The history of Kodak color papers

Discussion in 'Color: Film, Paper, and Chemistry' started by Photo Engineer, Mar 13, 2007.

  1. Photo Engineer

    Photo Engineer Subscriber

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    I have gotten many inquiries about the history of films and papers. Here is the only one I had fully documented. It is for color papers made by Kodak from 1941 - 1970. The time spans the entire history until introduction of the blix process. I recently found it in a box, and thought I would share it with you all.

    Photofinisher papers (note: c, m and y refer to coupler changes)

    1941 Type I Kodacolor paper, used CD-2 developing agent
    1951 Type III Kodacolor paper, used CD-2 developing agent new m
    1954 Type 1348 Kodacolor paper, used CD-2 developing agent
    1959 Type 1502, used CD-3 developing agent and new c and y
    1961 Type 1583 new UV absorber
    1963 Ektacolor 20 Type 1852 new m and y
    1965 Ektacolor 20 Type 1870 new m stabilizing agent RC and FB
    1970 Ektacolor 30, 37, no cadmium, mercury, new m and y, RC

    Professional papers

    1946 Type III Ektacolor paper, used CD-2 developing agent
    1954 Type "C" Ektacolor paper, used CD-3 developing agent, new m and y
    1961 Ektacolor Professional paper, new c, m and y
    1963 Ektacolor Professional paper with Type II stabilzer in Ektaprint C
    1970 Ektacolor 30, 37 merge chemistry

    After 1970, further improvements included Ektacolor 70, Ektacolor Plus, Supra I, II, and III papers and now Endura. Reversal papers included the Radiance paper.

    1954 marked the introduction of Type C and Type R papers and the P122 and P121 processes for them. It also marked the conversion from quinone to ferricyanide bleaches and the conversion from CD-2 to CD-3 for lower toxicity. It also marked a new, low pH more stable developer, and the use of benzyl alcohol in the developer. This was also the approximate introduction of the C-22 process to the general public.

    1963 marked the change to the Ektaprint C and Ektaprint R processes which used a Type II staiblizer for better dye stability and also the use of an alkaline fixer. The process moved from 75 degrees to 85 degrees F and the number of steps was reduced by use of the alkaline hardener fix.

    1970 was the introduction of highly stabilzed dyes with no cadmum or mercury in the new emulsions and no ferricyanide in the process. A blix was used for the first time.

    One of the major goals in each step of this growth was to achieve improved dye stability by at least 2x the previous product.

    Professional and photofinisher papers differed mainly in the exposure range and contrast. Photofinisher paper was optimized to slightly higher contrast and for an exposure range of 0.1 - 0.5 seconds, while professional papers were softer in toe contrast and had a slightly pinker bias for better flesh tones in portraits, and to prevent any greenish cast in whites. Professionals preferred a slightly pink or red warmth to very light highligts. This was all done by addenda in manufacturing and the way the emulsions were treated.

    Up until the introduction of P121 and Type R paper, reversal prints were being made at Kodak using the Kodachrome process, but on a white acetate support. These early reversal prints were called Kodachrome prints or Kotavachrome by some. They were marked by a relief image just like Kodachrome film, so the gloss looked strange.

    I hope that some of you find this interesting.

    PE
     
  2. dmr

    dmr Member

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    Yes, most definitely, PE. Things like this are one of the reasons I like it here. :smile:

    I've always been kind of intrigued by the R prints. Back years ago I had a lot of them made and some of them, amazingly, are still quite presentable.

    Back when I was a poor high school and then college student, most of the color I shot was slides. Main reason, the expense of printing a 20 or 36 roll emptied the pocketbook when all I wanted was maybe 1-3 or so out of each roll, and I could read the slides far easier than the negatives.

    Back then it seemed we had really two options for color processing, one being Berkey, which most of the drug stores and neighborhood photo shops used, which did anywhere from a totally vile job to an almost-OK job. I'm sure there were other options, but if you wanted really nice prints, you got "Processing By Kodak"<tm> and always got a good print. There were no mini-labs back then. :smile:

    I usually would take the slides into the old Spiratone shop on 31st. and IIRC they sent them to a Kodak lab over in Fair Lawn.

    The R prints were always nice, and they always had rounded corners of the image area, which if you looked closely were not the image of the slide mount (with all the fuzz and such) and showed some cropping.

    Then one day something kinda hit me. The R prints always had a white border! Think of it, white border on a reversal print. If this were done on the familiar enlarger with the easel, and reversal processed, that border would be BLACK! They obviously had some kind of mask-border exposure step in the process! :smile:

    Oh well, sorry for being so long-winded. I guess I just wax nostalgic every so often. :smile:
     
  3. htmlguru4242

    htmlguru4242 Member

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    Very interesting, PE. Bits of photo history are always good to see!

    Out of curiosity, what color negative films were available in the very early 1940s when the first Kodacolor paper was released?
     
  4. Photo Engineer

    Photo Engineer Subscriber

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    DMR;

    The printer for 'R' prints had a special flasher unit to get white borders. Also, for a while, Kodak had a quickie interneg system in which internegs were made from the slide and 'C' prints were made. The internegs were destroyed. You had to request 'KEEP' on the yellow envelope otherwise, then you got a 2x3 internegative. I have a batch of them here.

    HTML; (you ought to change to XML :wink: )

    There was a lenticular based Kodacolor film (this might have been neg and pos, or maybe only pos) and an unmasked (silver mask) Kodacolor film back then. I have no further information here, but might look it up sometime in some of my historical notes.

    I have heard of Dufay slides being printed on type 'R' and Kodachrome paper. They were not very good, but it did work. My boss said you could see the screen. He gave me much of this information from his early days at EK.

    PE
     
  5. Grweenfields

    Grweenfields Member

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    Fascinating:

    What drove the development of the RA4 process: The desire to eliminate benzyl alcohol ? Shortening the processing time with the advent of minilabs in mind ? or was it just research-led ?

    Henry
     
  6. Photo Engineer

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    Henry, the goal was always to have a short color process. RA4 using nearly pure chloride emulsions, and better coupler activity and better dye stability drove the work. Elimination of BZA was always a desire and I spent nearly a year on that single problem alone. We failed back then, and it took about 10 more years of chemical syntheis to achieve the elimination of BZA through production of better couplers.

    PE
     
  7. Grweenfields

    Grweenfields Member

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    Thanks:

    I read in one of the early Kodak RA4 patents that they key to making silver chloride emulsions fast enough to use as projection printing paper was the discovery that certain [rare earth - if my memory is correct] metal additives to the emulsion which were initially thought to have an adverse effect on speed actually produced an increase in speed if they were added in astonishingly small amounts.

    Is it be fair to call this a "Eureka!" invention - or just another piece of a big jigsaw ?

    Henry
     
  8. Photo Engineer

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    Which patent were you reading? I know several of the researchers on this project. I actually don't remember who did what. If you refresh my memory, I might be able to actually tell you what he said.

    PE
     
  9. pentaxuser

    pentaxuser Subscriber

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    Not just interesting but very a propos for me, PE. I have the opportunity to obtain for cost of postage some Kodak Ektacolor 78. I suspect it may be fairly old and was hoping to find it in your history but cannot.

    Any idea of its age? I note that 70 came after 1970 so does 78 refer to the inaugural year of manufacture and if so then for how long might 78 have been produced?

    Thanks

    pentaxuser
     
  10. Roger Cole

    Roger Cole Member

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    Very interesting. A history of the process (more in terms of number and type of steps, temperature etc. showing how it evolved than the chemistry details, though others might find that more interesting) might be interesting too.

    I have type R prints I made in high school and college on, I believe, type 2203 or some similar name. I think the previous version was type 1993 and I missed that, so it isn't based on the year, or my memory may be wrong on the numbers. I know I made them in high school though because I sold several landscapes to my senior English teacher. Most of the ones I have now still look really good. A couple have faded, and I've no idea why a few did and most didn't. That would be the early to mid 80s. I preferred the simplified, lower temperature processing of Cibachome but even with the RC paper the stuff cost about $1.50 per 8x10 back then, maybe a smidgeon lower by re-using the chemistry to the max, and I could make a type R on Kodak paper for about $0.50! (By buying paper in 100 sheet boxes and using Unicolor chemistry in the gallon size kits.)
     
  11. snapshot2000

    snapshot2000 Member

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    Thanks, PE! This is very interesting history. Some of the C and type-R prints I made in the early 80's still look good. I look forward to trying RA.

    Is Cibachrome is the only type R process left?
     
  12. Roger Cole

    Roger Cole Member

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    As far as I know at least, yes. And it's insanely expensive.

    I'm still really tempted, since I shot up so much Kodachrome last year and have some I'd really like to print optically. Kodachrome on Ilfochrome can be nearly magical.
     
  13. snapshot2000

    snapshot2000 Member

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    That's sad I remember type R being a lot easier for filtering. Plus, it was more fun to compose on the easel.

    I picked up a free pack of Ilfochrome Classic paper this past weekend, but I have no idea how old it is. Does it age as quickly as RA papers?

    Also got a half box of Endura metallic and a small bit of Duratrans RA 4007, 11x14. I've never used any of these.
     
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  15. Photo Engineer

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    Ciba/Ilfochrome is a reversal print material but is not a Type "R" paper. It is non-chromogenic and has no relation to type R which was a Kodak trade mark.

    The Ektacolor 70 series papers came out in the 70s, right before Ektacolor Plus in the 80s and could use either the Ektaprint 3 or the Ektaprint 2 process. They were followed by the Supra I, II and III series in the 90s, and then by the Endura series which is current.

    It was not until the Supra series that keeping at room temperature was really good, and now with Endura, the room temperature keeping of the raw stock is quite good. Plus did not keep well IMHO, at room temp. Ektacolor 30 and 37 kept very well at room temp in research coating experiments, but when made in the plant, well.... Just goes to show you!

    The internal code for Ektacolor 30 paper was C-970 and the release was to be 1 year before or 1 year after C41 films. We made it early and released it in 1969.

    PE
     
  16. hpulley

    hpulley Member

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    Love the Supra III, still looks good here!
     
  17. pentaxuser

    pentaxuser Subscriber

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    So just to obtain clarification Ektacolor 78 does refer to its year of manufacture. It is a late 1970s paper and if so is likely to be useless?

    Thanks

    pentaxuser
     
  18. Roger Cole

    Roger Cole Member

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    PE is technically right, of course, in that Ciba/Ilfochrome isn't "type R" but it is a reversal printing process and I assume that's what you meant, for direct printing from slides.

    Unfortunately it keeps far worse than RA4 if not frozen. Once thawed it needs to be used within six months or so, or so I've always read. I always kept the unopened packs/boxes in the freezer then refrigerated after opening and never had any go bad, but I always used it up in a few months.
     
  19. Photo Engineer

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    My notes on concrete advances end in late '77. There is no menion of Ektacolor 70 or 78. I have samples of 30, 37 and Plus here from the dates I mentioned. So, I have to go by some guesswork in your specific example.

    PE
     
  20. perkeleellinen

    perkeleellinen Member

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    May I ask about batch consistency?

    A lot of the old photo books I've read and a lot of people who printed colour in the '80s have said that the whole process is a hassle because of the need to recalibrate the filtration after each new box of paper. My experience with Endura is that box-to-box consistency is excellent. So I'm wondering is this because of technological advance or because of the diminishing amount of paper being manufactured meaning that all boxes are from the same batch?
     
  21. Roger Cole

    Roger Cole Member

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    I printed a fair amount of color in the 80s and I'd call that balderdash.

    Each package had a starting filter pack on it. Once I knew my actual filter pack for an average negative on a given emulsion, I could jump to a new box easily. Whatever the starting pack was, say the filter pack I ended up with was 10 more yellow and 5 more magenta than the starting filtration listed on the paper package. When I went to a new package I'd add 10 yellow and 5 magenta to THAT recommendation and be very much in the ballpark. It might take another couple of test prints to nail it, and this was a reason to buy the largest box of paper you could afford, but usually no more than a couple of prints.

    That said, filtration was one of the reasons I preferred printing from slides, either type R or Cibachrome. Not only was it much easier because I had a positive for reference, there was just much less variation from slide to slide than negative to negative.
     
  22. Photo Engineer

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    Starting with Ektacolor 30 paper in about 1970, that problem was totally eliminated. It was very much reduced with Ektacolor 20, the predecessor formulation.

    PE
     
  23. RPC

    RPC Member

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    When I started printing color in 1984 Ektacolor 74 and 78 were two of the available papers for home printing. Then it seems sometime in the next year or so they were replaced by Ektacolor Professional and Plus, respectively. So the latest possible date of manufacture for your paper would be the mid 80s. This paper used Ektaprint 2 so you could not succesfully process it today in RA-4.

    RPC
     
  24. Photo Engineer

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    Just for those interested, you can tinker around and get RA4 developer to be similar to EP3 developer! Of course, paper keeping with the older EP2 and 3 developers will be the problem. EP2 and EP3 were virtually identical.

    PE
     
  25. pentaxuser

    pentaxuser Subscriber

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    Thanks for that. It was what I suspected but nice to know that in deciding against getting the paper I was offered, it was not a decision I'd regret.

    pentaxuser
     
  26. pentaxuser

    pentaxuser Subscriber

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    Just an additional point of information. Quite by chance I came across a ref to Ektacolor 78 in the 1982 Carson Graves book called the Zone System for 35mm Photographers which I re-read a day or so ago. There is a small section on colour at the end where he says: "Kodak also make a color printing paper designed to increase the contrast of a color negative. The paper's designation is Ektacolor Type 78 and it is a substitute for the normal contrast "Ektacolor 74"

    Sim it seems to have been a higher contrast paper.

    pentaxuser