Printing color with no color enlarger, with filters
I asked about RA4 printing a while back and it sounds like it's about the same as B&W but you need different chemicals, and there's a lot less materials available. You also need a special safelight or else to go in the dark.
I haven't found a cheap color enlarger, all I have is my Omega C700 derivative condenser enlarger. I've heard that you can use color filters; is this a total nightmare or is it practical? Where do you get the filters? It seems like maybe once you figure out the necessary filter stack for a certain film and paper, it might pretty much stay the same forever. Or not?
Also, I suppose an eye for color is something that must be developed. Based on my digital-editing abilities, I don't have one. I just know when the colors look wrong. How do you know what needs adjusted? B&W seems simpler in terms of figuring out what is wrong.
With all due respect, if you can't find a cheap color enlarger in Dallas, you haven't been looking very hard. In the Baltimore-Washington-Northern Virginia corridor, 6x6 Beseler & Omegas are going from free to $200.00. Average price seems to be about $75.00.
You can get the filters at freestyle. To judge the color balance you need some viewing filters (also freestyle) or a keen eye that will tell you how much you need to change your filter pack. It's pretty simple to use the filters but it will take you a few test prints to get the correct filter pack but once you have it it should be the same for your whole pack of paper. When you change paper batches you will need to re test.
Give it a shot, it's easier than b/w printing imo.
The color filter set you'll need can be had from Freestyle. Find them here. You'll need the 3 in sq. set and might have to cut them down a bit to fit the filter drawer. It's a pain in the ass, but it can be done. Using a dichro enlarger is a lot easier. As for the safelight, you're probably best off working in the dark. See if you can find a Beseler print drum and roller. They come up every now and then on Ebay for not much money. You load the paper into the drum and then pour chemistry into and out of the tank much the same you you would a daylight film developing tank. The motorized roller provides agitation, and the system uses very little chemistry per print. But be careful, because the motorized bases often don't work. Mine is completely dead. Even though it shows no signs of abuse, the motor doesn't run. I can still use the drum without the roller base by rolling it back and forth across the table.
Colour is in some ways easier then B&W. B&W isn't a normal state for most of us. So when we look at a B&W print it's open to much more creative interperation. OTOH with a colour print if the grass isn't green people will notice.
First you get the exposure right. Then you get the colour balance right. Always exposure first. Get a hair dryer to dry the test prints. You can't judge wet prints well. Worse when you start adjusting the colour you may need to adjust the exposure a little.
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You can use a B&W enlarger with filters and get excellent results many of us did in the 70's before colour heads became more common
However the bulbs and voltage regulation & stability in colour enlargers is vastly superior and it's far easier to get consistent results, as others have said colour enlargers are plentiful and cheap, quite a number appear in the Classifieds here on APUG.
I bought a Beseler 23CII today. I don't even know if it works yet, and I don't know where I'm going to put it.
You will find one if you look.
Or, you can track down a color head for your enlarger.
Or, you can purchase yellow and magenta CC filters and stack them in your filter drawer. You get 5-point precision that way, while with a color head you get 1-point precision. If you want to go this route, look for the small Ilfochrome set on E-Bay (or trim down a large set). I have one I would gladly sell you for very little, but it is kind of a "permanent loan", so I can't. They should be cheap on E-Bay, however.
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You can pick up a color head for your machine on eBay or Craig's List. Dallas is big enough to have a large active Craig's List. The prices are down compared to a few years ago.
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I leave the digital work for the urologists and proctologists.
I just bought a color-headed Beseler 23CII. It has the color knobs on it. That's exactly how much I know about it; I don't suppose this thing does 4x5? It's huge compared to my Omega Concept 6 enlarger.
So you are saying that the color filters is actually more precise than using a color head?
Or, you can purchase yellow and magenta CC filters and stack them in your filter drawer. You get 5-point precision that way, while with a color head you get 1-point precision.