Hi everyone. I've just purchased a beautiful color enlarger and want to start making my own color prints. I can't stand 1 hour photo anymore now that all that's left are those horrible 300 dpi printers and gretags. Anyhow, I want to know if there's any chemicals for printing RA-4 at room temperature or if there's some approach that's even better. Do I need a voltage stabilizer and a heated rotary processor and a digital timer? Are there any of these that are available cheap? Thanks for your help
I used to use an RA-4 room temperature kit years ago, but I don't think it's made anymore. There may be one from Arista. Check freestylecamera.com.
the power supply to your enlarger needs to be voltage stabilized for color printing. you might want to check if the power supply for your enlarger incorporates voltage stabilization or if you need to buy one separately.
I've used the room temperature Tetenal mono 2.5 liter kits with very good results. If you buy a Nova slot processor, however, you can use the regular RA-4 5 liter kit at 86 or 95 F. This will end up costing you half as much per chemical volume.
a rotary processor would be better for prints larger than 8x10 and up to 16x20.
Welcome to color printing, Karl!
I can recommend using Printmaster's Photocolor developer and Universal Bleach-Fix in trays at room temperature. They're available from B&H. They work great and last a long time, but for consistency you may need about 50% more time in the developer than the recommendation on the bottle. I've tried tube processing and find the trays much easier, even though I have to do it in the dark.
Rowland Mowrey, an ex-Kodak researcher, says you can use Kodak's RA-RT chemistry at room temperature, even though it's designed for the 100F process. Development time is 2 minutes, if I remember correctly. He's on photo.net, but I'm not sure he's a member of this forum.
If you go the tray route, you'll need something to time the developer - I use an old Spiratone Darkroom Director that's both an enlarging timer and a processing timer, but any timer you can activate and hear in the dark should be fine. I also put a few pieces of glow-in-the dark tape on the trays so I can find them in the dark.
it's not that difficult to get used to tray processing in the dark; i prefer trays to either a manual drum, or the nova processor. i just use an ungloved hand to agitate the tray and a gloved one to move the prints.
I have just started to develop and print my own colour negs. I started to develop the film in a standard tank by warming the chemicals and tank in a bowl but I now have a Jobo Duolab with a heated tank and I find the results of consistant heating and rotation give me much better negatives.
I am using a Fujimoto G70 enlarger which I have just about got the hang of. To develop the prints I am using Paterson RA4 Printmaster at room temperature in a Paterson orbital processor. The results are turning out quite good if I use the developer and bleach fix as one shot chemicals (even for the test prints); however the orbital processor only takes 55ml of chemicals to process a print up to 10x8.
I can use the Jobo Duolab processor for prints by developing at a higher temperature but I have not got around to this yet.
Where would I get a rotary processor? Are these the ones that cost a few hundred dollars? I'd prefer not doing trays for all of my applications as I'm not the most consistent when I have to control temperature and time development myself. I have trouble enough with black and white timing. Color would be even worse for me, and I'm not sure I see any advantage in developing in trays if you can't even see your print until it gets into the blix. Also, I don't understand how one would go about printing in trays as color chemistry exhausts more quickly than black and white and must either be used one-shot or replenished. Do I have it right? I want to be able to churn out color prints like the darkrooms for newspapers used to do, as I will be doing a large quantity of prints in the coming months for my high school's yearbook and newspaper. This isn't to say that I won't also want to practice the artistic side of color, just that I want to get an efficient set up so that I can make do in a crunch. Thanks for all the help thus-far everyone!
as for trays, i use them because i think they're faster. i use a drum for ilfochrome (cibachrome; i.e. "dye-destruction" prints from slides) because of the toxicity, but i hate it. the drum has to be rinsed & dried after every use!
also, with the Tetanal Mono PK RA-4 kit, to my knowledge i've never had a problem with exhaustion because of exposure to air. i didn't even know this was an issue until i read the tech sheet for Kodak's (high temperature) RA-4 stuff. i don't think the concentrate keeps very well so i mix it all at once, and then i store the juice in collapsible bottles. it seems to work fine until i dump it after the suggested number of prints. "your results may vary."
with the kit i just mentioned, timing isn't a problem because you can exceed the time for each step by 50% (as i recall) with no problems.
you can check prices and get processors on-line from bhphotovideo.com or adorama.com or places like Calumet, if there's one near you. you should probably consider used ones, too, which can save you a bunch of dough.
Used drums are really cheap. If you've got room for them, you could accumulate a few to make things more efficient, at least to wash and dry one while another is spinning. You can also get bigger drums to run more prints at a time.