Printing/Enlarging Kodak BW400CN

Discussion in 'Enlarging' started by Pioneer, Jul 11, 2012.

  1. Pioneer

    Pioneer Subscriber

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    I got a really good deal on some black and white film a while back so lately I have been shooting a lot of this Kodak BW400CN chromogenic black and white film. I love the look of the film under the loupe, and the 400 ISO is certainly flexible while remaining grain free, but I am just now getting ready to print some of the negatives. Since the negatives all have that orange backing, I am wondering how best to start with my printing to mask that color. Everything I have printed so far has been normal black and white so it was not an issue.

    I use a Beseler 45 enlarger with the Dichro 45 computerized color head and it would be helpful if there are some color head settings that I can use to start my printing with. I am a real amateur at this but I do know that I will need to do some experimentation with the negative itself to get a print that I like. But there is likely a setting for the color head that will remove that orange film base color as a variable to start with. I may be concerned over nothing, if so it was at least worth a question.

    Since I am still learning how to work with my enlarging I have limited myself to one paper. Right now the only paper I have is Arista EDU Ultra VC RC glossy, and I have a fair amount of this on hand. It has worked great for my previous work and it is certainly inexpensive for a learner. Obviously this is what I intend to work with if possible. However, if there is some other paper that is a better starting point, feel free to head me in the right direction. I have been looking for an excuse to try out some of the Ilford papers anyway.

    As always, thank you all very much for your time, and your help.

    If my limited search skills have resulted in my missing a great thread that fully explains how to start out with this film, I apologize. I would appreciate your pointing me in the right direction if possible.
     
  2. Gerald C Koch

    Gerald C Koch Member

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    Kodak BW400CN is really intended for commercial processing where the orange mask is approximately the same as for color negative films. This makes it easy for the commercial printers using color paper but is a PITA for home enlarging. Since you will be using BW papers there is no need to compensate for the orange mask. However, exposure times will be much longer than for ordinary BW negatives. Because of the mask you will have a problem with VC papers, I would suggest using a graded paper.
     
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  3. cowanw

    cowanw Member

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    But if all you have is VC papers then you will just have to use higher contrast settings or filters, perhaps 4 or so
     
  4. Thomas Bertilsson

    Thomas Bertilsson Subscriber

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    I have one of these negatives to print for a friend, and it takes a lot of work with the contrast filters to get it right. As Gerald points out, the film was designed for printing on color paper to obtain a black and white image, unlike Ilford's XP-2 Super, which has an almost neutral base, and much easier to deal with in the darkroom.

    The problem I see is that especially in a high contrast situation, where I can finally get the highlights under control, leaving shadows with some detail, the midtones look really flat and dull. If you decide to give the print a touch of high grade filtration after the normal exposure, in order to build some local contrast in the mid-tones, you really run the risk of completely blocking up your shadows, leaving them without detail at all. Some people care about shadow detail, while others don't. I'm the kind that thinks shadow detail is sometimes over-rated, and a good strong solid black can really emphasize a composition. But this doesn't work for everything, obviously. Some shadows need detail.

    Don't give up if you don't get good results immediately, but be fully aware that these b&w negs with an orange mask don't really follow normal logic when it comes to printing on b&w paper.
     
  5. Gerald C Koch

    Gerald C Koch Member

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    To elaborate a bit further, the dark orange mask distorts the response of the VC paper. You may dial in the contrast settings for grade 3 but you will not get a grade 3 response from the paper. Remember that VC papers use only the blue and green regions of the spectrum. The ratio of these colors determines the contrast of the paper. Orange filters out most of this region of the spectrum, but not equally for both colors. There's the rub.

    There are two options. You can get some graded paper and put up with long exposures or you can get the negatives commercially printed on color paper. Actually there is a third option give or trade the film to someone else. Sometimes a good deal is not a good deal.
     
  6. Nicholas Lindan

    Nicholas Lindan Advertiser Advertiser

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    Scanning is the right way to use this film. If you want a silver print then either IJ print a 1:1 contacting negative or send it out to have a negative made on a film recorder.

    It isn't designed for conventional B&W enlarging - with the amount of paper, chemistry and time that you will waste trying to get a rather lousy print from this film you will be dollars and days ahead chucking it and getting some TMax-400.

    If you are starting out this is a very poor place to start out from.
     
  7. TheFlyingCamera

    TheFlyingCamera Membership Council Council

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    I was able to get quite acceptable results on VC fiber paper, but yes, it took some tweaking. Start with about double your normal exposure time, and a minimum of grade 3 - 4 (LOTS of magenta filtration). I'd also investigate split-grade printing to coax the best possible out of this film. If your exposure technique is solid, you just need to get the first print dialed in and then your printing times/filtrations will be very consistent from that point onward.
     
  8. Pioneer

    Pioneer Subscriber

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    Ooof-Da

    I knew there was a reason I was holding off enlarging any of these negatives. Do you hear that Dear?? I am not just lazy!!

    Just so you know, I shoot a lot of conventional black and white as well, particularly in medium format, so this film is not my only option. However, I like learning new things so I figured this would be one of those opportunities. I just didn't think I would be learning this much. If I run into too many challenges I probably will sell it to someone who has a scanner. I do have one but scanning is not always the cake walk that people would have you believe either. Besides, I hate spending that much time with any computer.

    Based on your responses it almost seems like this might be a chance for me to play around with some color printing, without the color of course. I do have a Dichro color head after all, even though all I have ever used it for is to adjust contrast for my normal black and white printing.

    I think I will also pick up a small selection of graded, fiber paper to try out as well. If it doesn't work so well with these negs I can always play around with it using my standard negs.

    Are there any suggestions out there for some inexpensive, graded black and white fiber papers, maybe a sample pack of different grades. Also, maybe someone could steer me towards some inexpensive color paper and chemicals to try out.

    Again, thanks for your suggestions
     
  9. markbarendt

    markbarendt Subscriber

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    http://www.adorama.com/FJSFAC810G.html

    http://www.adorama.com/KKRADRRT.html

    http://www.adorama.com/KKRABFR10L.html

    RA developing is easy, you don't have to have the developer starter, starter is used in replenished systems. In the darkroom, safelight off, I work in total darkness. I prefer to warm up my chemicals to match one of the temperatures in the Kodak tech pub, other people do it at room temp.

    Adjusting the filter pack is the toughest part.

    A Beseler color calculator, or something similar will help a bunch, they do a good job at getting exposure and color close. They come up on eBay and APUG on occasion, a want to buy ad here might find you one. Here's an example http://www.ebay.com/itm/BESELER-COL...521?pt=LH_DefaultDomain_0&hash=item2a1aa2e511

    A print viewing filter kit is helpful. http://www.ebay.com/itm/200788521085#ht_500wt_922 It helps you figure out which way to go.
     
  10. Pioneer

    Pioneer Subscriber

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    Wow! Just had a chance to check your links. Great stuff. 10 liters of developer and Blix may be a touch much for my playing around. I just checked and Freestyle's 2 liter kit may be more my speed for starters. Hmm, lots more options than I thought.
     
  11. markbarendt

    markbarendt Subscriber

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    When starting in color your going to go through a bunch of paper and chemicals. I make up 5-liter batches and store it in recycled wine "boxes". You can make up smaller batches too.

    For me 10-liters is enough for about 200 8x10s. (I'm not as efficient as a minilab which can get about 500.) Roughly $50 plus shipping from Adorama.

    I've used the arista stuff (using your logic when I started) and it works fine, similar sheet throughput. So maybe 40 sheets For $32 (and I bet the shipping is within pennies). So for 18 bucks extra with the 10-liter kit, you get enough to do roughly 160 more sheets. If you reorder Arista even once you are behind the 1 10-liter Kodak kit.

    Given the learning curve, if you get 4 nice prints out of the first 40 you will have done well, it gets easier and nice proofs come more often after you "get it", but even today if I get 1 really nice print (not just a nice proof) out of 5 tries with a new negative, I've done well.

    I actually buy roll paper now, 300 or so feet at a whack and don't bat an eye when I need another 10 liters.
     
  12. polyglot

    polyglot Member

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    I was going to suggest the RA4 thing too. You'll get colour funkiness unless the filter pack is exactly right, but that can be a powerful creative option should you choose to employ it.

    If you want to print on graded paper, there's one more contrast hiccup to deal with: the C41 process is aimed at (I think) a contrast index of about 0.5, whereas people will typically develop B&W films to a CI of 0.7 to print a "normal scene" on grade 2 paper. So even without the orange mask causing you grief with VC papers, the lower inherent contrast of C41 will mean you need to print harder still. If you're buying graded papers for the film you've already shot, I'd start with grades 3 and 4 to mitigate the lower CI.