Printing color with no color enlarger, with filters

Discussion in 'Enlarging' started by BetterSense, Jun 16, 2009.

  1. BetterSense

    BetterSense Member

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    I asked about RA4 printing a while back and it sounds like it's about the same as B&W but you need different chemicals, and there's a lot less materials available. You also need a special safelight or else to go in the dark.

    I haven't found a cheap color enlarger, all I have is my Omega C700 derivative condenser enlarger. I've heard that you can use color filters; is this a total nightmare or is it practical? Where do you get the filters? It seems like maybe once you figure out the necessary filter stack for a certain film and paper, it might pretty much stay the same forever. Or not?

    Also, I suppose an eye for color is something that must be developed. Based on my digital-editing abilities, I don't have one. I just know when the colors look wrong. How do you know what needs adjusted? B&W seems simpler in terms of figuring out what is wrong.
     
  2. Thomas Wilson

    Thomas Wilson Member

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    With all due respect, if you can't find a cheap color enlarger in Dallas, you haven't been looking very hard. In the Baltimore-Washington-Northern Virginia corridor, 6x6 Beseler & Omegas are going from free to $200.00. Average price seems to be about $75.00.
     
  3. Erik L

    Erik L Subscriber

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    You can get the filters at freestyle. To judge the color balance you need some viewing filters (also freestyle) or a keen eye that will tell you how much you need to change your filter pack. It's pretty simple to use the filters but it will take you a few test prints to get the correct filter pack but once you have it it should be the same for your whole pack of paper. When you change paper batches you will need to re test.
    Give it a shot, it's easier than b/w printing imo.
    erik
     
  4. fschifano

    fschifano Member

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    The color filter set you'll need can be had from Freestyle. Find them here. You'll need the 3 in sq. set and might have to cut them down a bit to fit the filter drawer. It's a pain in the ass, but it can be done. Using a dichro enlarger is a lot easier. As for the safelight, you're probably best off working in the dark. See if you can find a Beseler print drum and roller. They come up every now and then on Ebay for not much money. You load the paper into the drum and then pour chemistry into and out of the tank much the same you you would a daylight film developing tank. The motorized roller provides agitation, and the system uses very little chemistry per print. But be careful, because the motorized bases often don't work. Mine is completely dead. Even though it shows no signs of abuse, the motor doesn't run. I can still use the drum without the roller base by rolling it back and forth across the table.
     
  5. Nick Zentena

    Nick Zentena Member

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    Colour is in some ways easier then B&W. B&W isn't a normal state for most of us. So when we look at a B&W print it's open to much more creative interperation. OTOH with a colour print if the grass isn't green people will notice.

    First you get the exposure right. Then you get the colour balance right. Always exposure first. Get a hair dryer to dry the test prints. You can't judge wet prints well. Worse when you start adjusting the colour you may need to adjust the exposure a little.
     
  6. Ian Grant

    Ian Grant Subscriber

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    You can use a B&W enlarger with filters and get excellent results many of us did in the 70's before colour heads became more common

    However the bulbs and voltage regulation & stability in colour enlargers is vastly superior and it's far easier to get consistent results, as others have said colour enlargers are plentiful and cheap, quite a number appear in the Classifieds here on APUG.

    Ian
     
  7. BetterSense

    BetterSense Member

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    I bought a Beseler 23CII today. I don't even know if it works yet, and I don't know where I'm going to put it.
     
  8. 2F/2F

    2F/2F Member

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    You will find one if you look.

    Or, you can track down a color head for your enlarger.

    Or, you can purchase yellow and magenta CC filters and stack them in your filter drawer. You get 5-point precision that way, while with a color head you get 1-point precision. If you want to go this route, look for the small Ilfochrome set on E-Bay (or trim down a large set). I have one I would gladly sell you for very little, but it is kind of a "permanent loan", so I can't. They should be cheap on E-Bay, however.
     
  9. Sirius Glass

    Sirius Glass Subscriber

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    You can pick up a color head for your machine on eBay or Craig's List. Dallas is big enough to have a large active Craig's List. The prices are down compared to a few years ago.

    Steve
     
  10. BetterSense

    BetterSense Member

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    I just bought a color-headed Beseler 23CII. It has the color knobs on it. That's exactly how much I know about it; I don't suppose this thing does 4x5? It's huge compared to my Omega Concept 6 enlarger.

    So you are saying that the color filters is actually more precise than using a color head?
     
  11. nworth

    nworth Subscriber

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    I did a quick check, and Freestyle was the only place I found that still offered filters for below the lens use. You need a filter holder, like the one for multigrade filters to use these effectively. It would be a real pain to try to hold them by hend. Most enlargers come with a holder that you can swing under the lens, but you can get one that attaches to the lens as part of the multigrade filter kit. You have to be careful in handling these filters. They are pretty fragile, and cleaning is an uncertain thing. You also can use at most three filters at a time. (The kits come with enough values so that this is not much of a problem.)
     
  12. Sirius Glass

    Sirius Glass Subscriber

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    BetterSense, I must be clairvoyant. I posted about buying a color head and minutes later, you posted that you bought one!

    Enjoy!

    Steve
     
  13. Anscojohn

    Anscojohn Subscriber

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    I, myself, never found color printing worth the effort; yet I have a friend who loved to do Cibachrome. To each his own. The color head on the Beseler is great for b/w printing though: a diffusion head can give smoother tonality; and contrast changes with VC papers are merely a question of dialing in the proper filtration. And max on that enlarger is 6 x 9 cm.
     
  14. BetterSense

    BetterSense Member

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    So this enlarger has a diffusion head? My old enlarger is a condenser. I can't say I have any trouble with it. Are diffusion heads less sharp? It sounds like it lol. I heard they had less contrast than condenser heads.

    I guess I have to mark the M and Y dials for the proper grades according to the Illford data sheet. At least after I see if it works. Right now I still have it piled in the darkcloset, hidden from my wife until the weekend when I have plausible GAS deniability.
     
  15. Sirius Glass

    Sirius Glass Subscriber

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    When I worked a Kodak, I had wonderful darkrooms available to me. I used a Super Chromega 5XL Dichoric II and the Kreonite machine. The Kreonite was a wonderful machine and I got spoiled. I would not process enough color prints to make the investment of money, time and space for a Kreonite machine. If one was locally available, I would use it. For now I have an optical photoprocessor do my custom work.

    Steve
     
  16. 2F/2F

    2F/2F Member

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    Reading the OP again, I would suggest that you check out or purchase Henry Horenstein's "Color Photography - A Working Manual", and that you read it thoroughly. It will help a beginning color shooter/printer quite a lot.
     
  17. L Gebhardt

    L Gebhardt Subscriber

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    1 point precision is better, so you will have more accuracy with the color head. Your results will probably be a bit more repeatable with the cut filters since there is no slop in the dials. However the dichroic filters do not fade (I suspect the acetate filters do). Once you are fine tuning an image 2CC can make or break some images, so using filters that only go to 5CC increments would be very limiting.
     
  18. Sirius Glass

    Sirius Glass Subscriber

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    Kodak published the Kodak Color Darkroom Dataguide. It is a useful reference. You can find copies on the internet.

    Also, only use one or two filters at a time on the color head. If you use three, you will be creating a neutral density filter and just cutting down the light.

    Steve
     
  19. 2F/2F

    2F/2F Member

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    No. In regards to precision, lower numbers = more of it.

    As the fellow above said, absolute accuracy (how closely the numerical CC value dialed in matches the actual amount of filtration you are using) will vary between every set of filters, and is also affected by mechanical factors in the enlarger or CC filters. However, precision is far more important than accuracy. All you need to print is relative accuracy, not absolute accuracy. Precision in this case simply means how fine of control you have; to what degree of specificity you can reliably measure. CC filters come in 5-point increments at the smallest, while the knobs give you 1-point increments. Since the knobs are totally analog, you can also fudge fractions, though by definition, precision remains at one point even when you do this, since precision is defined by how far apart the hash marks on the knobs are.
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Jun 18, 2009