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  1. #1
    Pioneer's Avatar
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    Printing/Enlarging Kodak BW400CN

    I got a really good deal on some black and white film a while back so lately I have been shooting a lot of this Kodak BW400CN chromogenic black and white film. I love the look of the film under the loupe, and the 400 ISO is certainly flexible while remaining grain free, but I am just now getting ready to print some of the negatives. Since the negatives all have that orange backing, I am wondering how best to start with my printing to mask that color. Everything I have printed so far has been normal black and white so it was not an issue.

    I use a Beseler 45 enlarger with the Dichro 45 computerized color head and it would be helpful if there are some color head settings that I can use to start my printing with. I am a real amateur at this but I do know that I will need to do some experimentation with the negative itself to get a print that I like. But there is likely a setting for the color head that will remove that orange film base color as a variable to start with. I may be concerned over nothing, if so it was at least worth a question.

    Since I am still learning how to work with my enlarging I have limited myself to one paper. Right now the only paper I have is Arista EDU Ultra VC RC glossy, and I have a fair amount of this on hand. It has worked great for my previous work and it is certainly inexpensive for a learner. Obviously this is what I intend to work with if possible. However, if there is some other paper that is a better starting point, feel free to head me in the right direction. I have been looking for an excuse to try out some of the Ilford papers anyway.

    As always, thank you all very much for your time, and your help.

    If my limited search skills have resulted in my missing a great thread that fully explains how to start out with this film, I apologize. I would appreciate your pointing me in the right direction if possible.

  2. #2

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    Kodak BW400CN is really intended for commercial processing where the orange mask is approximately the same as for color negative films. This makes it easy for the commercial printers using color paper but is a PITA for home enlarging. Since you will be using BW papers there is no need to compensate for the orange mask. However, exposure times will be much longer than for ordinary BW negatives. Because of the mask you will have a problem with VC papers, I would suggest using a graded paper.
    Last edited by Gerald C Koch; 07-12-2012 at 12:21 AM. Click to view previous post history.
    A rock pile ceases to be a rock pile the moment a single man contemplates it, bearing within him the image of a cathedral.

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  3. #3

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    But if all you have is VC papers then you will just have to use higher contrast settings or filters, perhaps 4 or so
    "There are a great many things I am in doubt about at the moment, and I should consider myself favoured if you would kindly enlighten me. Signed, Doubtful, off to Canada." (BJP 1914).

    Regards
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  4. #4
    Thomas Bertilsson's Avatar
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    I have one of these negatives to print for a friend, and it takes a lot of work with the contrast filters to get it right. As Gerald points out, the film was designed for printing on color paper to obtain a black and white image, unlike Ilford's XP-2 Super, which has an almost neutral base, and much easier to deal with in the darkroom.

    The problem I see is that especially in a high contrast situation, where I can finally get the highlights under control, leaving shadows with some detail, the midtones look really flat and dull. If you decide to give the print a touch of high grade filtration after the normal exposure, in order to build some local contrast in the mid-tones, you really run the risk of completely blocking up your shadows, leaving them without detail at all. Some people care about shadow detail, while others don't. I'm the kind that thinks shadow detail is sometimes over-rated, and a good strong solid black can really emphasize a composition. But this doesn't work for everything, obviously. Some shadows need detail.

    Don't give up if you don't get good results immediately, but be fully aware that these b&w negs with an orange mask don't really follow normal logic when it comes to printing on b&w paper.
    "Often moments come looking for us". - Robert Frank

    "Make good art!" - Neil Gaiman

    "...the heart and mind are the true lens of the camera". - Yousuf Karsh

  5. #5

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    To elaborate a bit further, the dark orange mask distorts the response of the VC paper. You may dial in the contrast settings for grade 3 but you will not get a grade 3 response from the paper. Remember that VC papers use only the blue and green regions of the spectrum. The ratio of these colors determines the contrast of the paper. Orange filters out most of this region of the spectrum, but not equally for both colors. There's the rub.

    There are two options. You can get some graded paper and put up with long exposures or you can get the negatives commercially printed on color paper. Actually there is a third option give or trade the film to someone else. Sometimes a good deal is not a good deal.
    A rock pile ceases to be a rock pile the moment a single man contemplates it, bearing within him the image of a cathedral.

    ~Antoine de Saint-Exupery

  6. #6
    Nicholas Lindan's Avatar
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    Scanning is the right way to use this film. If you want a silver print then either IJ print a 1:1 contacting negative or send it out to have a negative made on a film recorder.

    It isn't designed for conventional B&W enlarging - with the amount of paper, chemistry and time that you will waste trying to get a rather lousy print from this film you will be dollars and days ahead chucking it and getting some TMax-400.

    If you are starting out this is a very poor place to start out from.
    DARKROOM AUTOMATION
    f-Stop Timers - Enlarging Meters
    http://www.darkroomautomation.com/da-main.htm

  7. #7
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    I was able to get quite acceptable results on VC fiber paper, but yes, it took some tweaking. Start with about double your normal exposure time, and a minimum of grade 3 - 4 (LOTS of magenta filtration). I'd also investigate split-grade printing to coax the best possible out of this film. If your exposure technique is solid, you just need to get the first print dialed in and then your printing times/filtrations will be very consistent from that point onward.

  8. #8
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    Ooof-Da

    I knew there was a reason I was holding off enlarging any of these negatives. Do you hear that Dear?? I am not just lazy!!

    Just so you know, I shoot a lot of conventional black and white as well, particularly in medium format, so this film is not my only option. However, I like learning new things so I figured this would be one of those opportunities. I just didn't think I would be learning this much. If I run into too many challenges I probably will sell it to someone who has a scanner. I do have one but scanning is not always the cake walk that people would have you believe either. Besides, I hate spending that much time with any computer.

    Based on your responses it almost seems like this might be a chance for me to play around with some color printing, without the color of course. I do have a Dichro color head after all, even though all I have ever used it for is to adjust contrast for my normal black and white printing.

    I think I will also pick up a small selection of graded, fiber paper to try out as well. If it doesn't work so well with these negs I can always play around with it using my standard negs.

    Are there any suggestions out there for some inexpensive, graded black and white fiber papers, maybe a sample pack of different grades. Also, maybe someone could steer me towards some inexpensive color paper and chemicals to try out.

    Again, thanks for your suggestions

  9. #9
    markbarendt's Avatar
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    http://www.adorama.com/FJSFAC810G.html

    http://www.adorama.com/KKRADRRT.html

    http://www.adorama.com/KKRABFR10L.html

    RA developing is easy, you don't have to have the developer starter, starter is used in replenished systems. In the darkroom, safelight off, I work in total darkness. I prefer to warm up my chemicals to match one of the temperatures in the Kodak tech pub, other people do it at room temp.

    Adjusting the filter pack is the toughest part.

    A Beseler color calculator, or something similar will help a bunch, they do a good job at getting exposure and color close. They come up on eBay and APUG on occasion, a want to buy ad here might find you one. Here's an example http://www.ebay.com/itm/BESELER-COLO...item2a1aa2e511

    A print viewing filter kit is helpful. http://www.ebay.com/itm/200788521085#ht_500wt_922 It helps you figure out which way to go.
    Mark Barendt, Ignacio, CO

    "We do not see things the way they are. We see things the way we are." Anaïs Nin

  10. #10
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    Wow! Just had a chance to check your links. Great stuff. 10 liters of developer and Blix may be a touch much for my playing around. I just checked and Freestyle's 2 liter kit may be more my speed for starters. Hmm, lots more options than I thought.

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