Quick RA-4 room temperature chemicals

Discussion in 'Color: Film, Paper, and Chemistry' started by hrst, Aug 26, 2009.

  1. hrst

    hrst Member

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    Hello everyone,

    I'm tray processing RA-4 prints at room temperature.

    I used Tetenal RA-4 chemicals until I found out that the blix is very problematic because it is sold as a "mono-concentrate" that has too short shelf life. As said here at APUG many times before, you shouldn't use these "mono-concentrate" RA-4 kits, and sadly I've seen this by myself. I was in contact with Tetenal; first they denied the problem but later they admitted it and sent me one kit free of charge saying they would work on with the problem.

    But I'm not interested in waiting if Tetenal could solve their "problems" or not. I could use Kodak RA-RT developer and blix at room temperature as suggested here, but it would need something around 2 + 2 minutes. Well, that's not so long but one thing I loved in Tetenal RA-4 process was the very short processing time 1 min dev + 15 sec stop + 45 sec blix. It allows so rapid testing of filtering :smile:.

    But all the room temp kits seem to be these "easy" monoconcentrates, ie. defective, faulty products. So, any ideas, is there any decent quick room temp RA-4 kit out there?

    Or could KODAK RA-RT dev and blix be used in higher concentration to shorten the processing times?

    Or will it be my destiny to wait for 2-3 minutes longer to see the results :sad:?
     
  2. Photo Engineer

    Photo Engineer Subscriber

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    Well, that is not too long to wait considering that the alternative is a problem. It either works or it does not IMHO. If it works and takes 4 minutes vs 2 minutes and does not work, I see you having a problem that involves failure or time. I guess only you can decide.

    Also, if the quick kit uses CD-4, the image stability will suffer.

    PE
     
  3. fotch

    fotch Member

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    How about getting a drum and at least be able to daylight process?
     
  4. hrst

    hrst Member

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    Thanks for answers!

    Well, one thing is sure: I'm not going back to any faulty product. So if there is no decent "room temp" product, then I'll give the paper the longer times. It's well manageable, compared to Ilfochrome.

    But another thing is that I've read here that Fuji CA might have problems with RT chemicals at room temperature. I use both Fuji and Kodak paper, which both worked with Tetenal room temp kit -- well, worked occasionally, when the blix happened to be good :wink:. Have you had problems with Fuji CA w/ KODAK RA-RT dev at room temp with lengthened times?

    About getting a drum -- I have a drum and Jobo processor, but tray processing is soooo much easier and faster and more fun that IMO using a drum is insane for RA-4 :smile:. I know that many people like drums but I'm not into them for many reasons.

    Tip of the day: many yellow leds have about the right wavelength so that they can be used as a color safelight. With a very large resistor, so that you can barely see after a while. This made RA4 much more fun for me. I've made my safelight so that it blinks at 0,5 Hz, with a duty cycle of about 30%. It decreases the total light output to 30% and you can easily count seconds when developing the paper. :D
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Aug 27, 2009
  5. mexico531

    mexico531 Member

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    I've been doing my own colour printing for many years - as far back as EP2 chemistry, and all I can say is that I find all the room temp RA4 chems that I've tried to be not much better than useless. I agree with you about drum processors; far too tedious. Why not do what I did and get yourself a Nova slot processor. They are heated and so are very fast on the dev time. They can be picked up on ebay for not too much money these days, as a lot of people are trying to unload their darkroom gear.
     
  6. PhotoJim

    PhotoJim Member

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    You really have two choices: heat up your chemicals (a Jobo helps immensely in this regard), or live with the longer times.
     
  7. perkeleellinen

    perkeleellinen Member

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    What are the problems these kits have? I'm also using the Tetenal mono kit and it's only been a week or so, but no problems yet...

    Do I need to keep an eye out for something?
     
  8. Domin

    Domin Member

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    When blix gets old, a precipitate forms. Blix works, but the precipitate fouls the prints. I've tried filtering through coffee filter but that didn't help much - the finest particles are the worst making it useless.
     
  9. perkeleellinen

    perkeleellinen Member

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    Thanks for the reply. Is this a problem for blix in concentrate form or made up in trays / slots?
     
  10. Photo Engineer

    Photo Engineer Subscriber

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    All single part blixes (except a few in patents) will decompose on the shelf before dilution to working strength or will decompose after dilution.

    This is an inevitabe reaction between Sodium or Ammonium Ferric EDTA (an oxidant) and Hypo and Sulfite (reductants). This gradually reduces the activity of the blix to zero while forming a white to yellow "grunge" in the solution which messes up any photo product.

    PE
     
  11. hrst

    hrst Member

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    The blix probably is completely unusable. It may work occasionally, with a luck, but you cannot use luck as a part of your workflow, especially when you have to pay more for Tetenal blix than for Kodak's blix! I also started with Tetenal kit and I didn't know what to expect from process RA-4, so I thought it was ok. Of course there will be a picture, but it will be a little darker, with somewhat duller colors and some stain and it may deteriorate even more when exposed to light (if there are silver halides left). It just doesn't look as good as with working blix. And if you some day want to experiment with reversal RA-4 process, which is a cross process, the blix has to be in perfect working condition, unless you will get very, very dark pictures due to negative and positive silver image overlapping.

    One thing I noticed with Tetenal blix is that it causes a muddy uneven red-yellowish stain to paper. This can be avoided by taking care that blix is carried on for only 45 seconds to one minute, no more. Which can lead to insufficient blixing, when the blix is in bad condition.

    If the blix has crud in it, don't use it unless you really have to. It may work or may not, but I've had to reblix many of my prints to give them brighter look. But, many of my print have needed reblixing even though the blix didn't have crud when the prints was made.

    And, even reblixing with proper blix won't help to Tetenal's staining problem.

    You were fooled with a con product, just like me and many, many other people!!

    If I were you, I would complain and ask for money back. Oh well, I have bought three kits and when I complained, Tetenal gave me one kit as a compensation..... And Tetenal didn't ship it to me directly but instructed a Finnish retailer to send me one free of charge... That meant that it has sat in the retailer's shelf for some time, so it was as bad as the others and worked only a little time.

    The kits don't have dates in them but they have a serial number. When I emailed Tetenal, they gave me production dates for the kits, so it became clear that one of the kits was only 4 months old. It worked when I first used it, but one or two months later, it didn't work anymore. So it's about half a year max after the ammonium ferric EDTA and ammonium thiosuplhate has been mixed together, just as I remember PE saying in some thread.
     
  12. Photo Engineer

    Photo Engineer Subscriber

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    Just a note to you all. I was part of the team that designed the blix and my blix formula 1066 is still used by Kodak with minor modifications. I went through several years of design work to insure stability and we did have failures and some remarkable successes (patented). Take my word for it. There are very few ways to make a 1 part blix kit or to make a 1 part blix working solution last any amount of time beyond about 6 months.

    Tetenal may think that they have some original chemistry but they appear to have missed the mark somehow. And, the yellow stain.... I know it well. I had a hard time fixing that in the Kodak blix.

    Best of luck to you all.

    PE
     
  13. hrst

    hrst Member

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    Now that I seem to be on a crusade against Tetenal, I should attach the email conversation here :D.

    The most frustrating moment was when I finally managed to get quite a nice reversal RA-4 print and next morning it was dark grey, after the sunlight hit it. First I thought that I've gone crazy but then it strike to me like a thunderbolt as I realized it was Tetenal's blix! That blix didn't even have crud in it!

    Here's the message I sent to Tetenal after that:

    Hello,

    I'm very disappointed in your product TETENAL RA-4 print kit 2,5l. There should be no reason to use monoconcentrate to help mixing. The blix has oxidant and reductant together and has too short shelf life in one concentrate.

    I have used two kits and the blix has somehow worked only occasionally. It has crud in it and the bleaching and fixing power is not sufficient. It can die
    before even getting to the final user. You should use two concentrates.

    I've now re-bleached and re-fixed a lot of my prints. Some of them are fine, some are not. This has caused me much work and hassle.

    Kind Regards,

    Antti Alhonen
    Finland.​

    When I got no answer, I sent a new email after two weeks:

    Hello,

    I sent you an e-mail on 2009-02-23. I haven't got any answer yet, so I'm asking you if you have read the mail and taken this problem seriously or not. I'm also interested to hear how you could compensate the defective kits for me.

    According to an expert at Analog Photography Users Group, not only the blix should be delivered as separate concentrates, but the colour developer also has to be delivered in separate concentrates -- an acidic one for CD-3 developing agent, for example, to help it preserve. The Color Developer I made has a milky appearance when mixed while it should be clear. Still, it has worked, but I recommend you to deliver CD as two or three separate concentrates. And, as I wrote you earlier, the blix absolutely needs two concentrates. I've much evidence how it fails and I've needed to re-blix many of my prints.

    RA-4 is one of the most stable processes here with exceptionally good shelf life, if the concentrates are properly made and separate.

    I have bought the three kits I've used from Nordfoto Versand, Germany. It is a big supplier (also having good reputation) so it should have an adequate turn-around time. At least, the Best Before End dates should be printed in the boxes, if you are going to further product these mono-concentrate kits. But I kindly recommend you to take this seriously and start packaging your chemistry as many concentrates. There's no idea in producing chemistry that will go bad even before being sold.

    Best Regards,
    Antti Alhonen​

    Then I got an answer:

    Dear Mr. Alhonen,

    The Colortec RA-4 Print Kit - Art. No. 102116 - is produced by Tetenal for more than 15 years and until today we have no basic problems with it.

    However, we would like to support you and kindly ask you to inform us about the purchasing date and the 6-digit production number that is printed/stamped on the box or on the bottle label.

    Thank you.

    Best Regards

    TETENAL AG & CO. KG ​

    I answerred:

    Hello and sorry about the late answer; I had to find the product boxes and invoices and luckily I found some of them.

    The first kit was bought from Nordfoto Versand Germany at 2007-10-05. This box has been gone for now and I can't tell the code for this. The prints made with this blix seem to be mostly ok, but I encountered severe problems where the picture whites got quite brown and muddy. Shortening the blix time to 45 seconds helped with this a little. Occasionally there were some crud in this blix, but not much. So this was "almost ok" but not quite. After one year the blix didn't work anymore, despite the concentrate being protected from aeration. If the concentrates were separated, I think there would be no problems.

    The second kit was bought from Fotoimpex, Germany - I remembered wrong, so, it was NOT bought from Nordfoto. This box was bought at 2008-10-22 and has production number 706606. This was totally unusable from the beginning. The blix has terrible amounts of crud in it. Some of the prints are still blixed okay but the most are not. I've now had to reblix almost all prints that were made with this kit.

    The third kit was bought from Nordfoto Versand 2009-01-14 and has a production number 846074. I haven't tried the blix yet because of my bad experience and instead I've used a separate ferricyanide bleach and ammounium thiosulphate fix I've made by myself. This kit has a developer having a milky appearance (as it shouldn't have), thus it still seems to work.

    Can you tell me when these kits (706606 and 846074) were produced and when they left your warehouse?

    Thank you for your co-operation.

    Best Regards,
    Antti Alhonen.

    I was then asked for my address and, while giving that, I bombed them with new questions:

    Hello,

    Thank you very much for taking this case under study!

    My full address is:
    ...

    Another interesting issue I have been thinking is: is it normal that the blix makes the paper whites a little brownish? I know that the RA-4 material can't have totally pure white at all, but this fogging usually happens in developer, am I right? I haven't compared with any other blixes, but using separate ferricyanide bleach and ammonium thiosulphate fix, I get no brownish whites. With your blix, the picture whites get very brown if the blix is carried on for two minutes; and even with 30 sec versus 60 sec there is a distinct difference. I think there should be no reason for blix to do this as it only should remove silver and halides from paper. For example, your E6 blix has the same kind of composition (ammonium ferric EDTA & ammonium thiosulphate) and it never leaves any stain in E6 film.

    Best Regards,

    Antti Alhonen.​

    Then I got an answer from some of the tech guys, instead of the customer center:

    Dear Mr. Alhonen,

    We refer to your e-mail dated 18. March 2009 and thank you for your feedback on RA-4 Print Kit, Art.No. 102116.
    As already mentioned before, the product has been manufactured since around 15 years, without any remarkable problems.

    In the meantime we have checked the production dates:
    706606 February 2007
    846074 November 2008

    We regret, that you did not get the expected normal results with the Print Kit. Unfortunately it is almost impossible to find out reasons in retrospect. However, we take care that you will receive free of charge a new Print Kit Art.No. 102116, please understand as token of our appreciation.

    Please be so kind to send any technical inquiries to our Technical Service Department. e-mail: ...... The direct way is the shortest and should save time.

    Thanks a lot for your kind cooperation.

    Best regards

    TETENAL AG & CO. KG ​

    Then, nothing happened in two weeks, and then, suddenly, they carefully admitted the problem they had so intensively denied:

    Dear Mr. Alhonen,

    Please don't be surprised, that you have not yet received the replacement delivery - the delivery by parcel service from Germany is very expensive due to additional charges for dangerous goods.

    We are checking since 1 week to send it via our Finnish distributor and are waiting for their answer.

    We kindly ask you for some patience.

    Concerning your complaint, we learned that our R&D department intends to prepare a new formula in the near future to solve the problem described.

    Have a nice Easter holiday!

    And, finally, I got the replacement kit. The blix worked with a few prints but decomposed quite quickly, just like before. I think it's unbelievable that this kind of product is produced for 15 years. It "almost works" but maybe it's enough for most people. But still, the unbelievable part of the story is that it would be SO easy to just put the blix concentrates in two f*cking bottles instead of one! It can't be that hard :D. Now, they wouldn't need any kind of "new formula", just a new packaging! Argh. How can it be this hard.
     
  14. perkeleellinen

    perkeleellinen Member

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    Thanks. I'm very new to this and chose the Tetenal because that was all the shop stocked that was room temperature.

    So, if I read this thread correctly. The solution is to buy Kodak chemistry that is designed to be heated to 38, but just extend the time depending upon the room temperature?

    With the Tetenal my dev & blix times are 90 seconds each. Is your idea to increase that to 2 minutes each with the Kodak?

    Is this the stuff?

    http://www.ag-photographic.co.uk/kodak-ra4-developer-kit-4x5l-295-p.asp
     
  15. Photo Engineer

    Photo Engineer Subscriber

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    Use Kodak RA-RT developer replenisher with Endura paper at as low as 68F or 20C for 2', blix 2' and wash up to 10 mins until the hypo is removed.

    PE
     
  16. perkeleellinen

    perkeleellinen Member

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    Thanks. Now to find a UK supplier for RA-RT developer replenisher.
     
  17. tiberiustibz

    tiberiustibz Member

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    If you can't wait heat the trays up. Use a fish tank heater and put the trays in a tempered water bath. Metal trays would work best. I generally don't wait more than 30 seconds before hitting the lights with test strips anyways.
     
  18. lilserenity

    lilserenity Member

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    Maybe I've got lucky but I have been using Nova's RA4 room-temp chems, presumably very similiar to Tetenal's? Regardless I haven't had any problems with it yet, maybe I've got lucky but I have only just started with Ra4 in the past few weeks and the Blix I made up2 weeks ago is still good. I've done 15 8x10s so far.

    We will see what happens I guess but so far I have been very happy with the results on Supra Endura paper.
     
  19. paul_c5x4

    paul_c5x4 Subscriber

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    Ag Photographic lists both Kodak developer and bleach/fix. I would be tempted, but doubt if I could use it all up before the expiry date..
     
  20. perkeleellinen

    perkeleellinen Member

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    I'd seen that but wasn't sure if it was RA-RT developer replenisher. Isn't the best thing about that kit the small bottles meaning you can keep most of the concentrate sealed for longer?
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Aug 31, 2009
  21. hrst

    hrst Member

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    I have read many earlier threads and based on what I've read I would guess that:
    1) Even the mixed chemicals can last for six months with no problem, so...
    2) Opened concentrates should last for six months with no problem, probably even more.
    3) Unopened concentrates will last for two years, probably much more.
    4) And you can visually see when the concentrates are bad: developer is bad when part B (IIRC... but it's the one that has CD-3) gets dark, and blix is bad when the clear part gets "smudgy"...

    And, even if you had to dump some (which will be the case if you make only very few prints), it will still be so cheap compared to the Tetenal stuff...

    So, to me, the only downside seems to be the longer processing time :wink:. Maybe I can live with that, lol.

    I just ordered this stuff from Ag Photographic. As well as KODAK's E6 and FUJI's C41 kit. And a bunch of cheap RA-4 paper.
     
  22. lilserenity

    lilserenity Member

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    Any idea how much we would need to increase processing times with Ag Photographic RA4 kit? I've been using the Nova Mono RA4 kit with great success but I keep hearing bad stories and it does worry me that I might end up having some of these problems.

    So far I've done about 40 RA4 prints all pretty consistent and very pleased with them; but I'm trying to keep my options open.

    I have heard of times up to 4 minutes but I can't recall which step etc. I would tend to be processing between 18-22C depending on the outside temperature, it can easily get down to 18C in winter in my bath-dark-room :smile:

    Admittedly I've only been using the Nova Mono RA4 for a couple of weeks but it's been very successful so far.

    Vicky