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  1. #1

    Join Date
    Dec 2002
    Large Format
    This is a series of questions for those who have experience with Ilforchrome material and the potential for masking during the printing process.

    Some years ago, I worked with the older Cibachrome material for printing of color transparencies. I used unsharp masking of these slides to reduce the contrast range of the slide to allow it to be printed more effectively on the Cibachrome material. This procedure proved to be quite successful. Does the Ilfochrome material have the same limitations of contracted contrast range as the older Cibachrome?

    I have developed a pin registration system for the Saunders 4550 XLG enlarger which I use in black and white printing. I have an individual who is emailing me about purchasing a system, such as mine, for use in masking on the Ilfochrome material. For those who print on Ilfochrome, would the ability to reduce the contrast range of the color transparency be of benefit? Would the ability to precisely burn and dodge (with sharp masking) be of benefit on this material? Would enhanced repeatability of print results be of interest?

    Thanks for your responses, since I do not know anything about the current color materials arena.
    Art is a step from what is obvious and well-known toward what is arcane and concealed.

    Visit my website at http://www.donaldmillerphotography.com

  2. #2

    Join Date
    Nov 2002
    New Jersey
    My understanding is that the Ilford material is identical to the Cibachrome. Ilford bought the company. contrast masking is a almost a requirement for for this process, unless you're printing very low contrast slides. read comments by Christopher Burkett on his website (christopherburkett.com) . He was also featured in a back issue of View Camera magazine.

    I also understand that Ilford now has a medium or low contrast version of the product, it helps with the contrast problem, at the expense of "sparkle" and saturation in the printed image.

    I think a masking system such as yours would be extremely beneficial to anyone printing "Ilfochrome/Cibachrome".

    Although I was very impressed with it, I gave up on Ilfochrome because of the contrast limitations (I couldn't commit to creating an unsharp mask to make a decent print), and the cost. I was shooting 3 bracketed transparencies per exposure and 16x20 Ilfochrome was costing about $10 per sheet.

    I now shoot Portra and print on Kodak Endura paper.

  3. #3
    Les McLean's Avatar
    Join Date
    Oct 2002
    Northern England on the Scottish border
    Multi Format
    It's many years since I used Cibachrome or Ilfochrome but when I did I used two bath black and white developer to control the contrast for I found making unsharp masks somewhat tedious. I used Selectol Soft and Dektol and divided the time in each developer equally for the test strip. When I dried and assessed the test strip I could judge whether the times were OK and adjust as neccessary. It's about 12 years since I last made prints using this method and they are still OK with no sign of fading or deterioration. I was told by a number of colour printers that they would not be permanent. I also used regular black and white fixer but had to use the Cibachrome bleach. It proved to be considerably less expensive than using the Ciba chemistry.
    "Digital circuits are made from analogue parts"
    Fourtune Cookie-Brooklyn May 2006

    Website: www.lesmcleanphotography.com

  4. #4

    Join Date
    Sep 2002
    Ilfochrome = Cibachrome. Same process, chemicals, etc. The low contrast paper is about all I use. I disagree that you lose"sparkle, saturation." I don't think you can tell the difference between prints on either regular or low contrast material. But, it's much easier to get a longer tonal range print without having to dodge / burn so much. You will still need a contrast mask even with low contrast paper. It's like going from a Grade 4 B&W paper to Grade 3. An improvement, but not so much that you still won't need a mask for about 80% of the transparencies.

  5. #5
    DRL is offline

    Join Date
    Nov 2005
    Medium Format


    I purchased a masking kit from Radeka Photography. http://www.radekaphotography.com/

    The kit is wonderful. I do not use anything else for my film carrier either. Great piece of work. You can get a lot of info at his web site.

  6. #6
    roteague's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jul 2004
    Kaneohe, Hawaii
    4x5 Format
    Quote Originally Posted by Tom Duffy
    read comments by Christopher Burkett on his website (christopherburkett.com) . He was also featured in a back issue of View Camera magazine.
    I met Christopher a few months ago (thanks to Per). He told me that he uses as many as 6 or 7 contrast masks for his prints, but never less that 1. He uses a pin registration system (I've been in his darkroom as well). He puts a lot of work into his prints, but they are well worth it.
    Robert M. Teague

    "A man who works with his hands is a laborer; a man who works with his hands and his brain is a craftsman; a man who works with his hands and his brain and his heart is an artist" -- Louis Nizer

  7. #7

    Join Date
    Aug 2005
    Los Alamos, NM
    Multi Format
    Ilford does make a low contrast version of Ilfochrome, but it is only available in 100 sheet (or more) boxes.

  8. #8
    Bob Carnie's Avatar
    Join Date
    Apr 2004
    Med. Format RF
    I have a P3X 30 inch machine here and I print traditionally and digitally.
    I have been printing Cibachromes since the early 80's

    Donald. Your question is relevant as the new CPS is basically the old Cibachrome material with a few benifits added in the blue spectrum.It is as brilliant as the older material , in fact I would say it is even better.

    Regarding contrast masking I would think that masking would be of benifit for this paper. I will admit that I use photoshop and print with contrast adjusting curves on the Lambda now when using this material.

    If I am doing a traditional enlarger hand print I will go to the CLMK or CFK product if the transparancy warrents it.

    For those printing on an enlarger and have the skill and patience of making masks I think it is the only way to go and use the CPS paper, (it does have a better colour gamut and contrast)

    By the way Don, when I made masks*not for a long time* I would first make a highlight seperation mask that would go on the original before making the contrast reducing mask.I found that by doing this the highlights would seperate out and have more sparkle.

    As one can see by using masks the problematic area will be dust as any hint of dust will show up as a black mark on the final print. A mind numbing proceedure if you do not have impecable workflow.

    Before photoshop this was the only way to print and there were experts worldwide experienced in maskmaking and colour dodge and burn, now its a very few who will go down this path.



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