Tetenal RA4 colour dev and starter solution

Discussion in 'Color: Film, Paper, and Chemistry' started by brian_mk, Jan 10, 2010.

  1. brian_mk

    brian_mk Member

    Jan 10, 2010
    Medium Format

    I have a question regarding Tetenal RA4 colour developer and starter solution:-

    Some months ago (Sept/Oct 2009), I bought a 10L Tetenal RA4 (35degC) kit to use in my Nova Trimate.
    It came with 80ml starter concentrate.
    This is added to the fresh colour developer to give it the same characteristics as developer that has been in use for a while.
    I used about 50ml of the starter to make up my initial batch of just over 2L working strength developer.

    Just before Christmas, I ran out of paper which temporarily put a halt to my printing session while I wait for a new delivery.
    Since then, the tank, still full of chemistry, has been sat idle.
    The colour developer in the tank has darkened considerably (oxidisation).
    Also the required colour filtration in the enlarger changed considerably towards the end of the session (prints had a considerable yellow/red cast).

    When my new paper arrives, I am wondering whether to discard the colour developer completely and make up a new batch from the concentrates (I have about half remaining) or to carry on using the old solution.

    The problem is I have insufficient starter solution left over to make up another 2L working strength developer.
    Nova sell the Tetenal starter solution separately, but only in 1.5L bottles.
    Since I am expecting to switch to digital printing for colour work after the current chemistry has been used up, I don't really want to buy a large quantity of starter and throw most of it away.

    My options seem to be:-

    1) Carry on using the old developer and replenish as usual, adjusting the filtration as required.
    2) Bite the bullet and buy 1.5L starter, make up fresh developer and throw most of the starter away.
    3) Use the remaining 30ml starter to add to an initial 2L of fresh developer and hope that's sufficient.
    4) Mix some of the old developer to the fresh batch.

    The only other option I can think of is to make up my own starter from raw chemicals.
    The pdf file below suggests it might be a combination of Potassium Bicarbonate and Potassium Chloride.


    Any advice :confused:


  2. fotch

    fotch Member

    Mar 16, 2005
    SE WI- USA
    Multi Format
    Forget digital printing.
  3. tiberiustibz

    tiberiustibz Member

    Oct 22, 2007
    Tufts Univer
    I have 2.36 liters of Kodak Ektacolor RA developer starter which I bought mistakenly for a few bucks and I am never going to use. I will gladly mail you a few hundred milliliters of it if you PM me your address and pay the shipping. The composition is listed as Water, Potassium Bicarbonate, Potassium chloride, Potassium carbonate, and potassium bromide. I assume they are cross compatible because the developers should be very similar.

    I print color and I use the Kodak Developer Replenisher RT at room temperature without the starter and I get fine results. I don't think skipping the starter will hurt you as long as you realize the color balance will change. I use the replenisher to capacity and discard it (that's not hard when you run 16x20 prints though it. A liter can do 2.5 of those, a gallon will do 10.)

    Be very sure you want to change to digital printing. The analog workflow produces a wider gamut of colors which you will lose when you change. Scanning color negative film is an abomination. If you can figure it out knock yourself out, though the grain tends to get much grainier for strange reasons. Personally the Ektar 100-> Supra Endura is working for me and it looks good, while scanning just looks bad. Your other good option is digital camera-> inkjet printer or RA-4 digital minilab. I found that first generation digital cameras (those before the Nikon D90/D3/D700 ADR/adaptive dynamic range) will lose highlights in the upper third of the brightness range because they feel like it. To change this you have to underexpose and apply curves later, but that's just not fun. Film works without thinking, as it's a chemical process. You'll also find that glossy inkjet prints aren't as glossy as the RA4 stuff you're used to.
  4. Mike Wilde

    Mike Wilde Member

    Aug 10, 2006
    Multi Format
    Consider mixing about 1.6L of fresh developer, and adding in 400mL of old developer to 'season' the tank if you do not have access to the starter.

    The other option if you are a low volume printer, is to live with the effect of filttration shifts as the tank gets seasoned by processing prints from a fully fresh solution, and just mix a working strength and go without starter from the beginning.