I started doing color prints this summer and I think it's worth it. I use a drum and roller base and Kodak Ektacolor RA4 chemicals: RA Developer Replensisher RT to make 10 liters ($15) and RA Bleach Fix to make 10 liters ($15) that I use one-shot (I pick them up at Unique Photo, Fairfield, NJ). I don't use the starter. I've been using Fuji Crystal Archive II paper ($40 per box of 100 8x10 sheets).
Because you use only 60-70ml of pre-wash water, developer, bleach fix, and final wash water per 8x10 print, I place each of these in an 8 oz. plastic spring water bottle and adjust the temperature of each right before addition to the drum using a pot of hot and cool water and an LCD digital thermometer wire probe in the bottle. A good thermometer is the Extech TM20 and I calibrate it to a color thermometer. At 83F it's 30 seconds pre-wash, 2 minutes developer, 2 minutes bleach fix, and 1.5 minutes final water wash, per Kodak's instructions. I've done this at room temperatures between 66F and 82F with no time adjustment required due to any cooling of the drum over the 2 minutes. I don't get streaks so I do not need to do a stop and water rinse after the developer. I wash the print in a tray with running water at 68F +/- for 5 minutes. I think the prints are beautiful and I get excellent reproducibility doing the same print during different sessions.
Yes, it gets easier as you do more. I've done about 75% of my prints from the same film and paper without a test print, i.e., the filtration settings are constant in many cases and once you establish the exposure time you vary it proportional to the square of distance from the lens to the paper. You also begin to see slight color imbalances and how you need to correct them. Checking your whites is key. I see no need for an analyzer or viewing filters.
As far as cost, for an 8x10, it's $0.25 for one-shot chemicals and $0.40 for a sheet of paper. Most I can do without a test print so it's $0.65 per 8x10 print. For those requiring color filtration adjustments, figure $2.00 a print if you need to do 3 to get a final print, then subsequent copies are $0.65. This is less expensive than $8 for an 8x10 I've see a local pro lab charging.
For safety I wear lab goggles, nitrile gloves and make sure there is good ventilation. I don't plan to do color prints over the winter when the house is closed up. I use a waste bucket in the sink so I can highly dilute spent chemicals and rinsates before putting them down the drain. Covering this and laying caps on bottles helps a lot in reducing inhalation exposure to the chemicals and I've felt no ill effects.
Last edited by mklw1954; 10-31-2013 at 10:02 PM. Click to view previous post history.