View Full Version : tabletop ra-4 processor questions

7-Sep-2014, 10:44
I'm an experienced color printer, but I've always rented a darkroom in a lab with either a large kreonite or colex processor. Now that I've moved to the suburbs the commute to the lab is long so I'm considering setting up a darkroom in an extra bedroom. I've been researching tabletop processors and it seems like the best, most consistent processors are the Fujimoto c51 and c31. I'm aware that the c51 requires a 220 plug, so would have to have the bedroom wired for that(I'd like to print 16x20), but do I need a water source and drain in the room? I'm wondering if there would be a way to rig the processor so that I could use a bucket or 5 gallon water container for the clean and waste water, and empty/refill the containers before/after a printing session. Also I know that the chemicals in the big machines are at their best when used often - is it the same with these? How long do the chemicals last when the machine is not in use? Should the water be filtered? Any other requirements besides ventilation?

Dealing with the processor and chemicals is new for me, so thanks for the help! It seems like a steep learning curve initially... but I'm excited about having more control over the paper development.

8-Sep-2014, 04:46
There were two versions of the CP51 one that used stabilizer and did not need running water and one that used a running water wash I believe. Mine needs running water at the same temp as the processor so a bucket of 90+ water would be tough to get proper flow through the wash section. A drain is needed as a 5 gallon container wouldn't really work to catch that much water. The chemical drain could probably be caught in a 5 gallon container since the replenishment rate is fairly low. Chemicals last a reasonable amount of time, but I always planned a concerted printing effort to run through a batch over a one to two week range to be sure.

8-Sep-2014, 13:07
cdavis324, if you are doing RA-4, are you aware prints can be made in trays at room temperature with Kodak RA Developer/Replenisher RT and Bleach-Fix? I'm sure processors have their benefits but doing it in trays is a lot cheaper and easier to set up.

I have found that the developer, stored in glass bottles, filled to the top and sealed tightly can last many months.

9-Sep-2014, 18:23
cdavis324, if you are doing RA-4, are you aware prints can be made in trays at room temperature with Kodak RA Developer/Replenisher RT and Bleach-Fix? I'm sure processors have their benefits but doing it in trays is a lot cheaper and easier to set up.

I have found that the developer, stored in glass bottles, filled to the top and sealed tightly can last many months.

That scares me! Both having to tray develop in complete darkness and the chemical vapors... How do you deal with the darkness?

Thanks for the advice. I've realized that water in the room is important - dry to dry is really nice!

9-Sep-2014, 20:03
I do have a 26" Kreonite, I rarely have enough work to justify filling it....
Although the wife doesn't like it much, I just set up a Jobo on the kitchen counter.
Versatile and thrifty with chem.

10-Sep-2014, 00:36
cdavis324, have you ever heard the expression "I could do it blindfolded!"? That's what people say when they have done something many times and are very familiar with it. It's that way with printing in the dark. After you make a print a few times it becomes second nature. You know where everything is and do things by feel. I have done it so many times I never give it a second thought.

The chemical vapors should not be a problem if you have adequate ventilation.

10-Sep-2014, 03:17
I would not like to print RA4 in trays as the developer can lead to severe skin sensitisation. It may not happen for a while, but it could make colour printing much harder for you in the future.

An option that may work for you is a Jobo. You could have a dry darkroom where you expose the paper and load it into a drum, then carry the drum to the laundry/kitchen for daylight processing on a bench next to your sink. A CPA2/CPP2 will support up to 20x24" in a 3063 drum.

Because chemicals are (well, should be) stored in a nice little sealed bottle between sessions, a Jobo gives excellent economy (400mL working solution, replenish at 10-15mL/8x10" for RA4 using the Kodak 4x5L kits) and consistency.

10-Sep-2014, 03:28
If you're an experienced color printer, you'll want the temp control that a RT can bring you. The fujimoto can hold the baths at +/- .10 degrees f. Good luck trying to do that in trays or rotary tubes. Without a temp regulated bath of a significant size (the larger the bath of chem., the more stable the temp), you'll be chasing your tail looking for neutral. And with todays touchy, overly saturated papers, temp control is an even greater concern than before as you're often splitting single cc points to dial in a balanced filter pack. Of course there will be yahoos who'll proclaim that all you need to make good RA prints are color masks; exact and repeatable time, temp and agitation be damned. If you're experienced, you'll know that this advice is hogwash. In any event, don't believe them.

Having said that, all these RT machines are getting old. Rollers break down with use. It's been some time since I've purchased rollers for my RT's (they're not getting as much exercise these days as they did in the past). If I were you, before investing in one of these machines, I'd want to make sure I could get spare parts. I frequently see the cp-51 on ebay, usually incomplete, for prices in the thousands. Without doing a physical exam of the unit and knowing what to look for, it's a gamble with poor odds at this point. Due diligence would require not only careful inspection of the rollers but of the machine itself - the spray bars, the pump, the replenisher pumps, the sensor bar that signals the degree of replenishment per print, etc. This entails filling up the machine with water and testing all the functions - takes more time than most sellers will be willing to put into it and that's assuming they know how to set it up.

As for setting up outside of drkrm. The rear end of this machine, as already noted, came in two configurations. The wash/dry module needs a temp controlled water line and an overflow drain. If I remember correctly the spec is 16 oz. per minute. This makes a set-up in your living room, kitchen or whatever kind of complicated. The S/D module uses stabilizer, the overflow is around 40ml. per 11x14 so that might work but the drawbacks are...well...stabilizer.

The other thing to keep in mind is proper daily maintenance of the machine. Good hygiene necessitates that the operator remove the racks, deep six them and lay floating lids on top of the baths. The process of taking the dripping racks out of the baths and into a sink long enough to accommodate rinsing them off can be daunting with a proper drkrm. sink, let alone a bathtub, kitchen sink or what have you in a residential set up.

I'm not meaning to discourage you but simply to cast some light on this proposal so that you might more realistically weigh your options. All things considered, you might be better off continuing to rent drkrm. space at My Own or Printspace for c-prints and invest in a simple digital rig to do your proofing at home. Just my .2c.

10-Sep-2014, 09:05
Gloves can be worn when tray developing to prevent skin irritation problems. The vapors alone should not be a problem if adequate ventilation is used.