enlarging paper most like Azo?

Discussion in 'Contact Printing' started by Max, Sep 15, 2004.

  1. Max

    Max Member

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    So I'm taking a printing course from the local art school (I'm completely self-taught, as in, no one that knows anything has every seen any of my prints), but there doesn't seem to be a place where I can contact print Azo with my trusty work lamp like I do at home (everyone else is enlarging).

    The teacher, while fully supportive of my desire to use Azo, suggested that I use an enlarging paper for class, and then transfer the skills to Azo.

    My concern is that I'm going to end up with negatives that will be way too thin for Azo - or am I wrong? Is there an enlarging paper that would be a viable substitute for Azo?

    (I'm also a little concerned that there was a little review of the connection between shutter speed, f-stop, and ISO - everyone can move at their own pace, but I was feeling like I might be behind because I've never fired up a densitometer or making curves... guess I should adjust my expectations.)
     
  2. Alex Hawley

    Alex Hawley Member

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    Yes, there is a viable solution to your situation Max. I just completed running a comparison of a contact print made on Azo and Iford MG IV. The details and results are posted in this thread: http://www.apug.org/forums/showthread.php?t=8660&page=1&pp=10

    In fact, if you want to save a little more money, I would recommend using Adorama fiber-based paper for your class. Its very, very close to Ilford's.

    Make your negatives with Azo in mind. Don't expose them for enlarging. That way, they will directly transfer. The enlarging paper you use won't know the difference.

    To summarize the results of the comparison I did, the Ilford print was close to Azo, close enough for anyone's practical purposes. There are noticeable differences which illustrate the edge Azo holds. But for the situation you have, you can do quite well with the substitute.
     
  3. Max

    Max Member

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    Cool! Thanks!!

    Sadly, I even read (part of) that thread, but didn't remember since I wasn't ever planning to use an enlarger...
     
  4. Donald Miller

    Donald Miller Member

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    The tests that I have done indicate that there is no enlarging paper that will duplicate the exposure scale of Azo when one takes the same grades of papers into consideration.

    Grade two Azo will have an exposure scale of 1.65. Grade three Azo will have an exposure scale of 1.30.

    Most enlarging papers will fall into a 1.25 at grade two when using a diffusion light source enlarger. More nearly 1.15 when one uses a condensor light source enlarger.

    Now if one wanted to have a dual purpose negative it would seem that a 1.25 density range negative would fit grade three Azo and grade two diffusion enlarged print. This does not take into account the slope of the characteristic curves of the two respective papers.

    I feel confident that irregardless of what one may perceive by visual inspection that when these two prints are subjected to reflection density measurements that there will be a measureable difference.
     
  5. galyons

    galyons Member

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    Sorry Donald,
    But I cannot not comment. Photographic prints are for viewing by real live, (or close to IT), people. If the viewer cannot see a difference, any measurable difference is meaningless. A densitometer is a calibration tool, what it sees is not material to a print already being viewed by a person.

    That being said, I, purely subjectively, have not seen an enlarging paper that matches the long tonal scale of Azo.

    Sorry, but I have had to listen to too many years of audio technobabble, " Measures great, sounds like s#!t !" Measurements are a means, not an end.

    Regards,
    Geary
     
  6. Francesco

    Francesco Member

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    New Grade 2 AZO's exposure scale is unlike any other paper I have used in the past - it feels similar to alt process than silver. The key is getting the negative right for it. If this is done then there is no substitute. Of course, negatives that fall short of this can still be printed on AZO, AND other silver papers. It is these negatives that can be used as AZO substitutes.
     
  7. Donald Miller

    Donald Miller Member

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    Geay,

    I agree wholeheartedly with your position that prints are for viewing. The fact still remains that if the negative does not match the characteristics of Azo then one would be inclined to think that using an enlarging paper could approximate the print that Azo is capable of printing.

    Taking that a step further if one were to take a print on Azo (that was not printed to the potential of the paper) and compare it side by side with a enlarging paper print then it would appear that the enlarging paper compared very favorably with Azo. This would not be a valid comparison, in my opinion.

    The reason that I know this is that I have seen prints that have not been printed to this potential on Azo. It is very easy for one who is accustomed to an enlarging paper print to mistakenly think that the Azo print is good when in fact it isn't anywhere near where it could be.

    Now how does one know if the negative matches the characteristics of the paper? I think that it is by testing the characteristics of the paper and then producing a negative that is in capable of utilizing those characteristics.

    Yes, you are correct that a densitiometer is a calibration tool. An important one, in my opinion. So it appears that you and I are saying the same thing.
     
  8. Max

    Max Member

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    I'm just looking for something that's going to get me close enough for class - not an actual substitute. I can live with it if negs that that print well for me on Azo at home block up a bit in class.
     
  9. David A. Goldfarb

    David A. Goldfarb Moderator Staff Member Moderator

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    Try Cachet/Maco Expo RF Graded. Of course nothing is quite like Azo, but Maco Expo RF has a nice density range, is great at holding shadow detail, and like Azo, it responds well to amidol (I use Smith's formula for enlarging papers with Expo) and water bath controls and tones very well. You can get it from freestylecamera.com.
     
  10. c6h6o3

    c6h6o3 Member

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    I've made prints on Bergger VCCB paper which rival my Azo prints. I have one negative which necessitates a water bath with new Grade 2 Azo but with which I can produce a nearly indistinguishable contact print on the Bergger. I used an Aristo cold light head with Kodak Polycontrast filters. If not for the warm tone of the Bergger paper I probably couldn't tell the difference. So I would definitely make my negatives to print well on Azo and adjust the contrast on the enlarging paper to suit as needed for your class.

    My Windows installation bit the dust tonight. If I can get my scanner going tomorrow night, I'll post the two prints.
     
  11. David Vickery

    David Vickery Member

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    Max, Why don't you just use the enlarger as the light source for your contact printing on Azo? Most of them will work just as good as your utility light, and if it is a condenser type enlarger then you may even be able to put a stronger bulb in it. Just because you use an enlarger doesn't mean that you have to put a negative in it.

    I would encourage you to go ahead and use the AZO. It doesn't really care that much (to a degree at least) which light source you use to expose it with.
    And yes, if you are exposing your film for enlarging paper then it will not be ideally matched to AZO.
     
  12. Max

    Max Member

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    I know you can use the enlarger for contact prints (which is what I'm planning to do), but wouldn't the exposure times for Azo would be prohibively long?

    (I have no experience with enlargers, but have read about the new head that can be used to expose Azo - that's pretty expensive, though, especially if I only want to use it for a ten-week class...)
     
  13. David A. Goldfarb

    David A. Goldfarb Moderator Staff Member Moderator

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    Try it out. You can maximize the output of the enlarger light by removing the lens (and lensboard if the enlarger has one) and setting the head on the column as low as possible to give you adequate coverage and even output across the frame.

    If it's a condensor enlarger, though, watch out for a hotspot or image of the bulb appearing on the print. If you have this problem, it will appear as a frustrating little grey blob in a slightly different location for every print. The solution is to add some diffusion material (like a sheet of white paper) in the neg carrier, but this will also reduce light output.

    If this works, and if the enlarger doesn't produce too much overspill, it will allow you to work at an enlarging station in a shared darkroom, but you'll still have the issue of whether the developer is suitable for Azo. One option might be setting up a tray of amidol for your prints (and maybe another tray for water bath), if there's room.