A Switch to RC Paper - a relevation

Discussion in 'B&W: Film, Paper, Chemistry' started by tom_bw, Nov 13, 2007.

  1. tom_bw

    tom_bw Member

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    Long believing that prints made on fibre based paper are nicer than those on RC paper, I never really compared the two side by side. Until....

    I wanted to show my daughter the basics of printing. To reduce the time (she had to go to bed), we used Agfa MCP RC paper to make a few prints. I made other prints later that evening on Galerie FB. The next morning, we put the pictures in a frame and looked at them. Pointing to the picture on RC paper, she said "I like this paper better". Do you know what? I had to agree with her! In my mind, the RC prints looked better.

    To boot - it is easier and less time consuming to process. What about longevity - though a well processed fibre print will probably outlive an RC print, I cannot say that I have the time to really properly process the fibre prints. So in my case, I am sure my RC prints will last longer than my fiber prints...

    Anyways - to each his own, but I for me RC is the way to go!
     
  2. fhovie

    fhovie Subscriber

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    I always start with RC. It is my test bed. If a print is worthy, it graduates to fiber. OF course there are many fiber papers with many surfaces. If glossy floats your boat, Agfa RC is pretty glassy. I use a lot of it. But a work of art for me winds up on Forte FB glossy - not ferrotyped - and toned and mounted and I like the luster look of that. After a number of years (15-20?), the plastic coating on the RC paper will fade and yellow and it will not look as good. The FB paper will look the same in 100 years as it does today. It has been a lot of years since I used Gallery - I have some hanging and it seems to need the lighting a certain way to really look good. Some papers need really appropriate light to be great. I have been using some freestyle glossy fb paper lately and it seems OK - the Forte seems a little contrastier and the paper base is certainly warmer.
     
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  3. titrisol

    titrisol Member

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    AGFA MCP was such a nice paper, it also tones great.
    It is a pity it went the way of the dodo.... though fotoimpex is trying to resurrect it.
     
  4. Paul Howell

    Paul Howell Member

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    What about longevity - though a well processed fibre print will probably outlive an RC print, I cannot say that I have the time to really properly process the fibre prints. So in my case, I am sure my RC prints will last longer than my fiber prints...

    When RC first hit the commerical market in the mid 70s I was still in the Air Force, we were told by both GAF and Kodak that an RC print will last 10 years in storage but just a couple of years if displayed. I have RC prints that are now over 30 years old, most appear to be stable, at least the prints made on Kodak paper, the GAF seem to be fading some. Fuji crystal archive color paper is rated for 75 years on display, so I dont know a black and white RC print will not last at least 75 years. I have read somewhere that an archival fiber print will last for 300 years but I dont know the science to back that statement.
     
  5. pentaxuser

    pentaxuser Subscriber

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    This question is genuinely asked in a spirit of inquiry. What is the evidence that the latest level of RC from say Ilford, Kentmere or the new "Agfa" will have faded and have yellowed plastic after 15-20 years.

    It strikes me that the latest level RC from Ilford for instance has maybe only just turned 20 years old and maybe not even yet?

    We are quite a conservative group here on APUG. Nothing wrong with that per se but I often wonder if the truths of the past on various aspects of photography linger beyond the point where they still contain the truth simply because we are comparing a product that isn't the same now except in name with its predecessor?

    By the way it may or may not be a propos that this thread coincides with another in which the OP complains of the same thing that struck the OP's daughter. Namely poorer whites and blacks. That OP has now posted two scans of a FB and RC in which he says that all other things in the processing are equal and like this OP's daughter I think the RC is the punchier of the two prints. Have a look yourself if you haven't done so. That thread could now get interesting in its ongoing discussion.

    Sorry I cannot give the thread's title but it won't be hard to find. His scans are worth a look and the ongoing detection of why there is a difference is worth attention. Well to me anyway

    pentaxuser
     
  6. Shawn Dougherty

    Shawn Dougherty Member

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    To each his own for sure but I don't think it's fair to say that Agfa MCP RC prints look better than prints on Ilford Galerie. I believe in this case it has more to do with the way YOU print than the paper itself. Take a negative that was targeted to that particular grade of Ilford Galerie and skillfully printed and I doubt the results would be the same.

    That said, if it works better for you and your work flow more power to you! And keep passing that tradition along. All the best. Shawn
     
  7. Paul Howell

    Paul Howell Member

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    [It strikes me that the latest level RC from Ilford for instance has maybe only just turned 20 years old and maybe not even yet?

    I have first generation Kodak and GAF RC prints, the Kodak prints are holding up. I think paper manufactures were (perhaps still are) concerned about claims that would not hold up in the field, leading to overall distrust of the new paper. Few users needed a commerical print to last for more just a couple of years anyway. Aside from testing in the lab no one really knew what the life span of RC was going to be so I think Kodak and other errord on the side caution. I dont see why a RC print will not last 75 to 100 years, at least in storage.
     
  8. TheFlyingCamera

    TheFlyingCamera Membership Council Council

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    RC is a useful learning tool. It helps to eliminate some of the fine points of printing like proper drying technique and safe paper handling so a new user doesn't get too intimidated to keep at it. That said, I just don't LIKE the look/feel of an RC print. The plastic in the RC paper makes a print feel like just that, plastic. They're TOO glossy and TOO slick. While I don't have quantifiable proof of my opinion, it is my considered opinion that RC paper lacks the delicateness of tonality that a fiber print is capable of. Then again, I've gone beyond fiber paper and into alternative processes, and a fiber-based silver print lacks the delicateness of tonality I can achieve with platinum, so there you go. I still do print silver from time to time, and when I do, it will always be fiber.
     
  9. TheFlyingCamera

    TheFlyingCamera Membership Council Council

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    All very fine and good if you're truly looking for a commercial print for an admittedly temporary purpose, but what good is a photographic image if it only lasts beyond the lifetime of the original photographer and/or the original subject when kept in dark storage?
     
  10. Steve Smith

    Steve Smith Subscriber

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    What are the reasons for these claims?

    Film is an emulsion coated onto a plastic base and it lasts a lot longer than that.


    Steve.
     
  11. Paul Howell

    Paul Howell Member

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    I have no idea, the Kodak and GAF reps visited most of the AF photo labs and we were all told 10 years, I also seem to recall a technical order update that gave the same time line. I know that Kodak does lab work in which products are artifically aged, but I dont know the details, maybe PE does. I left the photo lab shortly after that, but most of the newspapers and wire services were also moving towards RC, for the same reasons they moved to digital. By the early 80 RC had really improved. I still like FB graded better than RC, but I am not too concerned about archival properties.
     
  12. Jean Noire

    Jean Noire Member

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    Shawn has a point here.
    I have never found a RC paper that give the same delicate separation in tone in the deep shadow areas and highlight that most FB papers can.
    But RC does have its uses.
    Regards,
    John
     
  13. Sirius Glass

    Sirius Glass Subscriber

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    The problem is that I like to see my photographs! Keeping the photographs chilled in a box in the bottom drawer of a file cabinet in a dark basement at the foot of a stairway in an abandoned building in a ghost town in the northern most region of Greenland is not conducive to frequent viewing!

    Steve
     
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  15. Paul Howell

    Paul Howell Member

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    Fuji and Kodak color RC paper is rated for 75 years on display, if color RC will last 75 years how long will B/W last? When I have time I will check Illford and Kodak webb site to see what they have to say.
     
  16. Jean Noire

    Jean Noire Member

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    No doubt that Kodak and Fuji claim 75 years on display for their colour RC paper, but I have seen some pretty sick colours on prints that have been on display little more than 10 years. So on display where? Manufacturers claims and reality sometimes differ.

    Regards,
    John.
     
  17. Akki14

    Akki14 Member

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    I'll still stand up for RC paper... partly because I do alt process and my cyanotypes are similar to FB type prints as far as matt finish or whatever finish I have on the type of paper I use.. however, my cyanotypes do not curl like a #$@%!! I think the curly stuff really ruins FB for me besides the additional dev, fix and wash times. I tried it and it wasn't worth the effort (strangely, coating paper for cyanotype is less effort too and I find developing enlarged negatives in total darkness more fun than trying to soak fix out of an FB print).
    I find RC prints quite fine and probably all of the people I know wouldn't know what the heck an FB print was if I gave them one. They recognise RC as being a photograph.
     
  18. Ole

    Ole Moderator Staff Member Moderator

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    After a number of years (15-25) most of my old RC prints still look as good as new. Including one which has been hanging on the wall for 15 years.

    But I still prefer FB paper, and graded over VC. :smile:
     
  19. DannL

    DannL Member

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    Would someone please post a scanned image of an RC print that didn't last 10 years . . . or 20 years. And then explain how it degraded to it's current condition. Cause and effect. Seeing physical results would help me make a judgement.
     
  20. TheFlyingCamera

    TheFlyingCamera Membership Council Council

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    I don't have any examples at this time myself, but I've seen prints on RC paper (this was at least as much the fault of sloppy machine processing as it was the paper) that were less than 20 years old, and were showing MASSIVE silvering-out. This was caused by incomplete removal of fixer. Probably more likely to occur with machine processed prints (but that was in part what RC was invented for, to enable rapid machine-processing of b/w images, like could be done with color prints). This may be less of an issue for amateur photographers who are not machine processing, but RC still requires more washing than most people think in order to achieve archival results. I used to have a print that was made on RC paper that showed significant silvering-out within five years of creation. I no longer have this print.
     
  21. Lee L

    Lee L Member

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    See Ctein's Post Exposure for a section on RC print permanence. After 2 years he found extensive silvering-out (oxidation) and bronzing in both Agfa and Kodak papers when untreated, especially when under acrylic in a frame and on display in normal room light. He found that treatment with Sistan, light selenium toning, or both, improved print life greatly. There's a bit more to it than this brief summary. He describes the changes in RC paper over time, baryta bases, and discusses his ongoing tests with treated prints in different storage conditions, begun in 1995. The book is copyright 2000, so includes more recent materials. In my estimation, it's worth buying for this and many other reasons.

    I've had better luck than Ctein with RC prints, but not with all of them, and I'd take his advice on treatment for anything I wanted to live as long as possible.

    Lee
     
  22. Rob Archer

    Rob Archer Member

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    I've still got a couple of my first ever 'serious' prints, made about 20 years ago on Ilford Merit RC paper. The're in 'clip'frames and have the sun on them for up to 2 hours a day and they're fine. Properly fixed and washed, I suspect most RC prints will outlast me!

    If I'm making a print for me to enjoy, exhibit, or show other APUGers, I nearly always use FB. FB paper 'feels' quality and, to my mind gives better highlight and shadow separation. If I put a picture into a competition or display at my local camera club I usually use RC and no-one there has picked me up on it yet. Perhaps that says more about my local CC than my choice of paper, though!

    Rob
     
  23. Bob F.

    Bob F. Member

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    Have a read here: http://www.wilhelm-research.com/book_toc.html. It is mostly about colour but there is some B&W info there. IIRC (which I may not) they rated modern RC prints at 100+ years - more if selenium or sepia toned.

    I like the feel of fibre, and the lack of a plastic film over the emulsion, complete with the paper's fine texture, is the deciding factor for me even if much of this is lost when under glass. Having said that, I have a soft-spot for Ilford's satin finish RC (not the pearl - the most popular of course - which I think is horrid !)...

    Bob.
     
  24. Sirius Glass

    Sirius Glass Subscriber

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    I just read that chapter last night.

    Steve
     
  25. Dave Miller

    Dave Miller Member

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    Come on Bob, now whose OD'ed on the wine. The plastic goes under the emulsion, difficult to develope otherwise:smile:
     
  26. Dave Miller

    Dave Miller Member

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    Tom, A very nice man at Ilford once told me that he considered that there is little practical difference between their R/C and Fibre papers with regard to archival qualities, and the choice between the two should therefore be based on aesthetic or tactile considerations.
    Food for thought, or just simple heresy?