Geting started with RA4 printing

Discussion in 'Darkroom Developing and Printing' started by Robert Whitehouse, Dec 21, 2003.

  1. Hi y'all.

    I've been doing B&W in my darkroom for about 18 months now and really enjoy
    it. However I have just acquired a medium format camera and would like to
    have a dabble with RA4 printing because it is dammed expensive to get MF
    printing done commercially (vs. 35mm which is, of course, really cheap and
    not worth doing at home). MF film developing is not to expensive
    commercially, so I don't want to do C41.

    I have picked up an "RA4 colour processor" really cheap on eBay - this looks
    just like an elongated daylight film tank. I also picked up some RA4 paper.

    Now questions ...

    Will my enlarger head be OK for colour ? (Ilford Ilfospeed 500H) - dichroic,
    I think.

    If so what "contrast" settings should I use ? and what difference will these
    make to the print ?

    What chemicals should I buy ?

    Anybody offer a good starting point for exposure (say 8x8in. print with
    average density 6x6(cm) negs) ?

    I really just want to dabble so am not keen to buy lots of gear for
    controlling temperature - can't I just do this in a sink of water at correct
    temp ?

    Any pointers to good websites describing RA4 process ?

    Many Thanks

    Bob W
    Robert Whitehouse, Dec 21, 2003
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  2. Some Mini labs have masks and can proof MF neagtives. Otherwise your right.

    If dichroic that is It has a C,Y, M dial for each or input for those then yes
    or it could be RGB like the Minolta Beseler or it could be just Y, never
    need Cyan in RA4
    You use different paper to get more contrast although, that is limited
    if you negative is under exposed then its alot harder to print.

    Kodak makes: Supra Normal contrast, Ultra for softer negatives to produce more
    contrast and Portra for harder negative to produce softer contrast. All under the
    Endura Name.
    I go with Kodak, for two reasons,
    a) its an American Company
    b) its deisigned for Kodak paper which I use, Kodak also
    provides alot of technical support for their products.
    Depends on how dense, a grey card of proper density
    might expose at 15 seconds at f/8-f11
    You can but a small Jobo or at least a print drum and water bath will
    make your printing more fun, you need to temper the chemical at least
    so your print process times are shorter than longer.
    Never needed them, but one more suggestion, get a set of print "viewing"
    filters it will help you intially see when the color is subtlely "out".
    Gregory Blank, Dec 21, 2003
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  3. Robert Whitehouse

    BobW Guest


    Many thanks.

    The point of my question about "contrast" is this. I think that the enlarger
    head and controller is intended for black & white multigrade printing. The
    controller unit has digital input (keyboards) for exposure and contrast. The
    "contrast" setting controls the relative proportions of "Y" or "M" filtered
    light (there is no "C" filter). I suppose that if I choose contrast grade
    2.5 (mid point) this will give 50/50 of Y/M.

    Kind Regards,

    BobW, Dec 22, 2003
  4. Robert Whitehouse

    Nick Zentena Guest

    I'm not sure a variable contrast B&W head would work for colour. Does the
    head have a filter drawer? If so you could get a set a colour filters.

    Nick Zentena, Dec 22, 2003
  5. Robert Whitehouse

    Jim Phelps Guest

    Nick is correct. You will not obtain adequate results with most Variable
    Contrast heads when printing color. The reason is the proportions of Y and
    M are not independently and continuously variable. While grade 3 might need
    40M, a print in color may need 82Y and 48M to print correctly. There is no
    standard contrast setting that will give you these setting.

    HOWEVER, and this is because I do not know the specifics of the equipment
    you are using, IF you can get continuous and independent setting of your
    Yellow and Magenta filtration on your equipment, then it may work.

    Cyan is not normally used in prints from negatives.

    The filter drawer would be a way for you to get into color, but remember to
    set your head to whatever grade does not use filtration (normally grade 2).
    Jim Phelps, Dec 22, 2003

  6. I doubt it. You need another head for color.
    Michael Scarpitti, Dec 22, 2003
  7. Robert Whitehouse

    Bruce Osgood Guest

    I haven't followed this thread but my understnading is color printing from negs
    requires additive filtration while B/W negs require minus filtration. Thus, a
    B/W VC system will not work as a Color Dichro head.
    Brooklyn, N.Y.
    Bruce Osgood, Dec 22, 2003
  8. OK - thanks all. You've convinced me that I can't used my VC head for colour

    I have also found a "Durst 601" enlarger in a cupboard in my darkroom (I
    discovered this D/R - unused, at my place of work).

    I have never used this enlarger and do not even know if it works, but I will
    dust it off and have a look to see if it will do colour. It seems to have a
    filter drawer (but no filters).

    Kind regards and seasons wishes to you all,

    Bob W
    Robert Whitehouse, Dec 22, 2003
  9. If it works then you are on your way. You don't really need a dichro
    head to do color printing. A set of color printing filters will do
    just fine as long as there is a filter drawer in the enlarger.
    Frank J. Schifano, Apr 6, 2004
  10. No you don't,.... your correct but its sure makes it alot more
    productive and fun
    Gregory W Blank, Apr 6, 2004
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