the practicality of tabletop processors for RA4?

Discussion in 'Color: Film, Paper, and Chemistry' started by colorsthatneverend, Mar 12, 2006.

  1. colorsthatneverend

    colorsthatneverend Member

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    Hi all,

    I don't post very much here but have learned so much from your threads. Thank you.

    I am kind of confused and would love to hear from others who work in color and are trying to keep control of their photographic practice. For now, I am shoot only color negs and landscapes in 4x5 and for the last few months, 8x10. I am just finishing a BFA in photo, and have had 24/7 access to a 4 x 5 enlarger a 24" Kreonite processor. I like the darkroom, and while I am scanning some of my 4x5s, I am not sure that sitting in front of the computer is the way I want to consider my work.

    After I graduate, I would like to set up a wet darkroom, but everyone here seems to think this is a pretty dumb, retro choice. I have a very good 8x10 Durst color enlarger lined up, and am thinking of using a tabletop processor, like the Fujimoto CP-51 so that I can see my work in house before making any further decisions about expensive drum scans. It's not just the expense--one thing I love about photography is being alone and having control, and as soon as I have to get others involved, well . . . it's not the same.

    Sorry to ramble for so long, but I would love to hear from anyone who has a similar set up and is still running it. I'm not too concerned about the enlarger, but what is the practicality of running a table-top processor? I was thinking of doing print runs every 2 weeks or so.

    Thanks in advance and have a great day,

    Cindy
     
  2. Nick Zentena

    Nick Zentena Member

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    If you're only printing every two weeks then why the big processor? Drums will save you money at the start and will use less chemicals over time.

    OTOH if neither the cost of the processor or the running cost bother you it sounds like a dream system. But check the chemical requirements of the CP51. It's pretty high if IIRC.
     
  3. df cardwell

    df cardwell Subscriber

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    Well, the advantage of the processor is to be able to run a high volume when you run.

    Drums are great for low volume, high quality prints. I always thought drums wrecked the 'rhythm'.

    Wait for Mr Callow to weigh in on this, but I suspect you'll be able to carefully adjust the developer to proper strength even if it has been sitting around. Umm.. I think we have at least one Fujimoto user around here...got it !.... send Imke a PM and ask her.
     
  4. Dave Miller

    Dave Miller Member

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    This is what the NOVA slot processor was designed for
    Nova
     
  5. jgoeden

    jgoeden Member

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    Novas

    Sir, you mentioned Novas so I looked into them. I love shooting MF trannys but don't much because we don't have any local labs that process E-6 and mail order gets expensive with all the shipping. Anyways so I looked into the Novas and they seem very reasonably priced but what I'm wondering is what they do. I skimmed over the instructions on how to use it but it just seems like a temperture control because the instructions mentioned pouring in your chemicals and pouring them out, washing, etc. Just out of curiousity (because I want to get a E-6 processor, possibly a Phototherm), it seems there is no difference between the Novas and just buying a tank and manually doing all your film. Why would I spend $300 if I still have to do all the work? If I am overlooking the powers of Nova please help and point them out because maybe it would be a good purchase. I'm just not understanding how to use it.
     
  6. pentaxuser

    pentaxuser Subscriber

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    I hope Dave doesn't mind me stealing the reply that I am sure(I think) he'd have given.

    The Nova is a temperature controlled slot processor, like four trays on end. The chems stay in the processor all the time so no preparation and clean up. You simply move the print from one slot to the other. No emptying or rinsing and drying the drum for the next print. If you use the Nova every few days or maybe even once a forthnight the replenishment means that the chems are always being renewed and never need dumping. Only the top of the slots are exposed to air and are covered by a tube at the end of each session so deterioration is minimal if it is used as above.

    Each print is held by special clips which enable you to move it in the slot for the requisite time and then lift it into the next slot including finally a wash slot in which there is a constant change of water.

    Quicker than a manual Jobo using a drum but not as automatic or as quick as a Jobo table top processor where everything is auto once the paper is inserted. If time and very high volume counts then the table top models are clearly better.

    Hope this helps

    pentaxuser
     
  7. Photo Engineer

    Photo Engineer Subscriber

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    I use trays to process my RA4 prints, and I do it at room temperature (68 deg F or 20 deg C). Yes, and I use Kodak chemistry. It works.

    I use the RA-RT color developer replenisher in 10 L kits and split it in half making 5 liters at a time. It works every time.

    PE
     
  8. John McCallum

    John McCallum Member

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    The Durst Printo processor is designed for color processing. It has a motorised paper feed and individual tank temperature control. The speed of transporting the paper through the tanks can be adjusted, and it all stays dark until final rinse.

    I bought one because I had seen a friend use it extensively and very successfully for small and large colour print processing. I found the build quality/clever design and price were just right. Just pop it on your bench plug in the water and away you go.
     

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  9. Mick Fagan

    Mick Fagan Subscriber

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    I run a Durst Printo as I think it's the perfect combination of size and materials usage around.

    The good news, you only need 2½ litres of solution. The bad news, you are restricted to 12" wide paper.

    Personally I figured that at some stage one has to compromise on paper size. Whilst I can and did do 16x20" drum prints, it remains not as cost effective as roller transport colour printing.

    I have for many years saved the chemicals and re-used them many times, in many sessions before they are used up or are starting to get to the end of their life by oxidation.

    The other R/T machines invariably use vast amounts of chemicals therefore costing much more in chemical wastage, unless of course you have a big throughput, which would negate the costs somewhat.

    Mick.
     
  10. srs5694

    srs5694 Member

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    How do you time things? (Count it off, timer with a beeper, etc.?) So far one of the biggest hassles of color print-making for me has been cleaning and drying the drum between prints. I've been considering trying it in trays, but fumbling around in the dark to activate my timer for each step seems like it could be error-prone.
     
  11. Photo Engineer

    Photo Engineer Subscriber

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    I use a GraLab timer to time the steps. Developer 2', Stop 30", Blix 2' and wash for up to 20 mins or more at 68 - 75 deg.

    I usually run 2 prints back to back. I manage about 10 prints per hour in trays, but usually print for several hours. My usual run is 24 prints per evening. I usually dump the developer after a fixed # of prints, about the same as the Jobo recommendation.

    I limit myself to 11x14 max in trays. Any larger and I use the Jobo drums and can still run at room temp.

    PE
     
  12. Petzi

    Petzi Member

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    I used a Jobo machine in the past for 8x10 prints, and it worked fine, but with the Jobo, I didn't need to process at room temperature. I used the prescribed temperature for the given process.

    I even processed Cibachrome and Kodak reversal paper with good results.

    Drying the drum was indeed a bit tedious. I guess you could be more productive with multiple drums.

    A Jobo machine is great when you want to process film also, you can use the same machine.

    A paper processor with roller transport is of course a very productive device. But is is not very appropriate if you want to make five prints during a lab session.
     
  13. langedp

    langedp Member

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    I have to second the Jobo recommendation. I have owned the CPA-2, CPP-2 and now the ATL2300 for both film and paper. I run E-6, C-41 and B&W film in 4x5 and 8x10 through this set up. Prints up to 20x24. For low volume it's hard to beat. Get
    multiple drums to increase productivity so you don't have to dry in between runs.

    Dave
     
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  15. nworth

    nworth Subscriber

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    You like working in the darkroom, so RA-4 printing is a good approach for you. From your comments, you seem to be pretty productive, too. That goes in favor of staying in the darkroom. More and more, I've moved toward scanning the negatives and printing on an inkjet. It is just so fast and convenient for me, and the controls in Photoshop are outstanding. But I keep my darkroom, and I still do some RA-4. There are negatives that work much better with traditional printing, especially when working with the local red rock. From your notes, I suspect you share a production darkroom. As long as you have access, we will all just be jealous - it's a great way to work. Small processors are excellent and very ecomomical for the small darkroom. I use a Jobo and time the steps with a kitchen countdown timer. Works great, but may not be quite as efficient as your production setup. Before I got the Jobo (some years ago), I used a cheap DevTec processor and maintained the temperature with a fish tank heater-themostat. That also worked very well, although it was messier and more cramped than the Jobo with lift.
     
  16. Claire Senft

    Claire Senft Member

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    You will never get a better deal on a tabletop processor than you can get now. About 2 years ago I bought a Durst Vario 40 for 351 USD in like new condition. I had a FGujimoto CP1 with replenisher and dryer. Parts from Jobo were very expensive. With Jobo gone I do not know what is available for service.
    You can make color prints quite inexpensively in RA4.
     
  17. Imke

    Imke Member

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    Hi Cindy,

    I have been using the CP-51's little brother, the CP-31, for the past 5 years, and just bought myself a CP-51 on eBay, mind you, for $456! Yup. These are the days. :smile:

    I am an editorial photographer, and use the machine quite a bit, and have to say it's real easy to use, uses 2 liters of chemicals in each bath, with my set-up runs dry-to-dry like the Kreonite you're used to, and is very easy to clean up.

    The CP-51 is a big piece of machinery, and takes up quite a bit of space. It runs on 6 liters each developer and blix, but has an automatic replenishment system built in, which is optional on the CP-31. I love it! And a lot easier than dealing with drums, unless you are really patient, which I am not.

    The chemistry can be left in the 51, there are floating lids available, but it is recommended to clean the tanks if the processor isn't used in more than a week.

    So, if you have the space, I highly recommend the Fujimotos, they are easy to work on, reaaaaally dependable, and make processing a breeze. Omega Satter bought the analog division of Jobo, parts and support are available, but yes, a bit expensive, you can try and find a used processor on Ebay for parts if need be. I did.

    And regarding the "retro" thing: it doesn't get any more retro than this place now, does it?

    Good luck
    Imke
     
  18. Petzi

    Petzi Member

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    Claire, I can buy anything I want from Jobo, what are you talking about? They are not gone.
     
  19. Claire Senft

    Claire Senft Member

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    Sorry, I thought they went out of business. They just changed US distributors I guess.
     
  20. Chan Tran

    Chan Tran Member

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    Using a table top processor is great but you have to have reasonable volume as the chemicals simply go bad sitting in your processor. I could buy an old Noritsu enlarger/processor combo that can do from 3.5x5 up to 11x14 without a darkroom for may be $2000. The problem is that if I don't use it enough I will lose the large quantity of chemicals.
    I use Unicolor drums and a motorized roller I had for over 20 years. I used to used from just a watch, a stop watch, a programmable calculator. Recently I used an old laptop with a timer program that I wrote. But the old laptop died so I right now use a pocket PC with a new program I just wrote.
     
  21. Craig

    Craig Subscriber

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    This sounds perfect for an Ilford cap-40 processor, the times are right as well as the temps. Any reason it wouldn't work?
     
  22. PCGraflex

    PCGraflex Subscriber

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    Boy,
    I was looking at this

    http://cgi.ebay.com/ws/eBayISAPI.dll?ViewItem&rd=1&item=330175826317&ssPageName=STRK:MEWA:IT&ih=014

    and thought "naaa, won't be worth it". but now I am not so sure.......:rolleyes:
     
  23. Removed Account

    Removed Account Member

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    Shhhhhhhhhhhhhh! Shhhhhhhhhhh!
     
  24. Matt5791

    Matt5791 Subscriber

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    I started printing RA-4 recently and use a Durst Printo - apart from the max 12" width, this is a really great machine - so easy and so quick.

    and the modular design is superb.

    Matt
     
  25. PHOTOTONE

    PHOTOTONE Member

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    RA4 is ideally suited to automatic processing, as the processing times are fixed, and you can't improve or manipulate the results for improvement by altering the process.

    There were many tabletop processors made for processing RC color paper, starting with EP-2 process, and these machines can also be used for RA-4.

    Durst marketed a line of processors starting in the mid-1970's. They had a smaller machine designed to process 8 inch wide paper (8x10's) that was just a develop and blix machine, you still had to wash the prints and dry them.

    Nutek then took over the line and made processors for RA-4 and Cibachrome (Ilfochrome). Some of these had wash/dry modules.

    Fujimoto made a nice line of tabletop processors.

    Durst again entered the market with the Durst Printo modular processors.

    All of the above are tabletop roller-transport processors that operate with relatively small amounts of chemistry (for their maximum print size), some have automatic replenishment, some have wash/dry modules, and most important, ALL allow you to put a sheet in, close a lid and turn on the lights while the print is being processed. So, you can busy yourself with setting up the next neg to print, or you can leave the lights off, and make multiple prints of the same neg, feeding the paper in as quickly as the processor can take it.

    Most, if not all, will take paper smaller than 8x10, but paper is not available smaller than 8x10, so you would have to cut it in your darkroom. The preferred technique is to use a step-and-repeat easel that allows you to make multiple-smaller images on one 8x10 sheet, then cut them apart after washing and drying. This makes it easy to make, say, a dozen wallets, or 4 3x5's, or a pair of 5x7's of the same image on one 8x10 sheet of paper.
     
  26. Photo Engineer

    Photo Engineer Subscriber

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    Did Kodak discontinue the 5x7 size paper? I still have quite a stock of it here.

    PE