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Thread: Color Photo papers.... Recomendations?

  1. #1

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    Color Photo papers.... Recomendations?

    I am a newbie and want input on color papers. I love landscapes and just purchased a 4x5 setup. I am shooting Ektar 100 and prefer glossy paper for sharpness. My goal is to make large prints of my best photos. What are do you recommend? I see Fuji, ColorTone and Aristacolor. Looks like Kodak only makes rolls. What do recommend and why? The largest I can find is 20x24.
    Thanks in advance,
    Tayne

  2. #2
    Drew Wiley
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    Re: Color Photo papers.... Recomendations?

    I have been having excellent results with Fuji Crystal Archive Products, either the previous generation of Super C or the current CAII, in both the ordinary paper based products and the deluxe polyester Supergloss (avail only in big rolls). The Arista cut sheet product is apparently US Mfg Fuji, and slightly different in base color, but I have no experience with either it or the private label ColorTone product from B&H. Sadly, anything current and bigger than 20x24 you'll have to cut
    from rolls yourself - a minor nuisance. Kodak doesn't seem to offer cut sheet at all at the moment. I really recommend taking your best guess and buying cut sheet
    and sticking with a box of it until you get accustomed to color balancing Ektar and how to handle contrast control. One needs to pin down the basics first. Chem is
    another subject. I personally develop in drums and use one shot Kodak RA/RT or the direct Arista generic replacement kits. Never cared much for "room temp" RA4.

  3. #3
    Andrej Gregov
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    Re: Color Photo papers.... Recomendations?

    I second the recommendation on buying cut paper. Fuji Super C was great (more contrasty with a bit more color punch) but is only available in rolls. But the Fuji Crystal Archive Type II is quite nice and you can get cut sheets up to 20x24. If you want to go bigger, you'll need to order a roll and cut it yourself. Are you planning on printing analog in a color darkroom (via something like a Colex processor)? Or process paper in a processor like a Jobo? I've never processed paper in a Jobo. The Jobo's main disadvantage is the paper needs to dry and doing serious color correction seems like it would be clunky (when you might have to print 5-10 sheets until you get to a color correct image--that seems a pain to do in a Jobo). If you can find a color darkroom with a processor (like a Colex or OmniPro), that would be ideal. For example, in San Fran you can print your own color work at Rayko (http://raykophotocenter.com). In the Seattle area you can print at Pratt (http://www.pratt.org) or Evergreen College (http://blogs.evergreen.edu/photo/). If you're new to printing in the darkroom, I'd suggest starting with a box of 8x10 paper. A box of 100 sheets is cheap and will give you some time to learn how to color correct your images. Once you understand how to use the color pack in the enlarger, moving up paper sizes is easy--easier IMO than B&W. As for glossy versus matte, before you settle on one direction, you might give matte a try at some point. Matte in color behaves differently than B&W. In B&W, glossy paper gives you the deepest blacks possible. That's not as much the case in color. I find the saturation too high in color glossy papers. Some believe color matte paper is more "painterly." But it's totally a personal thing. For B&W, I tend to print on glossy paper and color in matte.

    I might be a minority, but I've had a lot of difficulty color correcting Ektar efficiently. If find the color casts it produces shift in very small (point) level color pack adjustments which (for me at least) means burning more paper to get to a color correct print. Personally, I mostly shoot Portra 160 for 4x5 and find it far easier to color correct. I can't speak to scanning and printing. I believe Ektar is equally great for scanning as Portra. But for analog printing I prefer Portra for its easier color correcting capability. I also process negs in a Jobo using a 3010 drum with a Tetenal C41 5lt kit. You get fantastic results with the Jobos and can mix only the amount of developer you need with the Tetenal kit.

  4. #4

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    Re: Color Photo papers.... Recomendations?

    Quote Originally Posted by Tayne View Post
    I am a newbie and want input on color papers. I love landscapes and just purchased a 4x5 setup. I am shooting Ektar 100 and prefer glossy paper for sharpness. My goal is to make large prints of my best photos. What are do you recommend? I see Fuji, ColorTone and Aristacolor. Looks like Kodak only makes rolls. What do recommend and why? The largest I can find is 20x24.
    Thanks in advance,
    Tayne
    Here's a list of what's currently available from Fuji USA… http://www.fujifilmusa.com/products/...eferred_paper/
    If you're serious about making large color prints with proper color balance then you'll quickly realize the limitations of these papers under an enlarger once you make a high rez scan and output digitally on Fuji's or Kodak's excellent professional digitally optimized papers. If you insist on staying analogue either for lack of resources or out of some bizarre sense of retro-grouchiness then you'll want to check out Fuji type CN. Type CN has the highest dmax of all Fuji papers. It's also the paper that any reputable lab will print on if you ask for an exhibition print. It is the contemporary, digitally optimized paper that replaced Super C in the line up. Stay away from the professional deep matt paper - the surface is beautiful but the dmax is almost as lousy as Crystal Archive II (1.7 - 1.9). It was meant to offer the look of a arches watercolor paper but for RA-4 - you might as well just make an inkjet if that's what you're after. CA II, while a favorite of many here (most likely due to the fact that it's the only paper still available in sheets coupled with a pollyannaish notion that Fuji, like ilford, cares about analogue-only photographers) is an utter abomination compared to the professional line. The stuff in cut sheets is the same as the minilab paper that walmart and costco use. Looks ok in 4x6" but expose an entire sheet, develop and you'll notice terrible mottling and a truly awful black. Fuji professional has openly acknowledged this aspect of their consumer paper, chalking it up to the inevitable consequences to the market niche it was designed to fill - minilab frontier machines, lowest cost per square inch, long chemistry life and easy heavy metal recovery (read low silver content). Plus, as you've noticed, it's only available up to 20x24" in cut sheets and 12" wide rolls.

    Kodak has the Endura Premiere. It's ok but still suffers from wonky color and highlight to shadow crossover under an enlarger.

    Keep in mind that if you insist on using digitally optimized papers under an enlarger you will need to account for latent image drift when dialing in your color pack for neutral otherwise you'll be chasing your tail trying to figure out why, despite having the same color pack, no two prints from the same neg. in an edition look alike. A fuji product tech told me that this, along with a few other nasty pips, is a necessary trade-off when designing a paper that's capable of reaching full dmax with the millisecond digital exposure of a laser light or led machine.

    If you're not adept at color balancing and the concept of neutral color correction or prefer a more expressive, personal approach to color then disregard all of the above and just have fun. Ditto if you're working with anything other than an RT machine.

  5. #5

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    Re: Color Photo papers.... Recomendations?

    Quote Originally Posted by Drew Wiley View Post
    I have been having excellent results with Fuji Crystal Archive Products, either the previous generation of Super C or the current CAII, in both the ordinary paper based products and the deluxe polyester Supergloss (avail only in big rolls). The Arista cut sheet product is apparently US Mfg Fuji, and slightly different in base color, but I have no experience with either it or the private label ColorTone product from B&H. Sadly, anything current and bigger than 20x24 you'll have to cut
    from rolls yourself - a minor nuisance. Kodak doesn't seem to offer cut sheet at all at the moment. I really recommend taking your best guess and buying cut sheet
    and sticking with a box of it until you get accustomed to color balancing Ektar and how to handle contrast control. One needs to pin down the basics first. Chem is
    another subject. I personally develop in drums and use one shot Kodak RA/RT or the direct Arista generic replacement kits. Never cared much for "room temp" RA4.
    Thanks for the input. I have ordered Kodak RA/RT some colortone 16x20, Fujicolor Crystal Archive Super Type II 16x20 and 20x24 colortone. I just reviewed my order thought I got some 8x10 guess I should get some fuji 8x10 to play with and use the others for the good stuff.

  6. #6

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    Feb 2014
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    Re: Color Photo papers.... Recomendations?

    Quote Originally Posted by agregov View Post
    I second the recommendation on buying cut paper. Fuji Super C was great (more contrasty with a bit more color punch) but is only available in rolls. But the Fuji Crystal Archive Type II is quite nice and you can get cut sheets up to 20x24. If you want to go bigger, you'll need to order a roll and cut it yourself. Are you planning on printing analog in a color darkroom (via something like a Colex processor)? Or process paper in a processor like a Jobo? I've never processed paper in a Jobo. The Jobo's main disadvantage is the paper needs to dry and doing serious color correction seems like it would be clunky (when you might have to print 5-10 sheets until you get to a color correct image--that seems a pain to do in a Jobo). If you can find a color darkroom with a processor (like a Colex or OmniPro), that would be ideal. For example, in San Fran you can print your own color work at Rayko (http://raykophotocenter.com). In the Seattle area you can print at Pratt (http://www.pratt.org) or Evergreen College (http://blogs.evergreen.edu/photo/). If you're new to printing in the darkroom, I'd suggest starting with a box of 8x10 paper. A box of 100 sheets is cheap and will give you some time to learn how to color correct your images. Once you understand how to use the color pack in the enlarger, moving up paper sizes is easy--easier IMO than B&W. As for glossy versus matte, before you settle on one direction, you might give matte a try at some point. Matte in color behaves differently than B&W. In B&W, glossy paper gives you the deepest blacks possible. That's not as much the case in color. I find the saturation too high in color glossy papers. Some believe color matte paper is more "painterly." But it's totally a personal thing. For B&W, I tend to print on glossy paper and color in matte.

    I might be a minority, but I've had a lot of difficulty color correcting Ektar efficiently. If find the color casts it produces shift in very small (point) level color pack adjustments which (for me at least) means burning more paper to get to a color correct print. Personally, I mostly shoot Portra 160 for 4x5 and find it far easier to color correct. I can't speak to scanning and printing. I believe Ektar is equally great for scanning as Portra. But for analog printing I prefer Portra for its easier color correcting capability. I also process negs in a Jobo using a 3010 drum with a Tetenal C41 5lt kit. You get fantastic results with the Jobos and can mix only the amount of developer you need with the Tetenal kit.
    Thanks for your imput. I don't know of any color labs in Salt lake with a 4x5 enlarger. I bought a 4x5 color omega enlarger for $50!!! I converted a spare bedroom into a darkroom. I have zero plumbing in the bedroon so will be using paper tanks. I have a beseler motor base and a couple of tanks (8x10, 16x20, 20x24 (i think no markings). I also bought a CPP2 Jobo and have a couple of tanks. I plan on shooting the paper in my bedroom/darkrrom load the paper in the tank and process it on the kitchen counter. I expect this will be alot of work getting the color right. I also bought a beseler PM3L color analyizer (which I have no clue how to use yet).
    I whish I could use Fujichrome for my film. I like the color saturation which is very nice for landscapes, however no way to enlarge and print analog. So I am using EKtar which sounded like the best color saturation for landscapes. How good is Portra for landscapes? So far I have only done a few shots in my 4x5. haven't processed them yet.

  7. #7

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    Re: Color Photo papers.... Recomendations?

    Quote Originally Posted by frotog View Post
    Here's a list of what's currently available from Fuji USA… http://www.fujifilmusa.com/products/...eferred_paper/
    If you're serious about making large color prints with proper color balance then you'll quickly realize the limitations of these papers under an enlarger once you make a high rez scan and output digitally on Fuji's or Kodak's excellent professional digitally optimized papers. If you insist on staying analogue either for lack of resources or out of some bizarre sense of retro-grouchiness then you'll want to check out Fuji type CN. Type CN has the highest dmax of all Fuji papers. It's also the paper that any reputable lab will print on if you ask for an exhibition print. It is the contemporary, digitally optimized paper that replaced Super C in the line up. Stay away from the professional deep matt paper - the surface is beautiful but the dmax is almost as lousy as Crystal Archive II (1.7 - 1.9). It was meant to offer the look of a arches watercolor paper but for RA-4 - you might as well just make an inkjet if that's what you're after. CA II, while a favorite of many here (most likely due to the fact that it's the only paper still available in sheets coupled with a pollyannaish notion that Fuji, like ilford, cares about analogue-only photographers) is an utter abomination compared to the professional line. The stuff in cut sheets is the same as the minilab paper that walmart and costco use. Looks ok in 4x6" but expose an entire sheet, develop and you'll notice terrible mottling and a truly awful black. Fuji professional has openly acknowledged this aspect of their consumer paper, chalking it up to the inevitable consequences to the market niche it was designed to fill - minilab frontier machines, lowest cost per square inch, long chemistry life and easy heavy metal recovery (read low silver content). Plus, as you've noticed, it's only available up to 20x24" in cut sheets and 12" wide rolls.

    Kodak has the Endura Premiere. It's ok but still suffers from wonky color and highlight to shadow crossover under an enlarger.

    Keep in mind that if you insist on using digitally optimized papers under an enlarger you will need to account for latent image drift when dialing in your color pack for neutral otherwise you'll be chasing your tail trying to figure out why, despite having the same color pack, no two prints from the same neg. in an edition look alike. A fuji product tech told me that this, along with a few other nasty pips, is a necessary trade-off when designing a paper that's capable of reaching full dmax with the millisecond digital exposure of a laser light or led machine.

    If you're not adept at color balancing and the concept of neutral color correction or prefer a more expressive, personal approach to color then disregard all of the above and just have fun. Ditto if you're working with anything other than an RT machine.
    I wasn't aware you could use the paper designed for digital under an enlarger. I did a little bit of color printing as a teenage and never had great success, so I have a lot to learn "latent image drift" no clue. "Neutral color correction" Not sure, does it have to due with neutral gray card? I have a 24 MB digital camera Sony A65. I visited a gallery in Vegas which inspired me to use large format. So I am following my heart learning and will make a lot of mistakes along the way, but enjoying the process of learning to creat Art. I have considered scanning 4x5 film. I read a few reviews it sounds like drum scanning is the best option, but the cost per scan is very high. I expect when I have a couple of really good images I will pay the price for a drum scan. Till them I will play with analog.

  8. #8
    Drew Wiley
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    Re: Color Photo papers.... Recomendations?

    A couple of tips. Jobo drums fill and drain rather slowly due to the tiny opening. So you'll want to standardize on at least 2 min dev times and nothing shorter. Kodak
    gives a temp/temp chart for this. I use 84F at 2min with Kodak RA/RT (after fill, but including 10 sec for drain, though my drum fill and drain much faster than Jobo's.) The second tip concerns Ektar, which I have addressed elsewhere, under film topics per se. It is very important to correctly color balance it to begin with
    for any serious color temp anomalies. Then, in the darkroom, once you get close to a proper colorpack or colorhead setting, fine-tuning the result is a lot like power
    steering in a car. Very small differences have a more significant effect than with most other color films. But once you've got it dialed in, you can achieve superb
    results with Ektar (provided its suitable for your subject matter to begin with). Fine-tuning contrast is a lot more like working with chromes in the darkroom than
    most color neg films. If you want precise results, you'll need to learn unsharp masking. That is a basic skill set many of us acquired printing chromes, but it can
    be transferred over to RA4 printing as well using the same equipment, but with some distinct modifications in mask dev technique. Learn the basics first, then
    a step at a time. Start with a perfectly exposed master neg of a MacBeath color checker chart. Use a color temp meter if necessary, because everything will
    depend on getting this right. It's like practicing the chords on a piano - a bit monotonous, but worth the initial effort. Once you can get every patch of color on
    that chart to print reasonably accurately on your paper, and still have complete neutrality and gradation on all the gray patches at the same time, you're on your
    way. I happen to enjoy these darkroom challenges, so have spent a lot of time ironing out the potential wrinkles. My biggest headache now is simply replacing a
    couple of burnt out bulbs in the colorhead.

  9. #9
    Andrej Gregov
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    Re: Color Photo papers.... Recomendations?

    I don't use a color analyzer in my workflow for color analog printing. Here are my steps:

    1. Start with a test strip print to preview density
    2. Print several full images to nail density. I evaluate prints dry on a light board.
    3. Once I get a density I want, I start on isolating color casts (working magenta or yellow in the filter pack)
    4. Again, I judge various adjusted color versions, dry on a light board.

    For me at least, if I couldn't do my color work using one of the print processors, honestly, I'd move to scanning my negs and printing on a inkjet for work prints and send out exhibition quality work for digital C printing (via a light jet). Note, I have complete access to a wet darkroom and everything I need to print color at home. But I think I would find it too hard to work with judging color on wet prints and the time to print them using a drum based setup. That said, I have no experience using a color analyzer. Perhaps they may lessen the need for making lots of versions to get to a color correct image? Your Jobo is phenomenal for film. It's more clunky for prints IMO. But by all means, go for it! Only you can know what you want out of your workflow.

    You might consider some color print filters to help evaluate color casts. http://www.adorama.com/LEVK3.html

    As for Portra, it's definitely more neutral than Ektar. I used to shoot with the Portra VC variant which was great for saturation and better behaving than Ektar for me. But it's discontinued. I'd stick with the Ektar for now as you like more saturated colors. If you find you're having difficulty controlling colors when printing, maybe try a box of Portra.

  10. #10
    Drew Wiley
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    Re: Color Photo papers.... Recomendations?

    If you could print Portra 160VC it's not that hard a move into Ektar, which is indeed a little more fussy, but cleaner, and obviously more contrasty. Portra NC or the
    new 160 will be easier to print for those accustomed to traditional color neg materials. I haven't had a chance to work with the new Portra 400 yet, but allegedly
    it's close to the characteristics of the old VC except for the ASA speed. I really consider Ektar to have a more accurate palette than 160VC, esp when differentiating closely related green, oranges, etc - things that were characteristically out of whack with portrait films. Also truer shadow renditon IF you know how to appropriately
    balance for color temp to begin with. Mixed lighting ... well, that's a trickier subject, and you might want to stay with Portra. Thankfully, we still have choices.

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