[RA4] Death of Colour Developer B

Discussion in 'Color: Film, Paper, and Chemistry' started by perkeleellinen, Apr 6, 2012.

  1. perkeleellinen

    perkeleellinen Member

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    My wife gave birth last October and things have been so hectic I haven't been in the dark since. Things are getting easier now and I'm making plans to print some of my massive backlog of films.

    I just checked my RA4 chemistry and noticed that the bottle of colour developer B I keep in the fridge has gone bad, I checked my two unopened bottles and both of those are bad too. I found the receipt from when I bought them and it's December 2009. I suppose the chemicals were at least a few months old before I got them so maybe Colour developer B has lasted 2 1/2 years, maybe 3 years.

    Does this sound like a reasonable shelf life? Any tips for extending it?

    Now I need to buy another case which I can't afford - we had so many bills to pay this month I can't even afford the APUG subscription until late April. Would be nice to be able to buy single bottles of Developer B.
     
  2. Photo Engineer

    Photo Engineer Subscriber

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    There should be an expiration date on the bottle somewhere. If you cannot decode it, the Kodak help line will help you out on this.

    I usually get 3 - 4 years on unopened bottles.

    Yours sounds short or it was on the shelf for a while before you got it.


    PE
     
  3. Bob-D659

    Bob-D659 Member

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    The first four digits of the printed number are the packaging date in yyww format, year and week number, so 0934 is 2009 week 34.
     
  4. perkeleellinen

    perkeleellinen Member

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    The serial number is 09 09626 so March 2009. I bought it in December that year so they lasted three years and one month from the packing date.

    How does everyone store their developer Bs?
     
  5. hrst

    hrst Member

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    Once I thought that the concentrates would keep better than mixed solutions, so I mixed only a part of the kit. After just a few months, the remaining concentrate part B had gone bad. The mixed solution was perfectly fine for at least a year until that, even when (over?)used all the time. At a point, I had forgotten my heavily used "low contrast RA-4 dev" with some sulphite added for maybe two years on the shelf, and when I tried it, it was perfectly fine. Some have reported more than 3 years at APUG.

    So, for RA-4, it seems that the mixed solution keeps much better than that of any other process; OTOH, the concentrates do not keep any better, quite the opposite. Funny, isn't it?
     
  6. hrst

    hrst Member

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    Argh, just checked my kit.... and (unopened) part B's are black. The serial number is 09 06444. Have to buy new stuff and don't have too much money either!

    These should be packaged under protective gas. Maybe it's because of HDPE packaging that lets some air pass through.

    And, that VERY thin saran wrap-like LDPE(?) sealing at top might not be very good either. Why don't they use non-leaking caps, tightly shut, as an extra precaution?

    Well, probably the mixed solution (from at least year ago) is still ok. Have to check that.

    Maybe we could reformulate the part B. There are RA-4 recipes around the web. I wonder in which part the special optical brightener is. Well, at least it's part B that has the interesting candy/detergent type smell which is some "non-standard" component :sad:.
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Apr 9, 2012
  7. Mike Wilde

    Mike Wilde Member

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    This may give you a cheaper gasp, but sourcing the component will likely be a challenge. I did this to the end of a 'makes 5L' set of bottles of Koadak RA-RT chemisty which had bad B.

    I have (despite transferring the oxidizable conponents contained in the B bottle into to small amber glass stored full with a polyseal cap) had the stuff turn black on me after a few years.

    As a last ditch effort when left with just the black B and other good parts A and C, decided to experiment. I mixed my usual partial quantities of the stuff to make 2l, since my processor takes 1.85L to fill a tank. I decanted off the thin slimy shiny oxidized whatever layer on top, and filtered the mixed residue though a coffee filter. No big chunks were evident.

    I then went back to my diy recipes for RA-4 to see how much CD-3 developing agent to add in on a per litre basis.
    I don't expect many have DIY mixed colour, but I do from time to time, and have a few pounds of the CD-3 stuff in glass, gas topped and stored in the freezer.
    It is still very gradually changing from a light tan towards darker purple granules depite these efforts.

    I added half the DIY weight of CD-3 to the 1.85L tank solution, on the basis that it is easy to add more, and hard to 'take out' too much.

    Well, for producing the contact sheets that I wanted to get caught up on before I ordered a new batch of RA-RT, the addition of the 'fresh' cd-3 seemed to work just fine.

    My colour balance was a triffle off on the red, indicating at least to me, that I did not have the concetration of CD-3 that was still active quite right.

    But a small filtration tweak applied for the balance of the session that night, and on the next night worked just fine. Overall colur balance was good, blacks were balck, and there was no evident staining that was the fault of the developer.

    I do use old paper for contacts and it alone has issues with low red sensitivity, but I have seen that with fresh RA-RT chemistry as well.
     
  8. Mike Wilde

    Mike Wilde Member

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    I would love to help you out and mail you some dry CD-3 for your own fiddling but I fear that Customs will get a wee bit cranky trying to mail this stuff transatlantic.
     
  9. hrst

    hrst Member

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    Oh, I have CD-3 too. In fact, I have a kilogram! And it's already caking up and maybe showing a bit of color change; maybe I should transfer it from the fridge to the freezer. But thanks for your kind offer.

    I have been thinking, too, that I could just pour in new CD-3 and hope that (1)the large amount of badly oxidized CD-3 does not have any photographic or shelf-life effect, (2)any other important component in part B has not degraded at the same time. Your experience sounds promising.

    We could first test to find if any image develops without adding any new CD-3. If not (and probably not, I'd guess), then we could add the full amount.
     
  10. hrst

    hrst Member

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    Ah, that filtration thing made me remember something.

    I had C-41 part with the color developer go bad but we had to develop some C-41 film. So, I used other parts as instructed but mixed in some CD-3 (didn't have CD-4!) instead. When I poured in the solid CD-3, it formed some very interesting pink-grey gunky gum-like "creatures". Looked like some space aliens were born in the solution. When I stirred, the alien separated into many small droplets, but they quickly rearranged and formed a single creature. I stirred and stirred and finally filtered the droplets out.

    Then I developed the films -- the results were just perfect! It printed on RA-4 with the standard filtration without any noticeable color cast and had normal contrast. I would never expect that; we expected some kind of "experimental" results which would have been OK, but got perfectly normal negs.
     
  11. Photo Engineer

    Photo Engineer Subscriber

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    The correct amount of CD-3 should be about 5.0 g/l. The pH should be adjusted to 10.4 at 20 deg C, and the missing item is Sodium Metabisulfite which can cause speed problems. This is all for RA4.

    For C41, I don't currently have figures.

    However, dyes from this type of cross processing are not correct for hue or stability. So, whach out using CD3 with film and CD4 with paper.

    PE
     
  12. hrst

    hrst Member

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    Thanks! Will try this.
     
  13. hrst

    hrst Member

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    http://www.people.fas.harvard.edu/~keirst/technical.html

    this formula seems to be based on the published MSDS:

    http://www.alli.wnyric.org/District/Documents/msds/files/cld/cldqj.html

    Which shows:
    Water 70...75%
    CD-3 15...20%
    Lithium sulfate 5...10%
    Potassium sulfite < 1 %
    (Total 90...106%) (as this is an MSDS, some minor components may be missing.)

    Any idea what is the purpose of Li+ in solution? I don't remember seeing it in photographic solution formulas before. Well, I found it in UK Ebay so I'm going to replicate part B and report back how it went.
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Apr 10, 2012
  14. Mike Wilde

    Mike Wilde Member

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    I have reviewed Stephen Kierstead's mix and it looks viable. He works/worked in the lab at harvard so sourcing chems was not a problem for him.
    I corrected him on one missed decimal point in his formulae, and he got back to me with thanks.

    It is fractionally less expensive to mix than buying RA-RT from my calculations.
    But first you need to source three rather exotic chems from the likes of Sigma Alrich.
    Lithium Sulfate was one, polystyrene sulphonate was another. I don't recall the third.

    I can look out my office window and see Sigma's ofice.
    I might as well be on the moon. They will not sell to you even if you pledge your first born.
    I was pondering setting up an account though the company I work for, and they emailed me the forms.

    We are consulting engineers, and do order some technical chemistry, but not of the high quality lab grade from S-A.
    More like technical grade salts etc. for half cell reactions to gauge concrete corrosion potential before a bridge rehabiliataion design, etc.
    We usually source those in 50 lb sacks every few years, bought from an industrial suppier on a company credit card.

    We also deal with contaminated land remediation, but here we send samples to a lab to run the chromatograph reports to see what lurks in the muck at some sites.

    But S-A wanted a full credit check with our company's bank. There was no way I was going to take that to my controller.
    So so far I am stuck in trying the FAS developer formulas.

    The bleach fix worked just fine. Not as concentrated as RA stuff, so be sure to replenish diligently.
     
  15. hrst

    hrst Member

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    Interesting, Sigma Aldrich in Finland did not have any problem registering me as a customer, they only required my business ID. They sold me stuff right away without checking anything. Same with VWR. Maybe the liquidity risk analysis goes a bit differently. (It's a shame these companies have a bureaucracy that prevents prepayments. It would solve any liquidity uncertainties.)
     
  16. perkeleellinen

    perkeleellinen Member

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    Got the new kit and the first thing I noticed was the box is much smaller. The bottles inside have shrunk.(old and bad on left, new on right):
    [​IMG]

    Second thing I noticed was they're now made in China not France. I hope no jobs were lost in the move.

    I suppose the liquid is more concentrate now as the mixing instructions are the same.

    Now, is there any use for Developer A and C alone? I've got spares.
     
  17. hrst

    hrst Member

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    Get some CD-3 and lithium sulfate and mix your own part B? I have yet to try this, as I surprisingly had some leftover mixed solution which still works perfectly, but I'm quite optimistic it will work...
     
  18. perkeleellinen

    perkeleellinen Member

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    Will these need to be sourced from Sigma Aldrich?

    Oh, and on mixed solutions - I've got a litre of dev I mixed up seven months ago and stored in pop bottles that's fine.
     
  19. hrst

    hrst Member

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    I got lithium sulfate off UK Ebay so you should be fine. CD-3 might be a bit trickier. There are US sellers in Ebay and elsewhere who ship it internationally. I bought it years ago here from a local motion picture laboratory. I have excess and it doesn't have infinite shelf life, so I can probably send you some 50-100 grams for shipping costs. PM if interested.
     
  20. David Lyga

    David Lyga Subscriber

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    I have been experimenting with this developer (Kodak RA4 Dev/Repl RT) for over a decade. Listen to me and you will have NO problems with 'black B' sydrome (!).

    The most vulnerable component is the 'B', but both the 'A' and 'B' should be oxygen-protected. You do not have to refrigerate ANYTHING except paper and film. Period.

    Get yourself some PET plastic bottles (soda, juice, Gatorade). They are clear, brittle plastic and are airtight. (Yes, I get them from the trash and wash thoroughly and let dry completely.) It's tough to find ones that hold less than 300ml but for small quantities use 50ml liquor bottles (with metal cap) or glass bottles with tight fitting caps. (Of course, glass is just as good but the PET plastic is a boon to darkroom use as there is no breakage.) IMPORTANT: you MUST fill to the very rim such that when you invert the bottle only a small bubble appears at the bottom. To take up slack in the larger bottles use standard glass marbles (Walmart). To take up the slack in the liquor bottles use tiny glass marbles (tougher to find, but Arts and Crafts stores have them (in Philadelphia, there is a chain called AC Moore).

    The Kodak concentrate quantities for the RA4 dev/repl RT (roller transport) are as follows: 10 liter size: A = 500ml, B = 230ml, C = 500ml. For the 25 gallon size: A = 3784ml x 2 = 7568ml, B = 1422ml x 2 = 2844ml, C = 2370ml x 2. You will notice that there is a slight ratio difference for the 'B' part between the 10 liter size and the 25 gallon size. I do not know why Kodak did this but do the math to figure what you want to extract from each part when you mix partial quantities. Keep the original ratios intact.

    If you do what I said here you will be able to keep the concentrates INDEFINITELY. When I need some, I open a bottle and extract only what I need with an eyedropper. I then make certain that there is no airspace by adding the appropriate marbles (medium marbles displace about 2ml and tiny marbles displace about .5ml).

    Now, a final caveat: DO NOT UNDER ANY CIRCUMSTANCES use PET plastic for the 'C' component of the RA4 developer! It will eventually eat into the plastic and cause it to weaken and corrupt the container. I learned the hard way! Instead, use either the original container or use glass. I have found that this 'C' part does not have to be protected from oxygen BUT... in time sediment does develop which I filter out. I have found NO PROBLEMS from letting this sediment result and simply filter it out whenever I need some part 'C'. I believe that this 'C' is the highly alkaline component needed for the developer.

    Also, you can freely hold mixed (yes, even diluted) developer in these PET plastic bottles as long as you keep them filled COMPLETELY to the rim. When mixed, you do not have to worry about the 'C' part doing damage to the plastic, only when it is alone as a concentrate.

    Finally, feel free to keep other color chemicals the same way, such as C-41 Flexicolor. There, I believe that the 'A' component does NOT have to be protected from oxygen and, happily, is NOT corrosive towards the PET plastic. I keep the C41 'A' in its original container, not airtight.

    The 'B' and 'C' components of the Flexicolor C-41 process, however, must be protected, either in PET plastic or glass filled to the rim, as above for the RA4 chemicals. Again, even if mixed (or diluted) the C41 developer can be kept indefinitely in PET plastic filled to the very rim. - David Lyga
     
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  21. RPC

    RPC Member

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    Whenever I store Kodak RA/RT developer kits for long periods of time (say a year), part B hardly changes color, for me it is part A that slowly turns dark. The same when I see it in the photo store. Does anybody else have this happen? If so, how dark can part A get before it is bad? I wanted to buy some at the local store the other day and their part A was tea colored, while part B had no color, but I shied away. Would part A still be good?
     
  22. David Lyga

    David Lyga Subscriber

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    I would be curious to know which 'local store' stocks this. In all of Philadelphia and New York City Kodak color chemicals have to be back ordered.

    Read my advice about storage of the concentrates (on this thread). It actually works. By the way, sometimes if not TOO dark the parts will still work. Test. If deficient use at a stronger mix (ie, less dilution). - David Lyga
     
  23. perkeleellinen

    perkeleellinen Member

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    Thanks for the offer. I'm going to try mixing up a small batch of the bad 'B' and see how it performs after reading David's post. I'll post my results later and if no luck, I'll be in touch.
     
  24. RPC

    RPC Member

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    New York? Can't you get it at Adorama or B&H?

    I live in the Spokane, Washington (population about 205,000) area and there is a photo store here, Inland Photo that sells film, paper and chemistry and photo accessories and little or no digital. I don't think even Seattle has such a store.

    When I buy chemistry I immediately mix it all up and store in glass bottles filled to the top and have had both C-41 and RA-4 last more than three years this way and give results as good as fresh. If I store it in concentrates, the part A just gets darker and darker so I gave up on that. But that was in the original bottles.
     
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  25. David Lyga

    David Lyga Subscriber

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    RPO, yes the glass is as good as the PET plastic (obviously) but the PET plastic is better for lack of breakage. Your choice.

    Neither Adorama nor B&H have the chemicals in stock (look at their websites). Leave it to 'unimportant, unimpressive, Spokane to solve the problem. Amazing that New York cannot compete with that. Perhaps NYC really is not a 'world class city' after all! - David Lyga