Digital printing on RA4 paper at home -possibilities

Discussion in 'Film and Processing' started by terence_spross|1, Jan 12, 2007.

  1. Is there any affordable equipment for the home darkroom to expose RA4 paper from
    a digital source. I have an Vivitar VI enlarger and a drum processor up to 11 x
    14 for my conventional work. For digital printing I have an Epson inkjet, but if
    a Frontier machine can make good prints digitally on RA4 paper, why can't the
    home enthusiast. There are advantages in RA4 paper durability and the quality of
    the color is known.

    The only way I can think of, if I had to do it tomorrow, is to encase a good 19"
    computer monitor in a light tight box, essentially mating it with a large
    enlarger (graphic art process size of enlarger) and use it to expose onto RA4.
    It could be in a horizontal or vertical configuration. I am aware that the lens
    could be a problem due to lack of color correction on some LF graphic art
    enlarger lenses since that are usually used with blue sensitive materials only.
    The settings for the monitor would have to mimic a good color negative, and the
    lack of brightness would result in long exposures. Does RA4 have reciprocity
    problems? - I should experiment with that with my Vivitar. As far as the size of
    the print - they would have to be reduction due to the phospher pitch on the
    monitor being so coarse, 5x7 should be good and 8x10 acdeptable. So the enlarger
    would be used a reducer.

    OR is there already a laser exposing device available? I haven?t seen inside a
    Frontier machine, but I expect it would expose the paper to RGB laser light in a
    scan as the paper moves (sort of the reverse of a flatbed scanner).
    Or I can picture the reverse of a drum scanner. Sort of a drum exposure machine.
  2. I love the monitor idea (try a flat-screen LCD) but any reasonable price monitor has a resolution of what, 1280x1024 (or the next higher standard, whatever it is) when connected to your average pc. So you're not going to get very good prints.
  3. Although I searched before I posted - Isee there is a similar thread started this morning also!

    I am talking about a limited volume and budget here. The devices in the answers on the other thread are two expensive.
  4. Due to monitors resolution, that is why I would have to reduce.
  5. I think one option to accomplish exposing conventional color paper is to replace the inkjet print head with one that will expose paper using color LED's or lasers. You run the paper through the printer to expose it and then process using the conventional process. I don't know if the market is large enough to justify the investment to develop the printer.

    I searched for a number of years looking for something to do this, but now use a printer with pigment ink - still like the conventional prints. I have not used my darkroom for 2+ years.
  6. Could a film printer be of any use. You would output your digital image to film and then enlarge the film with your enlarger.
  7. Could you inkjet print a negative image on to clear film eg over head projection film and then contact print it on RA4 or conventional B & W paper? It would give darkroom users the chance to clean up a few dirty images and still make proper archival wet prints.
  8. Richard and Robert: both interesting ideas! Actually when I posted this I hoped something not to expensive, priced for the advanced amateur, would be available that I had overlooked. However, it looks like the market is too limited.

    Developing the software/firmware to work with a modified ink jet printer would be no small task. Probably, would use a Windows driver of an existing printer that would be compatable with Vista so that part wouldn't have to be rewritten. Building the electronics to drive the LEDS would not be hard. The optics: instead of beam splitters used as a combiner, the optics would be easier if the LEDs each focused to say .03mm beams, and placed about 8mm apart. The firmware would have to operate the stepper motors already in the printer and map to data image for the skew of 8mm for RGB. CMY LEDs are not available, so the image would be manipulated accordingly. Lots of work.

    The overhead interneg is an idea I have done, though not for color work. The idea is not to raise the cost per print substantially which extra media would do. Stuart: That is true for having a 35mm interneg made of each photo as well.

    On the other thread running at this time there is mentioned a commercial enlarger (read $$$) based on a monochrome CRT that can be used directly for B&W prints or sequentially through filters for color.

    Actually, I had this conclusion of using monochrome a few years ago in another thread I had temporarily forgotten about. At the time I didn't find a suitable monitor.. I just thought by now what was available would have changed.
  9. Some day i will try making a negative image on clear film. Then I will combine with a bleach/fixed no image color neg mask or just combine as layers is PS before printing on clear Pictro film.

    I see no reason why this would not work with a conventional 4x5 color enlarger. Manipulate the contrast and curves so it prints properly and save the curve settings.
  10. There are many Commercial machines sitting in the back of drug stores not being used.... maybe you can get 1 of them for the price they pay you to haul it away.

    Just kidding... but not alot.

    Lazer printers are not that good at color at this time but then again who ever thought you could get any type of Color Laser printer for under $100.00 but Brother has one out....

  11. I think that your most cost-effective answer to this question would be a film "printer".
    Usually they're SCSI-attached, with a film back loaded and attached to the backside. It
    then exposes the film with either a scanning LED array, or an optical exposure mechanism.
    I used them years ago working for a custom lab, and they work pretty decently.

    You can find them on eBay (Polaroid made some good ones, IIRC) for about $100-200 with

    Hope this helps :)

    -- Jake
  12. Terence,

    Since you already run your own C-41 as well as RA-4 chemistry, I would recommend a film recorder off eBay (under $100 for a Polaroid HR-6000) and expose the image onto inexpensive 35mm ISO 100 film: Remember, you'll be adjusting color balance and contrast in Photoshop before exposure; with the extra "degree of freedom" in a second round of adjustment in printing.

    Most low to midrange film recorders are limited to 100 speed film; or more accurately expose at EI 100: To tame the contrast further, you can expose ISO 200 film at EI 100 and reduce time in the C-41 color developer from 3:45 to 3:00.

    You'll also have a ball playing with exposing B&W and chrome film in it, too.

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