RA-4 101

Discussion in 'Color: Film, Paper, and Chemistry' started by FilmIs4Ever, Sep 2, 2004.

  1. FilmIs4Ever

    FilmIs4Ever Member

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    Hi everyone. I've just purchased a beautiful color enlarger and want to start making my own color prints. I can't stand 1 hour photo anymore now that all that's left are those horrible 300 dpi printers and gretags. Anyhow, I want to know if there's any chemicals for printing RA-4 at room temperature or if there's some approach that's even better. Do I need a voltage stabilizer and a heated rotary processor and a digital timer? Are there any of these that are available cheap? Thanks for your help
    ~Karl Borowski
     
  2. David A. Goldfarb

    David A. Goldfarb Moderator Staff Member Moderator

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    I used to use an RA-4 room temperature kit years ago, but I don't think it's made anymore. There may be one from Arista. Check freestylecamera.com.
     
  3. AllanD

    AllanD Member

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  4. Tom Duffy

    Tom Duffy Member

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    the power supply to your enlarger needs to be voltage stabilized for color printing. you might want to check if the power supply for your enlarger incorporates voltage stabilization or if you need to buy one separately.
    I've used the room temperature Tetenal mono 2.5 liter kits with very good results. If you buy a Nova slot processor, however, you can use the regular RA-4 5 liter kit at 86 or 95 F. This will end up costing you half as much per chemical volume.
    a rotary processor would be better for prints larger than 8x10 and up to 16x20.
    Take care,
    Tom
     
  5. psvensson

    psvensson Member

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    Welcome to color printing, Karl!
    I can recommend using Printmaster's Photocolor developer and Universal Bleach-Fix in trays at room temperature. They're available from B&H. They work great and last a long time, but for consistency you may need about 50% more time in the developer than the recommendation on the bottle. I've tried tube processing and find the trays much easier, even though I have to do it in the dark.

    Rowland Mowrey, an ex-Kodak researcher, says you can use Kodak's RA-RT chemistry at room temperature, even though it's designed for the 100F process. Development time is 2 minutes, if I remember correctly. He's on photo.net, but I'm not sure he's a member of this forum.

    If you go the tray route, you'll need something to time the developer - I use an old Spiratone Darkroom Director that's both an enlarging timer and a processing timer, but any timer you can activate and hear in the dark should be fine. I also put a few pieces of glow-in-the dark tape on the trays so I can find them in the dark.
     
  6. Peter Osuchowski

    Peter Osuchowski Member

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    it's not that difficult to get used to tray processing in the dark; i prefer trays to either a manual drum, or the nova processor. i just use an ungloved hand to agitate the tray and a gloved one to move the prints.
     
  7. Jennyann

    Jennyann Member

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    I have just started to develop and print my own colour negs. I started to develop the film in a standard tank by warming the chemicals and tank in a bowl but I now have a Jobo Duolab with a heated tank and I find the results of consistant heating and rotation give me much better negatives.

    I am using a Fujimoto G70 enlarger which I have just about got the hang of. To develop the prints I am using Paterson RA4 Printmaster at room temperature in a Paterson orbital processor. The results are turning out quite good if I use the developer and bleach fix as one shot chemicals (even for the test prints); however the orbital processor only takes 55ml of chemicals to process a print up to 10x8.

    I can use the Jobo Duolab processor for prints by developing at a higher temperature but I have not got around to this yet.

    Jenny
     
  8. FilmIs4Ever

    FilmIs4Ever Member

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    Print Processors

    Where would I get a rotary processor? Are these the ones that cost a few hundred dollars? I'd prefer not doing trays for all of my applications as I'm not the most consistent when I have to control temperature and time development myself. I have trouble enough with black and white timing. Color would be even worse for me, and I'm not sure I see any advantage in developing in trays if you can't even see your print until it gets into the blix. Also, I don't understand how one would go about printing in trays as color chemistry exhausts more quickly than black and white and must either be used one-shot or replenished. Do I have it right? I want to be able to churn out color prints like the darkrooms for newspapers used to do, as I will be doing a large quantity of prints in the coming months for my high school's yearbook and newspaper. This isn't to say that I won't also want to practice the artistic side of color, just that I want to get an efficient set up so that I can make do in a crunch. Thanks for all the help thus-far everyone!

    ~Karl
     
  9. Peter Osuchowski

    Peter Osuchowski Member

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    Karl,

    as for trays, i use them because i think they're faster. i use a drum for ilfochrome (cibachrome; i.e. "dye-destruction" prints from slides) because of the toxicity, but i hate it. the drum has to be rinsed & dried after every use!

    also, with the Tetanal Mono PK RA-4 kit, to my knowledge i've never had a problem with exhaustion because of exposure to air. i didn't even know this was an issue until i read the tech sheet for Kodak's (high temperature) RA-4 stuff. i don't think the concentrate keeps very well so i mix it all at once, and then i store the juice in collapsible bottles. it seems to work fine until i dump it after the suggested number of prints. "your results may vary."

    with the kit i just mentioned, timing isn't a problem because you can exceed the time for each step by 50% (as i recall) with no problems.

    you can check prices and get processors on-line from bhphotovideo.com or adorama.com or places like Calumet, if there's one near you. you should probably consider used ones, too, which can save you a bunch of dough.

    peter
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Oct 1, 2004
  10. David A. Goldfarb

    David A. Goldfarb Moderator Staff Member Moderator

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    Used drums are really cheap. If you've got room for them, you could accumulate a few to make things more efficient, at least to wash and dry one while another is spinning. You can also get bigger drums to run more prints at a time.
     
  11. Peter Osuchowski

    Peter Osuchowski Member

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    those Nova slotted print processors are pretty efficient. i would definitely consider getting one of those for volume printing like the yearbook. they don't take up a lot of space, either. i think they're a couple of hundred dollars, though, and you have a get the size for the prints you're making.

    (you attach a clip to the paper and slip it vertically into each of the slots in turn, and agitate by moving it back & forth in a circular motion while you watch the timer.)
     
  12. Nige

    Nige Subscriber

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    Since the topic is RA-4 101 anyone care to jot down the basic steps for one of the room temp chems using tray processing and the basic things needed (dev & bleach/fix) so I can go shopping!
     
  13. Ed Sukach

    Ed Sukach Member

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    The major problem with RA-4 in trays is the sensitivity to light. All the literature indicates "must be processed in complete darkness" ... a problem with tray development. I have the JOBO "Maxilux" LED safelight; there is a setting for "Color" - but using a rotary processor, I haven't tried it.

    The steps ... I print RA-4 color all the time, so I'll have to think about this for once ... here goes:

    Get a chemistry kit ... I'd recommend JOBO / Tetenal's room temperature RA-4 kit - and a decent thermometer. Check the information in the kit to figure processing times.
    "Standard" temperature is 35 degrees C (95F) - these are the times for the Tetenal RA-4 Professional Pak kit at that temperature... the "steps" are the same for room temperature processing:

    1. Expose the print.
    2. Normally, there would be a dry pre-heat - a minute or two to bring the print to processing temperature. Wouldn't be necessary at room temperature - its already there.
    3. Develop - One minute (remember this is for 35C).
    4. Shortstop (only time I use shortstop - really necessary in color printing) - 30 seconds.
    5. Bleach-Fix - one minute.
    6. Wash - same as any RC print .... five minutes or so.
    7. Air dry.

    Processing isn't complicated or difficult - actually pretty boring. Exposure - getting the color balance the way you want it - is.

    I *LOVE* my ColorStar 3000.
     
  14. Peter Osuchowski

    Peter Osuchowski Member

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    you'll need something to mix the chemistry in and 4 collapsible bottles, two 1L bottles for the developer and two for the blix. you keep used chemistry in one set and unused in another. that's so that you can replenish the volume in your trays. the volume of developer tends to decrease as you move prints into the (optional) stop bath, while the volume of bleach/fix tends to increase. you probably shouldn't use the color trays for anything else.

    after mixing the juice, i pour 1/2 of the mixtures into the trays and 1/2 into one set of bottles. however, it's a good idea to use as little as needed so as not to expose it to the air too much. it's also a good idea to mark the trays with reflective tape so you can see them in the dark, at least until you get the hang of it. set up a wash tray running at 80 degreed F, and keep a hair dryer around for drying test strips/prints to accurately check the color.

    you can get one of those kodak viewing filter sets and/or a neutral density transparency & test printer for making test prints, but i find all of those things useless. i do keep a notebook with standard filter packs for film/paper combinations under sunlight and tungsten, though.

    you can use a tong(s), but i find it easier to use one chemical-resistant vinyl glove and rinse & dry it well after each cycle. i don't think this ruins the chemistry, and it's MUCH easier to work with tests strips and not waste too much paper.

    so, to print, after i've got the chemistry set up and the bath running, i hang the glove over the edge of the sink near the developer so i can find it in the dark. i set the timer for 7 minutes or so (depending on the temp. of the developer as per the instructions in the Tetenal box: about 1.5 min for the dev, 30 secs for the stop bath, 1 min in the blix, and 2-3 min in the wash). i point the timer away from the enlarger and tape black cardboard to it to block the light.

    if you don't have a standard "filter pack" for your paper/film combination, you can use the one on the box. it may vary from one emulsion to another, so write it down so you can vary your filter pack when you buy another box of paper. in other words, make a note of your filtration *relative* to the numbers on the box.

    dial the filter pack into the color enlarger, or use something like the Ilford Cibachrome color filters and stick them into the filter holder on your black & white enlarger.

    turn off all the lights (total darkness), expose the paper, open the easel, put glove on one hand, start the timer, grab the paper and stick it into the developer. agitate & touch the corners. when moving from one solution to another, let it drain for about 10 seconds, keeping it away from the glow of the timer.

    voila! once it's been in the blix about 20-30 seconds, you can turn on the lights.

    after it's been in the wash about 2 minutes, you can dry it with the hair dryer and check the color and exposure.

    ok, that was quite a lecture :wink: but i think you'll get the hang of it pretty fast. in fact i always feel a little wierd printing black and white because the lights are on.
     
  15. Nige

    Nige Subscriber

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    thanks guys! couple of further questions...

    short stop.. just water or something else?

    Paper, I've checked my likely suppliers website and they have Kodak Supra, Ilford Cpm-1m, Fuji CA70 and Agfa Signum listed under colour papers. Are any better than the others? I want realistic colours if that means anything.

    Chemicals wise they have Paterson Printmaster in little bottles or the Tentanal in biggish (expensive) ones. For an initial trial I might go for the Paterson unless it's rubbish? (although is seems ok from other posts here)

    I have a Colorstar 2000 although I imagine I'll have to learn to use it on the fly.

    more trays!!! actuallyl I have some 10x12 trays I hardly use so could dedicate a couple of them. Probably shouldn't be investigating this, I need another project like a hole in the head! :smile:
     
  16. John McCallum

    John McCallum Member

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    Hey Karl/Nige,

    As mentioned temperature is much more important for colour than B&W processing. For that reason I bought a rotary processor a little while ago. If you're wanting to save on space and get more consistent results, the Durst Printo colour processors are a good way to go.

    http://www.jobo-usa.com/products/printo.htm


    As it happens, I've had the hard word to sell mine which is taking up space in the spare room at the moment. Unfortunately my good intentions of getting into colour processing at nome were never realised. To save me the bother of feebay, you can have it cheap if you wish to go that way.

    Though, of course if you feel you've spent enough already I can understand that! :D
    best, john
     
  17. Nige

    Nige Subscriber

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    thanks for the offer John, but that beast is overkill for what I want to do (a couple of colour prints mostly just for the sake of it).
     
  18. DKT

    DKT Member

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    the printo is a great little machine for a small darkroom...I got one at home that I use for b&w mostly. any RA4 processor can run b/w as well--and the Printo does a good job of it. Takes very little chemistry and can be regeared easily for about 4 other speeds, and you can adjuist the temps in each tank as well as add on other tanks & energy therm/motors. It's a neat little machine--don't think of it as a "big" processor. It's not, it's like a hobby version of the larger lab machines, but you could easily make hundreds of prints a week with one. if you make alot of b/w prints, and want to do some RA4 on the side, it would be a good machine to use for it. as an added bonus to the speed & convenience? You keep your hands dry....

    but for the original question? The only way you can "crank" out any kind of print--color or b/w--is with a roller transport processor. It's possible to make alot of prints with trays, but the ease of the processor will become apparent the minute you use one. Even a little machine like the Printo can run circles around a trayline and drums are no comparison....

    The Printo is a good deal used because it's still being made & parts are available....

    btw--the size of the basic machine (2 tanks and entry module) is about that of a 20x24 tray...the wash tanks and dryer add more space, but the basic Printo is very compact. Not as much as a Fujimoto, but it's not even as big really as a DuoLab (which would be another option or a slot processor).
     
  19. FilmIs4Ever

    FilmIs4Ever Member

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    Hello John. I would indeed be interested if the price were right. Also, I'd like a little more information about this machine. Is it replenishable or is it used primarily for one-shot processing? Does it do Ilfochrome? Also, what would the thing cost to ship? Do you live in the USA? Anywhere near Ohio?

    Regards.
    ~Karl Borowski
     
  20. John McCallum

    John McCallum Member

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    OK Karl. I've sent you a PM answering your questions.

    Best,
    John.