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Thread: B&W with RA4?

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    BetterSense's Avatar
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    B&W with RA4?

    Is it possible and/or practical to print B&W negatives onto RA4 paper? Has anyone done this before? How did you like the results?
    f/22 and be there.

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    mrred's Avatar
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    I know we do it the lab I work for. But they all start off as digital images.
    Get it right in the camera, the first time... My flickr
    Peter Carter

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    BetterSense's Avatar
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    I have got Kodak BW400CN printed at mini labs before with ok results. I think the orange mask might be required.
    f/22 and be there.

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    mrred's Avatar
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    Nothing to do with mini labs. As long as it can be scanned into a digital image, it can be printed. The feature that BW400CN brings to the table for the labs, is that it can be developed C-41.

    The mask is a can be a big deal when using an enlarger and BW paper. This is not an issue as these lab machines are RA3/4 laser printing devices.
    Get it right in the camera, the first time... My flickr
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    BetterSense's Avatar
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    Is it fairly easy to get results tonally equal in both shadows and highlights?
    f/22 and be there.

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    BW400CN is designed to do this but it just got discontinued. Hybrid can do it of course. Assuming you want to do this in analogue, why do you want to do it? Just because RA4 paper is cheaper?

    A plain B&W neg might work but the lack of a mask may cause weird hue issues. You'd need to use some strange filter settings and certainly won't get the right contrast unless you deliberately developed your film with this in mind, and might even have crossover (different hue in highlights and shadows), I dunno.

    You can process RA4 paper in B&W developer but that gives poor Dmax; the paper depends on dyes to reach max black and has too little silver to be used as a plain B&W paper. Probably that contributes to its cheapness...

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    Quote Originally Posted by mrred View Post
    Nothing to do with mini labs. As long as it can be scanned into a digital image, it can be printed. The feature that BW400CN brings to the table for the labs, is that it can be developed C-41.

    The mask is a can be a big deal when using an enlarger and BW paper. This is not an issue as these lab machines are RA3/4 laser printing devices.
    It's got nothing to do with scanning to a digital image although that is a good way to do it. Because traditional photography is a negative/positive process it is possible to print any negative, colour or B&W, chromogenic or silver halide, onto RA4 colour paper. The challenge with B&W is to get neutral colour and while not impossible, it is certainly not easy. You do need to compensate for the mask colour either by inserting a supplementary filter pack or a piece of blank film in the enlarger. Before the advent of digital, it was a popular technique of wedding photographers to produce subtle toned prints by printing mono negs onto colour paper and many pro labs offered the service. It's much easier to produce a tone than pure B&W and even when you manage it, they pale beside a print made on real B&W paper. BTW - to print B&W on colour paper, your RA4 processing setup has to be perfectly in balance otherwise minor colour shifts will prevent you ever getting the same hue twice. Don't try this in trays or using any variation from the strict RA4 processing specifications unless you enjoy utter darkroom frustration. OzJohn

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    I think people are missing the point. This is a color paper, not B&W. You will get hints of red or blue on your images, and the quality of those images will be far inferior to what you would get w/ true B&W paper. Tonal values will not be so good, and contrast will be low. I remember when a lot of labs stopped giving you prints on true B&W paper and switched to color paper. Back then I wasn't doing my own darkroom work like now, and when the labs made the switch I stopped getting prints when I would get film developed. It looked like crap compared to what they were doing w/ the right paper.

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    Quote Originally Posted by momus View Post
    I think people are missing the point. This is a color paper, not B&W. You will get hints of red or blue on your images, and the quality of those images will be far inferior to what you would get w/ true B&W paper. Tonal values will not be so good, and contrast will be low. I remember when a lot of labs stopped giving you prints on true B&W paper and switched to color paper. Back then I wasn't doing my own darkroom work like now, and when the labs made the switch I stopped getting prints when I would get film developed. It looked like crap compared to what they were doing w/ the right paper.
    +1.
    On top of that if you will do it at home - you need to do it in total darkens, not under red light, and if Lab will do it for you they will print around 85-90% of negative, forget about full frame negative on the print.

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    Quote Originally Posted by BetterSense View Post
    Is it fairly easy to get results tonally equal in both shadows and highlights?
    I've played with this a bit and have had decent results, some quite nice, others just mediocre. I am far from being automatic with this combo, not near enough practice here to say anything definitively.

    You do need add the orange base filtration, of course, to get close.

    Color casts can be a boon or bane, theoretically you can dial in the toning you want. Think Warhol.
    Mark Barendt, Beaverton, OR

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

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