Day dreaming about doing RA4 at home...

Discussion in 'Color: Film, Paper, and Chemistry' started by tkamiya, Jan 10, 2013.

  1. tkamiya

    tkamiya Member

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    I am day dreaming about doing RA4 at home....

    I already have a color enlarger and since I do B&W work, most of the stuff are already here. My concern is over chemistry.

    I know I can buy all sorts of kits or chemistry individually. According to a tech note by Kodak and notes by kit manufacturers, once mixed to a working solution lasts weeks not months even in full bottles. In tray, 4 hours. That basically mean an evening of fun will cost me at least 20 dollars in chems.

    Seems chems for 1 liter cost about $20 no matter how I do this. When I do 8x10, 750cc to 1 liter is what I use for trays. I know tube uses less but I don't think I can control a dev time of 1 minute adequately evenly for all corners of paper if I have to pour and roll.

    Somewhere on APUG, I read a post by someone that basically said the chems for RA4 are "so cheap" it makes no sense to stress over keeping properties. It doesn't seem cheap to me.

    Am I missing something or have an awfully big misconception/misunderstanding?

    Couple more questions while I'm at this....

    Is RA4 development done to completion like B&W?
    Does temp/time variation result in color shift or just under/over development?
    How in the heck do you guys do this in complete darkness???
     
  2. pentaxuser

    pentaxuser Subscriber

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    Yes;No( room temp to 35C produces acceptable results); Some of us don't. We use a sodium lamp such as a DUKA.

    I wonder when, if ever, this myth that RA4 can only be done in total darkness will die. Can the myth last as long as the last 100 yr old Ilford employee churns out the last HP5+ while listening to Tex Ritter singing"Do not forsake me oh my darling" :D

    Seriously, just buy some chems and give it a go. If you have an itch then the only solution is to scratch it

    pentaxuser
     
  3. tkamiya

    tkamiya Member

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    Well.... when Kodak literature says that, is it a myth? Glad to know it doesn't have to be absolutely pitch black though. How's your chem cost?
     
  4. DREW WILEY

    DREW WILEY Member

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    Depends on the specific paper etc. Test any safelight. I would personally NEVER handle any kind of
    color paper except in total darkness. And RA4 chem does not keep well at all once it is mixed from
    concentate. I won't mix more than I need for a single session, daily. You might relax these rules a
    bit, but unless you have some scientific replenishment regimen, you might see a gradual degradation
    in the quality of color if the chem gets stale. It's easy enough to mix in small batches. Temperature
    control is vital for consistent results. That's simple if you have a tempering box or decent water
    bath. I recommend Kodak RA/RT chemistry, though there might be acceptable substitutes. I've
    never personally had good luck with "room temp" kits. I use 2 min times at 85F in drums. Be careful
    to have good ventilation. Open trays can be a bit nasty on your lungs, and harder to keep constant
    temp unless they too are suspended in a water jacket.
     
  5. pentaxuser

    pentaxuser Subscriber

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    Unless you leave your paper out for much longer than you need to expose it and then place in a tray/Nova slot processor/Jobo or other makes drum, then you will be safe at a light intensity that allows you to see what you are doing.

    I am in the U.K. so my chem costs may bear no relation to yours. It is also dependent on the period within which you use the chems and how many prints you do.

    If RA4 printing becomes a regular hobby then Kodak or Digibase chemicals become quite cheap. If you print once in a blue moon then dev does eventually go off and home processing can become expensive.

    I'd get a thermostatically controlled Nova processor anyway. It is great for B&W as well. Until you are sure about wanting to do RA4 you might want to try as small kit a kit as you can get.

    A Jobo processor is another possibility. This will do both C41 and RA4 via tanks and paper drums.

    If you abandon C41 and RA4 you can sell the processor for what you paid.

    There is a mass of threads on RA4, Kodak and Digibase chems etc. Do a search and have a look at them

    pentaxuser
     
  6. tkamiya

    tkamiya Member

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    Question....

    What varies when temp varies? Contrast? Density? Color shift?

    I didn't think about fumes. I may need to do drum then and do so in garage. I can easily rig up a rotating base myself.
     
  7. DREW WILEY

    DREW WILEY Member

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    You'll get a color shift. Then it will become very difficult to fine-tune your final results or even predict them. I am allergic to RA4 chem, so what I do is load the drum in the dark and then process
    it outdoors under a shaded canopy (obviously in mild weather). My big processor is actually on a wheeled cart. But if you simply buy an inexpensive drum, you can simply slowly roll in back and forth
    on the bed of your darkroom sink for the prescribed time. You don't need to spend big bucks for
    the learning curve. I assume you know how to make a water bath for keeping chem bottles at the correct temp. RA4 printing is really quite easy once you learn the basics.
     
  8. tkamiya

    tkamiya Member

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    I was going to buy some wheels, mount them upside down and put that in a large tub (of warm water).

    Sounds like tube method is a better way to go for more than few reasons. Thank you for your replies!
     
  9. tkamiya

    tkamiya Member

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    I will need to look for 8x10 tubes. I only have 16x20 kind here.
     
  10. polyglot

    polyglot Member

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    I do mine in a Jobo, which solves the temp thing. There are loads of RA4 threads on APUG but the salient points from them are:
    - the mixed developer keeps for ages, a year or more if you can exclude air (I use silvered mylar bags)
    - apparently dev concentrate doesn't keep at all once opened, maybe even if unopened
    - room temp works with some papers (Kodak) but not others (Fuji); if you get it nice and warm (33-38C) then the Fuji should be fine, just don't do it at 20C
    - bleach and fix kept separately keep forever but blix doesn't, so make up a 5L blix kit as 2.5L bleach+2.5L fix, then replenish your blix working solution with half-n-half
    - the blix is more expensive than dev; if the dev goes off then just buy more dev and keep using your old blix concentrates
    - the developer smells pretty bad (strong amines; "chokingly meaty" is the best description I can think of) but that's only a problem with trays or sticking your nose near the bottle
    - it's very cheap; look at the 4x5L Kodak kits from Ag Photo or US vendors. At 10mL replenishment per 8x10, that's a shirtload of printing from 5L let alone 20L.
    - paper is stupid-cheap compared to B&W especially if you can cut from rolls.
    - don't forget your prewash and dev starter

    I bought a 4x5L kit and sold one 5L unit to hoffy. I can sell you one too if you want to pay the postage but you're probably better off just getting the 4x5L directly and sharing it with people local to you instead of paying 2 lots of international postage.

    As to darkness, I go for complete darkness because my safelights are red LEDs and fog the RA4 strongly. What I do is place the open drum just to the left of my enlarger (lid just behind it) and the paper to the right. Getting paper into the easel isn't so hard except for large sheets, getting paper into the drum is pretty easy. Holding the easel down with blu-tack or tape reduces the risk of slippage and loss of framing accuracy due to accidental bumping that happens when you can't see. Once it's in the drum and closed, the lights go on for processing.

    Quit dreaming and start printing!
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Jan 10, 2013
  11. tkamiya

    tkamiya Member

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    Polygot,

    Thank you. Please explain first two points you made for me.... You said "the mixed developer keeps for ages" then said "concentrate doesn't keep at all" You mean once diluted, the devleloper keeps LONGER? That seem backwards.
     
  12. DREW WILEY

    DREW WILEY Member

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    Just the opposite. Once it's mixed, you need to use it soon.
     
  13. pentaxuser

    pentaxuser Subscriber

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    This is not an attempt to start a fight but what do others have to say about success or otherwise of Fuji paper being processed at room temp? Do all your experiences match polyglot? It may be that Fuji does not work at room temp. I don't know as I too used some old sheets of Kodak but it is important given that Fuji is the only paper obtainable in sheets and unless you want to buy rolls and cut your own then newcomers to RA4 might have to consider buying a heat controlled Nova or Jobo.

    OK tray processing at 35C is not impossible but it is not something I'd want to do without heated platforms for the trays and if this is necessary then you might as well spend money on a more convenient system such as a Jobo or Nova

    pentaxuser
     
  14. tkamiya

    tkamiya Member

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    More confusion....

    Looking at Kodak J-39 publication, it seems Kodak makes/made two different kind of RA chemicals. One that becomes Developer and Bleach-Fix and another that becomes Developer Replenisher RT and Bleach-Fix Replenisher. I can tell these are different chemicals because mixing instructions are different. Later also involves a starter.

    Looking at Adorama and B&H, it appears the latter is the only available choice. I can buy them in 10 liter bundles.
    http://www.adorama.com/KKRABFR10L.html
    http://www.adorama.com/KKRADRRT.html

    I will likely use these as one shot, not replenish.

    Am I assuming correctly that I CAN use these for one shot? What about starter? Do I need to add starter every time?
    http://www.adorama.com/KKRADS.html

    At this point, I'm thinking I'll either do tray or tube processing. (unless I go completely NUTS and buy a mini-lab... kidding!)

    I'm quite confused.
     
  15. Greg Davis

    Greg Davis Member

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    I process Fuji in a drum with Kodak RT at 83 degrees F. It looks identical to prints run at 95 degrees F. So do the Fuji process control strips.
     
  16. henry finley

    henry finley Member

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    I do not write because I particularly have a worthwhile contribution, other than to say The part about an evening of fun costing 20 dollars--that galled me. Not because you said it, but because it's so true. I could go on citing the riot act on how this came to be. But it annoys me to no end, and fills my mind with words that would surely get my profile deleted. Yeah, friend--ain't it the truth. It's disgusting.
     
  17. RPC

    RPC Member

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    I have processed Fuji CA in trays at room temperature with Kodak RA-RT and is a very close match to Endura paper.

    Despite what Kodak or anyone says, the mixed RA-RT replenisher stored in air-tight, glass bottles filled to the top lasts YEARS. I know this from experience and despite the fact that I and others have posted similar findings before many times on this forum, the myths persists that it has a short life. Such persistant myths seem to be a deterring force in keeping people from trying color printing.
     
  18. tkamiya

    tkamiya Member

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    Huh?

    I don't get it but if something I wrote annoyed someone, I apologize.
     
  19. tkamiya

    tkamiya Member

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    It's good to know that chems last longer than what the manufacturer says. On B&W side, I've noticed fixer lasts and lasts although manufacture typically says 2 months. Still good to know it's actually much better than that. I'm THIS close (holding fingers about 1/2" apart) to pulling a trigger and trying this myself.
     
  20. Sirius Glass

    Sirius Glass Subscriber

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    I would not worry about it if I was you. I think that someone is just having a bad decade!
     
  21. perkeleellinen

    perkeleellinen Member

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    My experience with Kodak RA4 dev: unopened bottles of concentrate go bad in around 2 years, mixed developer in plastic pop bottles squeezed to get out all the air is still good after 18 months.

    When our baby boy was born I didn't get into the darkroom for a good 18 months. When I did my unopened dev concentrate was bad, however stuff I'd mixed up 18 months prior was good.
     
  22. polyglot

    polyglot Member

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    Yes, it's a bit counterintuitive with the opened concentrate going bad faster than mixed replenisher. Kodak are very clear that opened concentrate will not keep, hence mixing up bags of replenisher and working your way through it. Obviously if you don't protect the replenisher carefully it will go bad too, but the consensus on APUG is that replenisher keeps far longer than open concentrate.

    Unopened concentrate will still only last a couple years from manufacture since the CD4 (or whatever it is) decomposes even without oxidation. But that's a cheap part.