Color Printing: How many still do this?

Discussion in 'Darkroom Developing and Printing' started by Rob, Aug 16, 2005.

  1. Rob

    Rob Guest

    I would like to know how many people out there still do RA4 color printing
    in their darkroom as a hobby.Do you find it difficult to get the color
    balance right? On average, how many test strips does it take to correct the
    color balance?-( I'm wondering how much paper I would be wasting.) I plan on
    using Kodak color print viewing filters to make adjustments.
    Is it cheaper to do color printing in a darkroom,as far as supplies go,than
    it is to use a computer and printer?

    Thanks for any help, it's greatly appreciated!

    Rob, Aug 16, 2005
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  2. I do it. To some extent it requires effort to get the color balance correct. A
    color analyzer helps. But also an eye for medium grays can expedite the
    process. Once I have the balance right for one image on a roll, the rest are
    easy. Sometimes it takes 3, 4 or 5 tries for the first image. Sometimes the
    right effect comes immediately.

    Also, the real reason I do it is that I am not always looking for accurate color
    re-presentation, but rather a feel that sometimes comes from out of balance
    color. And I generally print in 8x10 or larger. Prints that are 4x6 are of no
    interest at all. So I am not sure it is cheaper, but no lab could give me what
    I want out of the product.

    Francis A. Miniter
    Francis A. Miniter, Aug 16, 2005
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  3. Double nope, it as a production type thing.
    Don't waste any. Get your density correct first- (which I use my
    analyzer for-its calibrated to give a grey card value in diffused light)
    But make the good old wedge 2 second steps and then look at the
    good wedge and use your print viewing filters on that.

    Just use one sheet the size of the print you want to end up with.
    Start at the base filtration Kodak suggests if you don't have a standard
    filter pack for the box your on.
    Excluding processor and other equipment the paper and chemistry
    should be less that 50 cents per 8x10. Ink jet paper runs about 50 cents
    or more per sheet no ink included.
    Gregory Blank, Aug 16, 2005
  4. I do it. And I do it because I feel the colors and images you get out of
    the corner Ritz or [fill in you name here] processor don't justify the price
    they ask. I also do my own C-41 and E-6 in addition to B&W. When the bug
    bites me I do my own Ilfochrome.

    It's not difficult, but like Gregory and Francis before me have stated, it
    also depends upon you and how you prepare yourself with tools. First shot
    of a roll with a grey card helps - alot. Having a good quality analyzer as
    well (I've seen Jobo ColorLine 7000s go on that auction site for less than

    Eliminate at many of the variables as you can. Always process your film the
    same way or at the same place, always mix and use the same manufacturers
    chemicals, Always process at the same temp (it's standardized anyways).
    Get good fade free filters, and a good deal of patience while learning.

    James Philopena, Aug 16, 2005
  5. Rob

    Ken Hart Guest

    RA4 printing is a piece of cake! You've made the first step in the right
    direction by getting a set of viewing filters. The second step is getting a
    notepad, pencil, and a "Sharpie" brand marker. Get the density right first
    (density=lighter/darker), then worry about the color. It's very difficult to
    judge color correction when the print is too light or dark.

    Make notes of what you do. I like to write the settings on the test print
    (use the sharpie marker). I write down the settings and what I plan to
    change, for example: "75Y, 45M, :15, f/8 --> 80M 50Y :20, f/8" If you go
    the wrong way on your corrections, you can easily go back to a previous test
    print and go in a different direction.

    As for costs: I run RA4 with a minilab. Prints 8x10 and smaller are handled
    thru the minilab printer; prints up to 16x20 are made in the darkroom and
    run thru the minilab racks. I calculate that the chems for a 16x20 cost
    about eight cents per, the paper costs about $1.20/per sheet. When I make a
    16x20, I cut a sheet into 4-8x10's for the test prints. Typically, one
    finished 16x20 takes one and one half sheets (2 test prints).
    Ken Hart, Aug 16, 2005
  6. Rob

    Nick Zentena Guest

    I use a Colorstar 3000 analyzer. Once it's programmed it's pretty idiot
    proof. No wasted paper. No test strips. These can be pretty cheap on Ebay.

    Before that I kept notes. A well exposed negative would look
    reasonable using stock settings for that film. So all I had to do was tweak.

    In Canada Kodak's pro colour paper is less then 40 cents an 8x10
    IIRC. The Fotochem kit is reasonably priced and produces quite a few prints.

    Nick Zentena, Aug 16, 2005
  7. Rob

    JCowie Guest

    My suggestion would be to take a class in color printing or find someone to
    teach you. Color correction is not easy. If you're going to correct by
    "eye", using Kodak filters, you need someone to show you how to use them.
    Alot of fine tuning is involved and many variables that affect color.
    You're going to use alot of paper.
    There are still people doing it but not like 10 years ago. I work as a
    custom printer in NYC and there's nowhere near the amount of Cprinting as
    there used to be. Good Luck.
    JCowie, Aug 16, 2005
  8. Rob

    Mike Guest

    I do occasionally with Tetenal room-temperature chemicals.

    Its so easy. I don't see much filtration differences between films. So
    usually just a single test strip for exposure and fine-tune adjustments
    using the Kodak Printing Filters.

    However it isn't as fun as B&W so I've been printing less and less.
    Mike, Aug 16, 2005
  9. Rob

    Mike King Guest

    Hate me if you like, I'm getting back into color. Someone GAVE me a
    Besseler 16 roller transport processor, complete with wash and dry module
    just for trucking some other old darkroom "crap: to the dump. I also got an
    MP-4 Polaroid camera, an Imagemaker film processor (this unit has problems)
    a slide duper, an MP-3 Polaroid, a slide mounter, a big Ilford RC dryer and
    some other "junk" including a Pavelle printer.
    Mike King, Aug 16, 2005
  10. Why would I hate someone that helps support the craft I love :)
    Gregory Blank, Aug 16, 2005
  11. Rob

    David Starr Guest

    It's not hard at all. If you're just starting, get the exposure right first,
    then the color balance. I use Tetenal room temperature chemicals in trays. At
    first, it'll take a few sheets to get everything right, but as you progress
    it'll get easier. Once you come up with a base filter pack, start every new
    roll with that filtration. I normally use Portra and Ultra Color films, and the
    filtration doesn't vary all that much. I make one print, possibly make a small
    filtration adjustment, and I'm usually good for the whole roll.

    Cost-wise..... 100 sheets of 8x10 Supra Endura paper is about $30.00
    a 2.5 liter Tetenal room temperature kit is about $35.00

    The Tetenal 2.5 liter kit will process 100 sheets, so your cost is about .65 per
    8x10. Given the cost of printer ink, I don't think you could beat the darkroom

    - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
    Retired Shop Rat: 14,647 days in a GM plant.
    Now I can do what I enjoy: Large Format Photography
    - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
    David Starr, Aug 16, 2005
  12. LOL- is there an echo in here?
    Gregory Blank, Aug 17, 2005
  13. Rob

    Mike King Guest

    That's right. And if you shoot only one or two films from the same "family"
    Fuji Amateur, Kodacolor or whatever, your color balance may not vary much
    even when you change emulsions. Simplified even more by buying larger
    packages of color paper, though the RA-4 papers vary much less from emulsion
    to emulsion that they did in the good old days. And if you then simplify
    even more by buying film "bricks" (20-roll packs) of the same emulsion your
    color balance issues decrease yet again. I find, for a lot of my photos,
    that my "base" color balance for a particular paper is more than adequate
    for contact sheets (I shoot medium format so the images are nice size) and
    that, with practice, I can "eyeball" color and density changes as a check on
    the performance of my analyzer. (Not a Colorstar--yet--maybe someone will
    give me one of those, too.)
    Mike King, Aug 17, 2005
  14. Rob

    pmp Guest

    I don't do it in my own darkroom, but I do rent colour darkrooms when
    required. I'm a lousy colour printer tho; I usually take about eight
    tries before I can get the balance to what I want, and even then, I end
    up settling.

    That could be experience though; I'm primarily a B&W printer, only doing
    colour when people ask for it.
    pmp, Sep 21, 2005
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