Are my multigrade filters faded? or what?

Discussion in 'B&W: Film, Paper, Chemistry' started by bernard_L, Dec 8, 2013.

  1. bernard_L

    bernard_L Subscriber

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    I'm having problems obtaining enough contrast in my prints lately. Among a number of potential causes (film age, etc...) I'd like to eliminate the aging of Multigrade filters, thet I've had for 30+ years. I'm aware of mentions of filters fading, but like all things on the web, I prefer to check from actual witnesses.
    IMG_1955.JPG
    This is a picture of filters 0-5, taken against a backlit piece of white paper, with custom white balance made on the background white.

    First question. Do the #4 and #5 filters look right, compared with those you have?

    Second question. Shouldn't the hardest filter be deep magenta, from green being blocked, blue transmitted for the corresponding layer, and red transmitted to allow the enlager's red filter to do its job?

    Third question. Turning suspicion to my D-72 mixed from base chemicals. I see an induction time of ~40s. This seems a bit long. I do have "real" Dektol powder at hand, but don't want to send 2 liters of developer down the drain without at least plausible motive.

    Thank you for your attention.
     
  2. miha

    miha Member

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    I don't know how the colours should look like, but sice you said they are 30+ years old, they are possibly not compatible with Multigrade IV paper which was released in 1994.
     
  3. cliveh

    cliveh Subscriber

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    May I ask what the enlargers red filter is? Do you mean the one beneath the lens? Are you using separate filters together with the enlarger filters?
     
  4. pentaxuser

    pentaxuser Subscriber

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    The question of what "good filters" should look like has come up before. From what I remember the range of Ilford filters' colours do not change in the way you'd expect when going from 0-5.

    Given that filters for say grades 2-3, maybe 3.5 are used most often then the ones that give you grades 4-5 should have "worn" the least so you'd expect to get prints with grades 4&5 the easiest.

    Don't forget that grades 4&5 need double the exposure despite the filters not looking as deeply coloured as you'd expect.

    If your developer is fresh, your print paper isn't old and you are giving the print the dev time that the print developer maker recommends at the right temperature and you are still not getting the higher contrast grades maybe the filters are worn but this should have been a very gradual process. If it has happened relatively quickly then it doesn't sound as if the filters are the problem.

    Two final things to try: 1. Someone else's filters if you can borrow some
    2. Dialling in filtration if you have a colour head

    Either should reveal if your under-the-lens filters are worn.

    Let us know how you get on and what cured the issue

    Thanks

    pentaxuser
     
  5. ic-racer

    ic-racer Member

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    Pictures of the filters look Ok. Do you have a step wedge?
     
  6. Roger Cole

    Roger Cole Member

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    Given the age, replace them. I had the same issue with filters equally old (posted here about it too) and just bought a new set - problem solved. I am not at home now to compare to the look of my old and new ones but it's worth the price for peace of mind.


    Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk
     
  7. Loren Sattler

    Loren Sattler Subscriber

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    Your filters look similar to my Ilford set, but I am not convinced any problems would be visually evident.

    I wonder if you have a safelight issue? Here is a link to Kodak's procedure to test safelights: http://www.kodak.com/global/en/consumer/products/techInfo/k4/k4TestSafelite.shtml

    Here is another idea. The number 2 filter should yield the same contrast as printing with no filter. Try printing a negative of normal contrast both ways and see how they compare. Maybe this would tell a story.
     
  8. bernard_L

    bernard_L Subscriber

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    All: thank you for your comments.
    The catalogue number 1762628 is identical to what is currently sold
    The red filter below the lens, used, e.g., to position the paper/easel without fogging the paper. No color head, plain Beseler 67CS tungsten condenser head.
    Dyes in old Ektachrome slides fade out in total obscurity...
    No one with a wet darkroom that I know of. Endangered species.
    I have the Kodak projection print scale, but indeed buying a Stouffers wedge is on my todo list.
    Should have done my homework. Indeed, these threads:
    http://www.apug.org/forums/archive/index.php/t-100015.html
    http://www.apug.org/forums/forum37/69998-ilford-mg-filters-faded-how-know.html
    contain first-hand evidence (as opposed to hearsay) that new filters make a difference.
    So, another on my todo list: buy a new set of filters.

    Bottom line(s). 1. Thanks for the information. 2 Buy new filters and step wedge. 3. Nobody chimed in on the induction time??
     
  9. MattKing

    MattKing Subscriber

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    With respect to your "induction" time, I assume by that you mean the time before shadows start to become distinctly visible.

    I don't use D-72 and it has been a while since I used commercially packaged Dektol, but as I recall, 40 seconds is a long time.

    I would check the developer before blaming the filters entirely - although after 30 years, it is probably time for an upgrade.

    And by the way, magenta filters block green, without affecting the blue. Red doesn't really factor in, because the paper doesn't respond to it.
     
  10. bernard_L

    bernard_L Subscriber

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    Matt,

    Thanks for the info on induction time; confirms my suspicion.

    I'm aware of that. So, based on blue -> high contrast; green ->low contrast, I would expect the highest contrast filter to block green totally, but pass blue.

    Even if the paper is not sensitive to red, the red band still matters: if the "high contrast" filter would pass blue only, it would be impossible to position the paper/easel using the flip-in red filter under the lens. Which is why (see my OP) I expect the hardest filter to be magenta.
     
  11. mfohl

    mfohl Subscriber

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    Ilford's MG filters degrade with age. There were two or three previous threads on this, including one that I started. I bought a new set within the year. (Don't buy a used set; it might be old also.) I just couldn't get any contrast out of my higher numbered filters. Now I can; all is as it should be with the new filters.
     
  12. Muihlinn

    Muihlinn Member

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    Having doubts about equipment isn't a good thing, for such case i'd try either of those two methods, depending what you will have at hand:

    - make a contact print of a stouffer step wedge, and deduct contrast from it, if it's too far from manufacturer ISO(R) discard them (procedure is explained in many places, like the latest RH analyzer pro calibration manual).
    - get a pair of separation filters (47B blue, 58 tri-green) that will pull out maximum/minimum contrast out your VC paper, which also would work fine if you do split printing, printing a strip of anything with this method and your filters will tell you if your filters are weak.

    If still in doubt, get a brand new set, that's the easier and faster way to discard problems with your set, and 30 years is a good mileage for them :wink:
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Dec 9, 2013
  13. Simon R Galley

    Simon R Galley Subscriber

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    Dear Bernard,

    30 years ! I would say they have given good service and deserve to be retired !

    All filters fade...it obviously depends on use and we usually say after 5 years or so MG filters should be replaced, but of course they are expensive, so take good care of them, handle very carefully with dry hands ( or wearing cotton gloves ) keep them in a cool dark place and hopefully you should get 10 years.

    Simon ILFORD Photo / HARMAN technology Limited :
     
  14. bernard_L

    bernard_L Subscriber

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    Simon,
    Fully agree. My post was never meant to be a gripe against Ilford. Was just trying to find if I had a problem, and to solve it without buying everything new. Will buy a new set.

    May I hijack my own thread and ask you Simon:
    - confirm there are three emulsions in MG
    - what are the peak sensitivity wavelengths of each emulsion? (thinking of LED enlarger)
     
  15. L Gebhardt

    L Gebhardt Subscriber

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    I built an LED head using Cree Green (~530nm) and Royal Blue LEDs (~450nm). It works really well with Ilford papers. Details are here: http://www.trippingthroughthedark.com/category/equipment/led-head/

    I try to develop for at least 4 times the emergence time, so in you case I would got up to 3 minutes of development if you aren't there already (or try a more concentrated developer).

    Also, do a safelight test. Include any use of the red under the lens filter. I do not trust those and never use them. I suspect if you are using it it for long it could be fogging your paper. So make sure you test it. The simplest test is to just make a normal print and throw some objects onto the paper. Turn on the safelight for about 5 minutes, or maybe the under enlarger filter for a minute. Develop the print and if you see lighter shadows where the objects were, it isn't safe. There are better tests out there that let you determine just how long your lights are safe for, but as long as I get 5 minutes I'm more than happy.
     
  16. bernard_L

    bernard_L Subscriber

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    Larry, thank you.

    My induction time is probably too long, meaning other things may be sub-par. Will dump my D-72 and mix some Dektol.
    I'll follow your advice (also given by others) and perform the safelight test.
    Congrats for your work on LED sources.
     
  17. photo buddy

    photo buddy Member

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    you filters are faded notice the difference in density of the middle and the edges. If you have photo shop you can scan your filter color into it and check their density. You will be surprised at the variation.
     
  18. pentaxuser

    pentaxuser Subscriber

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    What were the numbers at which you couldn't get any contrast. I wonder what explains why the higher numbered filters lose their efficacy first when I assume they are used the least.

    Thanks

    pentaxuser
     
  19. Muihlinn

    Muihlinn Member

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    in my experience magenta dyes on acetates and such faded sooner than others, could be that.
     
  20. RalphLambrecht

    RalphLambrecht Subscriber

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    no longe3r than 10 s for RC and 30s for FB with fresh Dektol