Blix is a combination fix and bleach. Stop isn't really required but it keeps the developer out of the blix.
Filter settings depend on all the things you mentioned plus the chemicals.
First you need to get the exposure right. Test strip works. I'd suggest investing in a cheap little hair dryer and a print squeege. You can't judge exposure or colour with wet prints.
If you use a small number of films and paper the filters will tend to be fairly similar. If all your negatives are well exposed they'll get even closer. The exposure times will be close to.
I enjoy colour printing. It's less stressfull then B&W printing for me. A colour print tends to be more right or wrong. If the person in the print looks like an invader from outer space it's wrong. B&W OTOH lets you make so many more choices. I don't know if I'm explaining it right .
Colour heads have builtin filters because it's a lot easier to dial in 70Y M 30 then to search the darkroom for the 70Y filter and the M 30 filter. Plus they shouldn't fade to a great extent.
The more you do the more you're forced to admit your own screw up. No blaming somebody else. That means you'll either end up with better exposure etc or you'll go nuts -)
I will answer a couple of your questions: A stopbath for color helps to reduce staining on the prints. It also can prolong the life of your blix. The blix is the more expensive of the chemicals. You could use the cheapest vinegar you can buy and mix it 1: with tap water. You have your work flow correct. A water rinse insert between stopbath and bleach fix would be a good idea. I think printing RA4 is as satifying for the soul as printing B&W. I charge $350/per visit to analyze mental states...call my office and I will get you in asap...cash only.
Test strips or full size prints are required until you get your first good print.
Do all your testing for color negatives by NOT using any cyan filtration. Use only the magenta and yellow filtration to modify the print color. The exposure time will control the print density. The magenta/yellow will control the color. If the color is too yellow..add yellow..if the color is too red add equal amounts of yellow and magenta. If the color is too magenta add magenta. If the color is too green remove magenta. If the color is too blue remove yellow. If the color is too cyan remove equal amounts of both magenta and yellow.
As you modify your filtration you need to modify your exposure to maintain the same density. If you have added yellow or magenta then you will need to use a longer time or to open your aperture If you have removed magenta or yellow you will have to shorten your time or stop your lens down. You can only judge your filtration and density by looking at a dry test strip or print. If you do not have a print drier then dry with a hair drier or take three times the usual dosage of patience tablets.
This is supposed to by fun. Do not give up. When I made my first print in the 70's I went thru a 100 sheet box of paper to get there.
Solution variations in developer temperature or condition of exhaustion will cause color and/or density changes. Electrical stability will also cause changes. Each film emulsion batch will print differently. Each paper batch will show variation. The amount of exposure and the color of the lights color temperature will change your filter pack.
DO NOT GIVE UP. THIS IS WORTH THE EFFORT.
Claire (Ms Anne Thrope is in the darkroom)
Can't help with the colour printing but Ilford have a PDF called CONTRAST CONTROL here (http://www.ilford.com/html/us_english/bw.html) that lists the values to use for several different types of colour head, including Meopta's.
Have fun, Bob.
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Since I am top dog here..at least when my wife is not home ..I only use alpha blockers.
Claire (Ms Anne Thrope is in the darkroom)
Originally Posted by Claire Senft
I really like your explanation on color printing. It sounds easy, but that's what all articles also say about climbing the Eiger north face :-)
The only way to know how it really is, is to try it yourself.
@digiconvert: every box of Ilford paper (don't know if you use Ilford) has a chart included with the corresponding values for MG filters to the Y+M dials on a Meopta enlarger.
I sold a prestine Durst M670 BW (call me crazy...) because I find it much easier to dial in M or Y on my Meopta enlarger...
Please forgive me for selling the Durst, I sold it to a friend who was urging to get into BW printing! So, it was for the better cause.
Others have covered most of the important points, so I'll just add a few comments on issues I haven't seen addressed....
As others have said, this is basically correct. Most home darkroom users don't use trays, though; they use drums (often as part of a semi-automated machine). Because you can't use ordinary B&W safelights with color materials, tray processing can be very awkward for color. Drums work something like developing tanks for negatives, in that they're light-tight and so enable you to work in the light. Unfortunately, they're a bit expensive, even used. If you don't want to invest in a drum, you can certainly try the process with trays. You might want to practice in total darkess using water in the trays. Alternatively, there is a safelight you can use, but I hear it's very dim. (I've not bought one, myself.)
Originally Posted by digiconvert
The usual method, at least as I've seen it described in books and whatnot, is to do a test print that's broken into some number of parts. In each part, you try a different exposure and/or filtration setting. I've always exposed the same part of the negative for each part, which makes judging color easier -- you don't have to worry about changes in color from different parts of the negative. You can find test-print frames to help make this process easier. I use one that enables me to put eight test prints on an 8x10-inch sheet. I use two of these for four exposure tests (breaking each into two parts). I then use the remaining six parts for increased and decreased filtration on the cyan, magenta, and yellow filters. (For me, it's actually red, green, and blue light levels, since I've got an unusual additive enlarger, a Philips PCS 130/150, but the two arrangements are logically equivalent.) Note that, contrary to what Claire recommends, I do adjust the cyan/red filtration on my test print. Books I've read generally don't say to adjust this filtration, but I personally find it helpful. I suspect, but don't know for a fact, that the "don't touch the cyan filtration" advice originates from a desire to keep exposure times short. Using more than two filters acts like a neutral density filter, increasing exposure time. Modern color papers are very fast, though, and I usually have to crank up all three values to keep from overexposing my paper even with a 5-second exposure, so I see no reason not to test all six color variants.
-I assume that you run teststrips as per BW, is this correct ?
Note that you aren't guaranteed to get a good color balance on any of your test exposures. If your initial values (based on the paper manufacturer's recommendation or your own past experience) were in the right ballpark, though, you should have something close enough that you'll be able to guesstimate the right exposure and filtration. If your initial values are way off, you may need to do another test print before doing the final print.
Offhand, I don't know of any Web sites that cover color printing, although I'm sure they exist. I do have a manual/how-to guide that came with my enlarger, and I actually put it up on the Yahoo Tri-One group, which is devoted to the Philips enlargers. Although much of the information in the document is specific to the Philips enlargers, the description of making test prints should apply to any enlarger. If you care to check it out, you can either join the group and look in the files section for the "Colour Enlarging Without Tears" document or send me a message with your e-mail address and I'll e-mail it to you. Be aware it's about 1.5MB in size as a PDF.
Personally, I don't think it's worth the bother for ordinary postcard-sized prints -- the sort that the local lab will return with your order. For enlargements, though, it gives you full control, which you may want.
-AM I completely crazy to even consider doing this when I can get my films developed and scanned to CD by a good lab, within the hour for 35mm and 3 days for 120 film. I know cost is not an issue here, this is my hobby-just want a little more fun/grief (delete as appropriate)