RA developer should last over a month with no degradation in the image. When it does start to go bad, contrast and dmax go down. You don't get off color white areas.
There is sulfite in the developer to prevent oxidized color developer from having that effect.
I would expect that your problem is from bad stop bath, no stop bath, bad blixing or fog.
The stop should be mixed according to the manufacturers recommendation which I think is about 1% or 2% acetic acid.
This certainly sounds like fog to me. Make sure that your darkroom is totally light-tight. Then check for any stray light or bouncing light coming from the enlarger hear or reflecting anywhere around the baseboard.
Thinking aloud: If developer is the problem then surely you'd expect more than the white borders to be dingy. The borders are normally white because presumably the RA4 coating which is a turquoise colour dissolves and becausethe borders are not exposed it turns out white.The print itself should be poor if the developer is the problem. What happens if you make a borderless print? Does the colour on the borderless print at the edges show deterioration compared to the rest.
Originally Posted by Poco
I don't know a lot about RA4 and have never had this problem but could it be that the paper is slighty fogged either overall or at the edges. How old is the paper? Certainly old B/W paper can go slightly cream/brown and lack contrast but if low contrast is correct for the print then my experience was that the print appeared to be OK except for the white edges. It was only when I changed to fresh paper that I noticed the difference in sheer "punch." Mind you when I first started RA4 printing I used paper from the guy from whom I purchased the Jobo processor. The paper was several years old but was showing no signs of deterioration. I know this to be the case because I have since had to buy new paper and there was no improvement in quality.
For what it is worth, I found that Tetenal Protectan which sprays a heavier-than-air gas(akin to lighter fuel) this expelling any air, was worth using after the printing session. Very little is needed so its quite economical.
The great thing about RA4 printing is that once you have the colour analyser set up you are virtually guaranteed good prints every time. So instant success. I find B/W printing to be much more of a challenge.
Originally Posted by pentaxuser
The white borders should show any problem much easier then the actual photo area. The bad Fuji paper I have shows bad borders. If you don't look hard at the print you might miss the problem in the photograph.
It's like painting a wall white. Any off white spots will jump out at you.
Thanks for the additional thoughts, guys.
The problem shows itself when using the same paper from one box, so it can't be the paper. The whites weren't grey or brown by any stretch -- just not as bright as when I printed with fresh chemistry ("non-fresh" meaning more than a few hours old). Blacks in the image were still coming up fine, so I don't think it's a matter of exhaustion.
I haven't printed in a month or longer but will soon be doing so again and will try to hunt the problem down.
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