Thinking about RA4.... Wondering whether I should bother...

Discussion in 'Color: Film, Paper, and Chemistry' started by hoffy, Jun 6, 2010.

  1. hoffy

    hoffy Member

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    Talking with my wife today, she asked how hard would it be to do colour prints. This obviously got me thinking, followed by some research.

    After what I found and considering I don't want to fork out too much for equipment in the beginning, I am wondering whether it would be worth pursuing or not. With the discontinuing of Kodak Endura and the luke warm response to Fuji Crystal Archive, considering I would prefer to process at room temperature, I think it might be put in the too hard basket.

    Is there any other alternatives? I don't want to start down the Endura path only to find that cut paper is impossible to find in the not too distant future/
     
  2. perkeleellinen

    perkeleellinen Member

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    There is another Kodak paper, called Ektacolor Edge, it's a budget paper, thinner than Endura, but worked fine for me at room temp. I think you can only buy it in rolls, though, so you'll need space to cut it down and more funds up-front to buy it.
     
  3. markbarendt

    markbarendt Subscriber

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    I truly enjoy RA-4 printing, truth be told considerably more than B&W.

    If you have a dichroic (color) enlarger and the stuff to do B&W, you already have virtually everything you need as far as hardware. The consumables aren't expensive in fact per sheet printing costs are cheaper than B&W, mostly because of the paper.

    If you can find a Subtractive Color Calculator, something like this it will make life easier.
     
  4. srs5694

    srs5694 Member

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    It's possible to do RA-4 processing at room temperature; you've just got to extend the development times. Also, if you don't have any print drums, it's also possible to do it in the same open trays you probably use for B&W; you've just got to work in total darkness (at least until the prints are in the blix). In fact, this is the way I do my RA-4 processing: At room temperature in total darkness in open trays. I prefer this method to using drums because I find that trays are faster and more flexible, and I'm not particularly bothered by working in total darkness. (Try doing a few runs with B&W with your eyes closed, then with the safelights off, if you want to see how it feels.) You'll obviously need a timer you can activate by feel and that sounds an alarm when the processing time is up.

    As to the "luke warm response to Fuji Crystal Archive," remember that an announcement such as the discontinuation of a product is far more likely to elicit negative responses to the discontinuation than positive responses about competing products. I've used both, and although I preferred Kodak's paper, Fuji's isn't so much worse that it will be a great hardship to switch. Unless I've missed something, you can also still obtain the Kodak paper, just in rolls, which adds to the hassle since you've got to cut it down to size. OTOH, this can give you extra flexibility. For instance, if you buy 8-inch rolls, you can cut it to the usual 8x10-inch size, or cut a 35mm full-frame size of 8x12-inch, or various other sizes (say, 5 4/12 x 8-inch for a full-frame of that unusual size).
     
  5. pentaxuser

    pentaxuser Subscriber

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    If there is a problem with Fuji paper at room temp and srs5694's experience suggests that there isn't, then processing at 95F is possible if you get a Nova trimate or quad processor with thermostatic controls which will maintain the high temps. If you were only to do occasional RA4 then the Nova could be expensive as it is might cost a bit to buy but it has real benefits for B&W prints in terms of size( trays on end) volume of chemicals needed and longevity of chems. Simply drain the tanks of RA4 chems, rinse and refill with B&W chems, turn down the control to 20C and you're set for B&W once the water jacket has cooled.

    Even better if you can process both RA4 and B&W at 20C. The jury seems to be out on this one for Fuji paper. Would others care to comment on their experiences of processing Fuji RA4 at room temp. I must admit that I found it difficult to draw any meaningful conclusions on Fuji paper and room temp processing on other threads.


    pentaxuser
     
  6. hoffy

    hoffy Member

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    And thats the thing. Yes, It would be nice to get a temp controlled processor, but at this stage, I would rather give it a try at room temp and save my money.
     
  7. hrst

    hrst Member

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    I had absolutely no problems developing Fuji CA at room temp (23C) with Tetenal 1-minute room temp chemicals. Didn't try printing step wedge, though. I haven't tried it with Kodak chemicals yet.
     
  8. Photo Engineer

    Photo Engineer Subscriber

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    The Tetenal room temp chemistry has a premium price which is not justified considering a normal RA4 Replenisher works just fine.

    But has anyone considered a bulk purchase of cut sheet Endura from Kodak? Call someone there. It might be feasible.

    PE
     
  9. hoffy

    hoffy Member

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    I know that I am only a "Johnny Come Lately", but if everyone pooled their resources from APUG and other Film based communities, would Kodak consider doing that? Maybe with the help of someone such as Freestyle behind them?
     
  10. hrst

    hrst Member

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    Yes and the other problem is that if you buy Tetenal, you still have to buy the Kodak blix, because the blix in Tetenal is crap.
     
  11. Photo Engineer

    Photo Engineer Subscriber

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    Kodak has indeed taken special orders and made film cut to special sizes. The same is true of Ilford. Kodak, AFAIK, will not coat to order, but will custom cut and package existing products given enough orders.

    PE
     
  12. hoffy

    hoffy Member

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    OK, digging this back up again. I haven't gotten there yet, but am keen. I have decided that I will go tray processing first and see how I go.

    In relation to the Blix found in tetenal, hrst alluded that it is "crap". Without knowing poo from clay, can someone please justify this comment? What makes the tetenal blix so bad? (also considering that I will be purchasing my chemicals in Australia, where Tetenal is realistically the only choice, unless buying commercial quantities).

    Cheers
     
  13. hrst

    hrst Member

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    Blix has only one function: it has to work, without staining the image. If it does not work, it's really bad. This is the case with Tetenal blix, in many cases. If you happen to get it very fresh, it will probably work perfectly, but you need to check for the production serial number and ask Tetenal about the manufacture date. If it's older than 6 months, which is usually the case, don't buy it.

    This applies of course only to the 2.5 liter kit which is pre-mixed. 5 liter kit supposedly comes with two separate concentrates and people say it doesn't suffer from this problem.

    You can use APUG search function to search for more information. I have started a thread concerning this about two years ago, but there are also problems reported by others.

    The problem with defective Tetenal blix is brownish staining in whites, retained silver causing dark, muddy and blurry images with muted colors, and/or retained halides causing print to darken in light. When it worked, it worked for a week or two and then died. Probably because sometimes it was "almost dead" off-the-shelf and sometimes completely dead. Kodak seems to work after 6 months, mixed!

    Tetenal gave me one kit of this stuff as a compensation, which suffered the same problems, but not as severe as it was a bit more fresh. First they didn't admit the problem but later they admitted it and stated they are going to change the product to solve the problems. I don't know about the current state of things but to be sure, I would suggest buying kits that have blix divided in two separated concentrates to be mixed by user.
     
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  15. hoffy

    hoffy Member

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    Thanks
     
  16. pentaxuser

    pentaxuser Subscriber

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    It's hoffy's thread but I am not sure I have seen a definitive answer on whether Fuji CA can be adequately processed in Kodak chems at room temp. There are some real advantages to room temp processing but unless Fuji CA and Kodak RA4 chemicals are compatible at room temp then it could be a non starter.

    I trust those Kodak paper users who say that Kodak paper and room temp processing is compatible and I have had great results in the past with Supra Endura at 95 degrees F but I don't realy want to trust to providence that somehow we can collectively form a group and persuade Kodak to cut sheet sizes and deliver especially as I am across the Atlantic in the U.K. where there is a relatively small group of RA4 processing APUGers.

    I can't be alone in thinking that Kodak paper is excellent. Since the Kodak announcement the remaining stocks of cut sheet Kodak Supra Endura has gone through the roof price-wise, here in the U.K.

    pentaxuser
     
  17. srs5694

    srs5694 Member

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    I can't speak to the Kodak chemicals side of the equation, since I've never used Kodak RA-4 developer; however, I've processed Fuji CA paper in other brands and mix-it-yourself formulas at room temperature without problems. In fact, I just did some prints that way a few days ago. Room temperature in my darkroom lately has been about 85F/30C, but it dips much lower in the winter. I'd have to check my notes to be 100% sure I've done Fuji CA in the 68F/20C range, but I'd say that's likely.
     
  18. hoffy

    hoffy Member

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    Thanks all.

    Two more questions.

    Tetenal 5L kits - I am assuming I can break these up and only mix as much as I need at a time (typically for me, that is around 600ml per tray)? I also read that the working solution can last up to 6 weeks. Is that correct and does that stand true for both the developer and the blix?

    Tray warmers? This is something that I have come across in some of the books and old magazines I have been reading, but have seen very little on the net. Do people still use them? If so, would they go up to the 30ish deg C that is required?

    Cheers
     
  19. 2F/2F

    2F/2F Member

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    DO IT! We all need help keeping it alive.
     
  20. hoffy

    hoffy Member

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    Don't worry 2F. I am going to do it. Its just, typically I over analyze things....... OK, more simply put, I don't want to spend a load of cash on gear that is not going to get the results that I want!
     
  21. Mick Fagan

    Mick Fagan Subscriber

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    Hoff, I have been following this thread since it's inception and been doing some thinking.

    I have left over from a large colour printing job, three AGFA 5 litre RA4 kits.

    When AGFA went belly-up I went into Vanbar in Melbourne and bought about 15 of these kits, plus I went around the Melbourne camera shops that had one or more of these and bought them all up. In short, I bought most of the in-store stock of these kits in Melbourne. About 30 +- in all.

    Well late last year I used ten kits for a big print run and early this year after the summer heat died down, I used six more.

    I have been thinking, that you may be interested in the remaining kits I have.

    I have sort of decided that as I get closer to retirement, and subsequently spending more time travelling outback, colour printing with the inherent time required in the darkroom, will have less appeal in the short term to myself.

    Colour printing to me, has been good for making some colour prints for myself and other people, but for my own personal work I prefer B&W, always have and probably always will.

    These kits were still very good in March this year, but I fear that by this time next year when I would probably print colour again, they may be off.

    Mick.
     
  22. Poisson Du Jour

    Poisson Du Jour Member

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    That explains the famine of colour chems then. Nicely. :surprised:
     
  23. hoffy

    hoffy Member

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    I must admit, you do have my attention all of a sudden!
     
  24. Mick Fagan

    Mick Fagan Subscriber

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    Shoot me a pm and I'll give you my email address.

    Know anyone travelling interstate?

    Mick.
     
  25. sepiareverb

    sepiareverb Member

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    RA4 is really very fun, and much easier than I remembered it being when I started back at it after a long hiatus. The questions of availability of anything from one purchase to the next have become too much for me this year. I'm finishing my last stuff and packing it in.
     
  26. fotch

    fotch Member

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    Yes, basically, RA4 is easy. What is hard is getting the chemical and paper. :sad: