View Full Version : Changing to Different Color Chemistry

al olson
19-Jan-2011, 13:26
The rising cost of color chemicals, especially the Kodak bleaches, has caused me to reduce the amount of color film, C-41, that I use.

I just returned from a weekend trip to Denver and a visit to Denver Pro Photo. I discovered that they are carrying a set of chemicals for C-41 process and RA-4 process that are much cheaper than Kodak's. Denver Pro Photo is using these chemicals for their own C-41 processing and printing. Their results are excellent. The company producing these chemicals is CPAC.

Needless to say I bought a set of C-41 and RA-4 to try out when I exhaust my supply of the Kodak. As a cost comparison, the price of Kodak's C-41 Bleach has jumped from around $28/gallon to $47/2.7 liters this year. This is the working solution. The CPAC Bleach for C-41 is $31.16 for a liter of bleach to mix a working solution of 5 liters. The Kodak Bleach costs $17.40 per working liter while the CPAC Bleach costs $6.23 per liter.

In the hope that you will find the information helpful, I have worked out the following table to give an indication of the costs for CPAC chemicals. I did not purchase the C-41 stabilizer because I have a sufficient supply of the Kodak Stabilizer. However, here is the list of the other chemicals from my invoice:

C-41 Chemicals

Chemical ................. Cost ... Size ... Working Volume ... $$$/WV
-------- .................. ---- ... ---- ... -------------- .... -------
Starter* ................. $3.13 ... 1 l. ... .............. 40 l. ... $0.04/l.
Developer/Replen ..... $6.10 ... 3 part ................ 5 l. ... $1.22/l.
Bleach III .............. $31.16 ... 2 l. ... ............... 5 l. ... $6.23/l.
Fixer ...................... $4.75 ... 1 l. ... ............... 5 l. ... $0.95/l.

RA-4 Chemicals

Starter* ............... $12.34 ... 2 l. ... .............. 80 l. ... $0.16/l.
Developer/Replen**. $19.12 ... 1 l. ... .............. 10 l. ... $1.91/l.
Blix*** ................. $16.60 ... 2 l. ... .............. 10 l. ... $1.66/l.

* The starter adds 25 ml per liter of developer.
** The RA-4 developer I bought is RT for roller transports.
*** The Blix is not a two part as Kodak. This may affect length of storage.

While I have been using the C-41 chemicals as a one shot process, I plan to recycle the bleach because it does not seem to deplete as rapidly as the developer. I have been recycling the C-41 Bleach since the price increased.

I also purchased 10 sheets of Ektar 100 ($27.95). It is looking like more of my color photography will be with the 120 films. When you are on a fixed budget it is nice to have alternatives.

3-Sep-2012, 20:23
I just acquired a lot of chemicals from CPAC. Will be happy to try them out.

al olson
4-Sep-2012, 08:44
I just acquired a lot of chemicals from CPAC. Will be happy to try them out.

The chemicals you need are listed in my post above, plus the requirement for a stabilizer with the C-41 process.

I have had excellent experience with these chemicals.The RA-4 works with the Kodak and Fuji papers, and it is the best formulation for working in my DoMac processor. The original chemicals designed for the DoMac have not been available for years so I had been using Kodak RA-4 RT for roller transports with unsatisfactory results.

I have also had good experience with the C-41 5 liter kit. But I had a bad experience with the 10 liter kit. It had been over a year since I had done one liter mixes from the 5 liter kit. Recently on a trip to Denver Pro Photo, I bought the 10 liter developer which Pro Photo uses in their One Hour Processor.

A couple of weeks ago when I was ready to do more color work, I tried to mix a one liter batch of the developer. But there were no instructions on the bottles like on the 5 liter kit nor did they show the chemical volumes on the bottles. So I made a call to Pro Photo.

The tech rep who is the source of knowledge for their chemicals was not in so I decided to measure out each bottle and divide by 5 to get the correct amounts to go into the mix. Pouring chemicals into graduates and then back into the bottles gets a little messy and there is risk of contamination.

When I came to the starter I noted that there were instructions on the bottle saying that 25 ml were required for a 1 liter batch. I went ahead and processed two rolls of Ektar. The results were extremely thin, not suitable for printing. Later that afternoon I got a phone call from Pro Photo.

The reason there were no mixing instructions on the bottles is that the 10 liter kits are used in bulk and so the mixing instructions are placed on the carton. It turns out that only 12.5 ml of starter go into the developer, not 25 ml. It is our belief that too much starter retarded the development, hence the thin negatives. It could also be caused by contamination from measuring the chemicals. However the graduates that I use for the developer are never used for any other chemicals.

Now that I have the correct instructions, I will test it again an a couple of color sheets before I sacrifice important films. But to answer your question, outside of the lack of mixing instructions for the 10 liter kit, I have been very satisfied with these chemicals. Be sure you have the proper mixing instructions and don't overdo the starter.

4-Sep-2012, 12:17
The ones I got are all in the boxes, with all the instruction on the outside. But they are mostly for photo labs. It is going to be too much for personal use.

al olson
4-Sep-2012, 16:07
The ones I got are all in the boxes, with all the instruction on the outside. But they are mostly for photo labs. It is going to be too much for personal use.

Are you saying the quantities are too much or the mixing effort is too confusing? These chemicals have a very long life. If you are developing using one shot chemistry, they should last for months. I made the mistake of not looking at the bottle the last time and didn't realize that it was for 10 liters, not the 5 liter kit I had the first time. But I know I will use it up before it goes bad, unless color films disappear from the market or become unaffordable.

If you have the mixing instructions for them it is hardly different than mixing chemicals from Kodak. I mix 1 liter at a time for use in my DoMac processor as well as for the Jobo. I don't replenish. You will likely use it up before you realize.

20-Sep-2012, 17:11
Can you let me know of the CPAC chemical part numbers you ordered for C-41 and RA-4? They carry a lot of chemicals, for different paper (like Fuji, etc) and processor setup.