Comparing Papers

Discussion in 'B&W: Film, Paper, Chemistry' started by rshepard, May 12, 2007.

  1. rshepard

    rshepard Member

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    I'm looking for a paper brand on which to standardize, and to learn so I can get the best quality prints from it. I'm considering Bergger, Foma, Kentmere, and Oriental. I'll want FB variable contrast, cold-tone/neutral and warm tone, glossy finish in 5x7", 8x10", and 11x14".

    I'd prefer to learn the differences in surface texture, base color, and printing characteristics without buying a 10-sheet package of each to use here. Are there any comprehensive descriptions (with film speed curves and other useful information) that can be used to compare these brands?

    It would be nice to be able to buy a sample pack for each brand. A few sheets of each type the company sells. I know that charts and tables will not tell me how I like each one for the types of photographs I create, but it would be a useful start.

    Suggestions and thoughts appreciated,

    Rich
     
  2. Curt

    Curt Subscriber

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    Get and use only Oriental Paper, you won't need any other paper. Glossy in fiber base is best. Tones extremely well in selenium. Brett Weston and Ansel Adams used it, look at their prints and see what you can do with it.
     
  3. Chazzy

    Chazzy Member

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    Same here. I'm really intriqued by the Fomatone, but I'm reluctant to buy a whole package of each surface to find out what the various textures are like. Other folks are probably wondering exactly how white or warm the papers are. If Freestyle offered some samples, on request, I bet that they would get more orders.
     
  4. Michel Hardy-Vallée

    Michel Hardy-Vallée Membership Council Council

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    I've tried the Kentmere VC FB in warmtone and it's not really that warm, even when toned in selenium. Ilford would of course be a good bet: they have neutral and warm versions of their papers, are widely available, and the VC is reasonably priced in all sorts of sizes. Bergger is also said to have a nice warmtone.
     
  5. schroeg

    schroeg Member

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    I'll second Oriental - it produces the deepest blacks and is a pleasure to print on with pyro negatives.
     
  6. Thomas Bertilsson

    Thomas Bertilsson Subscriber

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    Yesterday I printed some negs belonging to a client, and I was asked to use 'fiber' paper. So I commenced asking what surface texture, and print tone he would like and I got a big questionmark for an answer. So I printed one neg on four different types of paper, all in Edwal Ultra Black chemistry. The papers used were:
    Ilford MGIV Warmtone, semimatte
    Kentmere Fineprint VC Warmtone, matte
    Fotokemika Varycon, glossy
    Ilford MGIV standard, glossy
    The MGIV warmtone has a truly matte finish. I would be tempted to say there is no gloss at all. The tonal representation is very nice, although sometimes I find I would like a bit richer blacks. Other than that, it's gorgeous.
    The Kentmere paper has a surface very similar to that of Agfa MCC118 matte paper, sort of grainy. The tone is warmer than that of Ilford, with a slightly yellow cast. Fantastic paper that's much faster than Ilford, and responds to filtration differently. What printed as grade 2 on the MGIV warmtone, printed similarly as grade 1 on the Kentmere. Great intense blacks, fantastic separation in the mid values.
    The Fotokemika Varycon paper has a pretty dull gloss, if you compare to for instance Kentmere Bromide, but it looks incredible! It printed really well on the same grade filtration as Ilford, and I think it has the best tonal separation I have ever seen in a variable contrast paper. It's about the same speed as Ilford too. It's about as neutral tone as a paper will get. This is remarkable quality, although I have to agree with individuals claiming that it's hardly the most consistent paper in the world. For some, this is a problem, for others, it's not.
    Finally Ilford MGIV standard, glossy - I almost use this as a benchmark. It has a wonderful gloss, a highly neutral base, and a near perfect grayscale from black to white. It is so difficult to be disappointed with this paper. It works really well with the Edwal Ultra Black, I've also had great success with Ansco 130, Dektol, and Ilford's own Multigrade developer.

    I hope this helps out some, even though it doesn't represent the rest of the papers you're asking about. I love all of these papers. If I had to pick one of them, it would most likely be the Varycon, with Kentmere warmtone a close second.

    - Thomas
     
  7. Ole

    Ole Moderator Staff Member Moderator

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    Bergger has "sample packs", a pack with samples of four different papers. I believe there are two different packs.

    Personally I think they're all great!
     
  8. rshepard

    rshepard Member

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    Rather than replying to each of you, allow me to offer a collective, "thank you very much." The answers are what I suspected: they're all good papers, and just how good they are depends on the eye of the viewer. Just like the images printed on them: some viewers like them, some don't, and the rest can't decide.

    I'll see if Bergger has a sample pack and try that. Otherwise, I'll just make a choice, use that brand and learn how to get the most out of it.

    I've used Ilford extensively in the past. I prefer the smaller companies for two reasons: they are more likely to remain in the market because they have adopted this niche and want to keep customers buying from them. And because they are probably more capable of responding to market changes than is a larger company.

    Again, thank you all for your thoughts. The most valuable insight is that we cannot go wrong no matter what paper brand we pick. While I'm sure that some are better for particular subjects than are others, I think that working with one paper in each emulsion type will teach me how to get the prints I like from them.

    Rich
     
  9. Peter Schrager

    Peter Schrager Subscriber

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    for warmtone...

    the best paper I've found IF you can still buy it is the Forte SemiMatte paper.
    after trying numerous papers out there I found it to be a true warmtone paper without any dev manipulation. B+H probaby still has it in stock. you'lll have to check it for yourself. I stocked up on it cause it aint no more but try....
    Best, Peter
     
  10. Phillip P. Dimor

    Phillip P. Dimor Member

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    First I stuck with Forte FB, then it disappeared. Then I found Kodak paper.. It left me shortly after. Honestly, I'd try different things first but try to settle on something that will be around a while from now. The only company that comes to my mind is Ilford.
     
  11. Thomas Bertilsson

    Thomas Bertilsson Subscriber

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    I wouldn't discount Kentmere, they seem to be a pretty strong force in traditional photography. Easily obtained in the US via Freestyle as well.
     
  12. dancqu

    dancqu Member

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    Go Graded. There is a good selection of Graded papers
    but not the plethora that exists with VC.

    I can sympathize. I was quite some time narrowing
    my initial selection of Grade 2 Glossy Neutral Tone FB
    papers to just four. A 25 sheet pack each, $60 +. Low
    S&H and very good support from Freestyle. Dan
     
  13. Silverhead

    Silverhead Member

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    Freestyle does offer Foma sample books. They're not for free, but they are available.
     
  14. jeroldharter

    jeroldharter Member

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    I went through this process myself a couple of times. I think the only way to go is to buy a 25 sheet pack of each paper you might be interested in using and then try to print some familiar and unfamiliar negative to see what you like. Also, try toning some of the prints to compare, etc. I don't think there is a shortcut to testing them for yourself, except to narrow the field.
     
  15. GeorgesGiralt

    GeorgesGiralt Member

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    Hi !
    Bear in mind that now Forte has vanished. So Bergger has to find a new coating factory. (if their statement that it is not exactly Forte rebadged paper which I doubt)
    I guess the Bergger papers will significantly change from what we know to ..... who knows !
     
  16. Paul Howell

    Paul Howell Member

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  17. Robert T. McCarthy

    Robert T. McCarthy Member

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    I made a longevity test last year and my findings were:

    Ilford mg Fiber and Forte' won hands down, agfa was also very good but alas it's no more. Oriental was far behind Ilford and Forte'.
    So I bought 250 sheets of Forte' WT glossy in 11X14 and 250 sheets of Ilford
    MG both in fiber.
    I've not had the pleasure of using or testing Kentmere as of yet.

    Regards.

    Bob McCarthy
     
  18. Rich Ullsmith

    Rich Ullsmith Subscriber

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    Sure, the Oriental VC is a great day-in day-out paper, great blacks and whites and split tones great with sepia and selenium.

    You won't find a paper that does everything for you. If you do, give us a call, will ya?
     
  19. Byron Worthen

    Byron Worthen Member

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    I did a comparison just like some of the ones described a few months ago to find a replacement for Kodak Polymax Fine Art as my supply dwindled down.

    I printed a familiar and an unfamiliar negative on Ilford Gallerie, Kodak Polymax Fine Art VC (my reference, but treated like a "new" paper for this test), Ilford MG IV, Bergger VC, Forte VC, Oriental Seagull VC, and several others -- all neutral or cool tone and all glossy surface. I must have tried 10 different brands, but the only graded paper was the Gallerie. I do have limits!

    Bergger became my new paper of choice in available papers. Forte also looked good. These two do not look the same to me, so I don't know that Bergger is merely repackaged Forte. I actually liked the Bergger better than the Kodak. Now that Forte is gone and the possibility exists that Bergger will change in the future, I suppose keep using Bergger until I see a difference I don't like. I could go back to Ilford Gallerie, which is a paper I can count on staying consistent and in production and which I have used with success when I used graded papers.

    The bottom line is that each person has to find a paper that they like and be prepared to go on a quest for a new paper from time to time. Or go back to an old favorite.
     
  20. nworth

    nworth Subscriber

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    Like most things in photography, the choice of paper is subject to religious wars. The best solution probably is to buy four or five 25 sheet packs of paper by different makers in a surface you like and then try them.