View Full Version : Ilfochrome discontinued, what do I do now?

Wade Guisbert
20-Dec-2011, 18:34
OK, everything I read tells me that Velvia and Ilfochrome is the pinnacle for color landscapes.

I buy a Toyo 45AII, three lenses, and everything a landscape photographer needs such as backpacks, tripods, light meters, cokin filters, etc...

I build and equip a darkroom with two Omega 5XL with dichroic and condenser 4X5 heads, a Jobo CPP2 processor, and all the tanks to process 4X5 film, and 20X24 prints.

I build a cottage on an island on the Georgian Bay of Lake Huron. I go out and shoot lots of photos. On both negative and slides. I print the negs, and am OK with it, but I keep on hearing about how wonderful Ilfochrome is!

It has taken me nearly 40 years to get to the point in my life to pretend I am the color slide Ansel Adams (the transparencies look so damn good on the light box).

I feel like a 30 year old virgin who went to college, medical school, completed the ophthamology residency, bought the gull wing Mercedes sports car, just to get the "A" chick from high school to marry me, then God announces that sex has been discontinued!

I am 58 years old. Don't tell me to pay somebody $135.00 digitize on some bullshit drum scanner so I can get a 1.75gig file size! Common sense tells you film to paper optically has to be the best way to prevent loss of detail. I love analog. I am a digiphobe!


What options do I have?

20-Dec-2011, 18:42

20-Dec-2011, 19:22
Broaden your horizons.

Tom J McDonald
20-Dec-2011, 19:33
Internegs :)

Dave Langendonk
20-Dec-2011, 20:33
What options do I have?

All is not lost! I get some pretty nice results printing optically from Portra 160 and Ektar to Kodak's Ultra Endura for landscapes. 120, 4x5 and 8x10. Negative film has improved quite a bit over the last few years.

20-Dec-2011, 20:52
5d M2

20-Dec-2011, 21:42
Man, not much love here!

I feel for you. I would try sending the same transparency to someone for a high end digital print, someone else for a high end optical print, and then see what you like.

I was in the opposite situation as you. I was in medical school and had no darkroom so I shot Velvia. Then when I eventually built a darkroom I printed Ilfochrome/Cibachrome prints until I got bored with it and switched over to B&W which was my goal all along.

Roger Cole
20-Dec-2011, 21:57
I now have "learn to make internegs" on the bucket list.

But other than that, shift to shooting Ektar and printing on RA4 paper. Ektar is a pretty great film in its own right. I was really impressed with the couple of rolls of 120 I recently got back. Usually I want more realistic looking saturation so Potra is my preference but when you want jazzed up Velvia-like color, Ektar comes close.

Emmanuel BIGLER
21-Dec-2011, 03:38
Ilfochrome discontinued, what do I do now?

Dye Tranfer:


Drew Wiley
21-Dec-2011, 09:55
All these printing techniques are involved and require a fair amount of experience to
perfect. Unfortunately, the necessary supplies are constantly changing, so periodic
twists and turns in the road are inevitable. Dye transfer materials were officially discontined a number of years ago and it's a very complicated and expensive path anyway to someone just starting out, but worth investigating if you like a challenge. You could buy up some of the last run of Cibachrome and freeze it. The unopened chemicals store well. But there won't be a second chance. The most viable option is to start shooting and printing the newest color neg films - but even these are at risk for discontinuance if Kodak goes belly up, and are also necessary for making internegs from chromes, if you are ambitious enough to try that. But you can always purchase and freeze film. It stays good maybe a decade. The nice thing is that color paper from Fuji will probably be around awhile. You can do your learning on the relatively inexpensive RC paper like Crystal Archive, then graduate to the polyester-based Fujiflex, which resembles Cibachrome. There are also handmade processes like four-color carbon, but these require extensive practice. Sandy King, who is a member of
this forum, host a website dedicated to carbon printing. And Jim Browning has a site
for dye transfer printing, already mentioned. There is no site specially dedicated to
advanced color neg printing with current materials, although a number of individuals have expressed interest. But you can always ask questions here.

bob carnie
21-Dec-2011, 13:12
Do like Jeff Wall and stockpile material and chemicals you love so much.

Drew Wiley
21-Dec-2011, 13:46
The first thing to do, if you haven't done so already, is to pounce on a good film registration punch and matching pin registered contact frame. You will need this with
any advanced analog color printing workflow - whether ciba, DT, carbon, Type C,
or internegs. Several nice ones have come up for sale lately but they go fast, so
at least a few folks are in the know. And contrary to some of the newly othodox propaganda out there, very high quality results can still be obtained this way, in some
cases more directly than with Fauxtoshop. I am personally down to my last run of
Cibachrome, and am not going to invest in any more simply because I've got the itch
to learn something else. C-printing is quite easy and much more affordable than Ciba,
but still requires masking skills to get a high level of control, or to prepare internegs
from chromes which reproduce well. I find this kind of film work quite enjoyable and
relaxing. For those who don't, there's always Fauxtoshop and cell phone cameras.

21-Dec-2011, 17:35
Wade Fuji Supergloss (Fujiflex) is supposed to come close to Ilfochrome but it's not the same.

Emmanuel do you make dye transfers or have you used a Lab like Dyetransfer.de or was your post a suggestion. A friend of mine is currently looking for a Lab that still does Dyetransfers so if anyone knows one preferable in Europe I ll be happy for any suggestions.



D. Bryant
21-Dec-2011, 17:57
I find this kind of film work quite enjoyable and
relaxing. For those who don't, there's always Fauxtoshop and cell phone cameras.


This reminds of Ed Kelsey's remark made in this thread:


Drew I have to laugh at your comments especially after viewing your portfolio.

QT Luong
21-Dec-2011, 18:16
Maybe try to beg Christopher Burkett to resell you some materials ?

Brian Ellis
21-Dec-2011, 18:19
Do as Ray McSavaney advised someone in a workshop of his that I attended who asked whether he should be learning how to improve his film and darkroom printing or be learning digital photography - learn digital photography.

J. Fada
21-Dec-2011, 19:53
At this point I would love nothing more than to do all darkroom work with color, but the realization for me is that I would still love to shoot film, and will, but the output will be digital, although zap-zap digital not squirt-squirt. If you love what you do then there is no substitute. Stockpile is the only answer. If you love making beautiful images then work with what you can. the expression is the important thing not how you get there. I think a fully optical print is the most beautiful one, but I don't know how viable it will be pretty soon.

Brian C. Miller
21-Dec-2011, 20:33
The Online Photographer: Burning Our Bridges (http://theonlinephotographer.typepad.com/the_online_photographer/2011/12/burning-our-bridges.html), wherein Ctien worries about not being able to scan his film in the future.

If there are no scanners, then what? Scanner technology for film basically has stopped being pursued by the manufacturers, for the same reason Kodak doesn't stock 8x10 B&W. Whatcha gonna do?

Jay W
21-Dec-2011, 20:43
My BS degree was in Photographic science and I used to work for Kodak, so I really hate to see the death of traditional photography. If you're learning color printing, I think I'd recommend you head for the digital darkroom. There's a bunch of reasons, but color printing in a darkroom requires quite a bit of skill and knowledge. Learning the process would require a huge effort and materials. it also requires huge chunks of time (like full weekends) to make the process financially reasonable. In contrast, you can pick away at digital as you have time. If you head towards digital, you're pretty certain that materials won't be a problem, but the traditional photo materials are disappearing. If you're aiming for B&W, then I'd say, go for the darkroom (if that's your interest). It's easier, more enjoyable (since you can work with a safelight(s), materials are available, and it's relatively cheap. BTW, ussually people print B&W and then "graduate" to color as they develop their skill.

Also, scanning film and printing digitally is what I mean by "the digital direction." You can do the same thing in B&W, and even make B&W negs for contact printing, which is really worth researching. Very cool idea.


Drew Wiley
22-Dec-2011, 10:55
Unless you own your own drum scanner and have invested in a stockpile of spare
parts and the expertise to maintain it yourself, and likewise have the skill to keep
already already obsolete hardware and software going (which seems to go obsolete
every few years), and also want to make prints that looks just like everyone's elses'
and involves sitting on your ass all day long - then by all means go digital. After all,
the whole herd of sheep can't be wrong! Or just let a competent lab do it. Hell, why
try anything! ... Yeah, I annoyed by the demise of Ciba, but not surprised ... but
it's downhill path has just as much to do with the rise of Crystal Archive Fuji and the
convenience and greater affordability of RA4 than anything digital per se. And these
newer materials print just fine in a darkroom, or in my opinion, even better than they do digitally (though it would be a photofinish right down to the wire if really competent
printers were on both horses). It is smart to keep some reserve color film on hand.
But for anyone shy of operating a commercial lab, a color darkroom might be a lot
smarter investment right now, if one has the space. You can pick up a good 4x5 enlarger and a box of paper for about the cost of having just one LF scan and a large custom C print digitally output.

Drew Wiley
22-Dec-2011, 11:03
Jay - the mechanics of either C-printing or Ciba can be taught in a matter of hours.
Fine tuning the process can take a lifetime, but that's true of black and white too.
A simple drum processor will do either. At this point in time I have a reasonably nice
darkroom. But I started out with less than a thousand dollars investment and a spare
bathroom, but still output one-man color shows that were complemented by some of
the most famous photographers alive at the time. In some ways, C-printing is even
easier than black and white if you have a basic colorhead. And there's no shortage on
the horizon for the paper and chem. Your software will obsolete first.

Robbie Shymanski
23-Dec-2011, 08:11
Track down a copy of "Photographing in Color" by Paul Outerbridge. Step by step on the Carbro process. If you have the patience to register... amazing. One day I will have the time to do such work.

Emmanuel BIGLER
24-Dec-2011, 08:57
a Lab like Dyetransfer.de or was your post a suggestion.

This was just a .. (ahem, a bit provocative ;) ) suggestion.

Just to remind us that making colour images from large format negs actually started in the XIX-st century with tricolor processes by Ducos du Hauron. I have no idea about when colour images were actually printed on paper. Autochromes started in 1902 but were probably not printed on paper before WW-I, probably just viewed as projected slides.
Tri-colour one-shot cameras existed before WW-II and many colour portraits of Hollywood stars appeared in the press at the time.
In photography, each new colour technology commercially kills the previous ones.
Kodachrome killed tri-colour cameras.
Probably dye transfer could not resist competiton against Cibachrome...
Tri-colour separation of colour slides and analogue colour photogravure was mainstream for books and magazines two decades ago. All this industry switched to digital technologies many years before photographers could even dream of a direct digital image capture of the same quality as a 4x5" slide.

At a first glance, all XX-st century colour printing processes are today made obsolete by all kinds of digital image capture techniques and digital image processing.
RA-4 colour prints being an exception, but in harsh competition with inkjets prints.

So, I was really surprised to discover that Dye Transfer techniques are still offered by specialized, off-mainstream labs. Including European labs. And we do not have anything to expect from Kodak, once the master of Dye Transfer.

But if here we do not pay attention to off-mainstream colour printing techniques in quality photography, nor support them, nobody will :D

Not kidding, colour printing processed of the last century might not be easy to resurrect.
Even if all patents are in the public domain and if all secret know-how is published.
Simply because colour processes developped at an industrial level might not be easy to duplicate by an amateur in an hobbyist's lab.

Even autochrome plates, a colour technology 110 years old, is exceedingly difficult to duplicate at the hobbyist's level, whereas any serious amateur can now make his own monochrome plates using XIX-st century processes ... "in his kitchen" ;)

I hope that Dye Transfer,although expensive and cumbersome, could be accessible to the hobbyist .. this is far from granted, unfortunately.

7-Feb-2012, 17:50
dear digiphobes,

about "loss of detail", take a look here:

It's a Massimo Vitali's dyptich scanned and restored by me and printed at Grieger Lab, Dusseldorf, from 11x14" color negatives:


Roger Cole
7-Feb-2012, 18:27
Don't know about anyone else, but I'm far from a "digiphobe." But computers, specifically computer networking, are my job and career. I'll be damned if I'll let them invade my art as well! It's just not the same as getting in the dark and getting my hands wet.

7-Feb-2012, 22:19
about "loss of detail", take a look here:

The crops are 1024 pixels wide and look like 1" wide on full image (it's 11x14, am I right?). This roughly corresponds to 1000 dpi scan. Not an awful lot of detail, really.

I do not try to undermine the potent hybrid technology here, it's just your example that does not demonstrate its potency.

8-Feb-2012, 03:28
I could scan a 35mm Velvia taken with a Apo Summicron asph. 90mm M on a tripod, of course.....

My goal was to show the possibility to completely restore a damaged negative, the smoothness of colors achievable through an excellent drum scan, the impressive final result from the trio ULF negative - drum scan - LightJet print.

I didn't want to show the resolution (detail) of my scanner by itself.

8-Feb-2012, 03:50
My goal was to show the possibility to completely restore a damaged negative

Oh, I replied on the false premise that your goal was to show that digital way does not lead to "loss of detail". And to demonstrate how good the scanner is.