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B&W Prints From Color Negs
Your recent column in the March, 2011, issue of Shutterbug had a question regarding the printing of black and white from color negatives. You might be interested in my method. I have not used a color head to print black-and-white images from color negatives, but I assume that this can be done. My method uses Kodak variable contrast filters on Kodak Polymax paper. My first step is to use either a 3 or 31⁄2 filter to make a test strip on Polymax paper from the color negative. This produces a rather flat (contrast) image (possibly somewhat like the reader has experienced). Once this printing time has been determined, I proceed with making the final picture with a two-filter exposure on the same piece of photo paper. First, expose the paper for the determined time using the 3 or 31⁄2 filter. After making this exposure, I change the filter to the number 4 filter and expose for double the time used for the 3 or 31⁄2 grade exposure. This last exposure with the number 4 filter brings up the blacks, which results in a rather normal contrast image. The major problem with this method is that exposure times are long and will require a certain amount of experimenting. This process has always given me better results than I have been able to get using Kodak’s Panalure paper. Finally, I have to say that the best results will come from scanning the color negative to Photoshop, converting it to grayscale, and then making the necessary changes using Photoshop’s controls.
Dr. Robert C. Wiseman, Professor
Booth Library/Ind Tech
Eastern Illinois University
You are absolutely correct—color negatives just don’t print with much contrast when printed on conventional black-and-white variable contrast enlarging papers because they don’t have sensitivity to all colors—that’s why you can print with a safelight on in the darkroom. The normal solution to this problem is to use a special all-color sensitive enlarging paper such as Kodak’s Panalure. But this special paper must be exposed and processed in complete darkness (just like you have to do when loading any film onto processing reels), which is tedious. Your solution sounds more practical even though it does require switching filters and using extremely long exposures in the enlarger. We appreciate your taking the time to write and offer this possible solution to our reader’s darkroom problem.
Q. The Argus C3 has been special to me over the years, perhaps because the Argus C2 (no flash terminals) was my first real camera. Over the years I have bought a few of them, and while most work, the viewfinder is always clouded. I suspect that it is a fungus that sometimes affects older optics, but my question is this: is there a way to cure or help alleviate the condition? While I have much more modern cameras, I would just like to run a few rolls of film through the C3 cameras that work.
A. I called two firms listed in my files for repairing old Argus equipment; unfortunately, they no longer do the work. Neither could offer any suggestions on how to fix a cloudy viewfinder. One mentioned that a complete C3 overhaul, including lubrication and repair, used to run about $100. I have my Argus Match-Matic C3 (it was produced in the late 1950s when I worked for Argus Cameras) in front of me and there does not appear to be an easy way to remove the viewfinder glass to clean fungus or fog off. I’m sure your earlier C3 has an accessory shoe on the top of the body into which an accessory viewfinder fits. The normal 50mm f/3.5 Cintar lens is removable so an accessory 35mm or 100mm lens could be installed, and you need a separate viewfinder for those lenses. You should be able to find a used 50mm accessory viewfinder (any brand should work OK) and use that for proper viewing of the field covered by the 50mm lens. If the separate rangefinder viewing window lens is also clouded, you could always simply estimate the subject distance and set that on the scale. You might want to visit the Argus enthusiasts website, www.groups.yahoo.com/group/arguscg, where you can learn more about your dependable old “brick.”