Do I Have Faded MG Filters?

Discussion in 'Darkroom Equipment' started by Roger Cole, Jan 1, 2012.

  1. Roger Cole

    Roger Cole Member

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    I remember always hearing the enlarger filters, other than dichroic glass ones in color heads, could fade in time. I was last active doing darkroom work in the late 1990s. Fast forward 10+ years and my interest is rekindled, my darkroom set up in a different state, and I'm doing darkroom work again.

    But I'm wondering about my MG filters. My memory is of the higher contrast ones getting progressively more and more magenta. But that's not what I have now. The attached photo shows my six inch Ilford MG Filters from grade 3.5 (far left) through 5. They all look as I remember up through 3.5, and 5 might be right, but the 4 and 4.5 filters look faded. I checked my old 3.5" set, which I used in my old Bogen X-35 enlarger but which are useless for my current D2V, and they look exactly the same, but then again they are even older than the 6" set. Maybe the 4 and 4.5 and possibly 5 are just more fade prone - or maybe my memory is playing tricks on me.

    I haven't needed anything harder than a 3.5 so far, but eventually I will. Bottom line is that, if these are faded, I'll buy another set, simple enough. But at $51.99 (Freestyle price - haven't priced anywhere else yet) they are expensive enough that I'd rather not buy an extra set I don't need.

    Can someone else compare to their filters and let me know if I need new filters for grades 4-5 or not?

    The photo was shot with my Nikon Coolpix 995 digisnapper and cleaned up just a tad in Photoshop to look as much like what I saw as possible. It's close enough to show why they look faded to me.
     

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  2. tkamiya

    tkamiya Member

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    Looking at mine which is less than a year old, there is a BIG color shift from 3 1/2 to 4.

    My 3 1/2 looks like yours.
    My 4 has a lot more orange in it
    My 4 1/2 has more orange/pink in it
    My 5 does not look as purplish as yours

    I am looking at your image with color-calibrated monitor but I have no idea how color-correct your image is. Anyway, that's what I see. Hopefully it's helpful.
     
  3. ic-racer

    ic-racer Member

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    They are supposed to look like that. I have never seen a spectrum analysis of the 4-5 filters, but an interrogation with a standard wide-band baseboard color meter does not give the full story. I suspect they (#4-5) are special narrow bandpass filters.

    This link is to one of the best collections of information about the various color schemes Ilford has used for MG materials. http://www.photomemorabilia.co.uk/Ilford/Multigrade.html
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Jan 2, 2012
  4. PeterB

    PeterB Subscriber

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  5. HowardDvorin

    HowardDvorin Member

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    A good thought is to try them out in the darkroom before jumping to any conclusions. That should be revealing.

    H
     
  6. Ian Grant

    Ian Grant Subscriber

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    They do fade, Ilford recommend replacing them every few years, it's a bit dependant on the usage as well.

    Ian
     
  7. snederhiser

    snederhiser Member

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    Hello Roger;
    The two center filters look faded to me. Steven.
     
  8. Simon R Galley

    Simon R Galley Subscriber

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    Dear Roger,

    As Ian said, we do advise they are changed every few years ( we would say that would'nt we ! ) but its true. Quite often poor handling degrades the filters ( they are a coated product after all ) and of course it depends on how much they are used. I would say in normal use they should be fine for 5-7 years, after that probably best to get a new set, In saying that as long as they are not 'optically' degraded as long as you do not need the top end 4.5 and 5 its more likely that they could remain usable for longer.

    Simon. ILFORD Photo / HARMAN technology Limited :
     
  9. sandermarijn

    sandermarijn Member

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    They also fade when you don't use them at all? That would seem a bit odd.

    I have a box of MGIV filters and an older box of MGIII filters. I compared them once and saw no difference (naked eye). But I only checked up to grade 3, because the higher grades never see any use. I will compare the higher grades when I'm near my darkroom.
     
  10. sandermarijn

    sandermarijn Member

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    Correcting myself: I have two boxes of small MGIV (or perhaps MGIII, if those exist) filters and one box with larger MGII's.

    The MGII's must be quite old (1980's?). I got them around ten years ago with an enlarger (Durst M800). These are the filters I currently use, though never above grade 3 or perhaps 3 1/2.

    Compared to the newer smaller filters the higher grades (3 1/2 - 5) have discoloured quite a lot. Especially grade 4 has been affected- this one also looks a bit flaky if you look up close (not visible in this picture).

    mg_filters_compared_ii.jpg

    Grades 1 to 2 1/2 seem to have discoloured very little. Their colour is almost indiscernible from the best set. Fortunately I use these grades most; almost never the higher ones.

    mg_filters_compared_i.jpg

    Thanks for bringing this up Roger! I never realized until now that the higher grades degenerate.

    I won't rush out to buy new ones, but if I want to use the higher grades some day I probably should. Pity that a 100 euro filter set only lasts 5-7 years (quoting Simon) in the highest grades. That said, Simon's estimate is probably on the conservative side (?), and 100 euros spread out over say 10 years is not all that much.

    Is there any way to increase the filters' longevity, apart from storing them in a dry & dark place and handling with care? Freeze the filters you don't often use? Sounds a bit ridiculous but maybe it helps?

    Sander
     
  11. sandermarijn

    sandermarijn Member

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    To be fair on Ilford, the 15x15cm/6x6" filter set is 48 Pounds at Ag Photographic (link), slightly over half the price that I quoted in the above post. And Foto Impex also offer a competitively priced Adox alternative (full grades only).
     
  12. Roger Cole

    Roger Cole Member

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    Thanks for all the info. I knew someone would, correctly, simply say "try them out and see." But I didn't know when I'd get a chance to print again (looks like it will be this coming weekend) and was about to put in a big-ish order so I could have ordered more filters then. I didn't - I also have color printing filters I can use to get magenta if I need higher contrast. My most used filters are 2.5-3.5. I rarely need a 2 or 4, but occasionally will need a softer filter with pushed film or a harder one to rescue an underexposure.

    People had mentioned a heat absorbing glass which I do NOT have, and I lay the filters directly atop my D2V condenser, but that would mean the 2-3.5 being my most used filters would be the faded ones, and they look ok.

    I think next time I put in an order I'll just get new ones to be sure. Pricey but then I can quit worrying about it. :wink:
     
  13. RalphLambrecht

    RalphLambrecht Subscriber

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    exactly.why donttest what true isoagrade they deliver now?
     
  14. Roger Cole

    Roger Cole Member

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    If someone wants to send me the calibrated step wedge I might work on that. Otherwise, the best I can do is verify that 4 gives more contrast than 3.5, 4.5 more than 4 etc.