Reprints of heirloom C41 negatives

Discussion in 'Color: Film, Paper, and Chemistry' started by insertwittynamehere, Jul 22, 2011.

  1. insertwittynamehere

    insertwittynamehere Member

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    G'day all!

    I've come into a family treasure. Well, a family treasure for a photographer and wet darkroom freak like me. I've been given a box of miscellaneous negatives from at least the 1960's of family, including my father as a young man. A lot of the negatives are 4x4 and some other odd sizes, perhaps 126.

    Now, I am not set up to do RA4 printing, nor do I particularly want to. I may end up changing my mind about that. I'm looking at doing some prints from these negatives though, and I'm weighing my options. I'm going to town myself on the older black and white ones though!

    1) Scan the negatives and put them into a digital work flow. Pro - Need to buy a decent scanner that I can also use to scan my 6x6 and 4x5 slides. Con - Need to buy a decent scanner and do what I hate, digitally post processing photos.

    2) Find some service that can deal with the odd by current standards size, probably wacky colour from an archaic film that has in no way been in archival storage.

    Anyone else wound up with something like this, or know of someone to whom I could send a couple negatives to see how they come out?

    Thanks all!
     
  2. ic-racer

    ic-racer Member

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    Same here.

    What I had done in the past when these situations arise was to use Panalure and print them myself in B&W.

    Perhaps Ilford or someone will come up with a substitute some day. If you do have a b&w darkroom, try printing them on some graded paper. You might good results.
     
  3. mts

    mts Subscriber

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    If you have quite a few of these negatives then setting up to print and process RA-4 makes sense in my opinion. If you choose to go digital, there are lots of headaches there. Ones that you will find difficult to control, not the least finding a suitable quality scanner. You should be able to get fairly close printing RA-4, but you might find there are some for which the color balance can no longer be corrected. In any case once you get into the project you can expect to be a fairly good color printer. What is the condition of the negatives? If you have a lot of dust, dirt, and fading evident then RA-4 likely isn't going to be suitable.

    If you have only a few negatives--say fewer than 25 to 50--then finding a service bureau willing to provide raw scans might be your best option. Expect prices for quality digital scans of LF films to be somewhat high, maybe ten bucks a scan or more. Given the fact that you may have difficulty finding anyone competent and willing to take the time to produce quality RA-4 prints, and depending on your sensitivity to cost and how you value your time, a service bureau might be your best bet.
     
  4. Athiril

    Athiril Subscriber

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    You can always re-wash the negatives to deal with dust, dirt and oil etc.

    Whatever you end up doing, I think you should get some archival flat scans from a dedicated scanner so that they may have another level of preservation.

    In Sydney you can rent an Imacon/Hasselblad X5 I think it was (or a 939) for $60/hour, given the speed of which you can go through film on those things, it's very very good value for money. If you have a lot of film, it may be worth a road trip even over the border if there is a similar place over there.


    The object here is to preserve the family photos, not an exercise in digital resistance, imho you need a new set of 'originals' for an extra layer of abstracted preservation. You can still get RA-4 prints from scans, which is how the overwhelming majority of RA-4 is done. It is also time to look at the archival quality of an RA-4 print vs archival ink prints designed for galleries (from a pro-lab or high end printer), ie; the important part is he family photos.
     
  5. Wade D

    Wade D Member

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    I'm also gearing up for color printing. It makes sense if you already have a darkroom. Certainly a lot cheaper than trying to get a good scan and more fun too. Also no 3rd party will handle your negatives which is a big plus when talking about heirlooms.
     
  6. insertwittynamehere

    insertwittynamehere Member

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    Someday is the key word. Years ago I did some colour negatives on Kodak Polycontrast. I was less than enthused about the results. I'm planning on trying it again though.

    Some are relatively clean, some are not. Some are scratched to hell, some are not. Typical for snapshots I'd say.

    One of my problems with analog photography in general is where I live. The closest major metropolitan areas, Halifax NS and Boston MA, are both about seven hours drive from me. I live on the Maine/NB border, but I share a border with the great north woods! Access to esoteric equipment is impossible. Materials is less so, what with the Internet and shipping thankfully. Thanks for the thought though, something to research and a possible excuse for a weekend road trip!

    If I could find someone who A) knows what a 127 negative is and B) has the capacity to commercially print it, well, those would be rare. I do, however, understand and agree with your point.

    Thanks for the suggestions so far guys!
     
  7. hpulley

    hpulley Member

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    Color printing is easy, room temperature pretty much the same as doing B&W aside from using a really dim #13 safelight. If you can do B&W you can do color if you have a dichroic head on your enlarger or color filterpacks. Kodak Ektacolor RA RT 10L developer and blix kits are available and cheap considering the volume you get. RA-4 paper is becoming difficult to get but Fuji Crystal Archive is still available new in cut sheets of various sizes or you can buy expired Kodak Endura or new rolls of Kodak to cut under the same #13 safelight.

    Printing or scanning old color negatives will be challenging. Depending on how they were processed and stored as you say they may be faded and/or have color shifts. Getting negative carriers for enlargers or scanners with weird film sizes can be challenging but carriers are usually around if you look. Should be fun!
     
  8. mts

    mts Subscriber

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    If you get started soon, room temperature RA-4 (at 100F) won't be a problem. If you wait until January then you will need a heater in the darkroom to get even close to 68F. Considering your responses and location, I would start setting up for RA-4 printing right away.
     
  9. John Shriver

    John Shriver Member

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    They're more likely C-22 negatives. I'd expect there to be dye fading, which would be very hard to correct with filters, there will be crossover problems. (Each dye has faded a different amount.) I think this is a case where digital will provide better results. You don't need a super high-resolution scanner, 127 ans 126 Instamatic cameras weren't generally very sharp optically.

    A pro lab that uses something better than a Noritsu or Fuji minilab scanner shouldn't be fazed by them at all. It won't be cheap. For instance, Dorian Color Lab in Arlington MA uses an Imacon Flextight scanner, scanning odd negative sizes with it is no challenge.
     
  10. wblynch

    wblynch Member

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    Blue Moon in Oregon can optically print them for you. I believe they are set up for 4x4 (127) and Instamatic 126.
     
  11. polyglot

    polyglot Member

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    APUG isn't going to like this answer, but I would suggest sending them off to scancafe. For a small (<1000) batch of negs, it will be affordable (certainly compared to buying a good enough scanner) and you will get professional results. Make sure you take the option to get the raw 16-bit scans so you can make adjsutments yourself when necessary, and you can consider the copies archival. They're probably not even C-41 negs and they are likely to have faded past the point where they can be corrected in an optical printing process.

    By all means if you're setup for RA-4 and competent with it, give them a go. However, learning colour printing on some precious yet delicate, old and faded negatives from the wrong process sounds like hell to me.
     
  12. Photo Engineer

    Photo Engineer Subscriber

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    Most optical color printers (up until the latest laser versions) are still in operation and came with a set of legacy masks. the print size can be adjusted by a knob on the right feed roller to account for length of print, and the lens can be moved to give proper magnification. Even some laser printers can do this.

    OTOH, automatic optical enlargers can handle this with no problem. I have masks for my enlarger for sizes from 35mm to 4x5 in several formats and can get more just by ordering them.

    PE
     
  13. Paul Howell

    Paul Howell Member

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    Kodak negatives from the 60s and early 70 are C22, not C41, other brands used a differnt had other odd film types. I have a lot of similair color negatives from the early 60s to the mid 70 at which point my parents bought a Polaroid (sp?). They were kept by my parents in Los Vegas for a number of years in a uncooled storage room. Some were Kodak, other GAF, others not marked,may have been 3M which was the house brand at K mart where they shopped in the day. I attempted to print myself using R4, but the dyes had shifted color. I took some to a local color lab who color corrected with a minlab, others I scanned and printed at a Target or printed at home, cheaper at Target. My negatives are all 35mm just a 126. If your negnatives were not properly stored you will be better off buying a scanner and correcting in post rather than printing R4.