Cibachrome Printing

Discussion in 'Film and Processing' started by curtis_lowe, May 5, 2009.

  1. How does Cibachrome printing differ from RA-4 printing? I know one is from slides and the other from negatives and they use different chemistry, but is there a big difference in the printing process?
  2. I found this - - via Google. There are many other references.
  3. And here:
  4. Cibachrome/Ilfochrome are so contrasty that it's easy to wind up with too contrasty a print. A contrast mask is often required to reduce contrast. The chemistry is expensive.
    Some labs expose it digitally, to tame the contrast, and deal with the slightly warped color reproduction.
    Very stable paper in dark storage, but current RA-4 papers may well fade less in the light.
  5. Expense. Materials could be costly to the point that many who tried might remain a novice.
  6. When it was first introduced, Cibachrome was recognized for being a longer lasting print than the alternatives which were pretty awful at the time. It was also somewhat sharper due to the fact that it was made directly from the transparency rather then through an internegative, although labs that knew how to make great inegs weren't at a disadvantage in that regard.
    However, it happens now that due to advances in the papers we use, the longevity issue is no longer as much of a factor and the typical RA-4 print will last just as long or possibly longer than the Ciba print. Internegative film was discontinued ages ago, so that isn't a factor either. In most custom labs today, a high quality scan of a slide is printed directly onto RA-4 paper using lasers or LED's so there's no advantage to using Ciba other than as a marketing tool. The cost of maintaing another process, and a hazardous one at that, needs to be weighed against the niche market advantage and it usualy doesn't add up in Ciba's favor, and that's why so few custom labs offer the process any more. In the home darkroom, being able to make prints directly from slides without expensive equipment is a good thing, but as others have mentioned, contrast control and color accuracy will be issues which are difficult to contend with since most of the films used for contrast masking have been discontinued.
  7. ....most of the films used for contrast masking have been discontinued.​
    There is no need to use a special film for contrast masking. Having made well over 3,000 cibachrome / Ilfochrome prints, I never bothered to use contrast masking film as it had no advantage over Ilford FP4. FP4 developed in ID-11 diluted 1:3 for 5 minutes with constant agitation will make a perfect contrast mask.
    One of the real problems with Ilfochrome is color crossover generating reds in the shadows and cyans in the highlights. It is very difficult to control this problem unless you want to make RGB black and white separations and print the image using individual exposures for each color.
    The actual processing is straight forward: developer, bleach, fixer, wash.

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