Colour Newbie

Discussion in 'Color: Film, Paper, and Chemistry' started by paul owen, Sep 21, 2002.

  1. paul owen

    paul owen Member

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    I'm thinking of trying colour!! Until now I shoot purely black and white in 5x4. I process and print my negatives but I'm thinking about trying 5x4 transparency, processing them myself and then having them printed by a specialist lab. Is it cheaper to Do It Myself or send the sheets of film to be processed too? I'm based in the UK, so comments from UK users would be greatly appreciated!
     
  2. Prime

    Prime Member

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    Have you ever used color E6 in 35mm or MF?
     
  3. paul owen

    paul owen Member

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    I developed a roll of 120 Velvia once! Some time ago!! I just wondered from the economics is it worth DIY with 5x4 sheet film in (say) a CombiPlan tank?
     
  4. Prime

    Prime Member

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    I'm not sure about the economics of it, but you might initially save time (and money) by sending the film to a lab while you adjust the rating, color, etc. to your taste. If you do this, I'd recommend sending the film to a competent, consistent lab - not "Spike's Pretty Good Barber School and 1-Hour Foto Shack." I'd also recommend, from reading and from experience, making two identical exposures and sending the film in batches (the power went out and they dropped the film - ruined some of it).
     
  5. b.e.wilson

    b.e.wilson Member

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    I shoot primarily E6 film, and haven't sent any to a lab in years. Here's my take on it:

    If you can control temp and times, temp with a Jobo or equivalent and times with a cheap multi-timer, then it's a fairly easy thing processing your own E6. Chemicals can go down the drain (I use the Kodak Single-use E6 kits). Setup of the Jobo and chem mixing takes about an hour, which includes temperature stabilization times (I mix the chems in warm water to hasten the temp stabilization), then each batch requires about 50 minutes of effort (from loading the tank to hanging the fiml to dry).

    Each kit costs about $45, and I find that I can process 18 sheets at a time in the 2840 tank using three 2509n reels. Each batch uses one liter of chems (the Jobo CPA/CPP had 1 L storage bottles). I can process two batches with each liter fo chems, so the 5L E6 kit will process 180 sheets. That works out to $0.25 a sheet. And if I carefully extend the first developer time, I can easily process a third tank with each liter of chems, lowering the cost-per-sheet to $.17. The $800 I spent for a used Jobo CPA and the extra $200 in additional drums and reels paid for itself after 500 sheets (about 1.5 years worth of shooting, presuming I have sheets processed locally for $2.25 each). Pretty good economics for me.

    In two years I have ruined a total of 12 sheets (all on the same day, probably due to some fixer getting into one of the developers, but I never tracked it down).

    Using the R-3 chems is also working out very economically for me. I'll be able to process over 2000 16x20 prints with the pro 12.5/25/12.5 gallon R3 kit, which costs $350. Fuji Type-35 paper costs either $1.50 per 16x20 paper-backed sheet or $5.00 for the polyester backing. You can compare this with what your local lab charges for a 16x20.

    Now, my experience with home color porcessing is based on my research in enzyme kinetics, where time and temperature control is paramount, so I found that getting consitent development was no problem at all. If you've never dealt with tightly-controlled processes, or have trouble following directions exactly, you may find that consistent work is a little harder to achieve.

    Consult if you wish two articles I've written on the subject:
    http://chem.dynu.com/photo/colordkrm.asp
    http://chem.dynu.com/photo/chemistries.asp
     
  6. steve

    steve Member

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    I'll take the flip side of the last post. I make my own color prints but haven't processed color film in years. I find that if you have a good commercial level lab who runs strict process control, the results are totally satisfactory. It relieves you of the burden of developing film - putting you back out photographing instead of being in the darkroom doing a shake 'n bake process. Black and white, of course is a whole different story as there really is a reason to be there working with the film.
     
  7. David A. Goldfarb

    David A. Goldfarb Moderator Staff Member

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    I would agree with that. I've processed my own C-41 and E-6 in the past, and have found that color film processing just isn't a creative process in the way that B&W film processing is. I'd rather send it out. You might want to do it if you need film processed quickly and live someplace where there are no convenient labs that can give you the quality you need, or if you frequently need something like fractional push processing, and don't have access to the sort of lab that does that routinely.

    Printing is another story.
     
  8. jd callow

    jd callow Moderator Staff Member

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    I process my own c41, but not e6. There is very little to recommend processing your own film except cost and control. The former only if you do a lot and the latter can be negligible if you have a good lab near by.

    When I'm in the UK I use the vault in Brighton for my colour processing, they do a good job and are nice folks. I have never used them for R prints nor do I know if they do them.

    If you are going to make prints you may wish to shot neg film. The prints will be nicer, cheaper and easier to come by.
     
  9. Ed Sukach

    Ed Sukach Member

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    </span><table border='0' align='center' width='95%' cellpadding='3' cellspacing='1'><tr><td>QUOTE (mrcallow @ Feb 11 2003, 02:49 PM)</td></tr><tr><td id='QUOTE'>I process my own c41, but not e6.&nbsp; There is very little to recommend processing your own film except cost and control.&nbsp; The former only if you do a lot and the latter can be negligible if you have a good lab near by.</td></tr></table><span class='postcolor'>
    I now process ALL of my C41 myself.

    Although I have used one of the *best*, most respected color labs - anywhere - "Advance" in the Cherry Hill Industrial Park, Danvers, MA ... I find that by processing C41 in my own darkroom, using one-shot chemicals (signifcantly? - I gave up on replenishment many years ago) the results are superior - at least in my judgement.

    Another consideration is privacy. I do a lot of nudes, and I have heard too many horror stories of teen-aged photo machine operators with hormones out of control, leaning on the "print buttons" to flood the local area with some of the more "indelicate" images.

    I am not on this Earth to cause grief to anyone - and that includes those that model for me... to say nothing of the potential damage to my reputation.
     
  10. jd callow

    jd callow Moderator Staff Member

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    </span><table border='0' align='center' width='95%' cellpadding='3' cellspacing='1'><tr><td>QUOTE (Ed Sukach @ Feb 12 2003, 06:27 AM)</td></tr><tr><td id='QUOTE'>
    I am not on this Earth to cause grief to anyone - and that includes those that model for me... to say nothing of the potential damage to my reputation.</td></tr></table><span class='postcolor'>
    Point well taken
     
  11. Les McLean

    Les McLean Subscriber

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    I have processed both E6 and C41 in Fotospeed chemistry and provided the temperature control is good I would say you will have no problems. I would prefer to process my own film rather than trust a lab for there are so few good labs left in business. When I did my own colour processing I used a Nova dip and dunk tank designed for 4 x 5 and although it is a bit crude in design it did work well, particularly the accuracy of the temperature control.

    My concern lies in your finding a good colour lab in the UK to print Ilfochromes. I know from my connection with Ilford that many labs are closing the Ilfochrome line in favour of digital. I have a friend, Calum Colvin who you may know of, who always had his Ilfochrome prints made in London but has now transferred to digital partly because he lives in Edinburgh and because of the difficulty in finding good labs. I know that he speaks highly of Genix Imaging, tel 0207 734 0742 you may wish to talk to them.

    I'm working on the Ilford stand at Focus in a couple of weeks so I'll talk to them to see if I they can recommend an Ilfochrome lab in the UK.
     
  12. Robert Kennedy

    Robert Kennedy Member

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    Interesting point Les. I am fortunate enough to live in a city with a major photographic school as well as people like Jack Dykinga living in it. So we have a couple of decent labs here and one very good one. But this is a rarity. And it does seem that the analog processes are being ignored by many labs in favor of the digital ones. One lab I tried before I found the really good lab looked impressive. But it turned out they were pretty much all focused on digital and working in that medium. They could do 95% of the stuff you needed O.K., but if you had anything odd they were pretty much useless. They had an incredibly hard time with the rolls of Macophot IR I gave them. To start with the were unable to find the developing specs (which happened because they were looking under MACROPHOTO not MacoPhot...apparently someone there couldn't read), and then they ripped a roll. And they still charged me full price! But they had the latest and greatest digital gear, so they got that crowd.

    I can seriously see a decent market appearing for home E-6 supplies and equipment in the future.

    And regarding nudes -

    One thing I look for in a lab to do nudes is age and professionalism. If there is a spotty faced youth behind the counter they will NOT get any nudes I have taken. The lab I regularly use has an older staff. Probably in the mid 30s to early 40s. The counter help is probably a minimum of 25 years-old. And that is just a couple of women (less chance of of them having a purient interest in any nudes I take). On average they are older and more experienced. So I get proffesionalism and quality work.
     
  13. Robert

    Robert Member

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    How long do the E6 chemicals keep? Buying the small kits is okay for just learning but they actually seem to cost about the same what a good lab wants. That's ignoring the equipment cost. OTOH the 1gallon kodak stuff seems reasonable in price IF the concentrate keeps.
     
  14. DKT

    DKT Member

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    They don't last long...you need to mix them up & use them ASAP. Kodak puts a date code on their packaging because the concentrates don't last forever either. With E6 there are too many variables--almost anything can & will go wrong eventually. I run E6 in our lab using a Wing Lynch processor, an Intellifaucet, Kodak 6 step kits, control strips etc and even though the processor is automatic, the actual process is anything but that. You need to have very good habits when you use E6--like consistent mixing and be very clean as well--contamination is a big problem. You need to do everything like a robot--the same way every time, so when something goes wrong & you start to troubleshoot, you can do it by process of elimination.

    Lucky for you though, Kodak has now made the Z119 manual, the E6 book , available free online. Here's a link:

    http://www.kodak.com/global/en/service/Zma...uals/z119.shtml

    FWIW, you won't get the control charts with this online version, but if you're not running control strips, you won't miss much there anyways....

    I had come up with about a zillion tips for setting up your process, but I couldn't seem to narrow them down....but I will quote a Kodak tech who told me that "not all E6 is E6", and I'll add that not all chrome films run the same way either. The 6 step kits are second best, and a replenished line of chemistry (the "real" E6) is the best. In a one-shot process, by the nature of the beast, there isn't as much control as in a replenished line. With the 6 step kits, you can tweak the steps by pH, specific gravity etc for your process. But I wouldn't recommend reusing those Kodak 5 liter kits. They were made for one-shot use and there could be problems--in fact, I don't see how there *couldn't* be--but I have never reused them, so YMMV.... We use over 5+ kits a week though as one-shot. Our cost is actually the same as that of our local Q Lab. What we get is more control--not neccesarily convenience though because there's the constant headache of maintaining the machine and mixing up all that chemistry. The only step I think you might could reuse would be the bleach--but you would have to aerate it. Whatever you do, DO NOT wash between the color developer and pre-bleach. This used to be called "conditioner" and still is in fact in some kits. Kodak E6 changed several years ago for formaldehyde free compliance. The stabilization part of the process in the 5 liter kits, is now done in the pre-bleach step and is triggered by carryover color developer. If you wash between these steps--as you once did with the previous kits--you will compromise the longevity of your film. The colr developer is used to completion in the process too, it's pretty much shot afterwards.

    No matter what chemistry you use, you'll probably need some sodium hydroxide 5N or sulfuric acid, or even both, to tweak the pH of your color developer. Kodak films go on a blue/yellow bias with the pH of the color developer--Fuji films shift magenta/green. My advice would be to pick one film and learn how to process it first, since all films like something a little different....we use longer final washes for instance with our Fujchrome, or else they tend to run magenta--coupled with adding alot of sodium hydroxide to the c.d. The new chrome films don't like pre-wets or any pre-heat using water...so you need a process that uses a dry pre-heat somehow, even if it's a tube and a hair dryer.....the temperature of the early steps is very critical, so even something like a room temp stainless reel can throw off the temp in a tank or a tube.


    Hope this isn't too confusing and have fun if you gotta do it at home, otherwise do what I do at home--send it out!

    BTW--E6 isn't going anywhere... your best bet will be either a Kodak Q lab or a Fuji Oasis Lab. Even the best labs can have off days too......


    KT

    Opinions expressed in this message may not represent the policy of my agency.
     
  15. Robert

    Robert Member

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    When you say they don't keep long do you mean the working solutions or the concentrates? I'd figure on doing everything one shot. I spent some time with the Kodak data sheets a while back.

    I ended up with the following feelings:

    1) The 500ml Agfa kits don't make sense. Works out to be about $5 a 35mm roll. Considering that's about what getting it done by a good lab would cost it's not worth it. Even if the equipment was free.

    2) The 5litre Kodak kits didn't make sense either. Not sure why. Maybe the life of the chemicals.

    3) The 1 gallon concentrates worked out cheap enough that I could forget the cost of chemicals. The only issue would be the life of the concentrates.
     
  16. David Hall

    David Hall Member

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    Paul,

    If you are in the UK (and I can't remember but it seemed like you are) than you should heed Les's words and worry about a quality lab. If he can't find one, there probably isn't one.

    However, since color film work is not at all the same as BW in terms of creativity and control, In my experience it is just about as cheap and with more consistencyk than you are able to accomplish at home to send the film to a lab.

    dgh
     
  17. DKT

    DKT Member

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    $5 a roll doesn't surprise me, considering our cost is about a buck per 4x5 sheet, even with the fact that we purchase on contract --we get Kodak chemistry at a really good discount , the hazmat shipping fee kills us on E6 though.....the chemistry is one thing, but the equipment cost is another and then you need to add in the utility cost of all that hot water and finally *time*. I never have understood the desire to mix smaller quantities of the chemistry, because it seems to me that you just increase the odds of improperly mixing the solutions--since specific gravity is so critical for speed & color balance. We use hydrometers too check the accuracy of our mixing containers. . I run and maintain the b&w deeptank in my job, and it's a replenished line. In b&w, if the specific gravity is off a bit, or there's a drift in the tank temps during the run--big deal, it's b&w.... In E6, BIG deal.....


    Kodak recommends something like 8 weeks for the opened concentrates only if they're broken down into tightly stoppered bottles. The bleach, fix and final rinse can be stored longer than that. If the concentrates are left in the original containers, the estimate drops to about a week for everything but the bleach, fix & final rinse. They stay the same at about 24 weeks or so. The problem is that those steps like First Dev, Rev Bath, Color Dev etc. are very sensitive to oxidation...they practially go bad the minute they're mixed up...In fact if you mix them up too vigorously, you can ruin them before you even get a run in....our machine uses hospital grade nitrogen to both lay a blanket across the holding tanks, and to also pump the chemsity by pressure into the processing trough. We turn the chemistry out of the machine though, and in a slow week will actually use slightly more to just get the chemistry replaced by fresher mixes. The stuff will go bad even under a blanket of nitrogen.....they call this topping off. The 5 liter kits were pretty much ready made for the Wing Lynch machines. The smallest tank size is 5 liters in a WL, ours is a 5 gallon model though. The older 1 gallon kits had to have the rev. bath diluted for the rotary processors and some other stuff done--but the new kits are made specifically for small tank and rotary tube processors--all one shot. Just my opinion, and I have never used anything but Kodak E6, but it's the way to go....fwiw, years ago, I learned on repl. machines and did it by hand in 3.5 gallon nitrogen burst lines too--but mostly a fuzzy memory now....I could do it at home, I have the equipment for it--water panels, temp controllers (phototherm) etc. but it would be like torture, and frankly I like to keep the chemistry as far away from my nose, eyes and body as physically possible--which for me means an automatic processor with enclosed tanks.....


    Gotta wind this up, but kodak doesn't make 1 gallon chemistry as far as I know, unless you're referring to some other manufacturer? The 5 liter kits are the smallest size. They make 5 gallon cube sizes of the real stuff for the tanklines, and there are some components that are sold in smaller sizes like the starters etc. The 5 liter Kodak kits are about as good as it gets for small one-shot use, unless you look at Tetenal chemistry maybe, which is pretty similar. Fuji CR56 is alot like the old E6 with conditioner--but in the end, they're all sorta the same---the process is a standard, and even the Fuji labs will run Kodak control strips. So the aim is to set up a standardized process with acceptable fudge room--which means about 10 points of color on either side of the aim and a little speed loss or gain. You could go to 2 Q labs next door to each other and split your film in half, and each lab could be off slightly and still be considered good.....

    Have fun--

    KT

    Opinions expressed in this message may not represent the policy of my agency
     
  18. Robert

    Robert Member

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    Well I was worried shelf life would be too short to make any sense for me. No way I could use that much chemistry in 8 weeks. 1gallon Kodak concentrates are on the price list for a local shop and it's also on B&H website. They aren't 1gallon of concentrates but they make up 1gallon of working solution.
     
  19. Ed Sukach

    Ed Sukach Member

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    May I suggest the JOBO E6 chmicals? I've used both JOBO and Photocolor "Three Bath" kits with excellent results.
    While possibly not quite as flexible as the Kodak chemicals, they are considerably easier to mix and a lot less complicated to use. Shelf life is resonable - something like a couple of months witth the opened concentrate bottles and this can be increased with the use of JOBO's "Protectan" spray.

    Try the JOBO web sites:
    Http://www.jobo-usa.com/index1.html
    and the German site: http://www.jobo.com/jobolab
     
  20. DKT

    DKT Member

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    You're right about the 1 gallon sizes, for some reason I thought they did away with those when they phased out the old kits. I have a product catalog from a couple of years ago that lists those sizes though, and it looks like it would be cheaper to just buy the 5 liter kits. Believe it or not, I get $96.50 as the total for each individual chemical opposed to $58 list. I suppose you could get them for a few dollars off list from some places, but still....It looks like the 1 gallon sizes are pretty much the same as the old 1 gallon kits. Those kits were aroun $80 or so list. Bleach has always been about the most expensive chemical in E6, and is the reason why even in one-shot processing alot of people try to bypass the bleach from the drain & recycle it. The bleach in that 1 gallon size is the most expensive component--it lists at almost $40.

    We used those 1 gallon kits for several years, and you need to do some tinkering with them to run in a rotary tube processor. The reversal bath needs to be diluted at 60% of it's strength--so you wind up throwing some of that away every time, or wind up with a bunch of half full bottles. We have a stockpile of partially used bottles from those kits. When we used the kits, we always used up more of one or two steps than the others it seemed, and had dozens of bottles lying around after a couple of years.....From reading the spec sheet in the catalog, it sounds like the only reason you would use that size would be to set up a small tankline that you later intended to replenish with the other cube chemistry, or if you intended to reuse it with adjustments. I still have all the tech sheets for that chemistry, and a lasting memory of it I have is the way the bleach always seemed to be in big hunks of crystals that needed to be pounded out practically when you were mixing it up....the new 5 liter kits are much easier to mix, easier to use in a rotary processor too. Chances are, if you're not shooting for critical color work or running control strips, you'll be able to just use them as is--no sodium hydroxide or sulfuric acid. Besides, 5 liters is just a little more than a gallon.....

    One other thing, don't think about skimping on the amount of chemistry used. If it were me, I'd use as much as possible in my tank. If I were using a 16 oz Nikkor tank for example, even for one roll, I'd fill it up. You need almost 150 ml of chemistry per roll of film. The rate is like 250ml per sq. foot. The problem with rotatry tubes is that constant agitation can oxidize the chemicals, so if you use just skimpy, bare minimum amounts, you set yourself up for potential problems...if you wanted to stretch out the life of the chemistry, the 1 gallon sizes might be the way to do it--the tech sheets explain this, I found a link on their website, so here it is:

    http://www.kodak.com/global/en/professiona...s/j83/j83.jhtml


    FWIW, you can mix smaller sizes of the 5 liter kits up. The instructions are printed on the box. The chemicals are all concentrates, it's pretty simple to do once you get the hang of it actually, you just need to be consistent . BTW--save yourself the grief of contamination problems and buy at least 4 mixing containers, funnels, stirring paddles etc. The E6 manual explains which ones can mixed in which containers. When we used the old 1 gallon kits, we used a set of containers for each step actually, but over the years went down to just 4. You can also use them for b&w chemistry, so it's not too redundant. The only other thing to worry about or think about is water quality. It needs to be sorta like a tropical fish aquarium if that makes any sense....chlorine and stuff like that is bad, but distilled water is usually not used because the ph can be off. We just use city tap water and filter it through 2, 5 micron cartridges....the water is pretty hard actually and we have to rebuild our water panels periodically.....fwiw, water is usually the main culprit of problems in E6...


    My coworker is the E6 guru more than I actually, and he always tells me that he doesn't understand how people can run E6 at home when it's such a PIA....his reasoning is that the processes are probably all out of control, but the subject matter isn't that critical, so it just doesn't seem like that big of a deal....I've had some pretty bad days running control strips and getting the proess to be just right on the charts and then having the film look like utter crap and have to go back to square one, so the only piece of practical advice I can give you is to pick one film, buy *alot* of the same emulsion number, and set your process up around that. Control strips are great & all that, but they don't always reflect what the final chrome film will look like. So, could be he's right, who am I to say?


    KT

    Opinions expressed in this message may not represent the policy of my agency.
     
  21. Robert

    Robert Member

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    I'm not sure if anybody locally carries the Jobo chemicals. I can think of only one place that sells Jobo equipment and they only have Kodak chemicals. The other thing is Kodak is in town. It's not too hard gettiing a dealer to order something from Kodak Canada.

    The 1gallon bleach is something like $39Canandian per gallon of bleach. Considering Kodak mentions 130 sheets of 4x5 per gallon chemical cost really isn't an issue.
     
  22. DKT

    DKT Member

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    You need to price the rest of the chemicals, and read the finer print on how to reuse them. I just don't see it as being any cheaper than the 5 liter kit. I mean 5 liters is like 1.3 gallons. You get everything you need in the kit for half the price almost of the 1 gallon chemistry. The only saving grace is that if you were to set up a small tankline & either reused it & dumped or replensihed it, you could buy individual steps and stagger them as you needed them. You'll understand this maybe if you start using it like this, because from what I understand from the tech sheet in front of me, you still only get about a month out of working solitons of the first four steps, then you get 4 months for the bleach & fix which are always really oxygen & abuse tolerant anyways. It's the first 4 steps that are so fussy. If you can't keep them in airtight containers, you only get 1 WEEK for the first four. The fine print says that you need to process as much film at a time per run. They're talking about batch processing here....not stertching out the chemistry for a roll here or there. The capacity numbers are different for small tanks versus the full gallon as well. But to me, a one gallon tank *is* a small tank....

    So, I just don't see the economics of it myself....reusing the bleach is a good idea for some though, and alot of labs are set up for this. We had a bypass valve put into our processor for this specific reason, but encountered problems getting it back into the tanks again eventually and having to deal with aerating the bleach as well.

    Bottom line for me is this: you will most likely not save any money doing it yourself. You may gain more control depending on your setup & level of skill. if it isn't a PIA to set up your process, it will be more convenient unless your lab is next door, but you will not save money and you will probably never get it right unless you run a replenished line with control strips.

    Incidentally that's 134 sheets of 4x5 per gallon of first developer, reversal bath, color dev, and pre-bleach. I don't have time to run the numbers on the bleach and fix, but it looks like you could get half as much or more out of them depending on how you're set up. BUT--that's 134 sheets in a ONE MONTH period in an airtight container. So, figure out how much film you shoot in a month in 4x5 and look at the cost from there in addition to the time, equipment etc.



    KT
     
  23. Robert

    Robert Member

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    I'm not sure why but it just seemed the 5litre kits wouldn't work for me. I agree neither really makes sense for me. I just don't need to process that much film in a short period of time. I don't worry about the added costs of the non-chemical things. The cost of just the gas to drive to the lab will cover a fair bit.
     
  24. DKT

    DKT Member

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    Sep 19, 2002
    okay...btw--in another hurry here, so forgive my horrendous spelling--I need to ammend that post up there...but the tech sheet also says that if you reuse the chemistry without replenishment--which again, incidentally, you need to use the bigger chemicals for this, not the 1 gallon concentrates--if you reuse by adding more time onto the first developer, and not repl. eventually you will start to run into pH problems with yopur color developer. They say you'll need to add sodium hydroxide 5N at various different rates depending upon tank size and usage. This to me says that the pH carryover from the reversal bath (which preps the color developer to do it's thing) is casuing the c.d. to turn acidic. Giving you what they call "the ektachrome blues"...for fujichorme, my guess is that you'd be running magenta. They can't really tell you how to much to add though, since it depends on your process--SO--they recommend running control strips....in my experience you could eyeball it if you had to, but it would be hard to get a consistent run out the chemistry. It just means that you'd have to do test runs prior to yur real run of film, much like running a control strip in the first place. But it would only make sense, if you had a std. way of doing it and evaluating the results and the film emulsion never changed within that time span. But, hey, that's what E6 is like anyways, so you might do alright after all...


    Have a good one--KT