I'm a beginner
Okay so I want to start to learn colour photography.
Developing film is easy, but I want to know if developing colour photos is worth it.
Like is it easier the more you do it? Do you lose a lot of paper/money in the process?
I would say no, but I'm sure others will say different.
“The contemplation of things as they are, without error or confusion, without substitution or imposture, is in itself a nobler thing than a whole harvest of invention”
Depends how you are defining "worth it". If you mean it in the sense of financially worth it then unless you do a lot of prints at 8x10 or bigger and are at least semi-mechanised with a machine like the Jobo ATL then the answer is probably not compared to getting a mini-lab do them. My local mini-lab uses proper RA4, is fully mechanised and can give me small prints (6x4) quicker and at a price I would have difficulty matching.
If on the other hand you mean worth the experience of learning how to do it and the satisfaction of looking at a print and saying "I made this" then yes it is worth it.
You won't waste any more paper than learning to print B&W and once you have the colour balance right then producing prints from the same set of negs exposed in roughly the same light conditions is if anything more mechanical and easier.
To give yourself a fighting chance I'd invest in a Jobo processor, a Duka or other type of sodium safelight and a colour analyser but if you enjoy a challenge then you can use trays with a water bath and manage without a Jobo, safelight or analyser. The key question is how patient are you and is the journey as important as the arrival?
Any learning process involves a bit of frustration, a bit of wasted material and quite a lot of time.
I actually never get it cheap enough doing it myself to make it's worth it in term of money. I use one shot chemicals while the labs replenish the chemicals. But it's certainly worth it because printing from a negative takes a lot of interpretation and because the lab techs didn't take the shot as well as they don't know what's my intention they can't make it just the way I wanted. Doing it myself allow me to get the results I wanted.
Developing the film isn't bad.
Printing isn't as fun for me for two reasons... 1. Getting the color absolutely right was maddening to me. 2. The magic of working under a safelight and seeing things appear on the paper is not there. You either develop in a drum or machine; go through a bunch of steps, and pull out a finished wet print.
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Developing color film is just as easy as developing B&W film. Also keep in mind you don't have to do color darkroom printing, many people scan their negatives and slides after developing them.
Originally Posted by akitak9821
I started doing color prints this summer and I think it's worth it. I use a drum and roller base and Kodak Ektacolor RA4 chemicals: RA Developer Replensisher RT to make 10 liters ($15) and RA Bleach Fix to make 10 liters ($15) that I use one-shot (I pick them up at Unique Photo, Fairfield, NJ). I don't use the starter. I've been using Fuji Crystal Archive II paper ($40 per box of 100 8x10 sheets).
Because you use only 60-70ml of pre-wash water, developer, bleach fix, and final wash water per 8x10 print, I place each of these in an 8 oz. plastic spring water bottle and adjust the temperature of each right before addition to the drum using a pot of hot and cool water and an LCD digital thermometer wire probe in the bottle. A good thermometer is the Extech TM20 and I calibrate it to a color thermometer. At 83F it's 30 seconds pre-wash, 2 minutes developer, 2 minutes bleach fix, and 1.5 minutes final water wash, per Kodak's instructions. I've done this at room temperatures between 66F and 82F with no time adjustment required due to any cooling of the drum over the 2 minutes. I don't get streaks so I do not need to do a stop and water rinse after the developer. I wash the print in a tray with running water at 68F +/- for 5 minutes. I think the prints are beautiful and I get excellent reproducibility doing the same print during different sessions.
Yes, it gets easier as you do more. I've done about 75% of my prints from the same film and paper without a test print, i.e., the filtration settings are constant in many cases and once you establish the exposure time you vary it proportional to the square of distance from the lens to the paper. You also begin to see slight color imbalances and how you need to correct them. Checking your whites is key. I see no need for an analyzer or viewing filters.
As far as cost, for an 8x10, it's $0.25 for one-shot chemicals and $0.40 for a sheet of paper. Most I can do without a test print so it's $0.65 per 8x10 print. For those requiring color filtration adjustments, figure $2.00 a print if you need to do 3 to get a final print, then subsequent copies are $0.65. This is less expensive than $8 for an 8x10 I've see a local pro lab charging.
For safety I wear lab goggles, nitrile gloves and make sure there is good ventilation. I don't plan to do color prints over the winter when the house is closed up. I use a waste bucket in the sink so I can highly dilute spent chemicals and rinsates before putting them down the drain. Covering this and laying caps on bottles helps a lot in reducing inhalation exposure to the chemicals and I've felt no ill effects.
Last edited by mklw1954; 10-31-2013 at 10:02 PM. Click to view previous post history.