Now that I seem to be on a crusade against Tetenal, I should attach the email conversation here .
The most frustrating moment was when I finally managed to get quite a nice reversal RA-4 print and next morning it was dark grey, after the sunlight hit it. First I thought that I've gone crazy but then it strike to me like a thunderbolt as I realized it was Tetenal's blix! That blix didn't even have crud in it!
Here's the message I sent to Tetenal after that:
I'm very disappointed in your product TETENAL RA-4 print kit 2,5l. There should be no reason to use monoconcentrate to help mixing. The blix has oxidant and reductant together and has too short shelf life in one concentrate.
I have used two kits and the blix has somehow worked only occasionally. It has crud in it and the bleaching and fixing power is not sufficient. It can die
before even getting to the final user. You should use two concentrates.
I've now re-bleached and re-fixed a lot of my prints. Some of them are fine, some are not. This has caused me much work and hassle.
When I got no answer, I sent a new email after two weeks:
I sent you an e-mail on 2009-02-23. I haven't got any answer yet, so I'm asking you if you have read the mail and taken this problem seriously or not. I'm also interested to hear how you could compensate the defective kits for me.
According to an expert at Analog Photography Users Group, not only the blix should be delivered as separate concentrates, but the colour developer also has to be delivered in separate concentrates -- an acidic one for CD-3 developing agent, for example, to help it preserve. The Color Developer I made has a milky appearance when mixed while it should be clear. Still, it has worked, but I recommend you to deliver CD as two or three separate concentrates. And, as I wrote you earlier, the blix absolutely needs two concentrates. I've much evidence how it fails and I've needed to re-blix many of my prints.
RA-4 is one of the most stable processes here with exceptionally good shelf life, if the concentrates are properly made and separate.
I have bought the three kits I've used from Nordfoto Versand, Germany. It is a big supplier (also having good reputation) so it should have an adequate turn-around time. At least, the Best Before End dates should be printed in the boxes, if you are going to further product these mono-concentrate kits. But I kindly recommend you to take this seriously and start packaging your chemistry as many concentrates. There's no idea in producing chemistry that will go bad even before being sold.
Then I got an answer:
Dear Mr. Alhonen,
The Colortec RA-4 Print Kit - Art. No. 102116 - is produced by Tetenal for more than 15 years and until today we have no basic problems with it.
However, we would like to support you and kindly ask you to inform us about the purchasing date and the 6-digit production number that is printed/stamped on the box or on the bottle label.
TETENAL AG & CO. KG
Hello and sorry about the late answer; I had to find the product boxes and invoices and luckily I found some of them.
The first kit was bought from Nordfoto Versand Germany at 2007-10-05. This box has been gone for now and I can't tell the code for this. The prints made with this blix seem to be mostly ok, but I encountered severe problems where the picture whites got quite brown and muddy. Shortening the blix time to 45 seconds helped with this a little. Occasionally there were some crud in this blix, but not much. So this was "almost ok" but not quite. After one year the blix didn't work anymore, despite the concentrate being protected from aeration. If the concentrates were separated, I think there would be no problems.
The second kit was bought from Fotoimpex, Germany - I remembered wrong, so, it was NOT bought from Nordfoto. This box was bought at 2008-10-22 and has production number 706606. This was totally unusable from the beginning. The blix has terrible amounts of crud in it. Some of the prints are still blixed okay but the most are not. I've now had to reblix almost all prints that were made with this kit.
The third kit was bought from Nordfoto Versand 2009-01-14 and has a production number 846074. I haven't tried the blix yet because of my bad experience and instead I've used a separate ferricyanide bleach and ammounium thiosulphate fix I've made by myself. This kit has a developer having a milky appearance (as it shouldn't have), thus it still seems to work.
Can you tell me when these kits (706606 and 846074) were produced and when they left your warehouse?
Thank you for your co-operation.
I was then asked for my address and, while giving that, I bombed them with new questions:
Thank you very much for taking this case under study!
My full address is:
Another interesting issue I have been thinking is: is it normal that the blix makes the paper whites a little brownish? I know that the RA-4 material can't have totally pure white at all, but this fogging usually happens in developer, am I right? I haven't compared with any other blixes, but using separate ferricyanide bleach and ammonium thiosulphate fix, I get no brownish whites. With your blix, the picture whites get very brown if the blix is carried on for two minutes; and even with 30 sec versus 60 sec there is a distinct difference. I think there should be no reason for blix to do this as it only should remove silver and halides from paper. For example, your E6 blix has the same kind of composition (ammonium ferric EDTA & ammonium thiosulphate) and it never leaves any stain in E6 film.
Then I got an answer from some of the tech guys, instead of the customer center:
Dear Mr. Alhonen,
We refer to your e-mail dated 18. March 2009 and thank you for your feedback on RA-4 Print Kit, Art.No. 102116.
As already mentioned before, the product has been manufactured since around 15 years, without any remarkable problems.
In the meantime we have checked the production dates:
706606 February 2007
846074 November 2008
We regret, that you did not get the expected normal results with the Print Kit. Unfortunately it is almost impossible to find out reasons in retrospect. However, we take care that you will receive free of charge a new Print Kit Art.No. 102116, please understand as token of our appreciation.
Please be so kind to send any technical inquiries to our Technical Service Department. e-mail: ...... The direct way is the shortest and should save time.
Thanks a lot for your kind cooperation.
TETENAL AG & CO. KG
Then, nothing happened in two weeks, and then, suddenly, they carefully admitted the problem they had so intensively denied:
Dear Mr. Alhonen,
Please don't be surprised, that you have not yet received the replacement delivery - the delivery by parcel service from Germany is very expensive due to additional charges for dangerous goods.
We are checking since 1 week to send it via our Finnish distributor and are waiting for their answer.
We kindly ask you for some patience.
Concerning your complaint, we learned that our R&D department intends to prepare a new formula in the near future to solve the problem described.
Have a nice Easter holiday!
And, finally, I got the replacement kit. The blix worked with a few prints but decomposed quite quickly, just like before. I think it's unbelievable that this kind of product is produced for 15 years. It "almost works" but maybe it's enough for most people. But still, the unbelievable part of the story is that it would be SO easy to just put the blix concentrates in two f*cking bottles instead of one! It can't be that hard . Now, they wouldn't need any kind of "new formula", just a new packaging! Argh. How can it be this hard.