—and archived posts on this forum.

    I develop my prints in tubes and use a motor base, all acquired via auction for less than $50. I use Kodak's Supra Endura paper and the 10 liter RA/RT Developer/Replenisher (without starter) ($23) and 5 liter RA Bleach/Replenisher ($15), all ordered from Calumet.

    I temper all of the chemicals in a bucket with an aquarium heater, but you'll read here that you can also do it at room temperature.

    So if you're eager to give it a try, I'd say go ahead and take the plunge.

    --Ben
     
  4. Neal

    Neal Subscriber

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    Dear Ray,

    Search the forum using the keywords RA-4 and trays. Obtain a Kodak Color Darkroom DATGUIDE (they are out of print but you can find them on amazon.com).

    Neal Wydra
     
  5. ricksplace

    ricksplace Member

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    I did the same thing in May of this year. If you don't already have one, a dichro head for your enlarger would make things a lot easier. I use the chems at room temp and get great results. I probably burned up around a box of paper getting used to the idea of subtractive colour balance. Good advice to buy a motor base and processing tubes. They are cheap on ebay now. Way easier than I thought it would be! Some of my early results are posted in my gallery.
     
  6. Domin

    Domin Member

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    It can be done at room temperature but I found that half C degree difference in color developer temperature makes a perceptible change in color balance. I guesstimate its a few CC. I tested it using tetenal amateur kit and tetenal minilab chemistry both behave similarly in this respect.
     
  7. rossawilson1

    rossawilson1 Member

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    Like most people here I found it all surprisingly easy.

    1) Is there a good website or book where I can get a primer on color printing?
    This website, photo.net.. but really all the instruction you need comes with the chemicals. Here and photo.net will just give you some insights to experiences but everyone's set up and more importantly method varies so don't take it as gospel. I recommend a book, The Darkroom handbook.. useful but equipment wise somewhat dated.

    2) Is it way more expensive/complicated than printing b&w and are the supplies readily available?
    I rarely pay attention to the cost, about the same maybe.. as for complicated.. identifying colour casts and removing them without bringing in another can be a challenge (but fun too) however once you've done this for one neg, all other photos on that neg type will be within a small variation of those original settings.. so easier than B&W in someways. In the UK I know of at least 3 places that will supply me with everything for my colour darkroom within three days to my door. I imagine there are even more in the US.. ignore those strange types who can't seem to find anything.. maybe they don't like buying online.. in which case you could be screwed.

    3) What are the basic chemicals do I need to get started?
    I'd try a room temperature kit, I use Tetenal, I've tried a 35 degree kit but didn't notice a difference, in fact the saturation in the room temp kit was better I found. It'll be a lot easier and less frustrating whilst starting for the first time. If you become convinced you want 35 degree kits, fine, but do that later, don't kill off your enthusiasm waiting for the temperature to come up and trying to keep it there.

    Other than that you need a roller drum or trays or a nova slot or a machine of some kind. I recommend Nova slot processors, get one with three slots, the chemicals keep for ages unlike trays, the consistency is great, and there is no cleaning or drying like a drum.. machines maybe better, but only because they're automated.

    Soon as you get the first print out all your concerns will melt and you'll realise you just need to twiddle a few knobs to get a massively satisfying experience and amazing prints.
     
  8. rossawilson1

    rossawilson1 Member

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    If you do try and need a hand working out which colours to add and subtract to make/remove other colours then let me know and I'll write them out for you.

    I'll second the notion to get Lee Color Print viewing filters, and the colour correct light source for viewing.. a daylight lamp or something.
     
  9. delphine

    delphine Member

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    Ross, how do you dispose of your chemicals?

    I had read ages ago, that they were very corosive to pipes. And also, I remember somewhat that color chemicals were "neutralized" at the communal darkroom before being discarded.

    Dee
     
  10. Nikkorray

    Nikkorray Member

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    Thanks everyone for your responses and answers. Nice to hear the experiences you have with color printing. I'll research the supplies listed above & see if I can get started on it after the holidays are over. Thanks again.
     
  11. momo

    momo Member

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    "Search the forum using the keywords RA-4 and trays. Obtain a Kodak Color Darkroom DATGUIDE (they are out of print but you can find them on amazon.com)."

    Look on ebay.com theres three going a lot lot cheaper than amazon........ and its making me mad....
     
  12. uwphotoer

    uwphotoer Member

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    How about cibachrome prints, now called ilfochrome prints. The run at 75 and print quality is great..... I have even seen the CAP 40 automated processor for little money on ePay..... :surprised: wait that would entail shooting slide film to start with.
     
  13. domaz

    domaz Member

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    I would love to do Ilfochrome prints as well but the price is crazy. Factoring in wastage and color balance issues it would probably be cheaper to make platinum prints (if you don't make mistakes with those).
     
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  15. uwphotoer

    uwphotoer Member

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    True in the last 5 years the cost of chemicals alone has gone up 3 fold, the paper not so bad, but they have reduced your choices for surface.

    I guess my 25 years of doing cibachromes has not deterred me as I have a great system down the has my waste really low and color balance issues nonexistent. I have been using the more expensive glossy polyester material for my underwater images. The 16x20's look great :D
     
  16. rossawilson1

    rossawilson1 Member

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    delphine.

    Currently I have about 8 bottles of chemicals on the floor in my darkroom, all a mix of various used liquids. We only just moved in to this place which is why there isn't more.

    If I was lazy I might have tipped them away but I can't here because we have a bio tank, our house waste runs into a protected river so our waste water has to be, and is, literally drinkable.. my chems would kill all the little bacteria in the tank.

    So in answer to your question.. I haven't figured it out yet, there are more and more containers building up! One of these days I'll contact the local council and ask them what to do with it. I'm intrigued by the nutralising thing you mentioned, though I figure I'd still have to take them somewhere there is mains drainage.
     
  17. rossawilson1

    rossawilson1 Member

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    I've also tried Ilfochrome and found it as easy as RA4.. though the actual process of developing a print through to wash takes about 12 minutes or so I seem to remember. Not that that's an issue, but I'm not a great fan of the cpe2 with all the lifting of the drum and draining along with pouring in the next batch etc etc, then you have to have a warm wash between the various stages etc. I'd love to know of a small machine that does all this for you.. ATL1500 anyone! Would love to have it all set up though.
     
  18. uwphotoer

    uwphotoer Member

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    Ilford once made 2 machines, the CAP 40 for cibachromes only, as it was one speed and one temp, and the ICP 42 which has variable temp and speed controls which also has a wash dry unit (IWD 42) that can be added to it, though I use mine without it and hand wash and hang dry the prints like laundry. When these machines were new they we over $2000 each but now you can find them on ePay for under $800. They need 2 liters of chemicals and you can run about 40-50 8x10 through one mix of chemicals (though I have run as many as 60 and seen little difference from the first to last. The bleach now has to be neutralized with baking soda, where as the older chemicals the dev neutralized the bleach, which was nice.
     
  19. wogster

    wogster Member

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    You will probably have to take them to a hazardous waste disposal site, hopefully the local municipality has one, they usually do, to deal with things like car batteries, household chemicals, partly used paint. You can probably mix different developers together, different photo bleaches and different fixers, suggest you do so outside, in case there is a reaction.
     
  20. rossawilson1

    rossawilson1 Member

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    That's great, I didn't realise there were Ilfochrome machines.. thank you! I'll keep my eye out, though do you know if a durst printo will do the job? They seem to be more readily available.

    I thought that might be the case wogster.. I was going to get an old army petrol tank and dump them all in that but now I think I'll keep them separated. Thanks for the heads up.
     
  21. uwphotoer

    uwphotoer Member

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    I must say the design of the ICP 42 is really simple and clean and with the vairable speed and temp controls it gives it the ability to do B&W and other processes and prints from 7" long and 16" wide. It's a simple machine and I have never seen a problem with one that wasn't easy to fix. Actually I don't think I have seen any of the 3 machines I have worked with in various locations ever fail, though I do have an extra machine laying around just in case mine (knock wood) should during a printing session.

    The only problem with the ICP 42 is that it's best to use up the chemistry in it as fast as possible, and most importantly in less than a week, which is no problem for me when I run 16x20's, as it does not do well in the tank, but you can get far more prints through the same amount of chemistry than you can if you do one shot rotary tube processing.....

    Now I don't know about the printo so I couldn't say.

    All the fixers should be passed through some sort of silver recovery system if at all possible, to remove the silver that it removed from the film during process.
     
  22. wogster

    wogster Member

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    The issue with a single tank would be mixing acids and alkalies, if your somewhere that doesn't get freezing weather you might be able to keep your storage tank outside. One suggestion though, you need to clearly label such a tank, I would affix the words "spent photographic chemicals". Keep a log of all chemicals you put in the tank and how much, if there were a fire or other emergency at your home, you want the local fire brigade to know what they are dealing with. Also check local laws, keeping and transporting a tank that contains hazardous materials may be illegal without a special permit. The limit here in Canada is 500kg, over that you need placards on the vehicle and a permit from the ministry of transportation to transport it. I think it's the same in the US.
    Laws in the UK may be different and have different limitations.
     
  23. Bob-D659

    Bob-D659 Member

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    Well if you leave the tank open, most or all the water will evaporate and you will only have some dry crystals in the bottom. Much easier to dispose of in the garbage than a large tank of mostly water. Use a plastic rain barrel, an old steel petrol tank will rust and leak.
     
  24. rossawilson1

    rossawilson1 Member

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    Thanks for the tips, obviously I need to put a little more thought into this..
     
  25. psvensson

    psvensson Member

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    I did RA4 processing in trays, with no temperature control. I used Paterson's room-temperature developer, which has since been discontinued. The Tetenal Mono kit is an existing alternative, but more expensive. IIRC, Photo Engineer has said that using Kodak's much cheaper chemicals, intended for machine processing at higher temperatures, should work fine too. The time in the developer needs to be exactly timed for color consistency. My times were around 60-90 seconds, IIRC.

    The trickiest bit of the process is judging color, because wet prints have a blue cast to them. In the end, this is what made me go to a rental lab instead, but it's not an insurmountable obstacle. I've heard that immersing the prints in undiluted b/w fix will remove the color cast.
     
  26. uwphotoer

    uwphotoer Member

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    Even cibachrome prints have a color cast (usually red) when wet, so for all my test prints I use a hand held hair drier to dry the print fully to judge color.