RA-4 is Kodak's proprietary name for the chemical process most commonly used to make color photographic prints. It is used for both digital printers of the types most common today in photo labs and drug stores, and for prints made with older-type optical enlargers and manual processing. More specifically, common color photographic paper is carefully exposed to form a latent image of the picture, and then the paper is run through the series of chemicals that together comprise the RA-4 process to convert the latent image into the final print.
RA-4 is a standardized chromogenic process used worldwide to make prints with a variety of equipment, photographic paper, and chemicals. Kodak created the RA-4 process for its color negative photographic papers. Fuji, Agfa, and other present and past photographic supply companies also make or have made both papers that are compatible with the Kodak chemicals, and chemicals that are compatible with the Kodak papers. These other companies typically call their equivalent processes by other names, but to most photographers, RA-4 is used as a generic term.
The result of RA-4 processing is a Type C print.
- Process RA-4 Publication: Z-130 - Official Kodak lab manual
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