Do you always use a MG filter when printing with Ilford MG Paper?

Discussion in 'Enlarging' started by Arcturus, Oct 12, 2013.

  1. Arcturus

    Arcturus Member

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    Is it a good idea to always have a filter in place when printing with MG paper? I've just been using the light straight from the lamp and it seems to be giving me perfect contrast every time. I don't know what grade it is or if it's even perfectly white light, but it seems to work well. It's not grade 2 since grade 2 graded paper always comes out too contrasty, but MG paper without a filter works great. Will this eventually lead to inconsistent results or is it ok to go without a filter?
     
  2. Bob Carnie

    Bob Carnie Subscriber

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    I always use a filter , as I am always split printing and the difference of the white light and that of a filter in place is quite significant.

    It is ok to go without a filter by all means, if you are getting great results without the filter this means you are pretty consistent with your negatives
    and that is a good thing.
     
  3. Steve Smith

    Steve Smith Subscriber

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    If it works for you then it's fine. It will be consistent at whatever grade it is without a filter.


    Steve.
     
  4. Jeff Kubach

    Jeff Kubach Member

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    I always use a filter myself.

    Jeff
     
  5. Arcturus

    Arcturus Member

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    Thanks for the replies! It really nails the contrast w/o a filter, but I think I may start using them every time now seeing what everyone is saying. If I ever change enlarger heads I could get myself into trouble not really knowing what grade I'm printing to. I was just going on the "if it isn't broken, don't fix it", but I think I'll save myself some trouble in the future by starting to use the filters now.
     
  6. Bill Burk

    Bill Burk Subscriber

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    I can explain a simple reason to use filter: If I use white light and then want a little more or less contrast... Then it's unclear which filter I will want.

    May not seem much inconvenience, but it bothered me enough one day to commit me to use fixed grade papers.

    Don't get me wrong, I'm happy to endorse multigrade papers. Based on everything I've read they are excellent... I wanted to use fixed grade paper anyway, and was just looking for an excuse to set them aside except for emergencies.
     
  7. BMbikerider

    BMbikerider Member

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    I have always found Ilford MG Paper to be about G1 without a filter, it is always too soft for me. I use, out of preference, Kentmere and that is a G2 paper without a filter and a lot faster too. I have been in the darkroom this afternoon and made a 12x16 Fibre base print on Kentmere taken in dull(ish) weather and the print without the filter was just about OK so I did another with a 2.5 magenta filter and the difference, although very slight is better. I have tried to print this on Ilford resin coated before and not with a great deal off success and had to use a grade 3.5 to get anything close to what I have today.
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Oct 12, 2013
  8. Oren Grad

    Oren Grad Subscriber

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    You won't save yourself trouble. The grade numbers on the filters are arbitrary; the actual contrast you get in your prints is affected by a number of other factors as well, including light source, paper and developer. If you change your enlarger head you could well end up with different behavior, just as if you change paper or developer. It's possible to be more precise about this by making careful sensitometric measurements - get a copy of Phil Davis's "Beyond the Zone System" if you're interested in learning more. But you don't need to if everything is working fine for you.

    FWIW, I use an LPL 4500II with color head. I dial in yellow or magenta filtration as needed by the particular negative + paper combination I'm using. If the negative doesn't need any filtration, then I print without any filtration.
     
  9. Bob Carnie

    Bob Carnie Subscriber

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    This makes a lot of sense

    I use a 11 x14 devere with colour head and my starting point is always 0 magenta and 0 yellow, I will go to a different filter when needed due to what Owen says.

     
  10. Rick A

    Rick A Subscriber

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    As stated previously, the numbers on the filters is arbitrary, however unfiltered Ilford MG is supposed to be the equivalent of grade 2. You can try a grade 2 filter and see how close to your results are to your original unfiltered prints, then adjust up or down accordingly. I like to use a filter to keep my exposure times longer to allow for any B&D that may be needed. In theory, you should have one contrast grade in mind and shoot for that, sometimes circumstances prohibit that so we have other contrast grades to choose from to adjust the image. You can either use graded paper as we all did in the old days, or use MG paper and change the filter.
     
  11. MattKing

    MattKing Subscriber

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    Yes, although I'm now using a Multigrade head, so I sort of have no choice.

    The filters and papers work together as a system. If you use no filter, it is slightly more difficult to adjust the contrast when you want to.

    Especially if you are using split-grade tools.
     
  12. cliveh

    cliveh Subscriber

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    Almost never.
     
  13. Arcturus

    Arcturus Member

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    I'd actually like to print with graded paper, but the way I've been processing my negs makes them print well at around grade 1. I don't think there are any graded papers around lower than 2 though. I could change my development times, but I still have years of negs that will print well at around grade 1. I had been scanning for a long time and the higher contrast negs seemed to scan better, so that's what I'm left with.
     
  14. Oren Grad

    Oren Grad Subscriber

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    The grade numbers of different manufacturers do not necessarily agree with each other. If you want to try graded papers, then try the lowest available grade for each of the available papers - one of them might work for you. If none of them is soft enough with your current paper developer, you can try a Selectol Soft-type developer such as Formulary TD-31 or Freestyle LegacyPro Select Soft.

    Again, the grade numbers are arbitrary and don't mean much, other than that for a given combination of light source, paper and developer, higher numbers will mean greater contrast. The grade numbers are not standardized or rigorously calibrated. If you select products based only on the stated contrast grade you may miss out on combinations that would work well for you.
     
  15. Bill Burk

    Bill Burk Subscriber

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    I keep one small pack of multigrade paper around for those negs that need 1 or 4... And I use graded 2 and 3 for all that I can. I develop my negs to aim for the middle between 2 and 3 (instead of aiming for 2 and sometimes needing 1), it tends to make ALL my negs fit one or the other. So I only occasionally need the multigrade.

    Where I'm going with this line of thought, for you... You might have some relatively "flat" negatives that will fit grade 2 nicely. And sometimes a negative that "needs" grade 1 will look great on grade 2 with just a touch of dodging.

    *That's "if" you want to use graded paper... You should be fine with multigrade and the advice you're getting here on this thread.