Darkroom: Chemistry for Processing Color Prints and Film


Chemistry for Processing Color Prints

Nowadays color printing is primarily the domain of commercial labs. But there are still a number of photo enthusiasts producing high-quality color prints in the temperature-controlled environs of their home darkrooms. Happily for them, the film- and paper-processing chemistry they need is still available for purchase by the ounce as well as by the drum.

There are two categories of color printing based on whether the original image is on negative or positive  (aka reversal film) and there are currently four companies producing powdered and liquid chemistry for processing color prints, transparencies and negatives. They include Ilford (P-3, P-3X and P-30 chemistry), Kodak (Ektacolor RA) and Tetenal (RA-4 chemistry). Fujifilm also manufactures color print chemistry, but solely for use in their Frontier-series commercial printers.

Chemistry for Processing Color Film Stocks

As with color print chemistry, there are four primary manufacturers in the color film processing game and they include Clayton, Fujifilm, Kodak and Tetenal. Their respective chemistries are available in liquid and powdered form, depending on the film type and processing particulars.

With the exception of machine processing, color film and paper processing must be performed in total darkness. Whether processing by hand or by machine, you must adhere to the temperature tolerances throughout the developing process if you expect accurate results for your time and effort.

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