Question about color printing equipment

Discussion in 'The Darkroom' started by Oculus, Oct 11, 2017.

  1. Oculus

    Oculus TPF Noob!

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    Hey everyone!

    So, I have decided to give color printing a try. I have heard that it is quite a tedious process, but it seems like there are a few tricks and tools (filters for daylight and tungsten balanced film for different color temps) to make the whole process easier. Also, I am pretty sure I have the temperature "problem" figured out.

    Now my question: what is the most essential equipment to make color prints?

    So far I found different lists, and the tools that always get mentioned are the Kodak color print viewing filters, color analyzers, and densitometers.
    From my understanding the color analyzer will give a person the "close-to-right" settings for the color dials on the enlarger, but most likely not the final ones. Seems like this can also be done with Kodak's color print viewer (with one or two extra test prints).
    The densitometer gives a person the right exposure values for the film+paper combination, which essentially makes the test strips obsolete. While this seems useful, I don't consider making test strips too much work and the calibration process seems to be too much work for just a few prints a year.

    What are your thoughts? Is the Kodak color print viewing filter the only thing I really need?
    Is there any other tool I have missed?


     
  2. Ysarex

    Ysarex Been spending a lot of time on here!

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    You need a safe way to handle the toxic chemistry. Do not breathe fumes from color chemistry: exposure should be zero.

    Joe
     
  3. Dave442

    Dave442 No longer a newbie, moving up!

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    I only had one friend with a darkroom set up for color printing. Just spoke with him a few weeks ago and he said it is still set up although he hasn't used it in about 20 years. It is a room of about 4 x 4 meters with nothing in the middle and was designed as a darkroom when the house was built.

    If I remember we just used a color analyzer and set the numbers on the color head and then ran with that print. It was a Durst Enlarger, a bit smaller than my Beseler 23Cii. The crazy thing was doing everything in complete darkness (when the enlarger light was off), it was like developing film but taking ten times as long before you could turn on a light. One thing he had was a big paper safe, that was the one item I went out and bought for my B&W darkroom. It is so much easier to pull paper from a paper safe than to open and re-close the box the paper came in.

    I'm not sure what you mean by filters for daylight and tungsten, I had those for use when taking the picture, not when printing. If you don't have a color head you can hold the C, Y, M filters under the enlarger light, but I think a used color enlarger with analyzer should be cheap these days. Maybe not that cheap in Austria - on eBay I see a Durst M805 Color Enlarger located in Austria.
     
  4. Jamesaz

    Jamesaz TPF Noob!

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    I'd not bother with an analyzer until after learning the process a bit and knowing what kind of volume of color printing I had. They are really not necessary. Same with a densitometer. If you're just starting out all you need are yellow and magenta filters to color the light source and RGB viewing filters, paper and chemistry. I haven't looked but the filters are probably available online. They don't need to be optically pure. Good luck to you.
     
  5. 480sparky

    480sparky Chief Free Electron Relocator Supporting Member

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    Color is far less forgiving than b&w. A degree or too off with your soup and you've got problems. While it can be done, I have a question about what you mean by 'a few prints a year': What number of prints are you planning on doing? If just a handful, then souping it yourself will be very expensive. Not only in terms of the cost of the equipment, but color chemistry has a lot shorter live than b&w does. You can't just buy a gallon of something, use ¼th of it, and use the rest in a couple months. If you're planning on doing a few prints today, a few more next month, etc., you'll find you'll be buying chemicals every time you want to make prints.
     
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  6. Jamesaz

    Jamesaz TPF Noob!

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    As Sparky noted, developer temp, as well as replenishment rate are critical. C-print chemistry requires a certain volume to stay active. Bleach temp is not so important but it becomes oxygen depleted and will stain if it's too old. The crudest print line I ever worked was a 20 gal. open tank with an immersion heater, temp probe and recirculating pump (this indicates you could tray process but I've never tried it). Test strips were clipped to a wire and placed in the dev. and agitated. Finished prints (one hoped) were put into wire baskets, back to back, and lowered into the tank. I would take out about 3 gallons and replenish with 4 once a week. Like I said, crude. Started running control strips when management bought a roller transport machine with auto replenishment. That was when the densitometer came in. Anyway, it's not that difficult to do and really interesting to see the results. Like most lab stuff you usually get something every time and the trick is to get good results before you start losing money. One more thing: when you start evaluating prints, it's a good idea to overcorrect the first time and come back on the second test. It helps you see the effect of the correction. Go for it and have fun. The worst that can happen is you're out some time and money but the knowledge is usually worth it.
     
  7. Oculus

    Oculus TPF Noob!

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    I mean those filters help you when taking the picture, so the color cast you get on the film is much more subtle than without one. I actually have a 4x5 IFF enlarger with a color head. :)

    I understand that it is much more sensitive to temperature than B&W, but like I said, I have thought of several different ways to ensure that the temperature stays where it should.
    From what I have seen so far, the RA4 chemicals are much pricier than chemicals for B&W paper, but they are definitely not expensive. Adox sells a kit for about $25 which is enough for 5m^2, which is about 50ft^2. Also, Tetenal sells an RA4 with an "above average" shelf life. By a few prints a year I mean something around 20 to 30, maybe even more. Most of them would be large prints though, so I'm fairly certain that I won't have to worry about the chemicals going bad.

    I'm not 100% sure what you mean. How can I "overcorrect"? Won't that just give me a color cast?


    Also, I ended up buying a Kodak color print viewer. Pricey little thing. :D

    Off topic question: why are you guys so "afraid" of color printing? I understand that it can be a very slow and a very tricky process, but from what I have seen the results are absolutely worth it.
    Here is a sweet little video that shows open tray developing (with stunning results): RA4 color printing (in open trays)
     
  8. 480sparky

    480sparky Chief Free Electron Relocator Supporting Member

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    Afraid? Pffft. I had a color darkroom for about 15 years. I was cranking out film and prints every 2-3 days.
     
  9. Jamesaz

    Jamesaz TPF Noob!

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    Oculus, by over correcting yes, you could call it a color cast.But what you are doing is setting parameters for how that particular emulsion responds to correction. In a short while you'll be able to more quickly judge how to get the correction you want as long as you use that same emulsion and your chemistry is consistent. Hope you have fun.
     
  10. Ysarex

    Ysarex Been spending a lot of time on here!

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    Two pages from a color processor installation manual link

    I highlighted two paragraphs for you. In the first they talk about the proper installation that puts the processor in a room by itself with the feedtable protruding through the wall into the darkroom. This was the correct way to install a color processor (I used to sell them and install them). The point of keeping the processor in a room by itself was to isolate the chemistry and maintain human exposure to the fumes at zero. The 2nd paragraph that I highlighted notes the requirement for ventilation that maintains positive air pressure in the darkroom (where people work) designed to pass darkroom air through the processor feed tray into the processor room. The processor room is then force air vented to the outside -- no one goes into the processor room during operation. Again this is to keep any human exposure to the chemistry fumes at zero.

    The reason to keep human exposure to the chemistry fumes at zero is because RA4 color chemistry contains know carcinogens that will poison you. Afraid of color printing? It's not difficult -- I used to do a lot of darkroom/chemical color printing. I am sad every day that I remember two of my friends who are no longer with us, John and Jan. They were both photographers who did a lot of color printing and processed it in open trays. I never did because I had to keep reading those processor installation manuals and I admit they scared me. Yes, I'm afraid of RA4 chemistry in an open tray and I never did that. I told John and Jan both that they should stop. They both died in their late 40s from lymphatic cancer. Here's something worth reading: book

    The forward in that book is written by John Pfahl who used to process color prints in open trays but stopped after he fortunately recovered from lymphatic cancer -- something to consider.

    Joe
     
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  11. Oculus

    Oculus TPF Noob!

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    I must say, that is quite impressive.

    I think I know what you mean now! Thanks for the advice!

    Thanks Joe! And I'm really sorry to hear that. I always knew that RA4 chemicals were dangerous (when you when you come into direct contact), but I didn't expect them to be that dangerous. Also, by afraid I didn't really mean afraid in the sense of being scared, but more like not wanting to print because it is a long process. I was hoping that it wouldn't come over as provocative, which is why I put the quotation marks there. Unfortunately, it seems like it did. Poor choice of words by me. My apologies.
     
  12. maris

    maris TPF Noob!

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    [/QUOTE]Thanks Joe! And I'm really sorry to hear that. I always knew that RA4 chemicals were dangerous (when you when you come into direct contact), but I didn't expect them to be that dangerous. Also, by afraid I didn't really mean afraid in the sense of being scared, but more like not wanting to print because it is a long process. I was hoping that it wouldn't come over as provocative, which is why I put the quotation marks there. Unfortunately, it seems like it did. Poor choice of words by me. My apologies.[/QUOTE]

    Be careful about chemical scare stories that have no supporting evidence and ride solely on conjecture and anecdote. There is no proven link between RA-4 chemistry, properly used, and the incidence of lymphomas.
    There is a lot of information on amateur scale colour processing in trays and in rotary processors like the JOBO. The volume of chemistry of is small and the potential exposure time is very limited. This is strikingly different from an industrial scale colour processing facility where workers use large quantities of chemistry every day, all day, for years on end as a way of making a living. RA-4 is safe with simple sensible precautions.
    In terms of medical trauma presentations and the opportunity for misadventure the act boiling water for a cup of tea is incomparably more dangerous.
     

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