My first RA-4
I'm used to Ilfochrome. I just realized there is no recommended filter pack on the paper I bought. It's the Arista paper. I suppose it's pointless to ask where to start since everyone will be using different enlargers/chemicals/films, but I'll ask anyway. Any suggestions? I'd like to minimize my time and waste.
I can then use this thread for other stupid questions that come up as I climb the learning curve.Does any RA-4 paper come with filtration suggestions, ior do I have to dial in each pack separately? Or is it all rock solid and consistent batch to batch, unlike Ilfochrome?
Kodak and Fuji papers are consistent from batch to batch and so is the film if processed properly. I have printed films that are nearly 60 years old on several recent paper batches and used the same filter pack as modern films and older papers (within about 10R).
Starting here: 50R and 12" af f11 from a 35mm negative to an 8x10 will give me a close center point, but this will vary from enlarger to enlarger. Once established use that pack and exposure as your personal starting point.
Start wherever you want and go from there. It depends mostly on the bulb in your enlarger, i.e. its colour temperature. I've found that papers are extremely consistent pack-to-pack so once you've determined good settings for your enlarger and film, it will be the same across several packs of paper or vary by maybe a couple of points at most - less adjustment than you'll apply due to the lighting in the scene.
I think the classic starting point with a dichroic head is 0C30M30Y or similar. My bulb is probably a bit yellow (it's a super-cheap generic) so I'm often printing about 10C32M15Y but it depends on the film.
The paper is so stable that you can take filter settings from one brand of paper and use it with another and it will be so close to right that you may not care to even make that final adjustment.
Better reconsider that filter pack. The Cyan is just subtracting red and adding neutral density!
Yep. And deliberately so - it gives me a slightly longer exposure (8x10 from a 4x5 is really short) and it gives me an additional degree of freedom to make quick fine adjustments in the red axis.
I realise the classic advice is to use a minimal (no cyan) filter, but I find it easier to work with a little bit there. Also as previously noted, my bulb is probably quite yellow and I've used 10C8Y at least once when correcting a very blue image.
Certainly with a normal enlarger and bulb, one should in theory always be able to get a good print with 0 cyan.
Thanks PE, I started with 50R and that got me in the ball park. Here's how my night went, developing prints from 4x5 Ektar on Arista paper in Arista chemicals at 104 degrees in a Unicolor drum, using the recommended 60ml:
Test print one at f8 x 2 second strips: way too dark, only the 2 second strip had any detail and one corner of the print was white with an uneven "chemical border". Conclusion: use 70 ml and less exposure.
Test 2: f16 @ 2 sec. Much better. The 2 second strip looked best, and using my handy dandy viewing filters I decided to add 20M and 20% time and go for a print. No more white corner, so I stick with 70ml, which IIRC is what I used to use for Ilfochrome.
Print 1: f22@ 4.4 sec, 50Y/70M. Uh-oh, somethings wrong. Its very dark and hideous. Crap. I forgot to take the Chromega head off "white light" after refocusing.
Print 2: same as above, only right this time.
Results: Me, grinning from ear to ear with a very satisfactory RA-4 print! I'll look at it again tomorrow and see if it can be tweaked, but I was quite pleased. I can tell I'm going to like this even more than Ilfochrome already.
Other notes: Its very, very hard for me to focus color negatives. Very nearly impossible. Even wide open with no filters, I could barely make out any grain. Do I need to get my eyes checked?
Seems like I had to stop down pretty far to get reasonable exposure time. Not sure what's up with that.
I thought RA-4 Blix is supposed to smell horrible? I like the smell! It smells sweet and fruity! The developer smells like possum urine. But I think I want to try trays, knowing now that the blix isn't bad at all.
All in all, two thumbs up and I'm addicted like I knew I would be.
I always forget, but there's a "low" bulb setting on my Super Chromega head that I've never used which should take care of that.
Originally Posted by Wayne
Congrats! Sounds like you're on your way. A few thoughts:
I start with 50M+50Y if I have no other reference point. Everything I print gets logged to a spreadsheet, and I'm starting to build up a pretty good database. This means I can filter by film type and other values consistent with what I plan to print, and calculate a more targeted starting filtration as needed.
My experience is that the smell of blix gets worse as it becomes exhausted -- more like ammonia. I use the Unicolor drums with motor base and have no desire to go to trays. Just because you can tolerate the smell doesn't mean you should. At least make sure you're in a well-ventilated area.
Even so, I think trays work best with room temperature processing. If you intend to continue developing at 104F, I think you're going to have a hard time maintaining that in open trays. Results could be inconsistent. Also, I've moved from two-bath to four-bath processing (dev/stop/rinse/blix).
Whether you're using a motor base or agitating the drums manually, make sure you're working on a completely level surface. 60ml in an 8x10 Unicolor drum should work fine.
As far as focusing, you should be able to see grain. Open the lens wide, use white light, and find a highlight area to focus. Of course, I print a lot of Portra and Superia 400. I would expect Ektar to have finer grain.
Yes, I do think my motor base was just a tad off level and that's probably why the corner didn't get developed. But I figured more solution would help maintain the temperature better too, and that's definitely a concern because I want consistency and repeatability.
I'm printing 8x10 from 4x5 so I'm not enlarging the grain much. But I don't have any problem focusing black and white.
Yeah, if I went to trays I would develop at a much lower temp, but that temp would be very well controlled unlike my current drum arrangement. I haven't actually tested it but I'd guess its far from optimal. I expect that I will eventually move to 4 bath processing but I don't see why that would be a problem.
The only thing that might stop me is quality. C-41 must be done at the higher temp for best results. Does that apply to RA-4 as well? Anyway I'm content with drums for the immediate future.
Ektar grain is extremely fine. I can't see it either with my Peak grain focuser. I can just barely start to see it when I enlarge my 8x10's to 30x40 prints but even then I just focus on edges and lines in the image for sharpness rather than the grain itself.
Originally Posted by Wayne
Glad to hear you had a great start with RA-4. With today's materials you can create amazing results from color negatives.