I need a refresher on RA-4 products...

Discussion in 'Color: Film, Paper, and Chemistry' started by Michel Hardy-Vallée, Mar 19, 2011.

  1. Michel Hardy-Vallée

    Michel Hardy-Vallée Membership Council Council

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    Yes, yes, GFE and the archives are there, but there seems to have been so many conflicting claims recently over the availability of RA-4 papers and chemistry that I thought this question would at least be useful to all the other sobs like me in need of a summary.

    It's been a while since I printed RA-4, almost two years, and my last trip to the local photo store was not encouraging (welcome to Montreal, where we fear above all looking left behind). I was looking for:

    * 8x10 or 11x14 RA-4 paper: what's left from Kodak and Fuji?
    * RA-4 developer: I used to get the Kodak 1-Gal kit, do they still manufacture it?
    * RA-4 bleach+fix: I used to get the Kodak 10L kit, same question?

    Other questions:

    * Are the Tetenal or other third party RA-4 products worth using?
    * Did Fuji ever made small-batches RA-4 chemistry available in North America?
    * If you live in Canada, are you able to get chems shipped either from another Canadian place, or from the USA?

    You do understand that asking those questions to the 18 year old clerk at the photo shop has yielded so far nothing more than confusion and ignorance, so I'll pass on the suggestion to call the shop!
     
  2. hrst

    hrst Member

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    The situation in Europe is quite good IMO;

    http://www.ag-photographic.co.uk/fuji-crystal-archive-sheet-sizes-331-c.asp
    http://www.ag-photographic.co.uk/kodak-ra4-developer-kit-4x5l-295-p.asp
    http://www.ag-photographic.co.uk/kodak-ra4-blix-kit-4x5l-296-p.asp
    http://www.ag-photographic.co.uk/fuji-hunt-x-press-ra4-5l-1753-p.asp

    http://www.nordfoto.de/cgi-bin/nfvshop/iboshop.cgi?show50110,174437118722259
    http://www.nordfoto.de/cgi-bin/nfvshop/iboshop.cgi?show50212,174437118722259 (Tetenal 5 liter "pro" kit probably works)

    As for other questions, Tetenal 2.5 liter kit is faulty stuff unless you can get it very fresh. You have to check the serial production number (printed inside the box last time I used it) and ask for production date from Tetenal, and if it's more than 6 months old, don't buy it. However, the 5 liter kit should be okay according to some.
     
  3. Bob-D659

    Bob-D659 Member

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    In Canada, Kodak 10 liter kits RA/RT are still available, Kodak cut sheet paper is history. Fuji cut sheet paper is available, but only via mail order from the US, AFAIK. See http://www.darkroomcentral.ca for mail order chemistry in Canada, under the color paper tab. Kodak ship the 10 liter kits of RA/RT colour chems in boxes containing four kits, so unless you want 40 liters, you have to get them from a dealer who breaks up the factory cartons.
     
  4. hrst

    hrst Member

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    I have to add my experience about diluting the big kits --

    The undiluted original concentrates GO bad in the original bottles after opening in about 6 months. I have seen this with developer AND the fixer part of blix. You have to transfer them to new, squeezable or small bottles if you do this...

    HOWEVER, I have found that both developer and blix keep very very well after mixed to the final dilution! This has been somewhat surprising to me. It is probably partly because the diluted solutions are very easy to keep completely airtight in 100% full or squeezed bottles. My experiences with PET and HDPE bottles, air squeezed out, are both very good. About year for both developer and blix, at least for now.
     
  5. brucemuir

    brucemuir Member

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    Michel,
    Are you processing in trays or do you have some sort of auto drum like a jobo?

    I use trays and 10L Kodak RA/RT Mfr. Part: 8415580
    This will work in trays at less than optimal temperatures. I've used it successfully down to 64f with extended development times. (1:45-2:00 minutes)
    Adorama will ship in US but don't know what prices are to Canada and what restrictions are in place.

    For Blix I use Kodak Mfr. Part: 8309031
    I use no starters for either of these and we have good authority that none is needed.

    Current papers offered now seem to be optimized for both digital & optical exposure which may compromise for rnlargers.
    I still have a fair amount of Supra Endura (older stock still can be found in the US) and got a good deal on a 611 ft roll of Kodak Edge (thinner base/support). The Edge is okay but the Supra Endura looks much better.

    I did use Fuji CA about 5 years back but haven't tried any of the MANY types of CA on the market now.
    IDK how it behaves in trays at lower temps.

    Good luck, I just came out of my DR where I was printing some Portra NC from a new to me 60mm Zeiss Distagon and it reminded me just how worthwhile it is sorting all this out.
    I
     
  6. Bob-D659

    Bob-D659 Member

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    Purging the Kodak concentrate bottles with argon/nitrogen extends their life well over a year. BTDT, have the nice prints to prove it too. :smile:

    Yes keeping the mixed chems in recycled pop/water bottles with the air squeezed out has them keeping for at least 7 months. I have some mixed last august that I use for testing once a month, they are still good. :smile:
     
  7. MattKing

    MattKing Subscriber

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    You can get Fuji cut paper from Beau Photo in Vancouver. They don't have a web store, but sell a significant amount of analogue materials. They sell and ship, but warn about shipping costs.

    http://www.beauphoto.com/

    Ask for the film and darkroom section.

    They can also get and ship anything in the current Kodak and Fuji (Canada) catalogues, but they aren't necessary set up to advise you on what you want.
     
  8. Photo Engineer

    Photo Engineer Subscriber

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    This may be true if you are lucky, but the developing agent is not packed under an inert atmosphere, but rather under a mix of inert gas and Sulfur Dioxide. When you open the bottle the first time, you smell this excess SO2 gas.

    Once lost, the developing agent part begins to go bad much more rapidly than otherwise, and the final solution can lack some sulfite.

    PE
     
  9. brucemuir

    brucemuir Member

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    PE, what's your opinion on storing the developer mixed to working solution?
     
  10. Greg Davis

    Greg Davis Member

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    You may find some old stock of Kodak cut sheets that are still in date, but for brand new you would have to buy a roll of their Endura VC paper and cut it yourself. Fuji Crystal Archive Type II is still available in cut sheets.
     
  11. Photo Engineer

    Photo Engineer Subscriber

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    I use Jobo bottles. I have kept full and partly full bottles for 6 to 9 months if I use a nitrogen blanket over the solution.

    PE
     
  12. hrst

    hrst Member

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    Actually, I can't get RA-4 working solution go bad even if I try! I had some 1,5 years old, heavily used, lying around (in a squeezed bottle) and it worked just fine. I have left the developer in open trays for several days in some occasions, and it still works. I just find it more robust than any other color or BW process or BW paper developers.

    Of course, this doesn't mean that you have to try to abuse it like I did :wink:. But this should give you some idea about the "safety margin".
     
  13. pentaxuser

    pentaxuser Subscriber

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    If you can set up a DIY cutter and based purely on U.K. prices but this should apply elsewhere, the savings on buying rolls are very substantial.

    If you prefer Kodak RA4 paper then a DIY cutter is essential or will be very soon as cut stocks run out.

    Given the reluctance users might have to cut their own stuff with fears of making a mess of it and given that Kodak still makes the paper, I have never understood why Kodak decided to cut out a couple of easily done stages in the factory i.e the cutting and boxing and hand over the cut sheet market place to Fuji?

    Anyone know Kodak's reasoning?

    pentaxuser
     
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  15. hrst

    hrst Member

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    I don't think there is that much problem in cutting down the rolls. The real problem is that Kodak does have no paper left for optical enlarging. Some people report bad, some good results from the new "digital" paper but there are very few examples seen. Kodak itself says that neutrals are cyan if skin tones are balanced right. And contrast is very high.

    The "plain" Fuji CA, on the other hand, should still be "optimized" for both optical & digital exposure, and it works. Endura VC may be as usable, but the official information doesn't sound very appealing and we still lack experimental information.
     
  16. EdSawyer

    EdSawyer Member

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    There's a bit of endura in-date still floating about, and it keeps well so even a few years out of date, it will still be fine. Get what you can now, if you want Endura. I am sitting on about 3000 sheets of it in various sizes, and using the oldest stuff first.

    I use the 10L RA/RT kits from Kodak. As mentioned they come 4 to a case, which is a good way to buy it since it cuts down on excess shipping costs, and keeps fairly well in sealed containers, I think.

    -Ed
     
  17. Michel Hardy-Vallée

    Michel Hardy-Vallée Membership Council Council

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    OK, so I went to Darkroom Central and the Bleach/Fix set they have is totally what I used to buy. However they did not have the 1-Gal dev kit. Anybody has a source for it in Canada? With the 1-Gal kit, I would dilute the whole stash, use intensively over one or two darkroom sessions, and not worry about extra chemicals going bad. I worry that the 10L developer kit might lead to some losses.

    I process in Unicolor drums, never tried in trays, but I might eventually give it a try.

    Found out that Henry's online store has Fuji CA paper, and OMG! special-order Ilfochrome material. They just don't have a code for the Ilfochrome kits. I think I'll find out if they can get them.
     
  18. darkroom_rookie

    darkroom_rookie Member

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    In Croatia I can buy Tetenal professional RA4 chemistry (3-part dev with CD3, 2-part blix) directly at a warehouse of a supplier/distributor. Price is lower than the market price in Germany and the UK prices of Nova/Tetenal RA4 kits. OTOH, Kodak RA4 chemistry is extremely expensive over here.
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Mar 22, 2011
  19. hpulley

    hpulley Member

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    Are you using a stop bath with the 10L Kodak RA-4 developer and 10L Kodak RA-4 blix from darkroom central?

    Can I use stop bath from B&W (obviously just used for RA-4, not mixing with B&W paper or any film use) like Ilfostop indicator stop bath or is that not even recommended anymore?
     
  20. hpulley

    hpulley Member

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    Henrys lists some Endura paper too. Is that for real or ghost inventory I wonder???

    Which Fuji Crystal do they have, the new II stuff that people don't seem to like?
     
  21. hpulley

    hpulley Member

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    Ordered some Fuji Crystal Matt and Glossy and Kodak Endura from Henrys. I'll see what if anything they're able to ship. If they come up empty then I'll get something from B&H though I'm worried that they only have the Fuji Crystal Type II that few seem to like and no other cut paper.

    Also ordered from darkroomcentral.ca

    Still wondering about the stop bath question.
     
  22. hrst

    hrst Member

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    You can use "BW" acetic acid based stop bath for RA-4.

    I have had no problems with citric acid based stops ("odorless") either. Try it to see if it works for you.
     
  23. Michel Hardy-Vallée

    Michel Hardy-Vallée Membership Council Council

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    What's the problem with Type II ?
     
  24. Michel Hardy-Vallée

    Michel Hardy-Vallée Membership Council Council

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    BTW, stop bath is optional in RA-4. If you want to use it, however, you will do fine with any kind of acid stop: vinegar in water, indicator stop, Ilford's vitamin C, etc. Used them all without problem. It may help with consistency of results.
     
  25. hpulley

    hpulley Member

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    Thanks. I have the Ilford low odor citric acid indicator stop.
     
  26. Photo Engineer

    Photo Engineer Subscriber

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    I have been told that some stops are not suitable for color products. IDK all of the reasoning, but it may have to do with clearing out the PPD developer from the coating at a suitable pH.

    PE