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  1. #11
    Rudeofus's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Mainecoonmaniac View Post
    but the chemicals are nasty and contrast is hard to control.
    Let's keep things in perspective. Compared to Selenium toner, pyro developers and dichromate bleaches Ilfochrome process chems seem almost harmless.

    And burning/dodging is much easier with Ilfochrome because the paper itself has much less contrast than RA4 paper.
    Trying to be the best of whatever I am, even if what I am is no good.

  2. #12
    AgX
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    Quote Originally Posted by bvy View Post
    Some further reading introduced me to the intriguing, though short-lived, Kodak Ektaflex process of the early 80's. Between the developer, which I understand was problematic, and the Polaroid patent suit, it sounds like it was doomed from inception.

    What else is/was there?
    The same time Agfa had a range of dye-diffusion materials for rapid access too. With seperate receiving layers for professionals and as integral system (in contrast to Ektaflax) for amateurs.

  3. #13
    Poisson Du Jour's Avatar
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    It's drawing quite a long bow to suggest that Ilfochrome is easy to deal with. It's not. Never was.
    Ilfochrome is terrible compared to hybrid methods — believe me, photographers in Australia turned away from it in droves and either went all-digital or hybridised (as I did). People need to realise how restrictive Ilfochrome Classic media is in terms of contrast (it's blessing, as well as its curse); trannies must be nailed precisely in terms of exposure with neither highlights or shadows at the margin; this isn't impossible of course, but many opportunities are lost because the contrast range (just two variations) is so narrow and tempestuous to cope with e.g. contrasty scenes shot on Velvia.

    I never liked the RA-4 process from Velvia (or just about anything else at the time), that's why I went to Ilfochrome from 1994 (to 2010): while we had the Master Printers, and knew how to tailor Velvia to the finished print, it was great, but extremely expensive; customers ranted and raved over the brilliant hues of desert-scapes, ephemeral abstracts and scenes of the typical Australian outback. Things started unravelling for everybody because the manufacturer of Ilfochrome was so tardy, quality control dropped, raw materials skyrocketed, frieight was unreliable and the delivered batches were often damaged or faulty. So Ilfochrome lost a big chunk of the customer base not because it was hitherto unaffordable, but because it became unreliable in terms of quality and procurement. For those with less demanding needs in colour printing RA-4 is just about the only method available to you.

    The Ilfochrome bleach is toxic and usually requires specific treatment before discharge e.g. in drains. The lab where I had my prints made had an exotic waste treatment facility to comply with EPA standards as the lab was smack-bang in the middle of residential suburbia and early odours coming out of the place caused a few stirs.
    .::Gary Rowan Higgins

    A comfort zone is a wonderful place. But nothing ever grows there.
    —Anon.






  4. #14
    Rudeofus's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Poisson Du Jour View Post
    It's drawing quite a long bow to suggest that Ilfochrome is easy to deal with. It's not. Never was.
    Ilfochrome is terrible compared to hybrid methods — believe me, photographers in Australia turned away from it in droves and either went all-digital or hybridised (as I did).
    IIRC, Ilfochrome was not the only process losing photographers to the digital camp

    The biggest hurdles to Ilfochrome home processing were IMHO:
    • Dealing with the terrible nightmare that was Ilfochrome's distribution channel. You were a beggar, not a valued customer, and had to kindly accept what they were willing to give you at the price they reluctantly told you - take it or leave it.
    • Wads of forum postings screaming that Ilfochrome is impossible to do, most of them from people who were simply unwilling to accept a mediums limitations. No, you can't just print Uncle Peter's random holiday slides and expect good results. Neither can you throw your bombastic Velvia slides at this process and expect quick results. The rule is quite simple: if a flat bed scanner can create a decent scan from a slide, Ilfochrome will likely print it well. If you tame E100VS with proper fill flash or shoot Astia in soft light, you can print the slides just as they are, without masking or other tricks, and the results will be breath taking.
    • Willingness to waste one or two packs of paper and chemistry to get the process nailed. This sounds trivial in b&w and RA4, but with Ilfochrome's prices it's quite a commitment. Well worth it if you see the results.
    Trying to be the best of whatever I am, even if what I am is no good.

  5. #15
    Poisson Du Jour's Avatar
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    I'm reminded about something. It was only the in the last three years of the pro lab's existence that Ilfochrome prints were offered from digital files, and the results were never good. They actively discouraged the use of fill flash in outdoor scenes (chiefly because of how unnatural an appearance it imparted on the image when printed) and eventually dropped off the file-to-chrome print option because of the too-common added expense of working up substandard files in preparation for printing: that is to say those who used flatbed scanners and "had their own way" actually had no idea what they were doing and incurred up to $800 in on-costs before the 'chrome darkroom even had the enlarger turned on!

    Ilfochrome was never impossible to do; just two contrast variations and the sheer expense in time and money and skill made it quite the challenge; true, many home users with their own darkroom dabbled in the early Ciba kits, producing prints for Club exhibitions — I was one of them from 1988 to around 1992. I was never, ever a fan of machine-Ilfochrome prints. That is they lazy way to go.

    My printer was often quite venomous about the distribution channels, but mostly literally spitting blood over unstable quality control.

    And Velvia? Let's not be too harsh with this dear Goldilocks. Velvia remains the gold standard for printing to any process; earlier RA-4 testing from Velvia (and E100VS) was nowhere near as impressive beside Ilfochromes. We tried and tried and tried and twisted every trick there was to up the ante with cheaper processes, but it would not be. As with anything, to get the best, a lot of money had to be spent; a lot of professional (printer) time had to be invested; a lot of experimentation, dialogue, testing and retesting. Then at the end ... it was a marvellous thrill — a blast, to have the finished product delivered to the door ready for spotlights, and I will never offload the last 400 or so frarmed Ilfochromes: they are all true legends of their time.

    It all comes down to what you want, what your 'signature' quality mark is. RA-4, if you can do it yourself, will likely produce results you will be pleased with. But if you are producing for exhibition and sale, the prints you create are going to need more than "produced in a darkroom" as their selling tagline. It will always (for as long as it's available) be possible to produce a masterclass B&W print through skill, judgement and labour and it will be comparatively cheaper to do so. But colour, and we see the world in colour; it's the archaic RA-4 or not-so-new-kid-on-the-block, hybrid: that's your two options.
    .::Gary Rowan Higgins

    A comfort zone is a wonderful place. But nothing ever grows there.
    —Anon.






  6. #16
    Rudeofus's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Poisson Du Jour View Post
    I'm reminded about something. It was only the in the last three years of the pro lab's existence that Ilfochrome prints were offered from digital files, and the results were never good. They actively discouraged the use of fill flash in outdoor scenes (chiefly because of how unnatural an appearance it imparted on the image when printed) and eventually dropped off the file-to-chrome print option because of the too-common added expense of working up substandard files in preparation for printing: that is to say those who used flatbed scanners and "had their own way" actually had no idea what they were doing and incurred up to $800 in on-costs before the 'chrome darkroom even had the enlarger turned on!
    I didn't suggest flatbed scanning your slides and handing those scans to a commercial printer. What I tried to suggest was that if you can reasonably scan a slide with a flat bed scanner, chances are you can optically print it without a mask. Reasoning behind this is that flat bed scanners can't handle the huge contrast possible with slide film, and neither can Ilfochrome.

    Now if you are the super duper artist whos prints sell like hotcakes, you have the choice between drumscan&lightjet or masking&optical print, of which both will handle Velvia in all its glory. An amateur level home printer won't do this, and fortunately doesn't have to if he understands the process and its limitations.

    There are two different worlds: professional printers who have to deal with any slide people bring them, and pure amateurs like me who have hundreds of slides of which I may print a few dozen in the next couple of years, if that. Among these hundreds of slides there are more than a few dozen good ones which will print without much hassle. The rest, if I want prints at all, will go hybrid&lab.

    Quote Originally Posted by Poisson Du Jour View Post
    Ilfochrome was never impossible to do; just two contrast variations and the sheer expense in time and money and skill made it quite the challenge; true, many home users with their own darkroom dabbled in the early Ciba kits, producing prints for Club exhibitions — I was one of them from 1988 to around 1992. I was never, ever a fan of machine-Ilfochrome prints. That is they lazy way to go.
    As long as my lazy way produces better results than any hybrid or digital route I will continue to pursue this path. Maybe I'll raise my standards once my kids are grown up.

    Quote Originally Posted by Poisson Du Jour View Post
    And Velvia? Let's not be too harsh with this dear Goldilocks. Velvia remains the gold standard for printing to any process; earlier RA-4 testing from Velvia (and E100VS) was nowhere near as impressive beside Ilfochromes. We tried and tried and tried and twisted every trick there was to up the ante with cheaper processes, but it would not be.
    I accept that Velvia gives impressive results but the fact that Ilfochrome has difficulties with Velvia doesn't make Ilfochrome bad or impossible to use for the rest of us. If you are willing to put in the effort to make Ilfochrome&Velvia work, more power to you. If you don't, Ilfochrome&Astia as well as Ilfochrome&E100VS are still great.
    Trying to be the best of whatever I am, even if what I am is no good.

  7. #17

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    Some of these posts crack me up! It's all relative. I have 1940's Kodak brochures for the Dye Transfer
    process touting how easy it is for home darkroom enthusiasts (well it was, compared to Carbro). The
    long after, Ciba came along. I learned to make acceptable prints in a couple of hours. Of course, all the
    sophisticated controls get learned (or in my case, invented) one after another. You continuously improve. It was easy to get materials, anyway. Then the distribution changed and the paper started
    showing up damaged, prices rose drastically, etc. Anyone who thinks the bleach is innocuous is a fool.
    It's basically con sulfuric acid, and will do the same thing to your lungs! The amateur powdered version
    was sulfamic acid - not quite as bad, but still strong enough to give you emphysema for life if you're
    dumb enough to repetitiously inhale it. Velvia is no more a problem on Ciba than any other transparency film. If it's on the image, I can print it. But you better have an intense colorhead to print
    through a .90 mask on a slooooww paper like this. By contrast, RA4 papers are ridiculously fast to print, and masking is oh soooo subtle, more like power steering, if you need it at all.

  8. #18
    Mainecoonmaniac's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Poisson Du Jour View Post
    The Ilfochrome bleach is toxic and usually requires specific treatment before discharge e.g. in drains. The lab where I had my prints made had an exotic waste treatment facility to comply with EPA standards as the lab was smack-bang in the middle of residential suburbia and early odours coming out of the place caused a few stirs.
    I used to print it in my darkroom and Cibachrome's suggestion was to mix the chemicals together to neutralize it. I've heard Ilfochrome or Cibachrome will wreck your plumbing if you don't dispose of it properly.
    "Photography, like surfing, is an infinite process, a constantly evolving exploration of life."
    Aaron Chang

  9. #19
    Roger Cole's Avatar
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    Is RA-4 All There Is Now?

    Neutralizing the amateur bleach was as simple as dumping baking soda into it before disposal though the fumes could be fearsome.

    I made a goodly number of prints from slides back on the day on Kodak Type-R 2203 I think it was, the successor to type 1993. It worked fine and many of the prints still look good but was more hassle to process and took longer than Cibachrome (as it was called then.) I used it because I was a broke high schooler and then college student and each print was about half the price of Ciba.

  10. #20
    Rudeofus's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by DREW WILEY View Post
    Anyone who thinks the bleach is innocuous is a fool.
    It's basically con sulfuric acid, and will do the same thing to your lungs! The amateur powdered version
    was sulfamic acid - not quite as bad, but still strong enough to give you emphysema for life if you're
    dumb enough to repetitiously inhale it.
    Anyone wanting to deeply inhale any kind of photo chemistry should be kept away from dark rooms as long as this desire persists. Yes, dye bleach is very acidic which means don't get it on your skin, don't rub it into your eyes and don't eat it. Besides that it contains a bleach catalyst which may or may not be carcinogenic, which gives you another reason to neither touch dye bleach, nor eat or rub it into your eyes.

    I would recommend against doing Ilfochrome in open trays (remember: complete darkness!), but in closed tank rotary processing there is little chance you get in direct unintentional contact with dye bleach.

    Quote Originally Posted by DREW WILEY View Post
    Velvia is no more a problem on Ciba than any other transparency film. If it's on the image, I can print it. But you better have an intense colorhead to print through a .90 mask on a slooooww paper like this.
    The big issue with Ilfochrome is that it transfers images more or less 1:1 in terms of contrast, but that slides have much more dynamic range than Ilfochrome paper. This issue is amplified with emulsions like Velvia which are contrasty to begin with, and less of an issue with lower contrast emulsions like Astia. With masking, or in special cases with dodging&burning you can work around these issues, but I personally prefer avoiding issues to working around them.
    Trying to be the best of whatever I am, even if what I am is no good.

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