Colour printing help?

Discussion in 'Color: Film, Paper, and Chemistry' started by ben-s, Sep 11, 2007.

  1. ben-s

    ben-s Member

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    I was browsing round the Calumet site earlier, and I noticed a 100 sheet box of kodak colour paper for just over £16. This got me thinking, and I believe I already have all the kit I need to make real colour prints;
    I have an enlarger with a dichroic colour head and a Jobo CPE-2 with one of the big 2840 print drums - Am I right in thinking this is all I need on the equipment front?

    What would you recommend as regards paper and chemistry? - I would be printing from a mixture of Fuji and Kodak film.

    I'll link to the stuff I've found (by the simple expedient of sorting the appropriate sections of the Calumet site by price :smile:), and I'd appreciate it if someone could say yea or nay to my ideas;
    Paper: "Kodak Ultra 8X10 100 Sheets F"
    Soup: "Tetenal Limited COLORTEC RA4 5L PRO PRINT KIT"

    I'm not really bothered whether the chemistry comes in kit form or individual concentrates.

    As I understand it, the process is very similar to the C-41 process - Dev, Blix, Wash - Is this correct?

    Thanks :smile:
     
  2. Nick Zentena

    Nick Zentena Member

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    I always have to check what Kodak is calling what this week. I think that's what used to be Portra Endura instead of Supra Endura. I like it. But then I liked the Supra III to -) The Kodak papers are likely your best choice. Stick to the pro lines. The consumer paper is IIRC higher contrast and not any cheaper.

    I don't know the Tetenal kit.

    I stick a stop between the Dev and Blix. May not be needed but hasn't hurt yet. I don't think it's supposed to be an indicator stop so if you go with the stop just get a plain one.
     
  3. Photo Engineer

    Photo Engineer Subscriber

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    Just don't use any color paper developer from anyone that uses CD4 in the kit. Your colors and your image stability will suffer.

    And, use a 30" stop with 2% acetic acid after the developer. You can use Kodak indicator stop bath.

    PE
     
  4. pentaxuser

    pentaxuser Subscriber

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    OK it now raises the $64,000 question. Which RA4 kits use CD4 and how do we find out?

    PE. Clearly we can rule out Kodak as being an offender. Trouble is there are a few Kodak kit stockists in the UK but they are very big kits with the usual attendant shelf life problem unless you have 100s of prints to do and in a relatively short time.

    Tetenal and Fotospeed cater for the small user quite well but my experience is that getting to the bottom of what ingredients they contain isn't always possible.

    Why do some companies use CD4 if there is a longevity problem? Was it once thought to be OK and subsequent research proved otherwise so big companies like Kodak switched?

    On what timescale are problems likely to manifest themselves?

    Thanks

    pentaxuser
     
  5. Photo Engineer

    Photo Engineer Subscriber

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    CD4 develops more rapidly than CD3. This allows the developer to work at lower temperatures in the 'normal' 45 second development time for a 100 F process.

    I've found that the CD3 vs CD4 yields worse dyes with CD4 with lower stability with the couplers in color papers.

    Also, you can use Kodak RA-RT developer replenisher at 68 deg F for 2 minutes and get excellent images with no problem in the hue of the dyes or their stability.

    So, you usually find CD4 in kits that advertize use at low temperature. I can't say which companies use it at this time. I can say that they sometimes give this information clearly on the bottle or in the MSDS.

    PE
     
  6. Michel Hardy-Vallée

    Michel Hardy-Vallée Membership Council Council

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    Ben,

    I had the exact same reasoning as you a few weeks ago. I had bought a colour enlarger with the intent of using it for B&W and for having just a better enlarger than I had already. But then the enlarger came with a drum and a motor base, plus other sundry items.

    So yep, if you have the dichro head and a drum processing unit, you're in very, very good shape to start developing. Your Jobo has everything you need for temperature control and timing; you must already have plenty of other darkroom items like measuring cups and mixing jugs.

    Here are a few things to consider:

    * First, read everything in this Kodak publication:
    http://www.kodak.com/global/en/professional/support/techPubs/j39/j39.jhtml

    It applies mostly to the Kodak chemicals, but the principles remain.

    * Ultra Endura is the high contrast Kodak paper. You might want to start with Supra Endura instead, which is the normal contrast paper.

    * If you can afford it, buy a box of Endura and a box of Crystal Archive. Using Fuji with Fuji and Kodak with Kodak might help in certain cases. I have a certain photograph that prints nicely on Kodak, but the colours do not match at all what I can see on CA. At any rate, that will give you an idea. Colour paper is cheaper than B&W paper (!!!) so it's worth doing a few tests.

    * To process RA-4, the steps are:
    - Prewet
    - Developer
    - Stop bath
    - Wash
    - Blix
    - Final wash

    In a hurry, you can omit the stop bath and subsequent wash, but you have a greater chance of processing errors. I ditch the stop bath for quick exposure checks (1-stop ballpark figure), never for colour balance proper.

    Developer temperature is the most critical: you should be spot on, no variation. On the other hand, there is a bracket of temps for the other steps, so you don't have to agonize over temp. But then, you have a Jobo so you're a happy man.

    * In terms of chemicals, the only ones I've used so far are the Kodak ones. I could find developer for 1-Gallon and Blix for 10L. 1 gal is not a huge lot of solution, and it keeps for a while in properly stoppered bottles (read Kodak's publication for duration). So I mixed everything, and stored in amber bottles. Blix can last pretty well in concentrated form, so I just mix 1L at a time. Kodak provides instruction in the pub linked above concerning proportions for partial mixes.

    * Get yourself a set of Kodak Color Print Viewing Filters on eBay or elsewhere (it may be a discontinued item). These will help you a lot figuring out which directions to correct for your colour balance. Also, picking up a colour darkroom book (almost any book) may help to understand colour balance. Kodak's publications are good and cheap: Colour Dataguide, Basic Developing & Enlarging in Color, etc.

    * If you use Kodak chemistry, beware that there is a one-shot process (RA-4) and a replenished process (RA-RT). I would stick with the one-shot process in your case.

    * Finally, keep a blow dryer around because you should judge a print only when it's completely dry. Wet RA prints have a bluish cast that may or may not be apparent, but which would distort colour balance judgements.
     
  7. dslater

    dslater Member

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    Hi,
    I recently started color printing myself. I didn't get a kit. Instead, I bought separate components. I got:

    Kodak Ektacolor RA Paper Developer, 1 Gallon.
    Here it is it adorama: http://www.adorama.com/KKRADG.html

    and I got:

    Kodak Ektacolor RA2 Bleach/Fix SM Tank, 6.3L
    http://www.adorama.com/KKRABFG.html

    for my Blix.

    It's quite easy to mix up partial amounts of developer and Blix from these components. If you put the remaining concentrates into smaller glass bottles, they should keep quite well.

    Also, you will go through more paper printing color than you will printing B&W. This is because you need to determine both exposure and color balance.
    On that note, I would recommend you get yourself a Jobo 2820 Test print drum. You can use this drum to process 4x5 sheets of paper using only 40ml of chemistry at a time. This should save you a lot in paper and chemistry while you're getting the color balance right. You also will probably want to get a set of print viewing filters to help determine color balance.

    You should definitely give it a try - it's great fun.
     
  8. dslater

    dslater Member

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    One more thing - get your self a good color thermometer and use it to monitor the temperature of the water bath in the Jobo and the temp of your chemistry.
     
  9. ben-s

    ben-s Member

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    Thanks Everyone!
    Michael & dslater, It's nice to hear from people who have gone down the same route as I'm considering.

    I was very surprised at the price of colour paper - as far as I am aware, it is devilishly complicated stuff to make, with many layers. I guess it all comes down to the quantity they make - at the speed they apparently run their coaters, a 100 sheet box would probably consume about a second or two of production!


    PE; I'm afraid I don't really know anything about the CD4 business - I take it Kodak made a new dev and called it CD4, then after it had been on the market a while, pulled the plug because it's couplers were short lived?

    How would I find out if a particular chemistry used CD4? - Is the giveaway the processing themerature?

    Tetenal make several kits, a few of which are "suitable for tray processing" - would these be the ones to be wary of?
    The kit I linked says it's for machine processing.
    I can't find any reference to CD4 in the tetenal info pages - any suggestions where I might find out definitely?
     
  10. Nick Zentena

    Nick Zentena Member

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    I always considered Portra Endura more the normal. Supra a bit higher. I think the stuff he's looking at is Portra but I can't keep up with Kodak :sad: Also for all I know the stuff may have different names in the UK.

    For a therometer a baby digital works fairly well. It's accurate in the colour zone. Down side is they tend to be kind of slow.
     
  11. Nick Zentena

    Nick Zentena Member

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  12. Nick Zentena

    Nick Zentena Member

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  13. ben-s

    ben-s Member

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    I already have a reasonably accurate thermometer, which I keep in the Jobo. The temperature is extremely consistent throughout the bath, as I added a recirculation pump on the recommendation of several people here.
     
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  15. Michel Hardy-Vallée

    Michel Hardy-Vallée Membership Council Council

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    Based on the Kodak docs, Portra was low, Supra medium, and Ultra high. So Supra is obviously more contrasty than Portra.

    I've had excellent contrast with shots taken in daylight on 400NC printed on Supra. Detail everywhere is preserved, from shadows to highlights. Perhaps some more contrasty films take more trouble to print.
     
  16. pentaxuser

    pentaxuser Subscriber

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    PE Thanks. If I have understood your correctly the plus for CD4 is its ability to develop at lower temp than the standard 45 sec at 35 degrees centrigrade. The big minus is its worse dyes and lower stability.

    Yet the Kodak RA-RT kit is OK at room temp. So what does the Kodak kit contain which makes it OK at room temp. Is this the CD3 that Nick Zentenna mentions?

    Will a CD4 kit operate at 35 dgrees C in addition to lower temps and if it does, do the same problems of worse dyes and lower stability manifest themselves? If anyone were to use a CD4 kit at 35 degrees C would the quality problems be there from the start or only appear in a matter of months, years etc. What timescale for such problems did your research indicate?

    As the original OP indicated such info isn't easy to find out. Last night I checked for any reference to CD4 and found it on one label but this was for C-41 developer. Based on Nick's post it looks as if CD4 for C-41 is in fact the correct stuff so I need have no worries there.

    Most of us have to trust that the suppliers are producing the correct kit. The chemistry of colour processing for both C-41 and RA4 is knowledge that's way beyond my reach.

    Someone, Nick I think, said that Kodak or Fuji kits will be fine, Unfortunately Fuji-Hunt kits as it they are called in the UK seem to be even harder to find than Kodak's.

    On Kit information and because we are the other side of the Atlantic, any contribution from UK users would be most welcome as well.

    Thanks

    pentaxuser
     
  17. ben-s

    ben-s Member

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    Ditto.

    Calumet have confused the hell out of me - they only sell the tetenal stuff as a kit, and the Kodak stuff has no proper descriptions, and cryptic names that don't properly tally up with Kodak's site...

    My problem is now that I don't know whether the Tetenal stuff has CD4 in it, and I don't know which of the 26 kodak items to get.

    I'm inclined to give the tetenal stuff a try, as I have had good results with their C41 and E6 kits.


    I wonder if we could set up a UK suppliers list, with the codes for specific items?
    Something along the lines of :
    To make an n Litre C41/E6/RA4 kit from Kodak/Fuji/Other chemicals,
    use supplier 1 part numbers: XXXXX, YYYYY, and ZZZZZ
    OR, supplier 2 part numbers: XXXXX, YYYYY, and ZZZZZ etc...
     
  18. Nick Zentena

    Nick Zentena Member

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    I don't know if Fuji makes any small kits. They make [or used to] make 1US gallon jugs of stuff. Plus bigger jugs. Most of the stuff keeps fairly well. You buy a jug of developer. One of bleach. One of fix. It's easy enough to replenish.

    You can get the various documents from the Fuji-Hunt website.

    The hard part is finding some body that will order the stuff for you. Locally I think one shop still might but other then that it's sweet talking a lab owner with a Fuji account.

    Kodak makes the same sort of stuff. Kits are nice when you first start out but in some ways it's more easy to buy the jugs on their own.
     
  19. pentaxuser

    pentaxuser Subscriber

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    Ben, your proposal is seconded. While we await PE's reply to my further set of questions which I think will help, all I can say is that so far I've used Tetenal RA4 and the now defunct Paterson RA4 kits. So far I haven't seen any problem that I recognise as such, but none of the prints are more than a couple of years old and it leaves the question: If I have used a CD4 kit, do I know how much better Kodak or Fuji kits might be? No is the short answer. I might be satisfied with second best and just don't know it.


    For what it is worth Morco seem to specialise in Kodak kits but like you I cannot really make head nor tail of what you order. I think a phone call is required but this assumes you can talk to a knowledgeable person and not just an order taker.

    The Morco website clearly assumes full knowledge on the part of the customer. I suppose that this is on the basis of their assumption that if you do RA4 printing, you have done it for years and know everything and if you're new to photography then you're a digi with no interest in RA4 or use a mini-lab.

    The alternative is Nova who sell a variety of kits. Hopefully the new man there is knowledgeable but such good advisors are getting to be rare.

    Whatever you find out let APUG know. I'll do the same. There are others on the site in the UK who do RA4 but I think we could hold the AGM in a telephone box!

    pentaxuser
     
  20. Matt5791

    Matt5791 Subscriber

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    I also recently got into colour printing. I ahev been using the Tetenal 5L 35deg. kit, in a Durst Printo.

    I wont go into too much detail, but ina nutshell, my first impresions are:

    1. It's a cheap.
    2. Chemicals last for ages once mixed. You pour them in the processor, switch on and start processing once they are up to temperature. Simple.
    3. Nailing the filtration is a lot easier than I was expecting, and the amount of adjustment seems to generlaly be very small.
    4. It is easier than B&W in many respects.
    5. The paper is cheap. In the UK Morco also have Kodak Endura 8X10 for £16.

    Matt
     
  21. Matt5791

    Matt5791 Subscriber

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    The new man is very knowledgeable, and I chatted to him a lot about RA4.

    Embarassingly, I just can't remember his name at present!
     
  22. dslater

    dslater Member

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    Just curious, how is it easier than B&W?
     
  23. Mick Fagan

    Mick Fagan Subscriber

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    CD-3

    4-amino-N-ethyl-N-(ß-methane-sulphonamidoethyl)-m-toluidine sesquisulphate monohydrate


    CD-4

    4-(N-ethyl-N-2-hydroxyethyl)2-methylphenylenediamine sulphate

    I'm not 100% sure on the accuracy of what I have written, but I believe that the above are the two main colour developing agents used these days.

    Colour printing is far easier to print than B&W because once you have the colour balance correct, you basically only have to get the density correct in various portions of the picture to get a quite pleasing thing.

    I can do bucket loads of colour prints in a darkroom session, whereas in B&W I work far slower.

    RA4 is called that, it means Rapid Access in 4 minutes. It is dry to dry in four minutes. So in four minutes you have a ready to evaluate colour print, compared to B&W fibre based paper where realistically you need to wait hours for air drying to occur to get a correct final evaluation. I force dry B&W fibre paper tests with a hair dryer, but my tests are only indicators of the final air dried print, close but not 100% the same.

    I have always found good colour printing to be easier than good B&W printing.

    Mick.
     
  24. dslater

    dslater Member

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    But with B&W, you just need to get the density correct.

    I'd say that you're just more careful/picky about your B&W prints. It also could reflect a difference in subject matter you choose for B&W vs. color. I currently am working on a color print that I still need to do some dodging and burning to get it right.

    But this is just the difference between Fiber and RC paper - you could work just as quickly in B&W with RC paper. For example with PF130 developer:
    45 sec dev.
    30 sec stop
    1:00 min fix in TF4 rapid fixer
    rinse and dry - can only get away with this with RC paper
     
  25. Matt5791

    Matt5791 Subscriber

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    I think the reason some people find colour printing "easier" is because a colour print is much more "right or wrong" - whereas monochrome is much more artistic - hence its continuing popularity many years after colour photography became mainstream.

    When I started in colour I was suprised how it was easier than I was expecting to nail the filtration.
     
  26. Mick Fagan

    Mick Fagan Subscriber

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    I pretty much nail a good colour print on the second enlargement from an unknown negative, these days:D

    If working off a contact sheet I already have a reference for density adjustments and any obvious colour casts. I do contact sheets of all 35mm colour stuff but usually only one contact sheet of a 4x5 colour set of shots. I work exclusively in C41 process by the way.

    Usually I see people who start out doing colour neg printing going ahead in leaps and bounds, then they flounder a bit with the odd quirky colour cast.

    Eventually if they are persistent and take reasonable notes, one day there will be a switch go on inside their head and colour printing becomes relatively easy.

    I would suggest that anyone doing colour use one brand of paper, film and chemicals until they feel comfortable doing colour. Then they can branch out and the sky is the limit.

    Mick.