Why use brand name process solutions with color films

Discussion in 'Color: Film, Paper, and Chemistry' started by Photo Engineer, Jul 26, 2009.

  1. Photo Engineer

    Photo Engineer Subscriber

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    After writing about this a lot and answering off forum question, I thought a post was finally needed.

    Firstoff, B&W films are made to a release spec using a single developer, but with adjustments can be used with any developer. This does not mean that the results will be the same from developer to developer, but only that good results can be obtained with the single layer B&W coating in spite of the fact that come contain blends of 2 or 3 emulsions to get long tone scales.

    But, when it comes to color films, they contain many many layers and 9 or more emulsions that must never cross over, must influence each other in an exact way, and even though each film is different they must reproduce things in a pleasing manner. To achieve this with films having speeds from 25 - 1600 is a difficult task. To achieve this, the film is built FOR THE DEVELOPER and not the reverse which is often the case for B&W.

    Therefore, all films must funnel through one developer, and one tail end process to give an acceptable release result. This means that an 800 speed film and a 25 speed color negative film must both filter through the same narrow funnel.

    Now, if the reverse were true, I could design a developer that gave good results with a 25 speed film, but chances are the 800 speed color film would be deficient in some regard. In fact, if compared to the release specifications, both films might fail, but the 25 speed might be almost there while the 800 speed film would fall far outside release specs.

    So, those who design a "developer" fool themselves if they say they have a good developer when in fact it is acceptable and has only been tested with 1 or 2 films. It is especially deceptive if they have not compared it with the identical test with a brand developer from Kodak or Fuji.

    We used to mount 2 cameras on a bar and slave them with 2 releases that were coupled. We then shot over, under and normal sets on several films that were then processed in a "check" and an experimental developer for comparison purposes. Included in this test was RMS granularity, sharpness, and interimage / color reproduction charts.

    In most cases, the films failed in some manner when you designed the developer for the film. It just reinforced the dictum that with color, one designs the film for the developer.

    So, if you have brand X, and the producer of brand X does not make a film, then you can be assured that the developer was designed for A film. Not all films possible, but I'll warrant that it was designed and tested with a single brand of film and found satisfactory. This is good, but is it good enough for your pictures? IDK.

    I have to answer after seeing the data that the home brew developers out there are not good enough for me.

    But, you do what you want. I just wanted to give you a different perspective. One gained from years of lab work!

    PE
     
  2. fotch

    fotch Member

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    I get it. You made this very understandable. Thank you very much.

    It’s too bad that small volume users and amateurs can no longer buy the low volume kits. I cannot buy either Fuji or Kodak chemicals for my use. I don’t know if Fuji ever had a smaller kit like Kodak.

    I know for reasons beyond my knowledge that Kodak probably had to discontinue the product. I have run several businesses and it’s just the way it is sometimes. You would think it’s to their benefit but that’s based on no facts or responsibilities so I trust they did what they must do when they dropped the smaller kit.

    From my perspective, it looks like I have two choices. Buy in large volume and discard what I cannot use. But just where do I dump this stuff? It raises my cost per roll and the money is all spent up front. Times are tough so it’s not really an option for some of us.

    The other choice is try what is available (home brew, buy off brands) with the film one is going to use and see if it’s acceptable. If it is, stay with that combo, if not, try another film.

    I had hope to band together with others in my area and perhaps share the quantity and cost. Never found anyone interested and it’s probably more of a PITA anyway.

    Oh well, that’s how the shutter clicks.

    Again, thank you for sharing your knowledge and insight.
     
  3. Photo Engineer

    Photo Engineer Subscriber

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    Look for small companies to begin to repackage Kodak kits or kits formulated with genuine Kodak formulas in smaller quantities for C-41 and RA. I suspect this will take place.

    PE
     
  4. wogster

    wogster Member

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    I haven't seen the small volume kits in a long time, when I used them, ahem nearly 30 years ago, the developer was something akin to 7 bottles of various sizes that needed to be mixed together. If this is still the case, then splitting a large quantity kit might be difficult or expensive to get it right.
     
  5. Photo Engineer

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    Paul;

    For any given solution, there are a maximum of 3 bottles to prepare a working solution, so Developer is A+B+C and Blix is A+B. Bleach is 1 bottle and fix is 1 bottle. Stabilzer is 1 bottle. This pertains to RA and C-41.

    So, C-41, Developer A+B+C, Bleach, Fix, Stab/final rinse. 6 bottles. RA, Developer A+B+C, Blix A+B, 5 bottles.

    Does that bother you? It is not any different than at present.

    PE
     
  6. fotch

    fotch Member

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    Great, I thought of doing this myself. What about longevity? OK if sealed with Nitrogen after splitting?
     
  7. Sirius Glass

    Sirius Glass Subscriber

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    PE,

    Thanks.

    Steve
     
  8. Bob-D659

    Bob-D659 Member

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    fotch wrote"Great, I thought of doing this myself. What about longevity? OK if sealed with Nitrogen after splitting?"

    Works for me and many others here. I use the 10 liter Kodak RA4 kits and mix 1 or 2 liters of working solution.
     
  9. Ian Grant

    Ian Grant Subscriber

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    What's more common is for enterprising retailers to split the Minilab packs, this certainly happens with Tetenal C41 & RA-4 chemistry. This works out far cheaper than officially packaged small kits for the consumer and the retailer makes a bigger markup.

    But some other points.

    The fact that "the film is built FOR THE DEVELOPER and not the reverse" makes it very much easier to design a substitute developer that will work well with all films designed for the process.

    What do we mean by a "Brand Name process" Kodak made the formulae etc for E6 & C41 processes widely available in the 70's, this was the only way they could get consensus between manufacturers to allow the introduction of the new processes. Some labs (particularly in Europe) were running E4 and Agfa transparency lines, and separate print not particularly cost effective.

    So we had E6 & C41 films & chemistry from: Kodak. Fuji, Agfa, Sakura/Konica, Ferrania/3M

    And compatible chemistry from: Tetenal, Champion (May & Baker), Trebla etc.

    Then there were the kits from smaller companies like Photon Technology, Paterson, Unicolor, Fotospeed etc.

    All the large companies produce first rate products, properly researched and tested for cross compatibility.

    The issues with quality really arise with the smaller brands, some were very much better than others, mainly depending on th skills of the photo-chemists behind them. For instance the Paterson colour products weren't as good as Photocolor (who they later took over), and many E6 kits weren't up to standard.

    Some of the unbranded published formulae will be excellent, some were used commercially by colour labs and equally as good as anything from Kodak or Fuji. Others we can't tell without trying.

    Unfortunately most commercial colour formulae remain unpublished, but it's likely we'd see significant variations between manufacturers that in practice produce almost indistinguishable results

    Ian
     
  10. Photo Engineer

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    Nitrogen packed split kits will work just fine AFAIK at the present time. They must be split under nitrogen as well though, in a glove box.

    If the chemistry is licensed, then it is identical between Fuji, Kodak and "whomever" but the problem is that many companies make kits that are just good enough. Those that use blixes for film, or lack a stabilzer step introduce the potential for problems down the line.

    And, designing the film for the developer is not easier otherwise we would have perfect work alike kits from anyone. That is the problem here. Some manufacturers are missing the mark, and if they are using the formulas I see published on the internet, I know why! I doubt if any small manufacturer is using HQMS in E6 work alike kits.

    PE
     
  11. Ian Grant

    Ian Grant Subscriber

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    The quality of films from certain manufacturers wasn't up to the Agfa, Fuji, Kodak standard. I have to agree about the quality of many small C41 & E6 work alike kits, most always got poor reviews and that certainly resulted in poor sales in the UK. I can only think of 3 manufacturers who made good kits, Barfen (I used their E3 then E6 kits), Phototecnology and Tetenal, of those 3 only Tetenal remains,

    It's worth mentioning the histories of some of the alternative Chemical suppliers particularly as Kodak's the newcomer :D.

    Johnson's & Sons began manufacture of Silver salts for photography in 1839, they followed up with manufacture of processing chemicals, developing agents, and a range of colour developers. They were involved in the manufacture of early colour materials in the 1930's. Their research team certainly had the capability to manufacture alternative chemistry for Colour processing. The company was taken over in 1974 and the chemistry division was closed, however the Technical Director (Pip Pippard) along with other employees set up a new company Phototechology with the rights to the formulae etc and launched a highly successful rage of colour chemistry soon after the launch of C41 & E6 films.

    May & Baker (Champion Photochemistry) another old company founded in 1851 they soon moved into production of photo-chemicals, they became French owned in 1922, they manufactured chemicals including developing agents and colour developers, they also diversified into pharmaceuticals and agro-chemicals. The company split up, the Photo chemistry became part of Champion who later merged with Canadian & US manufacturers. May & Baker chemistry was widely regarded as being one of the best commercially available alternatives to the major Film manufacturers own. This company is more than capable of manufacturing first rate colour chemistry and was manufacturing Ilford & Paterson chemistry (inc the former Phototecnology products) until they moved their plant to Spain & Kodak outsourced it's own chemistry manufacture to them.

    Tetenal, yet another old company beginning in 1847 selling chemicals for the wet plate process, well known in Europe for their excellent photo-chemistry. They manufacture some of Ilford's chemistry range as well as supplying their own C41/E6 & RA-4 chemistry. Again equally as good as the competition.

    There are of course far newer companies supplying alternative colour chemistry, some far better than others.

    Ian
     
  12. fotch

    fotch Member

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    How long does the remaining 8 or 9 liters last?
     
  13. SoSideways

    SoSideways Member

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    So would it be safe for one to use a Fuji kit on Kodak films?

    As I found that B&H offers a couple of kits from Fuji, as well as Tetenal.
     
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  15. Ian Grant

    Ian Grant Subscriber

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    Yes, that's what happens in many labs\ anyway,

    Ian
     
  16. Photo Engineer

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    Fuji and Kodak cross license C-41 and E-6. There will be no problems. AFAIK, there are no similar license agreements with any other companies.

    Above all, beware of any company offering a blix kit in one part. You stand a chance of having it spoiled by the time you pick it off the shelf. It should be a two part kit.

    Also, color developer kits should be at least 3 parts for keeping.

    PE
     
  17. pentaxuser

    pentaxuser Subscriber

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    PE & Ian. An interesting and well explained thread with useful correspondence. I am left with a number of questions:

    While both Fuji and Kodak make both film and chems, I think we can all safely accept that either's products will produce indistinguishable results with either's products although in theory if the film is made for the developer then ideally this suggests that its Kodak chems for Kodak films and Fuji chems for Fuji films but this is probably so nitpicky as to be inconsequential. However it raises the question of "third party" chemical manufacturers who do not produce film. Such manufacturers/ sellers are:

    Tetenal C41 and RA4; Fotospeed RA4; Nova(U.K.based) C41 and RA4 although Nova admits its liquid kits are essentially Tetenal kits. However it produces a powder C41 kit whose origins aren't mentioned. In this later category of powder comes Speedibrews( essentially one man called Michael Maunder) who still makes powder C41 and I think powder RA4 kits.

    Interestingly while Fuji and Kodak confine themselves to separate C41 bleach and fix kits, Tetenal sell small liquid C41 kits which have blix. It begs the question: If C41 blix is OK why bother with making and selling separate kits of bleach and fix which Tetenal do and if combined blix is essentially OK but carries longer term issues then why not for the sake of the customer produce small separate bleach and fix kits. Fuji Hunt just about manages this with its 60-80 film kits although if you are an occasional user then even 60 film kits may "die" before you get through processing that many?

    If we accept that Tetenal and Nova/Tetenal qualify as being the equivalent of Fuji/Kodak in terms of quality and Fotospeed RA4 meets the same standard, it leaves then one "maverick" that PE might caution against which is Speedibrews. Michael Maunder's kits are as far as I know entirely of his own making.

    Yet Martin Reed of Silverprint still sells them and indeed I have used one of his kits and while I have yet to make prints from the film, it certainly looks OK. I cannot see Silverprint stocking Speedibrew C41 unless Martin was very happy that it qualifies as a proper C41 kit. It just wouldn't be worth his while to sell kits that might come back to haunt him in even the medium term when he also sells kits that are known meet all the standards.

    I have also developed from the powder C41 kit from Nova and that too looked OK and printed OK. Maybe the difference between these powder kits and the Tetenal liquid blix kits and Fuji /Kodak separate chems kits lies several or even many years into the future should an attempt be made to print again from old films. However even were this to be true there is no way to know how long film processed in Kodak/Fuji C41 separate bleach and fix kits will last or is there?

    PE In your research into the problems of C41 blix kits can you say what conclusions were arrived at in terms of longevity compared to separate bleach and fix processing.

    This could be very important for users. It certainly is for me. If we knew how long a film might last processed in combined kit then we'd at least be in a position to decide whether the wastage of large separate chems quantities was a price worth paying depending on how long our film might last.

    To be practical about this, I'd say at my age that I'd be happy with a film that will allow me to print from it satisfactorily in say 15-20 years. Even this may be hopelessly optimistic in terms of what my active lifespan might be :D:

    Thanks for any answers and comments


    pentaxuser
     
  18. Ian Grant

    Ian Grant Subscriber

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    The problem is that Ron's experience at Kodak was with US kits using Blix. It's well known that Pip Pippard at Phototechnology overcame the issues with his formulation, there was a lot about this in the UK photo magazines at the time as people were sceptical at first. I remember discussing the issues with a senior Ilford research chemist (very early 80's) and they rated the Photocolor products including the Blix very highly, they had tested it thoroughly. The Tetenal Blix should be equally as good, these are highly reputable chemical companies not back street US bucket chemists :D

    Ilford had been actively carrying out colour research, they had planned to try & break back into the colour market and initially sold re-badged Ilfocolor & Ilfochrome films, unfortunately they chose the wrong partner Sakura(Konica) and the films weren't as good as Agfa, Fuji & Kodak, or even 3M/Ferrania and the project failed. As you know there's the areaat Mobberley that was earmarked for a potentila clour coating line (building).

    Ian
     
  19. Keith Tapscott.

    Keith Tapscott. Member

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    Fotospeed do, I found their E6 MSDS when we were discussing the use of HQMS for home brewed colour processes yesterday. You can download it from their site as a PDF file.
    http://www.fotospeed.com/healthandsafety.asp
     
  20. Ian Grant

    Ian Grant Subscriber

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    It's fair to say Keith that virtually all the kits in the UK that had bad test reports where imports from the US, that goes for E6 & C41.

    Ian
     
  21. Keith Tapscott.

    Keith Tapscott. Member

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    Ian, back in September 2000, I had a week at Lakeland photographic holidays.
    The guest films were processed there, using Tetenal 3 bath E6 kits and a basic Jobo CPE2+ with lift and the results were excellent.:tongue:
    I wasn`t aware of HQMS as a developing agent until it was mentioned yesterday by PE, so I did a Google search to find out a bit more about it, hence the Fotospeed msds.
     
  22. Photo Engineer

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    Well, I'll try to answer as much as I can.

    1. Kodak and Fuji cross license meaning they make identical kits. This results in the ability to use either film in either process. The dyes formed are different though, but the balance remains the same. Kodak adjust color paper sensitivity to account for both types of dyes, but AFAIK (and reports here seem to bear this out) Fuji does not.

    2. Some kits are better than others. A blix is an oxidiant and reductant mixture that begins to spoil the minute the parts are mixed. Therefore, a single part kit, mixed at the plant will begin spoiling. Of course there are ways around this, and I would have to see the MSDS to even attempt to say whether any company has come close. I know that we solved the problem, but never used it at EK.

    3. Powder kits are weak due to the fact that Ammonium Ferric EDTA is not available as a solid, nor is there a good source of solid Ammonium Thiosulfate which does not turn into slush rapidly. Some companies sell it, but it is very expensive. So, powder kits are sodium based and thus much weaker and slower than the ammonium kits. HINT: this is why Kodak went to liquid kits for blix, bleach and (years ago) fix. Ammonium salts are better!

    4. If you make a bleach and a fix, these solutions can be as much as 50% more concentrated than when you mix the two into a blix. This is why most film blixes fail. They are more dilute. Here is an example. Let us say we have 50% solutions of ammonium hypo and ammonium ferric EDTA and mix them. They are now 25%. If we used them individually as is, they would be 50%. Now, this is for illustration only, but should give you an idea of the problem. And, often, using with longer times just does not work! It has to do with solvation of silver particles encapsulated within a big glob of dye and coupler. I have watched motion picture photo micrography of this process. It can leave up to 10% or so of the silver behind degrading color and increasing grain.

    5. Some of you pay a premium for using an RA - Room Temperature kit. Well, in fact, RA chemistry can be used with Endura at room temperature all by itself. Interestingly, back in the 90s, these kits used formulas published by Pat Dignan to achieve this. To do it, they used CD-4 in place of CD-3. This causes broader dyes which give muddier colors and also gives significantly worse dye stability with color paper dyes (not with authentic C-41 dyes though). This is just a fact of chemistry and nothing inherent in C41 vs RA or EP3 or whatever process. I talked to Pat about that, and he retracted his Rapid Access formulas that used CD-4. However, if you see a color paper kit using CD-4, it will yield very inferior results.

    As an added item, the Photospeed MSDS does list HQMS-K salt. But, I caution you that other ingredients not listed may or may not be present and therefore may or may not be present but necessary for proper operation and that is the problem with an MSDS. Some of the proper ingredients are present in a high enough concentration to require listing and I don't see them. Are they somehow not on the list due to laws pertaining where the MSDS is filed? IDK. So, I can feel good and bad at the same time. Missing from the sheet for example is the citrazinic acid in the color developer, the phosphate buffer (required in many countries), and the auxiliary developer in the first developer.

    Make of it what you wish. I don't care what chemistry or formulation you use. I'm merely putting up information gleaned from my experiences.

    PE
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Jul 27, 2009
  23. Ian Grant

    Ian Grant Subscriber

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    Keith, I think part of the problem was smaller US companies tried to emulate the simplicity of the Photocolor products, but they didn't have photo-chemists skilled enough to do it.

    Tetenal did have the photo-chemists, so their products reflect this.

    Ian
     
  24. Photo Engineer

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    The smaller US companies did have some excellent chemists, hired away from Kodak. Some came from GAF. These companies advertized in the Rochester Newspapers at the time and set up a group to do R&D.

    At the time though they got no takers from Kodak except for a few from the plant or Photo Tech who worked on B&W and had done no color work AFAIK.

    When our patent for a film blix issued, several of us were contacted by these companies. We turned them down.

    PE
     
  25. Ian Grant

    Ian Grant Subscriber

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    In the UK I think things differed due to particularly good degree courses specialising in Photo-chemistry, at the University of London. Many Kodak & Ilford researchers passed through, including Mees, but others equally as able went to smaller companies.

    Ian
     
  26. pentaxuser

    pentaxuser Subscriber

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    PE and Ian Thanks for the answers. There are some imponderables still which may have to remain there forever but I note that at EK the blix problem was solved but just never implemented. Could it be that it was also solved at Tetenal as Ian has said or solved to the extent that any differences might take many years to manifest themselves?

    I don't know how long the present Tetenal formulation for C41 blix has been in use but knowing the potential issue involving blix you'd imagine that tetenal research chemists would either have tried accelerated tests to ascertain negative longevity and re-printability before launch or even set aside films which had been processed in both blix and separate bleach and fix since launch of its blix kits and would have periodically done test prints from both sets of negs to monitor differences, if any, over say 1 year, 5 years 10 years etc

    If Tetenal blix remains as good as or almost so as separate bleach and fix then the question remains why bother with separate chemicals and might the answer lie in the economics of large scale processing whereby blix is cheaper and easier for small scale amateur use but more expensive and not as convenient for large scale use such as even Jobos running on a small commercial scale or modern mini-lab production.

    In any commercial process as in money the saying the "good drives out the bad" usually applies and if blix was still demonstrably and appreciably inferior then you'd imagine that Tetenal woud have quietly dropped the blix kits and turned its attention to producing small bleach and fix kits for the small scale amateur. Could it be that in the final analysis that blix may be very marginally inferior but from a marketing point of view a blix kits for the smallscale user has certain advantages such as smaller boxes, less complexity and quicker so overall its more convenient.

    Looking at the Tetenal blix kit, I'd say it wins on all three aspects just mentioned and cynically or otherwise, the Tetenal marketing people might have calculated that few colour negs are ever going to be dug out and reprinted in the number of years in the future that it would take for the differences to begin to show.

    Just a little thinking aloud on my part


    pentaxuser