Whither the best route to colour?
I currently shoot B&W in an RZ67 and mostly rely on my DSLR for colour, occasionally shooting some Velvia/Provia if I have an unusually deserving subject. However, I have the following problems:
- DSLR is low res so I want to get MF colour happening
- E6 is disgustingly expensive
- I can now scan my slides passably but can't do them justice
- my scanner refuses to give passable colour from C-41
- I can't afford a new scanner yet
- I don't have (can't afford) a 6x7 projector
- I cannot obtain Ilfochrome paper or chems
- prints would be good for exhibition/wall purposes
- scans would be good for posting online
So. Do I persist with E6, maybe getting a Kodak one-shot 5L kit to develop it at home? What's a CPE2 worth these days? I could print hybrid but would probably have to pay for pro scans.
Or: do I try to go for C-41/RA-4? This will require at least a print drum, if not the motorized base. My enlarger has a colour head. Dev is only $3.50/roll at the lab, less if I get that Fuji-Hunt kit. This option probably gives me very good prints easily but scanning them to put online and make redundant backups is hard.
The last question is regarding projectors. How fast are 6x7 projector lenses typically? More to the point, is it reasonable to lash up a 5500K automotive HID lamp or two, enlarger condensor, film carrier and an RB 180/4.5? I could put all that together for a lot less than the usual projector prices but will it be bright and sharp enough? I am itching to see some of my slides on a 3m screen.
Help a dreamer out with your advice? thanks...
 $12.50/roll dev-only, no scan, not to mention $8-25/roll for film
 SprintScan 45 Ultra + VueScan, lamp replaced with one a little too blue
 I shot some new Ektar-100 and it looks indescribably crap no matter how I manipulate it; like a faded print from the '70s with all sorts of crossover faults and nasty skin-tones.
Give RA4 a go. You've already got the most important piece of kit, the colour enlarger. You could try it in trays first to see if you like the results before buying drums or whatever. I think it's very easy to get good colour prints and I'd never go back to scanning after doing this. Why do you need to put your prints online?
The online thing is because I have more people who see my stuff that way than in person: just the way it is these days. And I would like to make backups that cannot be lost in fire etc, which means high-res high-quality scans.
You could always make two prints and store one at a different location.
As for getting your work seen, yes, I suppose online is the way it is these days. Have you tried photographing a print with your DSLR?
Quick answer to only a part of your original question. Not appropriate on APUG to go on at length about scanning etc, but this might help you.
I always found scanning c41 a nightmare to colour match, until I discovered this Plug-in, recommended on Large Format Forum:
I use it for scanning Kodak Portra and it really is superb. Your c41 scanning issues might not be a problem with your scanner, rather colour matching?
Hope this helps,
Sponsored Ad. (Subscribers to APUG have the option to remove this ad.)
Steve: not really the redundancy I'm looking for: you can't run Reed-Solomon on a print for a start.
Gavin: thanks, will have a look.
Ignoring the digitisation red herring for now (I'll solve it somehow, sometime), what do we reckon about the analogue parts? Is my projector plan reasonable or will it be dim or soft? Is changing to an all C-41 and RA-4 workflow going to make me happy or will I pine for Velvia?
Do people present projected exhibitions or are prints really the only viable medium? What about for your own enjoyment - I know that "come see my holiday slides" can be the canonical friendship-killer but what about "personal use only, officer"? Do people regularly shoot slides with the intention of projection rather than hybrid processing?
Go for RA4 printing. The rollers and motorized bases are cheap on ebay. You can get set up for less than $50. I take my c41 to the local lab for processing. I may have to start processing my own C41 since there is only one lab left in Thunder Bay that will process 120. RA4 printing is really easy and paper is relatively cheap. You can really cut your costs down to less than b&w if you buy roll paper and cut your own. There are a few threads here on apug about cutting sheets from rolls.
"I'm still developing"
By motorized base, do you mean one with a temperature-controlled tempering bath? They seem to be a lot more than $50. Or do you not require much temp control for RA-4: like B&W printing instead of developing film?
You can do RA4 at room temperature.
I have only been doing RA4 fro two years. Apparently, the temp sensitivity with modern papers is much less than older emulsions. I work at room temp (warm the room up to 72F). Charts are available for time/temp. My current work flow for RA4 is (all at room temp)
Dev 2 min
blix 2 min
No temp baths etc. since everything is at room temp.
In a lot of ways, RA4 is easier than b&w, although colour balance does require some practice. Buy a colour print viewing kit. It makes colour balance adjustments easier for newbies like us.
Some folks use the dev as one-shot, some don't. The blix is reuseable. I use 50ml of dev. one-shot, and about 150ml in the washes, stop bath and blix (both stop and blix are re-used). The roller I use is made by simma and has an eccentric on one of the rollers so the drum rocks while it rotates, making for an even distribution of solution over the print surface. I use regular Kodak indicator stop bath for the stop, and save it for use only with RA4. The blix I mix in half-litre bottles. I find it exhausts after about 25 8X10 prints, so I pitch it and use fresh after 20 prints. I found the paper speed with colour much faster than b&w. While I may expose a b&w print for 10-15 sec at f11, Supra or Edge require about 3 sec. I guess that's a function of the paper useable with digital laser or optical printing. I have been printing some old negs of my kids from about 20 years ago. The prints I can make at home from those old colour negs are just gorgeous. The hardest part of RA4 is obtaining the paper and chemicals.
"I'm still developing"