Ilfochrome / Cibachrome
Hello everyone, long time lurker and first time poster here. I bought my first darkroom setup yesterday, which includes two enlargers (Omega DII and Omega C67 with C700 colorhead), chemicals, lots of accessories and tons of expired paper. Among the stuff is a good quantity of Ilfochrome and Cibachrome paper, plus the chemicals to process it. My only darkroom experience is developing film and my initial goal in purchasing this setup was to do B&W prints.
I have done some research about the Ilfochrome process and it looks interesting, but I don't do much slides, because the chemicals aren't available here in Canada (I think? I didn't do much research about it) and sending the film to the lab ends up to be quite expensive.
Space is a bit of an issue, so I'm pondering what I should do with the Ilfochrome stuff...Should I sell it ? Or keep it if I change my mind in the future ? I have read that this stuff doesn't keep that well. As I said, I don't have printing experience and I was planning to do only B&W prints for several months, as my first step in learning. I also just purchased my first Tetenal C41 kit from B&H, so colour work is not out of question.
Thanks for all the replies!
Ilfochrome = Cibachrome with considerable improvement. The label Cibachrome is many years out of date.
Neither paper was noted for good keeping unless frozen. The paper(s) and chemicals are no longer manufactured.
There are some threads in which some users hope to come up with a home brew set of chemicals to use up the last of the existing papers.
All the Ilfochrome chemicals I have are in powder form, in the original packaging...do they get out of date that way too?
As for the paper, some of it is 20 years out of date, probably stored at room temperature in the basement.
The chem might be fine, but regarding the paper ... don't even bother. Six months out of cold storage and it develops severe crossover.
A year old it's worthless. But the polyester sheet is itself useful for various projects. I've saved odds and ends of old Cibachrome for making
cutout masks for negative carriers, groundglass viewing masks for reduced formats, etc. Or you could use the sheets as a substrate for
coating some kind of homemade emulsion.
IIRC the bleach requires a special organic catalyst for it to work in a reasonable length of time.
I have had Ilfochrome paper that was much older than one year old, that was never in a freezer throughout that time and where pictures came out just fine. Before you toss out your stash or repurpose it for non-photographic tasks, I'd highly recommend you give it at least a try. Some time back I wrote an article on APUG where you get instructions for amateur use of this material. The biggest requirement is a color enlarger which you seem to have anyway.
I have seen all kinds of film scanned or printed on RA4 (negs) and Ilfochrome (slides), but in my opinion you haven't seen colors until you've seen Kodak E100VS or Fuji Astia optically printed on Ilfochrome material, even with the simple means of a small dark room.
The chemistry in powder form should keep well unless you see corrosion or discoloration of the powders when the packets are opened.
The paper itself has a checkered history of fair and bad keeping so be prepared for the worst.
Most of the time, some sort of masking is necessary to fix up the image.
I saw your thread last night on my quest for some info on the subject. Very interesting read!
Originally Posted by Rudeofus
The only thing stopping me from trying it, if I may say so, is my complete lack of experience on the matter of wet printing.
Thanks for all the replies so far.
Granted that the OP has an enlarger with a color head, but where on earth did this myth that you need one to print color come from??
Originally Posted by Rudeofus
I printed a LOT of color back in the day, Type R, Ciba/Ilfochrome and RA4, and I've never owned a color head enlarger. A filter drawer above the lens, which pretty much all condenser enlargers have, and a set of color printing filters and you're good to go. It's not as convenient, but given all the other inconveniences of exposing and processing color material it's a tiny additional annoyance. The color head is more of an advantage for negative printing than positive because you can make finer adjustments with the color head and need to do so more frequently when printing negatives than slides, but I got by just fine even for RA4 with CP filters down to 2.5 - or .25 or whatever, different makers seem to mark them differently. Ilford made a set specifically for Ilfochrome (I still have them, don't know if they've faded) that only go to half that fine adjustment, 5 units, which was always sufficient for me (Drew might find a print that was only to the closest 5 units totally unacceptable but it was a barely perceptible difference to me!) for printing slides.
It works fine. No one should let the lack of a color head stop them from getting into color printing, if they want to give it a try.
If you decide to experiment, just remember that the bleach is very corrosive. You need good ventilation and proper disposal. Simple baking soda
will instantly neutralize it. The powder version is largely sulfamic acid. Processing can be done in simple rotating drums. I think anyone who
tries this in trays is a bit nuts. The bleach fumes can really mess up your lungs. The developer and fix are similar to ordinary black and white
chemistry, however, and quite mild. But like I said, I'm extremely skeptical that the paper will be any good this old.