Color Darkroom

Discussion in 'Beyond the Basics' started by tr0gd0o0r, May 27, 2005.

  1. tr0gd0o0r

    tr0gd0o0r TPF Noob!

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    I have recently been disenchanted with my local lab (becasue they digitzed my MF film and I hate the way it looks. And am considering getting a color darkroom off ebay. Anyone have experience in this? I hear its not worth the time and effort, but is it more expensive/worth the quality. What will I need, can you describe the process? Thanks for the help.
     
  2. craig

    craig TPF Noob!

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    I am guessing that MF means medium format. I am also guessing that you already have a BW darkroom. I have spent a little time printing 2 /14 x 2 1/4 negs. The quality and control is excellent. I learned a lot about color theory and practice.

    Personally; If someone gave me the gear I would not accept it. Unless you are experienced in the process I would not do it. Water temps and development times have little room for error. Plus the chemicals are super poisonous. I have no Idea about the cost, but budget for a lot of trial and error at first.

    Why not just find another lab?
     
  3. KevinR

    KevinR TPF Noob!

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    It really is kind of a hassle doing color. The using the enlarger part is a practice thing, it's the chemistry that is the hassle. Really finnicky on the temps, and not nice stuff to use as far as fumes. The fixer has high sulphur levels that can cause breathing problems unless you have a really good ventilation system. You would be better off finding someone to ship to. If you go the APUG.org site, they have a forum on color printing. There might be some stuff for you to look at.
     
  4. Mumfandc

    Mumfandc TPF Noob!

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    I do color photography at home. It's great! When I bought my enlarger off Ebay, it included a Dichro Color Head...plus processing drums etc. I also use the Dichro head for my B&W photography.

    With practice, you'll get things right. Basically you can get a C-41 kit to process your negatives, and RA-4 kit to develop your paper (I use the Tetenal kits mostly, but sometimes Kodak Ektacolor kits). The Tetenal C-41 5-liter kit (about $53 at B&H) says it's good enough for about 80-120 rolls of film. (And to think I used to spend between $6-8 PER ROLL at the labs here in NYC).

    When processing color films/paper, the control temperature is much more critical than B&W, and usually the first color developer must be within (+/-) .5 degrees fahrenheit! They say it is important to maintain temperature because dyes in the emulsion may fluctuate/shift or something like that. I've been off about 3-degrees with the color developer, and the prints turn out just fine. But If you are willing to invest, JOBO makes tempering boxes for chemicals, as well as temperature controlled rotary processors.

    You have to handle the color paper in total darkness, unlike B&W in which you can use a safelight. Processing drums are pretty much essential in color printing. After you expose the paper, and load it into the drum, you can turn the room lights on again. You can get them for cheap off Ebay and it's better to also get the rotating mechanism which rotates the drum for even development. Drums also are very economical...an 11x14 print drum processed only requires maybe about 5-6 ounces of chemistry.

    Printing color photos requires a density test and color balance test. Color balance is controlled through magenta, yellow and cyan filters. The color balance part requires some practice, and you need to have some knowledge of how additive and subtractive color systems work. But there are visualizing filter aids which help you balance out the print. It's pretty much the same thing as balancing RGB color in Photoshop. Also, you should get a good quality enlarging lens which is optimized for color printing...APO lenses are designed to reduce chromatic aberration.

    I've tried a number of color papers already, but I recently have just gotten hooked on Fujifilm's Fujiflex paper. It's a highly saturated Polyester-based material which is very similar to Cibachrome/Ilfochrome, but MUCH cheaper and also very archival. The surface is SUPER glossy and mirror-like, with a slight metallic look. And what I've noticed (and LOVE) about this paper is that I've so far never had a problem with color balance. It must be magic. With negatives from my Hasselblad, I've gotten RAZOR sharp pictures with this paper. My only worry is that these Polyester-based RA-4 papers, like Ilfocolor and Fujiflex, may go extinct like Kodak Duraflex. However, when I browse a lot of art galleries here in NYC, many photographers/artists still prefer to print on Ilfochrome/Fujiflex etc. So I suppose there's still a good market.

    I paid about $100 for a box of 100 8x10 sheets and $189 for 100 11x14 sheets. But if you go to online photolabs like laslight.com...they charge $100 PER 8x10 Fujiflex print!!

    Well, I for one find color printing (at least at the moment) very rewarding. :) RA-4 papers (the RC kind, not Fujiflex) are relatively cheaper compared to MOST black and white papers. But when I show my friends the finished prints, they all want me to print their negatives (not for FREE of course!)
     
  5. tr0gd0o0r

    tr0gd0o0r TPF Noob!

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    you just had to go and post that about the same time i had pretty much decided against this didn't you?

    Thanks for the info though, i may just go ahead and buy a darkroom set up ( i don't even have a B&W one, so this could double for that right? Now I just have to find a light tight room that is very well ventillated.
     

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