Filtration for multigrade papers

Discussion in 'Enlarging' started by blockend, Aug 8, 2013.

  1. blockend

    blockend Member

    Messages:
    1,738
    Joined:
    Aug 16, 2010
    Location:
    northern eng
    Shooter:
    35mm
    I recently bought an enlarger with a colour head (CMY) and am looking for advice on contrast filtration for B&W paper. My experience is in graded paper, and Ilford filters for multicontrast varieties in a drawer, but I'm ignorant of colour head settings for grade 1, 2, 3, 4, equivalents. It's an LPL enlarger.
     
  2. BMbikerider

    BMbikerider Member

    Messages:
    860
    Joined:
    Jul 24, 2012
    Location:
    County Durha
    Shooter:
    35mm
    The Kodak values for Ilford also include Kentmere papers too. There is a data sheet included with all packs of both papers. However I type them out in large (Very) bold print and pin them to the darkroom wall so I can see them when the light is out and I'm working by safety light. This enables me to alter the enlarger filtration when multi exposures with different values without difficulty
     
  3. Tony Egan

    Tony Egan Subscriber

    Messages:
    1,194
    Joined:
    Oct 29, 2005
    Location:
    Sydney, Aust
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    My advice is to forget about using the colour head and stick to graded filters under white light. It can be a recipe for madness trying to find the right balance and when I tried I wasted many, many sheets of paper in the process. The simple theory for graded filters is "time for the whites, filters for the blacks". i.e. once you find the right times for highlights you shouldn't have to adjust that time as you go up the grades to grade 3 1/2 to drive more contrast. The trouble with colour heads in my experience is you also have to worry out times and so it's like starting all over again every time you want to change contrast. The fewer the variables the easier to make a satisfying print.
     
  4. doughowk

    doughowk Subscriber

    Messages:
    1,766
    Joined:
    Feb 11, 2003
    Location:
    Jacksonville
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    Bruce Barnbaum, Les McLean and others swear by multigrade papers. Their books would be a good starting point.
    I personally only use VC paper when a negative is such that I can't get what I want with a graded paper.
    There are also some VC papers such as Ilford ART300 for which can't find a similar graded paper.
     
  5. bdial

    bdial Subscriber

    Messages:
    5,459
    Joined:
    Jan 2, 2005
    Location:
    North East U.S.
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    Here is the chart I have taped to the front of my enlarger. The numbers are transcribed from the Ilford data sheet.
    These are the two filter settings that will give you consistant exposures through the middle grades.

    If you test and compare, you probably will find that the multigrade #5 filter will get you a little more contrast than the color head. This is one reason I still have a multigrade filter set, but I can't remember the last time I actually used it, except for doing that test.

    For simplicity, I use the Ilford settings for all vc papers I work with.
     

    Attached Files:

    Last edited by a moderator: Aug 9, 2013
  6. blockend

    blockend Member

    Messages:
    1,738
    Joined:
    Aug 16, 2010
    Location:
    northern eng
    Shooter:
    35mm
    Thanks for your help. Unfortunately the LPL doesn't have a filter drawer, which would mean buying below the lens filters and I have issues with them degrading image quality. Bdial, I assume from the chart you provided all Cyan is dialled to zero?
     
  7. ROL

    ROL Member

    Messages:
    790
    Joined:
    Oct 27, 2005
    Location:
    California
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    Did you mean graded papers under white light?


    BW enlarging papers are not sensitive to red light, therefore cyan filtration is not needed. MC papers achieve contrast variation through the use of blue and green sensitive emulsions, hard and soft contrast respectively. Magenta filtration controls hard (blue) and yellow (green) filtration controls soft contrasts. Sometimes you use both.
     
  8. ataim

    ataim Member

    Messages:
    51
    Joined:
    Apr 19, 2012
    Location:
    Fort Worth,
    Shooter:
    8x10 Format
    I use my Durst 184 with a color head. IF you use both the Magenta and yellow together time adjustment is not necessary (except when jumping up to grade 4-5, same as with filters) I thought I would not like using the color head, but after living with it for a few months I do like it better than filters. YMMV though.
     
  9. blockend

    blockend Member

    Messages:
    1,738
    Joined:
    Aug 16, 2010
    Location:
    northern eng
    Shooter:
    35mm
    Thanks again everyone, I think I get the idea. I have some cheapish RC vari-contrast paper and developer to practice on, and will move onto fibre based paper when I've nailed contrast and exposure. The filter head may allow for easier mixed filtering (say, grade 2 with partial grade 0) as opening filter drawers can tend to move enlarger position. At least, that's my hope.
     
  10. naeroscatu

    naeroscatu Subscriber

    Messages:
    887
    Joined:
    Oct 15, 2004
    Location:
    Newmarket On
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    I have a Saunders LPL enlarger and I went recently through the pain of trying to use the color head that came with it for printing B&W. If you print straight say you figure you need the equivalent of #3 filter for the entire film then you may get away with using the color head. If you need to do split printing or your negative was not evenly exposed and you have to change the filtration on each and every test through to the final print you will get fed up pretty fast with the waste of time using a color head for BW work.
    I was lucky to have close by the store that still sells enlargers parts and accessories and simply exchanged the color dichroic head with a VCCE Variable Contrast Module (I paid some extra because VCCE modules are more expensive). On the VCCE module you switch filtration from 00 or 0 to 3 or 5 turning one button - no waste of time at all. I hope this helps
     
  11. ic-racer

    ic-racer Member

    Messages:
    7,511
    Joined:
    Feb 25, 2007
    Location:
    Midwest USA
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    Vs. turning two knobs?
     
  12. naeroscatu

    naeroscatu Subscriber

    Messages:
    887
    Joined:
    Oct 15, 2004
    Location:
    Newmarket On
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    Ic-racer - have you worked with both modules in the dark? there is no comparison in terms of how fast you operate the VCCE vs the color head.
     
  13. PKM-25

    PKM-25 Member

    Messages:
    2,004
    Joined:
    Nov 25, 2004
    Location:
    Enroute
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    When I used a 45MX as my main enlarger, I had a 45S head on it and did the very same thing. After awhile, I started to remember my most often used settings and it was a breeze. Of course, more "breezy" still is the VCCE head on my LPL 4500 XLG..:wink:
     
  14. ic-racer

    ic-racer Member

    Messages:
    7,511
    Joined:
    Feb 25, 2007
    Location:
    Midwest USA
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    Agree, some color heads are not as easy to use for b&w.
     
  15. Tony Egan

    Tony Egan Subscriber

    Messages:
    1,194
    Joined:
    Oct 29, 2005
    Location:
    Sydney, Aust
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    No, I meant multigrade filters with VC paper. I have found using Ilford multigrade filters much more consistent and reliable compared to knob twiddling on colour heads to try to achieve the same thing. No doubt others have persisted and found a way to make it work for them but didn't work for me.
     
  16. blockend

    blockend Member

    Messages:
    1,738
    Joined:
    Aug 16, 2010
    Location:
    northern eng
    Shooter:
    35mm
    The trick seems to be taking time to experiment with the filtration on our own enlarger, and match it against our expectations of contrast. I don't mind doing that, in the same way I prefer to standardise on film, exposure and development. I can't imagine varying any of those on a regular basis would help with consistency.
     
  17. cowanw

    cowanw Member

    Messages:
    1,302
    Joined:
    Aug 29, 2006
    Location:
    Hamilton, On
    Shooter:
    Large Format
    I expect the trick is not to compare systems, It matters little if your grade 2 is a Ilford grade 2, as long as the picture is printed at the grade you like.
     
  18. ROL

    ROL Member

    Messages:
    790
    Joined:
    Oct 27, 2005
    Location:
    California
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    Ok then, I guess your issue was knob twiddling of color heads, which may be used successfully by projecting white light onto graded papers (i.e., no adjustments of any kind being necessary), versus using separate filter gels for contrast under white light of virtually any head type for VC papers. Thanks for the clarification.
     
  19. Tony Egan

    Tony Egan Subscriber

    Messages:
    1,194
    Joined:
    Oct 29, 2005
    Location:
    Sydney, Aust
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    My main point was about exposure time for highlights when using colour heads for changing grades compared to filter gels. In my experience the colour heads can cause highlight times to vary significantly compared to using the gels. This meant more time to make a good print, more test strips and more wasted paper which is why I now stick with the multigrade gels.