shelf life of RA4 paper

Discussion in 'Color: Film, Paper, and Chemistry' started by David Lyga, Oct 25, 2013.

  1. David Lyga

    David Lyga Subscriber

    Messages:
    1,902
    Joined:
    Nov 25, 2007
    Location:
    Philadelphia
    Shooter:
    35mm
    I (we) would be interested in knowing what the longest you have kept color paper without it attaining appreciable age-fog. Please also indicate the manufacturer and type (ie, Endura, etc). Also state the temp it was kept at in either Fahrenheit or Centigrade.

    I think that Kodak Endura in my freezer is six years old but I bought it from someone getting rid of it so it is yet older. Still good. - David Lyga
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Oct 25, 2013
  2. frotog

    frotog Member

    Messages:
    749
    Joined:
    Jan 7, 2007
    Location:
    third stone
    Shooter:
    Large Format
    Depends on what you mean by appreciable. In critical applications like the printing of a portfolio I'd notice base white changes a year past the expiration date with the kodak professional papers. When printing commercially this was unacceptable. However, with the demise of the optically optimized papers, those days are past. Nowadays, if I'm proofing in a wet drkrm. for my own work, I'd much rather make test prints on old, corked supra then the current slew of digitally optimized papers. I'd trade the ugly pallet, bad reciprocity and highlight crossovers in the current batch of fresh RA papers for the buff whites of out of date supra any day of the week. The oldest paper I'm printing on now is some supra endura, exp. 10/2010, purchased fresh and kept in a chest freezer until thawed out a month ago. The colors are still true however the paper base is not as white as what it was when still fresh.
     
  3. David Lyga

    David Lyga Subscriber

    Messages:
    1,902
    Joined:
    Nov 25, 2007
    Location:
    Philadelphia
    Shooter:
    35mm
    Frotog: that is what really riles me: the whites begin to get compromised and I hate that. You cannot simply filter differently because you NEED pure white at times. With B&W, if the whites start disintegrating, you simply use a weak Farmers reducer to rectify this after fixation.

    That said, I have found that a tiny amount of benzotriazole will help matters with the color paper fog. I mix a solution of 1 gram of benzotriazole into 100 ml water. Make sure all is mixed, as it is a bit difficult to get it all into solution. I use a PET plastic bottle and shake it vigorously for a few minutes. I start by adding about 1 ml per liter of RA4 developer and add more as needed. You have to be careful, though, because restrainer is FAR more potent with the color developers than it is with B&W developers.

    NOTA BENE: In my initial post I stated that I have Endura in the freezer: It is, in fact, Supra II. Sorry. - David Lyga
     
  4. frotog

    frotog Member

    Messages:
    749
    Joined:
    Jan 7, 2007
    Location:
    third stone
    Shooter:
    Large Format
    You're absolutely right about needing a pure white when color printing as any age-induced base tint will have you trying filter yellow out of the highlights. Supra II was phased out sometime around 2004. For my purposes that's too past date to even bother. I'd be very interested in seeing a scan comparison of your results with and without the benzo..

    I've heard about using restrainers to bring back true white. Although I'd be interested in seeing how effective it is, I'd doubt it would be very useful in a roller transport system with auto replenishment. Have you measured the effects of the benzotriazole on your blacks?
     
  5. David Lyga

    David Lyga Subscriber

    Messages:
    1,902
    Joined:
    Nov 25, 2007
    Location:
    Philadelphia
    Shooter:
    35mm
    Seriously, the Supra II I bought back in about 2008 and it was PERFECT then. I kept it in the freezer and now it is still perfect. That is why I wanted to know from others if there were similar experiences.

    One gram of BZ into 100 ml of water, completely into solution. That is my stock. You have to remember that I use diluted color paper developer (5X) and add about 1ml of the BZ stock per liter of RA4 diluted developer. Try a small cup of whatever developer you are using and do this: Cut tiny pieces of color paper (about 1 inch square) for the test. Then, each one, put half of each one under a flat opaque object (I use a tape dispenser) and expose to full room light. Now you have each piece half exposed and half not. (NB: if you use a coin, instead, HOLD DOWN the coin. You would be amazed how light will creep under the coin with color paper which is ultra sensitive to yellow light.)

    Process one piece in a tiny cup of developer, stop, fix. (Don't bother with the bleach because the fog level will be apparent even if you do not use bleach.) How much density in the unexposed part? Light, medium, heavy? Now you are in a position to judge how much BZ stock to use. If you use normal dilution (much stronger than I use) you will need more BZ stock. But, remember, measure in single digit ml per each 100ml of developer because BZ really slows down RA4 developer. Experiment.

    frotog: I also have Agfa paper that is quite fogged. I will try to show you the difference between no restrainer and restrainer in the developer. Be patient, I don't even have a computer at home but I will post here within 72 hours. - David Lyga
     
  6. hoffy

    hoffy Member

    Messages:
    2,334
    Joined:
    Jan 21, 2009
    Location:
    Adelaide, Au
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    So, from what I have read here, the 200+ sheets of Ektarcolor Ultra II that I obtained for a few dollars is going to be useless?

    No major loss, but is there anything I could do with the paper? Up the cyan and magenta to make redscale images?
     
  7. EdSawyer

    EdSawyer Member

    Messages:
    1,114
    Joined:
    Sep 3, 2008
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    I have frozen cut sheet endura from 4-5 years ago that is still fine. It is even pretty much fine even if not frozen. Though the base does yellow slightly with age, you can still get great prints out of it. Most of my shots don't have base white in the image usually.
     
  8. AgX

    AgX Member

    Messages:
    12,215
    Joined:
    Apr 5, 2007
    Location:
    Germany
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    You might try the current Agfa Rapitone paper (if you can obtain it). It is not optimized for digital printing.
     
  9. frotog

    frotog Member

    Messages:
    749
    Joined:
    Jan 7, 2007
    Location:
    third stone
    Shooter:
    Large Format
  10. David Lyga

    David Lyga Subscriber

    Messages:
    1,902
    Joined:
    Nov 25, 2007
    Location:
    Philadelphia
    Shooter:
    35mm
    Frotog and all: Here are my quick results. The (beat up) color swash was shot on my window sill under daylight only, with no camera filtration. They are not really sharp images because of the relatively slow shutter speed and hand held camera. I am glad frotog asked me for this because it gave me a better understanding of the drawbacks of this process. The circular part of each image was where I placed a penny in order to demonstrate how the base is represented when completely unexposed. The benchmark is the Kodak Supra II that I bought about five years ago (then, years old already!) and have kept it in my freezer since then. Development time was from 1 to 3 minutes, depending upon the needs for base density. Most people do not consider this base density, as it is assumed that there will be none. With fresh paper, in fact, you can double or triple your development time without worrying about acquiring a base density, but with age-fogged materials it is a mighty concern. (Yes, there is a tiny bit of yellow in the base of my benchmark, Supra II, but I could have used a bit of BZ to correct this. It is not objectionable.)

    Benzotriazole (BZ) is a restrainer, usually favoring preservation of the densest parts of the image and primarily attacking the lesser densities; thus, a bit of contrast is added to the image. But, there is no ‘free lunch’ here, as the restraining action of the BZ causes what many of you already know with insufficient development of color paper: an overall bluishness (blue-blacks) that cannot be filtered out. But you DO get the nice white base. (With low levels of age fog this would not be a problem because there is a safety factor incorporated into the development time: ie, a little less development would not present these bluish blacks.) On the other hand, (see Agfa: NO BZ) you get ‘accurate’ color with fill development but suffer from overall orange caste caused by age-fog.

    The Ektacolor Ultra was acquired without cost about five years ago from someone who does house ‘clean-outs’. I worried that this was stored in some attic where it got much heat. I must have been correct, as this paper shows dense fog when processed without the BZ. But, again, the colors are more ‘accurate’ than those of the Ultra processed with BZ, for which there was NO yellow in the filter pack. Yet I could not get less blue in the image but is almost sensational as to the quality of image I was able to attain here. Kodak paper ages more gracefully than most.

    Again, BZ is VERY powerful with color developers. Take maybe 50ml of your color developer and put it into a small cup. Then, using an eyedropper, put a drop of the BZ stock into this developer and, in full room light, see how long it takes a tiny piece of color paper to turn black. Keep adding drops until takes about two or three times as long (depends upon extent of age fog) as for developer without BZ added. BZ stock = 1 gram BZ into 100ml water. Also, when you use BZ you will have to expose in the enlarger more because you are, essentially, under-developing. - David Lyga
     

    Attached Files:

    Last edited by a moderator: Oct 28, 2013
  11. frotog

    frotog Member

    Messages:
    749
    Joined:
    Jan 7, 2007
    Location:
    third stone
    Shooter:
    Large Format
    Hi, David,

    Thanks for sharing your experiments with BZ and expired color paper! The benchmark, SupraII exposure, to my eyes at least, has an unacceptable amount of base fog. It looks like at least 5cc of yellow and a few cc's of red over what should be a clean white. The agfa examples serve to demonstrate just how poorly color papers age (this stuff must be at least 10 years out of date). Most remarkable to me is the last example, expired ultra with BZ. Here you're very close to a base white. The exposure appears a bit heavy and I'm assuming that the color density is suffering a bit because of it. Did you have to print it down in order to get a proper black? But the difference between Ultra with BZ and without is astonishing. I'm surprised that you regard the non-BZ Ultra as having more accurate color than the BZ Ultra as, of the five examples, #4 (non BZ ultra) appears to me to have the worst color of all.

    Again, thanks for your hard work and concrete examples - these kind of posts make APUG worthwhile.
     
  12. David Lyga

    David Lyga Subscriber

    Messages:
    1,902
    Joined:
    Nov 25, 2007
    Location:
    Philadelphia
    Shooter:
    35mm
    Yes the 'terrible, attic-stored' paper came out best, as long as you use the BZ. But you would be shocked to know how much enlarger exposure this required because of the underdevelopment. I will say again, Kodak papers age gracefully and respond well to BZ. As far as my assessment that there is 'more accurate color' with the Ultra NOT having BZ: I had wanted to make the point that when using BZ there is oftentimes an inability to get rid of the blueness because of the necessary underdevelopment. If you look very carefully at the print you will see an accurate rendition of color, in terms of hue inter-relationships, but this involves mentally 'removing' the ugly green cast.

    The 'benchmark' is really good paper. I did not use ANY BZ. I should have used a bit and with only a little there would have been NO yellowing or sufficient under-developing to cause blueness. This yellowing used to drive me nuts, even back in the 70s when I used to buy color paper before RA4 came out. I think that it was Ektaprint C. I used to buy it from Olden Camera in Manhattan in person and you know that their turnover was constant. Yet...if you looked closely at the new paper after processing, you would have seen, even then, with brand new paper, a slight buff in the white. How I wish that there was a chemical that could cause all densities to 'retreat' like Farmers Reducer does for B&W.

    The Agfa Sensatis paper's colors are fantastic (possibly the best I have ever seen) when the paper is new. But this paper deteriorates quickly and I would not be surprised to discover that its long term image stability might be profoundly bad. - David Lyga
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Oct 29, 2013
  13. AgX

    AgX Member

    Messages:
    12,215
    Joined:
    Apr 5, 2007
    Location:
    Germany
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    There is no connection between sensitivity stability and image dye stability I can think of.
     
  14. EdSawyer

    EdSawyer Member

    Messages:
    1,114
    Joined:
    Sep 3, 2008
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    thanks for the efforts, I found those tests enlightening too.
     
  15. David Lyga

    David Lyga Subscriber

    Messages:
    1,902
    Joined:
    Nov 25, 2007
    Location:
    Philadelphia
    Shooter:
    35mm
    Thank you EdSawyer: It was not difficult to do but very, very tedious.

    AgX: You know, there just might be a connection even though I cannot provide a theory attesting to such. My experience with Agfa paper is that way, even the old fibre-based one that I used to buy in the 70s from Freestyle Photo (Type B chemicals they used). The colors were spectacular when the paper was new but both the sensitivity (age-fog) failed (preventing pure white from being able to be attained) quickly with time and also the final image deteriorated with years under merely tungsten room light. There certainly seemed to be a connection.

    Now, having said all this, I tested yet another batch of Agfa Sensatis from my refrigerator. Years ago, about 2006, I bought about 10 ROLLS of paper of various manufacturers, that was real cheaply sold then, from various advertisers. It was a monumental task to cut all this with my paper trimmer but I actually did and it took about 50 hours or more to accomplish this. I purchased about two hundred black bags from Freestyle and each batch of color paper that I cut (each batch was about two hundred 5x7s) got double bagging for safety. Naively I thought that my color paper worries were over for the rest of my life. NOT SO, as you can see. False ecnonomy can play tricks on one's mind.(At least my ability to store food was severely truncated, but eating is not so important to an idiot like David Lyga.) But... this other batch of Sensatis was tested last night and it tested perfectly: no age fog even though it is just as old, albeit a different batch. I cannot explain this but I will say that back in 2006 I tested everything that I put into my refrigerator and everything was perfect. I had tested some Ilfocolor a week ago and there was a medium, ugly, cyan fog. But, last night I tested another Ilfocolor batch and it was perfect. There seems to be no determinant as to what will keep and what will deteriorate. Even B&W paper has people flummoxed as to what will happen. I have bought ancient, poorly stored B&W paper that had to be 50 years old and it was PERFECT! Other, much newer and better stored paper, went bad very quickly. I wonder if there is more to the aging of gelatin than we are led to believe. - David Lyga
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Oct 30, 2013