First Time RA-4, A Success
I mainly do digital and some BW printing. Then I moved to RA-4 printing for the first time.
Enlarger: Saunders 4550 XLG with Nikkor 50mm lens
Fuji CA Super Type C Lustre. Cut down 8x10 to 4x5 for test printing
Jobo CPE2+ with 2820 test drum
The paper is new old stock, no expiration, but new from a big case. I had some hard time trying to figure out the emulsion side. I get it now.
The Jobo processor is small and good for the test printing I was doing. I only need 40ml chemical. But I used 55ml. This machine does not have the lift.
The CPAC ColorPAC is also a new old stock. I received a couple of cases when local high school closed down its color darkroom. I'm not sure about the age of the chemicals, but I figure it is about 1-2 years old. Each case can make about 10 to 15 liters. I was a little concerned about its age, but it turned out just perfect.
My initial filter setting is 50Y and 30M. It took me quite a few test prints to get the exposure time right. I followed the procedure to change the lens aperture, instead of exposure time. But that is a very bad practice. Since I do not have the extra mounting ring to mount my good lenses, I have to use the Nikkor 50mm lens. It does not have 1/2 aperture stop. So I used F16, 11, 8 and 5.6. My initial exposure time was too long. To the end, I changed the exposure lever from normal to dim and cut down exposure time to 10 seconds, with F11 stop.
After my last test print, I compared it to the original shop print. The original print looks too greenish, a little on the cold side. My test print looks warmer than the original print. I tried all my Kodak color print viewers, but none of them yield any good results vs my final test print. So I'm happy with my original color filter setting. I'm lucky on that.
Now I have some questions:
1. I'm going to stay with the same paper, same enlarger and similar negative films. What makes me change the color filtration? Does it depend on each frame of the negative? Or I can stick with the same filtration?
2. I know that I need to adjust exposure time with different image size, also its density. Can I used the adjustment formula/dial from the BW printing?
I covered two of the 4 windows in my basement. I did not have any problem with paper fogging. I cut the papers in the dark and I carried some test strips in my pocket. All of them came out clean. My only problem was with identifying the emulsion. Now I got it now.
Now I'm happy. I plan to use the full 8x10 frame of the paper and try some other papers. I'll have some roll papers coming, all Fuji. All the papers and chemicals are cheap. I think they can last a couple of years. I do not know where I'm going to hang all the photos I'm going to print
You'll have a filter pack 'base' for each film you shoot and you'll make slight adjustments from that depending upon the scene.
You may also need to change filter pack depending upon how consistent your developing is.
You say 'similar negative films' - my experience is that Fuji Pro films - 160 S/C, 400H and 800Z all print on very similar, if not the same, filter packs. Kodak Portra VC/NC was never like that.
If this is the case, should I use test prints to adjust filter? Or use a color analyzer to do it based on my reference print? I do have a Beseler color analyzer, but I have not used it. Maybe that can save me some paper and print testing.
I find analyzer a useful starting point, but I always end up making couple test prints before getting to the exact color and exposure I want. The best advice for color I have is to standardize on ONE paper, and one or two films. This way you will not drive yourself crazy with different filtrations. The second advice for color printing I have is: the color paper is dirt cheap, use it and don't try to save it! The more you experiment, the quicker you'll get a hang of it, and the less paper you will end up wasting in the long run.
It is not the paper or chemicals, I have tons of them. It is the time. I do not want to spend 3 hours just to make one large print. Actually it took me more than that time just to make a good test print.
Of course this is my first time with RA-4 and I had to set up everything, from mixing the chemicals, cutting the paper to the lengthy exposure time experimenting. I used to print BW VC papers with another enlarger, so the exposure time is way off. With my old enlarger, I had to exposure it more than 1 minute to get a good print. (VC grade 4, 8x10 size from 35mm and Omega condenser head.)
What I can tell is that the chemicals are all good, the Fuji Super C paper is very good. And the exposure time is very very short. I believe all the new type color paper are designed for both digital and analog. So the fast speed.
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Originally Posted by RedSun
Yup. 3 hours for a nice large print sounds about right.
Originally Posted by Greg Davis
With experience you will be able to make judgements much faster. I use trays and room temperature development and small, quick test prints are easy to make. When I get the color balance right, I make the enlargement and determine exposure with the exposure channel of my analyzer. I can judge color well enough that I don't normally use the color channels.
Originally Posted by RedSun
Yes, it is much easier to do test prints in open trays than in processors. It is like BW printing, but just in dark.
Originally Posted by RPC
I think next time, for test print, I won't do the rinse in the drum. After bleach-fixer, I can just take out the test print and toss it in the water. Save some time.
I think I mentioned it once before, but with my Jobo, I don't even use the drum for a test print. I expose a small 4x5-ish piece of paper, put my gloves on, roll the paper into a cylinder and process it directly in the beakers. This way it's just as quick as using a tray.
Originally Posted by RedSun