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  1. #1

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    Fuji Crystal Archive II paper - experiences?

    I just bought some Crystal Archive II paper and thus far am, quite disappointed. I've seen other threads expressing similar feelings.

    The paper seems to be rather low contrast when used with the same developer mix that gives me high contrast with Ektacolor Edge. I'll probably play with the formulation today to better match the developer to the paper, but what a nuisance.

    Anyone care to chime in with recent experiences using this paper?

  2. #2
    bvy
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    I love it, though I have nothing to compare it to. I use the Kodak Ektacolor RA/RT chemistry, and my enlarger is an Omega C760 with dichroic head. I process 8x10 in drums at 94F. Check my image gallery; I scan the prints pretty "honestly" -- i.e. I only adjust the black and white points, though sometimes I don't even (have to) do that. In any case, the scans don't do the prints justice. I think they look quite good in person -- the contrast and saturation neither too little nor too much.

  3. #3

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    The paper base is wafer thin and lacks 'body'. The filtration needed is next to nothing so ensuring short exposure times. It works well with Kodak RA4 developer but does lack contrast especially the semi mat surfaced paper. So unless you want to go down the route of the Kodak Rolls and cut sheets as you need them this is what we have to use.

    Actually I am starting to think about the Kodak rolls and to help, I am designing and making a paper dispenser where I can keep a roll and feed it out as I need the next sheet.

  4. #4

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    Never used 2.

    FCA 1 has outstanding dye permanence. I wonder if Fuji 2 has the same?

  5. #5
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    Use both in Kodak chems, both work fine.
    Mark Barendt, Ignacio, CO

    "We do not see things the way they are. We see things the way we are." Anaïs Nin

  6. #6

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    All current Ra-4 papers have suffered as a result of being digitally optimized. The latest incarnation of CA lacks a black under the enlarger. And the latest Kodak endura premiere has atrocious color and saturation. Tweaking developer or filtering the lens at the time of capture are not real fixes. Inkjet or laser exposed (or LED) are the only viable techniques for getting great balanced color these days. Given how truly awful the contemporary RA papers look, as soon as I finish off the rest of my old kodak endura I see no point in continuing printing traditional Ra-4.

  7. #7

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    Well Ektacolor Edge is pretty good, and I have a lot of it.

    I have an old Unicolor additive printing wheel with RGB filters on it for three separate exposures. I wonder if I should give that a try.

    I bought the Fuji as I was out of the bigger sizes of anything fresh, but have spent half a day and just cannot make a print that really zings.

  8. #8

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    It's an absolutely wonderful paper in the darkroom. The concept of being "digitally optimized" is a non-issue, or basically a myth as stated by
    certain posters above. If you can't get great results in the darkroom, believe me, it's not the fault of the paper. These CAII papers are equally improved for direct optical printing. But what Fuji has done is basically replaced their Super-C and softer type P with something in between per contrast. The base is whiter and some of the hues come out cleaner. But it's largely a matter of matching the image contrast to the paper. You can do this analog in several ways. One way is to simply shoot the appropriate contrast film for the subject in the first place. Kodak, for example, offers two levels of Portra, plus a more saturated Ektar product. The other way is to learn basic contrast reduction and contrast increase masking for printing color negs. Obviously there is nothing equivalent to variable-contrast paper in the color world. And if you want a paper with real snap to it - more contrast and saturation than the basic RC, then the Fuji Supergloss on polyester base is the ticket - but you can only get it in big rolls and have to cut it down yourself. It would be nice if some outfit offered this in cut sheet sizes. It's a fantastic product when you want a rich high-gloss image.

  9. #9

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    Well, Drew, I spent a day and a half trying to print an Ektar 35mm image on CAII lustre, with horrible results. All kinds of color crossover nad low contrast. I used the same image and the same chemistry with Ektar Edge, and had a near perfect result after just two tests.

    With the CAII, I was able to get the contrast about right by adding 3ml/L H2o2 to the developer, but it didn't really solve the other issues. As contrast masking is not an easy option with 35mm, I will have to focus on the chemistry to see if I can improve things. What is clear to me is that the homebrew chemistry I use is excellent with Edge, and a nonperformer with CAII. It works well with CA-Super C and works reasonably well with some tweaks with CA-P.

  10. #10

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    The crossover issue might be due to incorrect color balancing your film exposure itself. Ektar is much more sensitive to color temp issues than traditional color neg films, and warming filters are sometimes needed, but the payoff is much cleaner vibrant hues. I'm getting Ektar shots
    on CAII which are so clean and vibrant that I'm afraid people will accuse me of cooking the saturation and saturation in Photoshop, even though the original scene actually looked like that, and I don't use any kind of digital technology in my workflow! I have been using both Kodak RA/RT chemistry and the Arista branded substitute, one shot in drums, and the results are identical. I can't address homebrew RA4 issues. The color balance difference between Super C and CAII were less than 5cc's of green for me - that's all the "digital optimization amounted to - a tiny bit more green sensitivity due to the relative weakness of green lasers. I took me less than half an hour to recalibrate a master neg. Masking is quite easy on 35mm, but would involve an extended conversation. I had to learn a lot of this stuff the hard way myself, and am currently printing CAII several times a week, mostly big prints from big negs, but it's all relative to the degree of magnification. A 5X magnification from Ektar sheet film, for example, will yield the same color saturation and contrast as a 5X magnification from 35mm, all other things being equal (which they are, because I always initially calibrate to a precisely exposed neg of a Macbeath chart,
    and keep these master negs on hand for various films and formats). There are some "room temp" or "variable temp" RA4 "mono" kits I've tried
    that I was seriously disappointed with, so am aware that distinctions of chemistry can be a game changer.

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