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  1. #1

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    I miss color photography

    I miss color photography.

    I used to do 4x5 chrome-ilfochrome printing but gave up a few years ago when prices skyrocketed with my debt and my income simultaneously plummeted.
    Next year should see my income stabilize or rebound ever so slightly, and I've been bitten by the bug. I was out for a drive through the dying fall colors and was overwhelmed with longing to get back into color printing. Gawd I miss it!! I'm still a long way from being able to drop hundreds of dollars on supplies like I used to, but I want to start picking away at it in small bites. Looks like I can get started for about $125 for 10 sheets of film/ 50sheets paper, and chemicals. And I may need to add a film developing tank. I should have just about everything else I need.

    I used to love the smell of acetic acid but can not tolerate it even in small amounts. I use citric with B&W. I have drums but want to develop RA-4 paper in trays. I've read a) that citric acid should probably not be used (PE) and b) that stop isn't absolutely necessary, and c) some people (one, anyway) have used citric acid with no problems. Acetic acid could be a deal breaker for me but most chemical smells (even Ifochrome bleam and rapid fix) don't bother me that bad. I have a good exhaust fan behind my processing sink. Anyone here get by OK without using a stop bath in trays?

    I was VERY encouraged that RA-4 paper is incredibly cheap by Ilfochrome standards. Great news! Color negative film isn't cheap though, bad news! Oh well not much I can do, I need to buy film, and it seems that is by far the most expensive part of this. Why no 50 sheet boxes anymore? No no, don't answer... ;-/

    What system do you recommend for developing the 4x5 negs? I can't afford and don't want a Jobo or other fancy schmany system for developing color 4x5 film. I used to have a daylight tank for developing chromes (I quickly learned to leave that job for a good lab) but its long gone. I've read about the 4 taco method but I don't have a reel film tank large enough, and I'd prefer to do at least 6 sheets at a time. What is my most economical and functional option-maybe a sheet film daylight tank, and maybe a used one? I am on a VERY tight budget here. Are trays too awkward for C-41? I have an aquarium heater so I can maintain temps in trays or tanks. I may end up having a lab do the first couple dozen negs, it might actually be cheaper and less wasteful.

    Film choice. I've never shot negative film except as 35mm snapshots. Will Ektar 4x5s on RA-4 be just as difficult/contrasty/hypersaturated as chromes on Ilfochrome, or will I revel in wider latitudes beyond my wildest dreams?

    Heres what I'm thinking. A box of Ektar to start. Arista C-41 developer if I do it myself. Arista paper with Arista RA-4 developer. I'll have some leftover chemicals and paper but maybe I can splurge on a second/third box of film before they expire.

    Oh, and what is the capacity of the Arista RA-4 chems? They don't give capacity. I'm sure I won't exhaust them anyway but it would be nice to know for the future.

    Anything I forgot? I'm super excited about printing color again.

  2. #2

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    Do your lungs a favor and stick with drums. RA4 chem might not seem that harsh compared to Ciba, but you can't easily get sensitized to it.
    Either Kodak RA/RT or the direct Arista substitute work superbly. I use 2 min times. Fuji Crystal Archive Type II works superbly for Ektar, though
    being able to tweak contrast via masking is helpful, just as in Ciba (though you need to mask far less often, and only need a very weak mask
    when you do). It is cheaper to print this material than most black and white papers, and yes, easier than Ciba, though the learning curve will
    still exist. If you want that deep gloss Ciba look you gotta put out quite a bit more money for the Fujiflex Supergloss product, which is only
    avail in big rolls at the moment. The regular cut sheet paper is avail up to 20x24, however. The most important trick at this point is understanding that Ektar needs to be balanced for the lighting conditions at the time of exposure. Don't expect to salvage it later, despite
    what the Fauxtoshop geeks tell people. Have on hand an 81A filter for overcast skies, and maybe an 81C for deep blue shade.

  3. #3

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    I'm with Drew - unless you have very good ventilation, use drums. The blix gives out some serious smell which can lead to sensitization in some people. Since you already have issues with acetic acid, better be careful.
    Ektar and Fuji color papers make a killer combination. You can try citric acid, but I think just a good wash between dev and blix should work fine. Kodak's literature says stop and wash are optional. Obviously, skipping them will reduce capacity of blix. I had a roller transport processor which did not use a stop - it just squeegeed the print between two rollers and went straight into blix.
    I don't know capacity of Arista chemicals, but unless you are running high volume, you are not likely to hit the limit. I just replenish the loss from carry-over. Kodak's j39 document lists 16 to 40 8x10 prints per litre in trays.
    Have fun!

  4. #4

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    Well, this is pretty close to what I have. It holds 2 6-sheet holders (similar to the Mod54).

    http://www.google.com/imgres?imgurl=...ed=0CEAQ9QEwAg
    All paths are the same: they lead nowhere. Choose the one that has heart.

    Don Juan

  5. #5

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    I just use the chem one-shot in the drum, and even bother with replenishment, and mix just enough for a daily work session. If you have good temp control and are running the drum level, it doesn't take much per print anyway. If you can't tolerate even 1% acetic acid, a plain generous water rinse would probably suffice.

  6. #6

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    Quote Originally Posted by DREW WILEY View Post
    Do your lungs a favor and stick with drums. RA4 chem might not seem that harsh compared to Ciba, but you can't easily get sensitized to it.
    Either Kodak RA/RT or the direct Arista substitute work superbly. I use 2 min times. Fuji Crystal Archive Type II works superbly for Ektar, though
    being able to tweak contrast via masking is helpful, just as in Ciba (though you need to mask far less often, and only need a very weak mask
    when you do). It is cheaper to print this material than most black and white papers, and yes, easier than Ciba, though the learning curve will
    still exist. If you want that deep gloss Ciba look you gotta put out quite a bit more money for the Fujiflex Supergloss product, which is only
    avail in big rolls at the moment. The regular cut sheet paper is avail up to 20x24, however. The most important trick at this point is understanding that Ektar needs to be balanced for the lighting conditions at the time of exposure. Don't expect to salvage it later, despite
    what the Fauxtoshop geeks tell people. Have on hand an 81A filter for overcast skies, and maybe an 81C for deep blue shade.

    Thanks, especially for the Ektar tips. I'm guessing that just learning what the Ektar can and can't do, and adjusting my expectations for this process will be the hardest part of this. I don't mind less gloss/less contrast/less saturation than I'm used to, in fact I want it (although the gloss will probably be hardest to part with and I definitely can't afford Fujiflex now). BTW I presume you mean i CAN get sensitized to the blix (you said can't)?

    I have the drums to fall back on if I can't handle the trays. I've only had trouble with acetic acid once. I used to print in a rental darkroom and there would always be trays of stop bath and it never bothered me much, and when I was young I loved that smell. But the last time I went there, some 5-6 years ago, the acetic acid smell really got me. Maybe someone mixed it wrong or spilled some glacial, or maybe I just can't handle it a anymore. I haven't been around it since that day. I had switched to citric years before, so maybe I'm just spoiled. Ilfochrome bleach is nasty but never hit me like that did.

  7. #7

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    Quote Originally Posted by anikin View Post
    I'm with Drew - unless you have very good ventilation, use drums. The blix gives out some serious smell which can lead to sensitization in some people. Since you already have issues with acetic acid, better be careful.
    Ektar and Fuji color papers make a killer combination. You can try citric acid, but I think just a good wash between dev and blix should work fine. Kodak's literature says stop and wash are optional. Obviously, skipping them will reduce capacity of blix. I had a roller transport processor which did not use a stop - it just squeegeed the print between two rollers and went straight into blix.
    I don't know capacity of Arista chemicals, but unless you are running high volume, you are not likely to hit the limit. I just replenish the loss from carry-over. Kodak's j39 document lists 16 to 40 8x10 prints per litre in trays.
    Have fun!
    I will have fun!

    I also have an ICP42 processor that will do RA, but it needs new rollers and I probably won't get that up and running unless I want to print a lot. If I can even get rollers.

  8. #8

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    Quote Originally Posted by pbromaghin View Post
    Well, this is pretty close to what I have. It holds 2 6-sheet holders (similar to the Mod54).

    http://www.google.com/imgres?imgurl=...ed=0CEAQ9QEwAg

    Thanks.

  9. #9

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    Crap. I just blew my whole color budget on film. Ten sheets just wasn't enough. 20 sheets, well hell, I figured I could blow that in one good day. So I got 30, which guarantees me at least a couple days of shooting.

    After that though, I'm screwed.

  10. #10

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    You might find that Ektar is just too saturated for some subjects, in which case you can downshift to Provia 400, or simply make a
    contrast reduction mask (though there are some distinct tricks to relearn in comparison to Ciba masking). But until you actually start printing,
    it's hard to know exactly what to expect, and it takes awhile to "read" color in negs on a lightbox, so might help to have a contact sheet or
    med res scan, just to evaluate the contrast, color, etc. Ektar is best suited to where you want a clean chrome-like look, although you do get
    information about a stop wider (in both highlights and shadows) than with a typical chrome film - but still need to expose it carefully like a
    chrome. I won't forgive serious exp errors like an amateur color neg film will, but the reward is much better color reproduction.

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