You use your eyes. If it looks neutral in your intended display light, IT'S NEUTRAL. Really quite simple. Too yellow, add yellow. Sofourth. Analyzers require that you first make a neutral greycard in a print. You use that value to calibrate it, and assuming nothing changes you can adjust filtration quickly from one batch to another. However, I find it perfectly easy to WRITE DOWN the CC filter numbers and USE THEM AGAIN. One confirming strip can usually clear up any inconsistencies. And no grey card shooting.
If I might add one point; for those who shoot a grey card on every roll of film, don't shoot early morning, mid day and evening on the same roll, and print on only one paper emulsion of one size, use the analyzer to balance color, and you will get consistently average results.
Originally Posted by tiberiustibz
With a little practice and diligence, you can put your fancy color analyzer in the closet, right next to that pair of crutches you don't need any more.
Old Biker Pete and Randy B are both correct, just different situations.
I have worked in a situation where I was doing colour printing with about 10 different enlargers, no electronic aids at all, just a quick test strip, run it through the machine, use viewing filters for adjustments, another test, then usually colour was nailed and a full print was done.
With a home darkroom you basically need consistency to save precious paper and chemicals, so one resorts to some kind of system or machine.
You need to be able to make a correct colour print before you can tell an analyser what is correct, there is only one system I have seen that enables you to get a correct colour balanced print, the late Bob Mitchell's "COLORBRATOR, for color negatives", is the best thing out there I have seen and have used.
I transcribe the blurb on the (sort of) A5 booklet and package:-
"A single trial print from the SPECIAL COLORBRATOR TEST NEGATIVE will allow you to program your analyzer for NEUTRAL COLOR BALANCE, IMAGE D-MAX and SKIN COLOR."
Bob's Colorbrator does do what he said it would do. I had personal correspondence with Bob not too long after he announced the release of this little gem of a darkroom aid.
My personal preference for the perfect set-up, my own in fact, is for a trio of things to aid in near perfect results first go, each time you hit the darkroom.
Firstly, Bob Mitchell's COLORBRATOR.
Secondly, a Wallace EXPO/DISC which will give you a perfectly exposed and true grey negative.
Thirdly, to analyse your Expo/Disc exposed negatives under the enlarger, consider a Jobo Colorstar analyser. I have the original Colorstar analyser.
The Jobo Colorstar is the only analyser I know of that measures all three colours at the same time, using a simple but ingenious system of two sliding levers.
The system works like this:-
You get correct colour using the Colorbrator to calibrate your enlarger settings for a certain batch of paper. Once you have achieved that, you place the Jobo probe under the negative and calibrate the analyser with the neutral grey segment known to be correct, this will take about 5 seconds.
Out in the field when shooting colour negative film, you place your Wallace Expo/Disc on your lens, point it at the light source, set the camera metering system to automatic, trip the shutter. You then shoot away to your hearts content at your chosen subject, until the light changes. Once the light changes, whack the Expo/Disc on the lens, point it at the light source, put the camera onto automatic, trip the shutter, then resume normal shooting.
When you get back into the darkroom, set the analyser to the correct settings for the paper you have analysed. Place any negative in your enlarger and compose your print.
Remove your negative and replace it with your Wallace Expo/Disc negative that was exposed when you shot your negative you wish to print into the enlarger. Place the Jobo probe under the Expo/Disc negative, then turn the dials on the enlarger until all of the lights on the analyser go out.
You have just set the correct colour balance for the negative you are going to print. You simply place your scene negative into the enlarger, focus, print and develop. If correct procedure has been observed, then you will have a correct colour balanced print.
Finer points of the systems are correct print density, but that is for another time.
One thing to remember with colour negative printing is how colours are arrived at, basically.
You change the Magenta and Yellow filters in the colour head to add or subtract, yellow, blue, magenta and green. The red and cyan colours, are arrived at by density changes when the other two colours are correct.
If a print is too light, (not enough density) then it will start to go cyan, if it is too dark, (too much density) then it will start to go red.
Take the custom printers to heart and consider what you will be printing. If you are printing very similar subjects ie all portraits of caucasian people at different sizes on one enlarger and one paper batch an analyser will save great amounts of time and material. If you print some landscapes and a portrait then an interior then a few contacts (you get the idea) then a analyser is no help at all and will lead to frustration and waste.
A skilled custom printer can equal the output of the only analysation system ever to really work in a varied population- a well run VCNA and translators at each station. If the VCNA is not well run all bets are off.
On the average day if it took me more that two tests to go final something was out of the ordinary which would have given an analyser fits anyway. The VCNA cut one test but took lots of time to maintain.
Invest the time to learn to print in the nlong run its the cheapest and easiest thing to do.
If you are likely to have to re-print negatives frequently, a colour analyzer can be very useful.
If your enlarger has a bulb whose colour temperature changes over time, a colour analyzer can be very useful.
If you print a lot of similar shots (portraits from the same studio) a colour analyzer can help.
If your film is developed by a number of different labs, or you use a number of different films, or you change the film you use, a colour analyzer can help.
Essentially, a colour analyzer helps deal with variations other than those that appear randomly in different photographs, and can serve as a useful hint with some of those random variations.
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I guess it's just a religious thing.
Colorstar 3000 or newer Jobo units.
I get the impression from most of the posts nobody has seen something like a colorstar.
Actually something like the colorstar almost calibrates itself. It can adjust for chemical drift. No need to shoot a grey card.
Originally Posted by tiberiustibz
Make a negative with fleshtone, three primary and three secondary colours, include a large greyscale against a nuetral grey background.
Make the most perfect print to your eyes where the greyscale is nuetral and not shifting at both ends.
Consider this your master print.
Then make a ring around from this balance and make sure you are critical in your notes.
Mount all the prints up around the Master Print and use as a reference for all future prints. search ring around and I have laid out a step by step somewhere here on this monster site.
As some of the pro's have mentioned a well balanced VCNA and first step analyzer really helps for production , but if you are going in for fun and making a few prints a day then all you really need is'
decent enlarging kit
consistant film batches
good ring around
good starting balance
and good light
Originally Posted by Dave Dawson
Back when I made custom prints I usually used the analyzer to make fine color adjustments for which the analog dials on the color head were not sufficiently accurate. Also as previously described to get a skin tone or neutral area color and density close enough for use of viewing filters.