What changed about color processing?

Discussion in 'Color: Film, Paper, and Chemistry' started by juan, Oct 24, 2003.

  1. juan

    juan Subscriber

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    Part of my job is to write and produce documentaries - as a result, I look at a lot of old home photographs. I've noticed something strange - the color prints made in the 70s and 80s are awful - the color is faded and deteriorated - not to mention that awful satin finish. I expected to see that.

    But the photos made in the late 50s and early 60s still look good - a little yellow sometimes, but easily color corrected. They were probably made from 120 or 620 negatives as they are square. What was changed about processing/paper in the late 60s/early 70s?
    juan
     
  2. Flotsam

    Flotsam Member

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    I don't know, but the time period that you are talking about roughly coincides with the advent of the one hour minilab. I'm not sure how they've adapted their chemistry in order to provide one hour service but I know that I can drop off a roll of color neg film at my local minilab and pick it up. processed only, in 10 minutes. I've processed plenty of C-41 by hand and machine and I know that you can't go dry to dry in 10 minutes in a standard process. The same process crunching would apply to a roll of 36 4"x6" prints. You must have to give up something for that kind of speed.

    Combine that with the fact that many people with absolutely no photographic process control experience bought these machines as turnkey businesses and hired high school kids to run them and the drastic drop in quality and permanence seems inevitable.
     
  3. glbeas

    glbeas Member

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    I think the process itself has changed. Once the image is processed its there, no matter that it took 30 minutes or 10 minutes to get there. I think we need someone who can give us a brief outline on the discrete color processes in use as time went by so we can see the evolution of the color print.
     
  4. juan

    juan Subscriber

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    I never saw a 1-hour photo place until the early 80s. The change I see in the prints began about a decade earlier - in the early 70s - so I don't believe the 1-hour process is the culprit.

    The bad color seems to begin at about the time they began using that awful "satin finish" paper. It was a rough surface paper - used, I believe to help hide grain and other distortions from cheap cameras with cheap lenses and tiny negatives. This was the period of the 110 Pocket Instamatic camera, which I believe was introduced in 1972.

    But again, what is stunning is the quality of the color from the late 50s and early 60s.
    juan
     
  5. PaulH

    PaulH Subscriber

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    Late 60s early 70s, wasn't that about the time they switched from paper to plastic? If my memory serves, that is when RC papers started to come in.
     
  6. David A. Goldfarb

    David A. Goldfarb Moderator Staff Member Moderator

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    In the '70s people were wearing all those earth tones, and colors like pumpkin, mustard, avocado and such, and cars, houses, furniture, and housewares were all the same unattractive colors. Maybe the prints haven't deteriorated at all!
     
  7. blansky

    blansky Subscriber

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    When I started professionally in the middle 70s, almost everything was fading in just a few years. Typical Kodak garbage. Kodak sold everyone on color, and how stable it was. NOT. The only color prints that I've seen from the 50s and 60s that were stable were B&W hand colored.

    I don't know if it was because it was RC or not. I didn't use the satin finish on my prints and I used a professional lab. It was just Kodak constantly changing the chemistry and paper for what ever reason.

    Michael McBlane