RA4 and troubshooting processing in low temperature

Discussion in 'Color: Film, Paper, and Chemistry' started by lilserenity, Feb 9, 2010.

  1. lilserenity

    lilserenity Member

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    Hiya,

    I received the RT/LU RA4 kit from Ag Photographic today and got that mixed up (5l 1st batch) tonight all fine.

    So I have started to try and get some prints. I have done RA4 with the mono kits before and had good results (even if after about 6 weeks the chems were expired) -- so I know I can do this, but I was using trays, since then I got an 8x10" drum (Cibachrome one), no roller or motor base but rolling at a steady rate on a protected floor is fine (isn't it?)

    The temperature would have dropped off from 20 deg C in my bathroom tonight, probably lower than 18 deg C (maybe nearer 15 by the end?)

    The first test print established around a 30 second exposure time for the neg I am printing (from a 6x6 neg), the second print like the test strip had a strong pinky/brown hue suggesting increased blix time, so I increased blix'ing time to 2 minutes, that solves the tinge.

    My problem is the final print was very very faint despite a ~3 min development time and entirely yellow in colour (the Opemus 6 Colour 3 head was set to 65M 55Y) -- which I have never seen before. What reason could there be for this?

    Is it a non light tight closure on the drum? Low temperature?

    I am going to go back at this tomorow but if there is an obvious answer then I can get a bit of a head start tomorrow. Tomorrow I will work harder at getting the temps stable at 20degC.

    I might try returning to trays as I had before but it is cleaner and easier with the drum.

    Thanks!
    Vicky

    ps: Yes I did search and maybe I used the wrong terms but I couldn't see anything matching this question.
     
  2. olleorama

    olleorama Member

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    You seem to have a very cold bathroom? 15 degrees centigrade?
     
  3. tiberiustibz

    tiberiustibz Member

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    Try this. Take a piece of paper out in the roomlight and stick it in the developer. If it turns full black in your normal time, it's an exposure problem. If not, mix up new developer. I only have experience with the regular RA4 Replenisher RT (roller transport) at room temp. I assume the difference would not present problems. How are you using the developer? Do you start it or use the replenisher or what?

    From your description it sounds like bad developer, but don't take my word on it.
     
  4. Photo Engineer

    Photo Engineer Subscriber

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    DO NOT go below 20 deg C! USE RA-RT Developer Replenisher. If you don't stick to these, then the results are unpredictable.

    PE
     
  5. lilserenity

    lilserenity Member

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    Thanks for the help people. Sorry for the dumb questions, colour processing is something I am still relatively new to (~8 months experience.)

    My bathroom is presently pretty cold, mostly because the heater in it packed in a few weeks ago and is awaiting replacement, and it's just very cold here at the moment :smile:

    I will try to:

    • Test the expose a strip in the light and then develop to see what happens
    • Create a water bath that I will maintain at no lower than 20degC

    I don't think it can be the developer that's bad as the test strip apart from the short blix time, seemed to be otherwise fine.

    I am using the Replenisher RT solutions, it just seems to have a slightly different name in the UK of Replenisher RT/LU.

    I will have another go tonight when I will have more time to hand to really work at this.

    Cheers!
    Vicky
     
  6. perkeleellinen

    perkeleellinen Member

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    My darkroom drops down to around 15C this time of year, I had to invest in a heated Nova to solve the problem.

    Vicky - did you mix up an entire 5 litre batch? Any reason for that? I usually mix up one litre at a time. Also, have you noticed how much more pleasant the Kodak developer is compared to the mono types?
     
  7. lilserenity

    lilserenity Member

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    Hiya,

    Yes I had noticed that there isn't any of that crud at the bottom and once mixed up it didn't seem nearly as noxious.

    As for the 15C thing, glad that I'm not alone, made me wonder if I live in an ice box hehehe :smile: The rest of the flat is certainly warmer (though not 20C ambient.)

    Anyway the heated Nova slot processor is something that I may need to consider. I will experiment tonight by doing the chemical processing part in the kitchen where I can easily keep the solutions at 20degC, probably 35C easily in a water bath should I choose. Not sure why I didn't think of this before.

    As for mixing up the entire 5L, the problem I have is I would have nothing here to hand to expunge the air from the various part bottles once I had say used 20% of the solution to make up 1L (assuming I divide everything by 5, makes sense really) -- I don't have any fizzy drinks/soda bottles and so forth to hand or marbles, butane etc. -- I will make sure I have something for the next batch to try and reduce the volume I'm using. Any tips on this will be gratefully received (although I read a fair bit on here already.)

    Also although paltry compared to what 5L of dev/blix can do, I do have quite a large backlog of RA4 to do, around a good 60-80 prints which if I can get something consistent going soon; I should be able to do those in 6 weeks if I can do 10 over the weekend for the next few weekends. (Emminently possible! Plus I'll likely do some in the week.)

    The next lot I'll make sure I put together batches of 1L at a time to preserve the lifespan of what I have ordered.

    Vicky
     
  8. hrst

    hrst Member

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    15!? How can you live with that!

    We Finns start crying out loud if it drops below 23 :D. Always well-insulated houses and central heating for every room... And if it gets over 24, then again we start crying it's too hot.

    Well anyway, at 23,5 C it works very fine. I used Tetenal mono for 1 min (dev) + 45 sec (blix), and now Kodak RT-LU replenisher for 2 min (dev) + 2 min (blix) and everything remains same: exposure, filtering and results, except that Tetenal produced a little bit more contrasty image, Kodak is better and gives little bit more definition to dark areas. And Kodak blix works and doesn't stain paper :D.
     
  9. Roger2000

    Roger2000 Member

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    What ho,

    The garage in which I have started printing RA-4 is decidedly colder that the postively Caribbean 15 degrees which you are presently enjoying in your bathroom.

    I've ditched the processing drum - far too fussy - and have been developing in trays by using an 8x10 tray (containing Kodak dev/replenisher stuff from the brilliant AG photographic) placed inside a 12x16 tray that is regularly topped up with hot water. The paper is supra endura.

    Although far from being a scientific process, I've been able to get some really good results and the filtration settings have been just about constant across the two films that I've printed from so far (Fuji 400 and Ektar 120).

    I'm no expert but this has worked well for me. I think the best advice for anyone starting out in RA4 printing is simply to search about the forums on APUG. There's a rather good 'colourman' article knocking about which I found very helpful, and loads of really good advice from people who know their onions. Good stuff.
     
  10. brucemuir

    brucemuir Member

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    I use the Kodak RA-RT in trays with good results down to 62-64f
     
  11. tiberiustibz

    tiberiustibz Member

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    As Bruce said, I don't think that your problem is solely due to low temps. Make sure your developer is not contaminated, diluted correctly, mixed in the correct order, etc.

    Trays are faster and easier than drums. The only hard part is pouring them back (at least a few disasters.) You can process multiple sheets at a time (two is easy, more is possible) and start a new sheet in the developer before another is out of the blix.
     
  12. lilserenity

    lilserenity Member

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    Hiya,

    Well, I'm busy trying again tonight.

    Good news, in trays I am having no problems like I was yesterday. I have sussed my colour balance for the shots I took on Pro 400H (85M 50Y) and I'm now getting good prints.

    My problem now is my tongs are possibly scratching the prints? Because I'm sometimes getting marks that are too smooth in their curves or too straight to be defects on the film. I'm being very gentle but its no guarantee.

    So I think I need some more delicate tongs. (Although the ones I have have been fine for B&W for years and years.)

    Thanks for the help all, I would guess my problem was indeed contamination in the tank. Even though I am back in the pitch black, I'm finding it easier with the trays. (10x8 trays submerged in 12x16 trays with water hotter than 20 deg C)

    If I get two good prints tonight I'll be happy with that (I'm not after huge volume to start with, just getting it right will do me tonight!)

    Vicky
     
  13. paul_c5x4

    paul_c5x4 Subscriber

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    Vicky - Get yourself a box of powder-free latex gloves from your local Health & Safety supplier (cheaper than a chemist). At three or four pounds a box, they are cheap enough to throw after processing a print or two.
     
  14. lilserenity

    lilserenity Member

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    Hi Paul, An excellent idea. I get fedup of the marigolds after a while!

    I'll do that tomorrow (why did I not think of that?)

    Vicky
     
  15. MartinP

    MartinP Member

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    Find nitrile gloves rather than latex ones ! The latex variety are not very resistant against whatever-the-nasty-stuff-is (as I have read repeatedly). The same Health and Safety source should have both, though perhaps not the local pharmacy.

    BTW, your efforts have inspired me to try RA4 too, in case it disappears soon - only not at the moment when half the apartment appears to have ice on the inside. That's only a slight exaggeration too. I am looking for a local-ish supplier of the Kodak chemicals, as starting off with a sub-optimal version of the chemistry from another manufacturer is not the happiest idea.
     
  16. paul_c5x4

    paul_c5x4 Subscriber

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    My bad - I used latex as a generic description to cover nitrile, vinyl, and the common latex gloves. Personally, I prefer the blue vinyl gloves due to the lower cost compared to nitrile.
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Feb 10, 2010