how hard is it really to do RA4 printing at home?

Discussion in 'Color: Film, Paper, and Chemistry' started by kmallick, Jun 25, 2012.

  1. kmallick

    kmallick Subscriber

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    I have done E6 developing at home. I do have a color head enlarger. I am just wondering how difficult it is to try my hands at RA4 wet printing. Do I need to get a can that holds the paper inside? Do I get to process one page at a time? Can you please help me with links to websites or books that specifically talk about RA4 printing at home. Is it worth trying?
     
  2. PhotoJim

    PhotoJim Member

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    It's certainly doable if you're competent at black and white work. Ideally you use a Jobo processor (or similar) that provides a tempered bath and provides processing tubes. You put the paper in the tube in the dark, and process it on the rotary processor in the light (like you would film in a tank). The steps are very fast at high temperatures (high 30s C usually, as I recall) but at room temperature, a single sheet will take tens of minutes to develop so the tempering bath is very useful.

    Whether it's worth trying is up to you, but if you can get an inexpensive Jobo unit, you should absolutely do it. Without one, it involves greater amounts of fuss and hassle, but if you're enduring E6 already, you might be fine anyway. It is awfully fun seeing a full colour print come out of the developing tube.
     
  3. Chan Tran

    Chan Tran Member

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    Processing RA-4 should not be difficult for you as you have done E6. Your difficult would be to get the right color balance but that isn't all that difficult.
     
  4. Ian Grant

    Ian Grant Subscriber

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    It's worth a go and it's not so difficult as many imagine.

    Yes you process individual prints but with something like a Nova Slot processor it's very quick, rotary tanks take considerably longer to load, fill, empty wash clean etc.

    I used a Kodak book I acquired somewherev and it was straight forward but then I had done some colour printing in the late 1960's -Pavelle Process, that was not easy !!! Also Cibachromes in the mid 1970's- early 80's.

    Ian
     
  5. kmallick

    kmallick Subscriber

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    Thanks for the suggestions. I forgot to mention that I do have bath to maintain temperature. But I don't have any room for a JOBO or a rotary processor in my bathroom turned darkroom.
    Does anybody supply Nova slot processor in the US?
     
  6. ctsundevil

    ctsundevil Member

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    You can process RA-4 in trays at room temperature if you use the right chemicals. Kodak RA/RT developer and Kodak RA-4 Bleach/Fix are the ones to use. They have tremendous capacity and last a long time. Two minutes in each bath. Sometimes I use an acetic acid stop bath as well.
     
  7. kerne

    kerne Member

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    Search is your friend.

    APUG Article - http://www.apug.org/forums/forum221/58260-ra-4-printing-200-a.html

    Kodak Ektacolor PDF - http://wwwcaen.kodak.com/global/en/professional/support/techPubs/j39/j39.pdf

    Dev - http://www.adorama.com/KKRADRRT.html
    Bleach - http://www.adorama.com/KKRABFR10L.html

    The hardest part of doing RA4 is learning how to adjust the filters for proper color correction and by how much, but that comes with practice. A set of Kodak color printing filters is invaluable. http://www.amazon.com/Kodak-Color-Print-Viewing-Filter/dp/0879857919

    Here's a soon to end 'bay auction - http://www.ebay.com/itm/Kodak-Color-Print-Viewing-Filter-Kit-/150842537452?pt=LH_DefaultDomain_0&hash=item231eea75ec#ht_500wt_969

    My Beseler motor base and 8x10" drum take up slightly more counter space than a single 8x10" tray and it's nice to be able to turn the lights back on after loading the drum. Temperature is not a huge issue. I keep a small container of each chem in a heated bath and the drum only takes a few ounces. As you can see from Kodak's PDF, dev at 94F is only 1 minute. It can be adjusted 5 seconds per 1 degree F in either direction as shown by Kodak's chart on page 3 (45 secs at 97F or 1:15 min at 91F).

    Give it a go, even if you have to start with trays. You'll love it.
     
  8. E76

    E76 Member

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    It's very easy! While a temperature controlled bath is the way to go, I've processed RA-4 in trays at room temperature using Kodak Supra Endura and Ektacolor RA-RT chemistry. It takes two minutes to develop a sheet at room temperature¬ónot tens of minutes¬óand I had great results. (This method was recommended by PE in several threads.) I'm not sure if the same can be done with the Fuji Crystal Archive but it's worth a shot.
     
  9. Roger Cole

    Roger Cole Member

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    I've done it and plan to again. It's actually pretty easy. I have a Jobo but won't use it. I've used rotary tanks and never will again for paper. Huge PITA. Much prefer trays. Slot processor is nice but expensive. Developer tray in a water bath with acquarium heater is what I plan. Heater is not really necessary - many people do fine at room temperature with extended development, but raising it a bit (need not go to the specified temperature, just use the appropriate time for your temperature) will make it quicker and more consistent.

    The bleach-fix just goes to completion so no temperature control needed.

    Never had a color head enlarger either. CP filters in the filter drawer also work fine. Take a little longer to change filtration but it's really a small amount of time. Not as convenient but perfectly workable.

    Don't believe the story that you can't use a safelight either. I have a Duka 50 I reserve for color since the tube is not replaceable now, and that works fine, but even the very dark color printing filters for conventional safelights will provide enough light to see outlines, and that's a huge help.
     
  10. hrst

    hrst Member

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    Super duper easy. Do a forum search; there have been many discussions recently.

    NO! Never. Some masochists suggest that but it's up to yours if you want to do it hard and expensive or easy and cheap way. I'd suggest using trays. It's developer, stop and blix, just like you have developer, stop and fix in B&W process. The only difference is that RA-4 chemicals last much longer and can withstand much more oxidation in open trays than most B&W paper developers.

    Just as many as you like. I often sandwich two pages against each other, emulsions out to develop at the same time in trays. For more papers, you can use the shuffling procedure...

    Just do a forum search. In short: Buy Kodak RA-RT or Kodak RA-LU Developer and Blix kits (without starter), mix, use in trays at room temperature, develop for 2:00 to 2:30, stop for 0:30, optional rinse, blix for 2:00, final wash for 2:00-5:00, enjoy. Start with filtration printed in paper pack, usually something like 0C 45M 50Y. Add magenta to remove magenta cast. Reduce magenta to remove green cast. Add yellow to remove yellow cast. Reduce yellow to remove blue cast. Add magenta+yellow to remove red cast. Reduce magenta+yellow to remove cyan cast. Enjoy.

    The right question is NOT "have you done C-41 or E6?" but "have you done B&W printing?" -- because printing color is so close to it in procedures.
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Jun 26, 2012
  11. hrst

    hrst Member

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    No, IDEALLY you don't do that, but idiotically, yes.

    Ideal process does not involve playing with completely unnecessary extra gear with the only purpose of introducing chemistry loss, uncontrolled cross-contamination, dilution etc.

    Tasks regarding playing with drums quite much eat away any time saved in quicker process. If you absolutely need to boost up the speed, I would add a water bath for trays. You can also add more alkali to the developer for higher pH to work faster in room temperature.

    Or, if you WANT to play with extra equipment with some BENEFITS, not only drawbacks, you buy a roller transport processor or a slot processor. I'm still happy with trays at this point. Great way to start anyway.

    I would like to hear you elaborate on what this "greater amounts of fuss and hassle [without a Jobo]" you talk about is.
     
  12. Roger Cole

    Roger Cole Member

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    Done it both ways, agree with HST. Drums are a huge and un-necessary PITA. Must be rinsed and thoroughly dried between prints, or you WILL get spots on the next print. Time consuming hassle, and totally not needed.
     
  13. kmallick

    kmallick Subscriber

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    Thanks for all the links, suggestions and ideas. I am ready to jump in the tray processing of RA-4 printing.
    I see a lot of controversy about this, but can I use a red safelight?
     
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  15. PhotoJim

    PhotoJim Member

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    No you can't use a red safelight. Colour photographic paper is sensitive to red light. If you use trays, you need total darkness. (A poster above alleges you can develop in dim safelight but you'd need to do tests to see if you were getting any fogging.)

    As for hrst's comments, the tone of them has removed any motivation I had to reply to them.
     
  16. hrst

    hrst Member

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    You can use a SPECIAL COLOR safelight. It is very dim yellow with a specific sharp wavelength that coincides with the sensitivity gap between the green- and red-sensitive layers of the paper. I use standard yellow leds at very dim levels without problems, though, but you have to do careful testing especially in this case. The correct level of lighting is such that you cannot see anything right after turning off the room lights, but can see surprisingly well after your eyes adjusting for 5-10 minutes.

    I have no problems doing the process in complete darkness, too, but it's a nice little luxury thingie, and it helps when teaching people printing; it's nice they can see what I'm doing and what they are doing for the first time.

    That's perfectly fine too :wink:! It's best to save your motivation to the darkroom. (Sorry, I just like to say things straight without hidden feelings behind my words. I think that, in the end, it saves both time and hassle, just like tray processing does, even though on surface, you can argue otherwise.)
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Jun 26, 2012
  17. Roger Cole

    Roger Cole Member

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    PE has posted about safelights. I forget the Kodak filter number since I have the Duka for now. Drums will reduce the time the paper is exposed, true. RA4 paper is very fast. For trays with a safelight of course keep paper face down. Total darkness isn't that bad - I did it for a while - but it is nice seeing what you are doing. Of course you must test, as with anything - you should test your BW too.

    I won't personally call drums names or criticize people using them. I know some fine color printers who do. But me personally I found them a PITA. YMMV.
     
  18. DREW WILEY

    DREW WILEY Member

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    Drums are super easy to use. For casual use you can simply gently roll the drum back and forth in
    the sink. You don't even need a motor base. I don't personally like the Jobo because it fills and drains too slow, and is otherwise unnecessarily complicated. A dirt cheap DevTech drum will work better. You do need reliable temp control, but a simple water bath or tempering both can provide that. I don't like trays because too much chem is required and you get more exposure to the fumes. But whatever. In many ways developing RA4 is even easier than black and white printing, provided you've got a decent control negative to balance your colorhead.
     
  19. Roger Cole

    Roger Cole Member

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    See? Drew was one person I had in mind. :wink:

    There is more exposure to fumes. This was more important with Ilfochrome. It's the rinsing and drying of the drums that I find so annoying. It's just much, much slower, or at least was for me, using drums. It made it take far longer to do color printing than black and white (well that and test prints to determine color balance but that doesn't change that much for a given film once you determine it) even though the process itself is as fast or faster.
     
  20. PhotoJim

    PhotoJim Member

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    That's fine - and even desirable - except that there was no need to call my comments "idiotic", which is tantamount to calling me an idiot. It crossed a line.
     
  21. Roger Cole

    Roger Cole Member

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    I agree with that Jim, and should have pointed out that I was only agreeing with him that I find drums a lot of trouble compared to trays, not with the way he said it. My apologies for not doing so.
     
  22. PhotoJim

    PhotoJim Member

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    No offense taken, and that was my assumption.
     
  23. DREW WILEY

    DREW WILEY Member

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    Roger - small drums have always been so cheap that I just keep multiples on hand. I generally just
    use them for test strips, then make the full size print in one of the big drums. I'm allergic to RA4 so
    only make a few big prints a week. The drums are loaded in the darkroom and the processor wheeled
    onto the patio so I don't get a whiff of the chem. RA4 can slowly lead to sensitization, so better safe
    than sorry. If I had to make a significant quantity of small prints I have a 20-inch roller processor, but it hasn't seen use so far. The less complicated the machine the better. I've been offered a 50
    inch Kreonite, but am a bit lazy figuring out where to put it - plus all the new fume ducting and
    plumbing lines I'd have to add. Drums are a lot simpler up to about 30X40, then it gets dicey in terms
    of holding internal temp, solution volumes etc. I'd rather be spending time prepping negatives with
    masks etc than fussing with more equipment. I've done enough of that.
     
  24. Roger Cole

    Roger Cole Member

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    That's an idea, just having lots of drums. I'm afraid that wouldn't work much better for me right now as I have no running water in the basement where my current darkroom is located. I can work with a holding bath and big water jug with a spigot on it, but even if I had lots of drums it would be awfully inconvenient to run them up and down the stairs when I did need to rinse them thoroughly. My "big" water jug is 7 gallons - fine for mixing working solutions or even a hold tray, very quickly depleted by trying to rinse things, and then it goes into a catch bucket which also has to be emptied. It could have worked in my permanent darkroom back in my parents' basement in Tennessee.

    I did have problems with the fumes from the Tetenal RA4AT, particularly when it hit the stop bath, but people here tell me there's no explanation for that. Changing to citric acid stop (double B&W strength per Tetenal) helped, and going to a Print Pod with much less surface area exposed to air helped even more. I'm hoping the Kodak stuff used at only slightly elevated temperature won't be as bad, even in open trays. We'll see about that.

    I'm so far behind on black and white (have something like a dozen rolls to develop going back to last fall, and a dozen or so sheets of 4x5, plus stacks of contacts that still need to be enlarged, at least a few frames from each roll and some of the 4x5) and so short on darkroom time I am reluctant to jump back in right now and have another project that I don't get to do. But it's on the agenda.
     
  25. DREW WILEY

    DREW WILEY Member

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    Roger - I can't pin down the irritant in RA4. It's nothing corrossive like Ciba bleach, so doesn't give itself away by odor. I know a number of lab owners and their employees who got sensitized to RA4
    and couldn't be around it. I can work with it for about a week and then all of a sudden only tiny
    amts of the odor will irritate my resp system and make me very susceptible to cold virus etc. So I
    opt just to do the actual chem mixing and dev outdoors during mild weather (to keep temp variables
    within tolerance inside the drum). But ventilation is important even with much milder b&w chem.
     
  26. RPC

    RPC Member

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    An option for those who want to do RA-4 printing but are bothered by the odor is to use home-brew RA-4. It seems to be a preservative in the developer (in addition to a small amount of sulfite, too much of which will interfere with dye formation) that has the strong smell and if you mix it yourself you can leave it out and use only sulfite but the shelf life will be short, only a few days at most. But it is an option.