Thought I'd try colour...

Discussion in 'Color: Film, Paper, and Chemistry' started by Blighty, Nov 28, 2007.

  1. Blighty

    Blighty Subscriber

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    Fellow Apuggers,
    It occured to me the other day that I might try my hand at colour printing. Getting the hardware shouldn't be a problem. What about the consumables though? Although the chemistry and paper is still available, how long will they remain so? I know this is a difficult question to answer (and I also know that the best people to ask are the Lad and Lasses of APUG) but how healthy is the future of colour printing? Many thanks, Blights
     
  2. Snapshot

    Snapshot Member

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    It's likely that as long as people can obtain prints for film then colour processing will remain viable. As far as I understand, a large portion of the print runs at your local lab is still film prints. Consequently, I don't a fear a near term demise for colour prints or chemistry.
     
  3. bdial

    bdial Subscriber

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    The future of Color printing is probably healther than B&W. As Snapshot points out, most of what comes from mini-labs is on light sensitive photographic paper, the originals can be film or digi.
    It's been pointed out several times here that the major driver for small scale availability is the commercial use.

    However, I think the biggest indicator may be price, a 100 sheet box of 8x10 Ektacolor is $32.95 from B&H! I wish I could buy a 100 sheet box of B&W for that price. It's making me re-think doing color.

    As long as printing on traditional paper out-performs other methods in the mini-lab context, the future will stay pretty healthy.
     
  4. srs5694

    srs5694 Member

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    I don't have exact statistics, but much of the printing done at minilabs, even from digital cameras, is on RA-4 color paper. I don't know what the trends are in terms of what new minilabs (and bigger operations, for that matter) are buying, but I'd be surprised if RA-4 printing took a nose dive in the immediate future. AFAIK, it's possible for darkroom users to use RA-4 materials intended for minilabs, although if paper started to become available only in rolls you'd need to hand cut it, which would be a minor nuisance. The bottom line: RA-4 could well outlast C-41, since RA-4 can be used for making prints from digital sources.

    A bigger concern might be obtaining chemistry in small enough quantities that it won't all go bad before you can use it. There are threads on APUG on this topic, although I don't have any pointers. There are several mail-order sources in the US, but I can't offer advice for you across the pond. In a worst-case scenario you might need to get chummy with some minilab operators and piggyback an order for chemicals with their orders.
     
  5. Kevin Caulfield

    Kevin Caulfield Subscriber

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    Here in Australia it looks like the kits from Tetenal for RA4 and also for C41 and E6 are about the only ones available in small enough quantities for the individual as opposed to the minilab, and there are only a few places which will get them in for you.
     
  6. mifo

    mifo Member

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    I asked around before starting to loko for a jobo on ebay (found one which I bought for a decent price last night :smile:). Here in Z├╝rich, Switzerland I only found one shop which could provide anything - but they also got me a special order before (underwater diving bag for the camera) and I was planning on using them as my regular supplier despite them being not so easy for me to get to (work end of town).

    They can do chem without a problem but have had problems getting cut paper for a couple of years now. I've seen plenty of paper on ebay too so I'm not so worried about that
     
  7. davetravis

    davetravis Member

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    You could try shooting slides and printing onto Ilfochrome, but be prepared for sticker shock!
    $500 US for 50 sheets of 16x20!
    And the chems are getting harder to find in the US...
    Funny, but I'm going the other way, starting to print B&W!:smile:
    DT
     
  8. Neal

    Neal Subscriber

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    Dear Blighty,

    Assuming you have an enlarger with a filter drawer (a color head is nicer of course), the cost to try color printing is minimal. If you enjoy yourself while you go through that first box of paper and chemicals then you still had that experience even if all the products were discontinued the next day.

    Search the forum using the keywords RA-4 and trays.

    Neal Wydra
     
  9. Blighty

    Blighty Subscriber

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    Many thanks you lot! My confidence is boosted somewhat. Regards, Blights.
     
  10. Akki14

    Akki14 Member

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    I keep meaning to try RA-4. I have a box of 8x10 Fuji Crystal Archive sitting around, it's about 6 years old... wonder if it still works okay. I literally only need to get off my butt and get one of those little fotospeed RA-4 kits, as I have a very nice colour enlarger and that paper and have already done some c-41 negatives of my own too. Maybe the special photography Santa will get me some for christmas :wink:
     
  11. pentaxuser

    pentaxuser Subscriber

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    If price reflects demand as in the more demand the lower the price because of economies of scale then colour looks particularly healthy. Kodak RA4from MORCO cannot be matched by anything I have seen in B&W and Fuji CA in most cases will match say Kentmere or Ilford B&W in price.

    As other have said minilabs are still doing reasonable business which keeps demand for paper and chems going. I don't think there is any danger of of colour printing material disappearing any time soon.

    Give it a go. I don't want to sound morbid but you "pass this way" only once. Seize the moment.

    pentaxuser
     
  12. Mike Wilde

    Mike Wilde Member

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    my experiences.

    The paper is cheaper; the chems are what costs, and can be harder to find stocked, and do oxidize before being used. The bleach, which is the xpensive part can be partially re-used in my experience.

    I have printed colour a long time; I go back some 22 years with my dabbling.

    The key to colour is controlling the variables.

    Buy fresh paper to get you started; old stuff from Kodak looses red sensitivity as it ages; keeping it in the freezer slows down the deterioration very much; I have a freezer that is presently full of film and paper.

    Consider dedicating a bulb to colour. They shift colour as they age. Stablize the chemistry temperature, or compute the drift through temperature with daylight tubes. Processing in open trays in the absolute darkness is feasible if you have a tray warmer, or float them in a water bath. I find it a drag though, but rinsing and drying tubes is equally a chore.

    Print viewing filters, and a daylight balanced print viewing source where you can look at dry (ie hair dryer) prints will go a long way to help you to SEE colour.

    Minor time changes are much more finicky in RA-4 than B&W. Consider a digital timer if your present timer is not consitently repeatable for under 10 second exposures.

    Kodak put out lots os good guide books to the craft up until the late 80's , and on into the 90s . Read up, and be prepared to spend a few nights before you feel you have a clue , and crank out a good looking print. Keep copious notes on the back of even scrapped prints, and review them at a later date. Even you failures will help you to learn.