Getting Started in RA-4

Discussion in 'Color: Film, Paper, and Chemistry' started by jcausey, May 9, 2005.

  1. jcausey

    jcausey Member

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    So, despite a bunch of whining and crying about no-one teaching RA-4 anymore in PMs, it looks like I've found someone to teach it, starting tomorrow... yay!

    I haven't shot color film in quite a while; I've been shooting black-and-white pretty exclusively for a long time. I've got a huge-ish stock of UC400 in my fridge (thanks to Target clearance sales), as well as a bit of Porta NC as well.

    In our classes, we take our C41 out to commercial labs for processing, then enlarge the prints on the school's enlargers (with dichroic heads), and process the prints in a processor (I believe it's a Noritsu -- I know the school just sold another Noritsu).

    Does anyone have tips for good papers to start with? I've heard lots of good things about Fuji Crystal Archive for LightJet printing, for instance, but I would suspect (purely through speculation) that Kodak films might print better on Endura... if the processor is not a Noritsu, would that make a difference?

    I would also appreciate any other tips for a budding color shooter and printer. Thanks so much in advance!
     
  2. Nick Zentena

    Nick Zentena Member

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    I'm happy with Kodak paper. It works with all the films I've thrown at it. OTOH I keep hearing people complain about Fuji paper with non Fuji film.
     
  3. L Gebhardt

    L Gebhardt Subscriber

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    I have only been printing RA-4 for a short time, so take my opinions with that in mind. I like the Kodak Endura paper better than Crystal Archive with the Kodak line of films. I also appeciate that Endura comes in three contrast grades, plus the neat Metallic paper. I have had no trouble printing Fuji films on the Endura paper.
     
  4. Claire Senft

    Claire Senft Member

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    I have bought some very nice Fuji Crystal Archive from Ebay. Careful checking, asking questions etc can save a lot of $. When you are first learning you can expect to waste a lot of paper.
     
  5. jcausey

    jcausey Member

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    That makes sense to me; I know I still waste quite a bit of paper printing B&W -- although I try not to see it as a waste, since I know it's helping me learn. With color balancing and whatnot I'm sure I'll waste even more RA-4...
     
  6. Nick Zentena

    Nick Zentena Member

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    I've bought a fair bit of paper off Ebay. All came from supposedly pro labs. All was supposedly well stored. The Kodak paper has been fine. The Fuji had problems. The worst part is the Kodak paper was much older then the Fuji.

    I don't think buying potentially bad paper off Ebay makes sense when you're just starting out. Buy a box of fresh paper from your local dealer. This way when you have problems the paper won't have to be ruled out. Later when you know bad from good then you can gamble on Ebay paper.
     
  7. jcausey

    jcausey Member

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    Good advice on the eBay thing; I'll definitely be buying fresh paper. I'm a firm believer in minimizing variables and avoiding false economies -- my fellow students tease me mercilessly for using test prints instead of test strips, and yet are somehow surprised when our prof always comments on my high level of print quality in critique.

    Thanks to everyone for their advice so far!
     
  8. Ed Sukach

    Ed Sukach Member

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    Try the Ultrafine RA-4 paper from Photowarehouse. I've been using it for the last couple of weeks, and I am VERY satisfied with it. Even less expensive, yet!
     
  9. Adrian Twiss

    Adrian Twiss Member

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    I steer clear of buying colour paper from Ebay. I bought some agfa signum and tried to print some Portra 400 NC negs. The green cast was very difficult to get rid of. As a rule I like fuji crystal archive and find it easy to use. It is very reasonably priced in the UK. Using paper that I know is consistently fresh makes life a lot easier.
     
  10. jcausey

    jcausey Member

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    Would you guys be comfortable buying new color paper like Endura or Crystal Archive from a reputable mail order firm like Freestyle or Calumet, or would you worry about temperature transitions in shipping?
     
  11. brent8927

    brent8927 Subscriber

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    I've bought Ilfochrome paper from B&H and it was perfect when I recieved it. Of course, for Ilfochrome your only options are: buy expired paper from local dealer, have dealer special order the paper, which takes two weeks or so, or order it online, where you get the paper quicker and save a bit of money as well.

    Of course Ilfochrome is different than RA-4 paper, but I'd still imagine ordering online would have no problems, especially since I always order my film from B&H and it's always been great, even the one time that the UPS driver handed me a package that felt like it was about 110 degrees...
     
  12. FilmIs4Ever

    FilmIs4Ever Restricted Access

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    I second Ed's recommendation for the Ultrafine stuff. I'm not sure whose paper it is they've rebranded (I've heard that it's almost certainly not Kodak though), but it is a fine product. I've been teaching myself how to print color for the past few weeks, and it's really done a good job, although I have used a lot. Let me emphasize that it's not a waste of paper if you've learned valuable lessons on how the stuff behaves. The more mistakes and junk paper you get now, the better you'll be in the future. When and if you stick with it and get really good, you should be able to actually eyeball negatives and be able to print them perfectly within the third try, after making a contact print and maybe one 4x5 test print.

    Regards.
    ~KArl Borowski