Explanation of paper grades please

Discussion in 'B&W: Film, Paper, Chemistry' started by Shaggysk8, Sep 16, 2009.

  1. Shaggysk8

    Shaggysk8 Member

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    Hello, I have been look but I can not find it, but someone point me in the direction of or explain what different paper grades do how to use them, and how to work out what neg will work with what please.

    The more info the better the more opinions the better and the more arguments the better, I just wanna get my head around the whole thing before I go and by some, although I will be using multigrade I wanna understand the paper that started it all off.

    Paul
     
  2. michaelbsc

    michaelbsc Member

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    It's pretty straightforward. Here is the beginning explanation, and if you get interested and research it more you can get your Ph. D. in just photopaper.

    Before the advent of Variable Grade (or Variable Contrast) papers manufacturers would control the contrast index of the paper by different manufacturing techniques.

    Grade 1 is a low contrast paper, and is suitable for most printing with a high contrast negative. I.e., if the negative darks are very dark and the lights are very light, but that's not how the 'real' scene looks in the world, using a low contrast paper will make the print look more like reality.

    Grade 2 is "normal" contrast (but that statement is loaded with controversy) for use with normal contrast negatives.

    Grade 3 is higher contrast, Grade 4 still higher contrast, and Grade 5 the highest contrast for progressively lower contrast negatives.

    All of this is assuming that you print for times that produce a reasonable image. Obviously if you click the enlarger on and then finish a cup of coffee, even on Grade 1 low contrast paper you’re going to get a black image.

    So far as I know there was no grading "standard" around, so one manufacturer's grade 2 might print equivalent to another's grade 3. But since you probably didn't have much of a choice you learned to print with what was available.

    Then along came variable grade paper. You can change the contrast ratio of how the paper behaves by varying the mix of green and blue light using yellow and magenta filters. So a box of VG/VC paper can often be used in place of grade 00 through grade 5+.

    Starting out, if your negatives "look pretty good" then use grade 2. And if you have VG/VC paper start with the number 2 filter until you start to get the hang of it.

    It's not magic, but it does take some practice. Nobody learns anything by getting it right the first time. You have to be willing to throw away a few pieces of paper to figure it out. But it is easy enough to learn.
     
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  3. jeffreyg

    jeffreyg Subscriber

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    Michael explained paper grades very well. I would like to add that using multigrade paper has advantages in that you only need one paper in perhaps several sizes rather than papers in different grades and sizes. Also you can print different parts of an image with different contrasts. A light source such as the Aristo VC lamps allow you to dial in the contrast grade. You can also use variable contrast filters which are not as convenient but less costly. This is applicable to black and white.
     
  4. pesphoto

    pesphoto Member

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    has anyone tried printing with say a #2 paper grade and MG filters to boost contrast if needed? would this work or stupid question.
     
  5. bdial

    bdial Subscriber

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    It wouldn't work. VC papers have two emulsions, one high contrast the other low, that are sensitive to green and blue. Fixed grade papers only have one emulsion. You can affect the contrast of a graded paper with exposure, different developers, and techniques such as using a water bath however.
     
  6. pesphoto

    pesphoto Member

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    thanks bdial, for the helpful explaination
     
  7. Nicholas Lindan

    Nicholas Lindan Advertiser Advertiser

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    Interestingly, some fixed grade papers are really multigrade papers with a fixed sensitivity ratio for the two emulsions. They don't use dye sensitizers so contrast can't be changed by changing the color of the light. If you look closely at the HD curves you can see a bump and flat spot where the first emulsion shoulders off.
     
  8. Shaggysk8

    Shaggysk8 Member

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    So it is just how quickly the light and dark areas respond to light? yet the middle area stays roughly the same?
     
  9. dancqu

    dancqu Member

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    Then the term "multigrade" must envelope something more
    than that which we usually associate with the term.

    Would not the absence of dye sensitizers leave the
    emulsion blue sensitive only? Dan
     
  10. polyglot

    polyglot Member

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    What he means is that they're multigrade insofar as they're constructed with two layers of differing grade, resulting in something that is in-between, but they're not multigrade because the lack of sensitisers means that they're sensitive only to blue, so their contrast is fixed. The implementation is multigrade, the interface is not.

    Is there a set of formulae somewhere defining what each of the grades means in terms of either their contrast expansion/contraction or the number of stops intensity they can encompass?
     
  11. dancqu

    dancqu Member

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    OK, now I get it.

    Tables do exist. The values are the log ES ranges as
    determined by use of a step tablet. Dan