Colour neg analyser suggestions?

Discussion in 'Darkroom Equipment' started by Dave Dawson, Jul 25, 2009.

  1. Dave Dawson

    Dave Dawson Member

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    Hi All, I intend to get back into colour neg printing and am wondering which is the 'best' analyser to buy.

    With the wealth of experiance on here.....What do you guys (and lasses) recommend?

    Considerations are...price, ease of use, setting up etc.

    Thanks Dave
     
  2. Thomas Wilson

    Thomas Wilson Member

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    Kodak Color Print Viewing Filters.
    Lee equivalent at Freestyle for $50.00.
     
  3. Dave Dawson

    Dave Dawson Member

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    Perhaps the question I should have asked first is....Who has perfect colour balance eyes to interpret the results? Probably everyone see's colour different so how does the printer know when he (or she) gets a 'perfect balanced' print?
    Cheers Dave
     
  4. Thomas Wilson

    Thomas Wilson Member

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    Is not the first step to using a color analyzer calibration, using a perfectly balanced print?
     
  5. Thomas Wilson

    Thomas Wilson Member

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    By a system of trial and error,viewing the print through the Color Print Viewing Filters. Only after you have established a benchmark for your film & paper emulsion, chemistry, time and temperature, can you null the channels in your analyzer. This should give you consistent results, assuming no change in lighting from beginning to end of the roll.

    Any time you change any portion of your process, including paper size, film emulsion, etc, the analyzer must be re-calibrated.

    The short answer is if you can calibrate your analyzer, you probably don't need one.
     
  6. Dave Dawson

    Dave Dawson Member

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    Ahh, But what is a perfect colour (sorry spelt the UK way !) print? i.e. Is there a test neg with the 'perfect' result produced by say Kodak?
    That indicates the printer is very near perfect.

    Cheers Dave
     
  7. wiltw

    wiltw Subscriber

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    Kodak has published an array of the same shot which needs various levels of color correction, to the smallest level (05CC) and this can be used to help assess neutral reproduction, and then the color analyzing meter can be set to null at that filtration level.
     
  8. randyB

    randyB Member

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    Years ago, I was a custom color printer and I found that I could make 2-3 test strips in the time it took to calibrate the analyzer. In my situation it was difficult to use an analyzer as I operated 3 different enlargers. It does take a bit of time to "see" color correctly but with practice you should get quite good. The tool I used the most was the viewing filters.
     
  9. OldBikerPete

    OldBikerPete Member

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    You are all missing the point of a color analyser.
    The point of a color analyser is the ability to exactly reapeat one particular color without having to resort to test strips - which are MUCH more onerous in color than B&W.
    You calibrate it once for a batch of papers, then use it.

    The particular color you wish to repeat can be skin tones, an 18% grey (the recommended). Personally, I used to use white as the standard when I was shooting weddings.
    If your subject doesn't have a standard color, then you need to include a shot of your standard color at least once in each batch of film and in each film development run.

    Repeatability is the aim.

    ======================

    When I was doing wet-printing in color I designed and built my own based on a photomultiplier tube and a fibre-optic probe.
    It has four channels of calibration, so one could have four batches of paper in use at a time.

    I no longer use it. You are welcome to it for the cost of postage.

    Edit: It runs on 230V AC.
     
  10. randyB

    randyB Member

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    Your situation is/was nothing like mine. An analyzer may work for you since you print only your own negs and you have control of each step of the process. An analyzer may work for the OP if he wishes to duplicate your operating procedures. My point is that you don't have to have an analyzer to consistantly make a high quality print. The best "analyzer" is your brain and your ability to recognize the color you want, which comes with practice. In my job I operated 3 different format color enlargers (35mm, 6x7, 4x5) printing negs of 126, 35mm, 620, 120, 4x5 size, both c22 and c41 type films from Kodak, Fuji, Agfa, and a bunch of mystery color films making enlargments from 5x7 to 16x20 on glossy and matte finish paper, as you can see nothing is consistant.
     
  11. tiberiustibz

    tiberiustibz Member

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    You use your eyes. If it looks neutral in your intended display light, IT'S NEUTRAL. Really quite simple. Too yellow, add yellow. Sofourth. Analyzers require that you first make a neutral greycard in a print. You use that value to calibrate it, and assuming nothing changes you can adjust filtration quickly from one batch to another. However, I find it perfectly easy to WRITE DOWN the CC filter numbers and USE THEM AGAIN. One confirming strip can usually clear up any inconsistencies. And no grey card shooting.
     
  12. Thomas Wilson

    Thomas Wilson Member

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    If I might add one point; for those who shoot a grey card on every roll of film, don't shoot early morning, mid day and evening on the same roll, and print on only one paper emulsion of one size, use the analyzer to balance color, and you will get consistently average results.

    With a little practice and diligence, you can put your fancy color analyzer in the closet, right next to that pair of crutches you don't need any more.
     
  13. Mick Fagan

    Mick Fagan Subscriber

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    Old Biker Pete and Randy B are both correct, just different situations.

    I have worked in a situation where I was doing colour printing with about 10 different enlargers, no electronic aids at all, just a quick test strip, run it through the machine, use viewing filters for adjustments, another test, then usually colour was nailed and a full print was done.

    With a home darkroom you basically need consistency to save precious paper and chemicals, so one resorts to some kind of system or machine.

    You need to be able to make a correct colour print before you can tell an analyser what is correct, there is only one system I have seen that enables you to get a correct colour balanced print, the late Bob Mitchell's "COLORBRATOR, for color negatives", is the best thing out there I have seen and have used.

    I transcribe the blurb on the (sort of) A5 booklet and package:-

    "A single trial print from the SPECIAL COLORBRATOR TEST NEGATIVE will allow you to program your analyzer for NEUTRAL COLOR BALANCE, IMAGE D-MAX and SKIN COLOR."

    Bob's Colorbrator does do what he said it would do. I had personal correspondence with Bob not too long after he announced the release of this little gem of a darkroom aid.

    My personal preference for the perfect set-up, my own in fact, is for a trio of things to aid in near perfect results first go, each time you hit the darkroom.

    Firstly, Bob Mitchell's COLORBRATOR.

    Secondly, a Wallace EXPO/DISC which will give you a perfectly exposed and true grey negative.

    Thirdly, to analyse your Expo/Disc exposed negatives under the enlarger, consider a Jobo Colorstar analyser. I have the original Colorstar analyser.

    The Jobo Colorstar is the only analyser I know of that measures all three colours at the same time, using a simple but ingenious system of two sliding levers.

    The system works like this:-

    You get correct colour using the Colorbrator to calibrate your enlarger settings for a certain batch of paper. Once you have achieved that, you place the Jobo probe under the negative and calibrate the analyser with the neutral grey segment known to be correct, this will take about 5 seconds.

    Out in the field when shooting colour negative film, you place your Wallace Expo/Disc on your lens, point it at the light source, set the camera metering system to automatic, trip the shutter. You then shoot away to your hearts content at your chosen subject, until the light changes. Once the light changes, whack the Expo/Disc on the lens, point it at the light source, put the camera onto automatic, trip the shutter, then resume normal shooting.

    When you get back into the darkroom, set the analyser to the correct settings for the paper you have analysed. Place any negative in your enlarger and compose your print.

    Remove your negative and replace it with your Wallace Expo/Disc negative that was exposed when you shot your negative you wish to print into the enlarger. Place the Jobo probe under the Expo/Disc negative, then turn the dials on the enlarger until all of the lights on the analyser go out.

    You have just set the correct colour balance for the negative you are going to print. You simply place your scene negative into the enlarger, focus, print and develop. If correct procedure has been observed, then you will have a correct colour balanced print.

    Finer points of the systems are correct print density, but that is for another time.

    One thing to remember with colour negative printing is how colours are arrived at, basically.

    You change the Magenta and Yellow filters in the colour head to add or subtract, yellow, blue, magenta and green. The red and cyan colours, are arrived at by density changes when the other two colours are correct.

    If a print is too light, (not enough density) then it will start to go cyan, if it is too dark, (too much density) then it will start to go red.

    Mick.
     
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  15. analogsnob

    analogsnob Member

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    Take the custom printers to heart and consider what you will be printing. If you are printing very similar subjects ie all portraits of caucasian people at different sizes on one enlarger and one paper batch an analyser will save great amounts of time and material. If you print some landscapes and a portrait then an interior then a few contacts (you get the idea) then a analyser is no help at all and will lead to frustration and waste.

    A skilled custom printer can equal the output of the only analysation system ever to really work in a varied population- a well run VCNA and translators at each station. If the VCNA is not well run all bets are off.

    On the average day if it took me more that two tests to go final something was out of the ordinary which would have given an analyser fits anyway. The VCNA cut one test but took lots of time to maintain.

    Invest the time to learn to print in the nlong run its the cheapest and easiest thing to do.
     
  16. MattKing

    MattKing Subscriber

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    If you are likely to have to re-print negatives frequently, a colour analyzer can be very useful.

    If your enlarger has a bulb whose colour temperature changes over time, a colour analyzer can be very useful.

    If you print a lot of similar shots (portraits from the same studio) a colour analyzer can help.

    If your film is developed by a number of different labs, or you use a number of different films, or you change the film you use, a colour analyzer can help.

    Essentially, a colour analyzer helps deal with variations other than those that appear randomly in different photographs, and can serve as a useful hint with some of those random variations.

    Matt
     
  17. Thomas Wilson

    Thomas Wilson Member

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    I guess it's just a religious thing.
     
  18. Nick Zentena

    Nick Zentena Member

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    Colorstar 3000 or newer Jobo units.

    I get the impression from most of the posts nobody has seen something like a colorstar.
     
  19. Nick Zentena

    Nick Zentena Member

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    Actually something like the colorstar almost calibrates itself. It can adjust for chemical drift. No need to shoot a grey card.
     
  20. Bob Carnie

    Bob Carnie Subscriber

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    Hi Dave
    Make a negative with fleshtone, three primary and three secondary colours, include a large greyscale against a nuetral grey background.
    Make the most perfect print to your eyes where the greyscale is nuetral and not shifting at both ends.
    Consider this your master print.
    Then make a ring around from this balance and make sure you are critical in your notes.
    Mount all the prints up around the Master Print and use as a reference for all future prints. search ring around and I have laid out a step by step somewhere here on this monster site.
    As some of the pro's have mentioned a well balanced VCNA and first step analyzer really helps for production , but if you are going in for fun and making a few prints a day then all you really need is'

    decent enlarging kit
    consistant film batches
    consistant developing
    good ring around
    good starting balance
    Viewing Filters
    and good light

    have fun


     
  21. Jim Michael

    Jim Michael Member

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    Back when I made custom prints I usually used the analyzer to make fine color adjustments for which the analog dials on the color head were not sufficiently accurate. Also as previously described to get a skin tone or neutral area color and density close enough for use of viewing filters.
     
  22. Thomas Wilson

    Thomas Wilson Member

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    Please explain-
     
  23. Dave Dawson

    Dave Dawson Member

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    Hi Bob, Thanks for the suggestions (and others)

    The Durst 138S with CLS301 colour head should be consistant.
    The paper will be processed in a Jobo ATL-2+ at +/- 0.5 deg
    Viewing filters are now ordered
    Yet to get film and paper stock
    Ringround yet to be made
    Fingers crossed.
    Cheers Dave


     
  24. Ed Sukach

    Ed Sukach Member

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    After a GREAT DEAL of practice, it became apparent to me that instead of being a "crutch" the use of an analyzer was essential to the preservation of my sanity. My wife has ACUTE - and I mean really *sharp* color vision, and I have proven time and time again that she, and no one else, can determine the difference caused by a 5cc shift in color balancing.
    No, it is NOT necessary to photograph a gray card at every session - although it is a very good idea to do so. An analyzer as the Colorstar 3000 can "average" various colors on an image ans establish and arbitray (no, not anally accurate) balance.
    After many moons of color processing, I can state unequivocally that there are many factors the affect color balance - the age and storage conditons of the paper; different production runs will balance differently; the age of the enlarger lamp; certainly, different chemistry - ad infinitim.
    Are analyzers fool proof ? ... yes. Idiot-proof... ? No. Occasionally, I will decide to override the analyzer information and (raising the sheild on "aesthetics" do something else.
    Analyzers, those that orperate propperly, will tell the truth. As with any "exposure meter" I may not want to use "the truth", and at times, "the truth" my not be appropriate.
    To me. a recurring nightmare is one where I struggle to make a color print withhout the use of an analyzer.
     
  25. WolfTales

    WolfTales Member

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    My understanding of color printing is removal of tints.

    Basically subtract CMY untill there is no tint left in the print - and your highlights and shadows are good.
     
  26. Thomas Wilson

    Thomas Wilson Member

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    I don't quite know how to respond to this. In my 25 years of printing color professionally, including countless portfolios for regional media photographers, a 5cc shift was automatic grounds for rejection.

    I guess the obvious question would be, who calibrates your analyzer? And, without a gray card or color wheel in the corner of every sheet of film or on every roll. how do you use the analyzer to correct color balance when their is no reference point for your negative?

    Assuming you can establish a true neutral value for each channel on the analyzer for ONE combination of paper emulsion and film emulsion, how can you then transfer these unique values to different film emulsions and expect the the same neutral balance? Try doing this with Kodak Gold 200, Kodak Portra 160 NC, and Fuji Pro 160 S.

    Clearly, you will need to adjust to the unique characteristics of each film emulsion. If you establish a benchmark of "Neutral" for Portra 160 NC lot# xyz123, printed on Fuji CA lot# abc456, and you then analyze Fuji Pro 160 C lot# lkj890, for printing on Fuji CA lot# abc456, the analyzer, of course, will only tell you what is "correct" for its benchmark, not your task at hand.

    Moreover, your readings from the Fuji Pro 160 C lot#ljk890 wont even be in the ballpark, as there is typically a 20 cc shift between these two emulsions.

    I have not even addressed the issue of changing light. Many of us shoot early morning or evening due to the warm, gentle light these times provide. Does your analyzer allow for these intentional differences in color? On the contrary. It will correct for them, leaving a dull, neutral print.

    I said previously in this thread that it must be a religious thing. So I guess that makes me a preacher for the opposing religion, "You don't need a stinkin' analyzer." If you can calibrate an analyzer, you can balance a print.