Ilford MG filters

Discussion in 'B&W: Film, Paper, Chemistry' started by mfohl, Dec 5, 2012.

  1. mfohl

    mfohl Subscriber

    Messages:
    504
    Joined:
    Jan 10, 2007
    Location:
    Westerville,
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    Hello Folks, once again I seek the wisdom of the net. The issue is Ilford Multigrade filters. I have had a set for a long time, and on the box is “Ilford Multigrade II”. They have been there for a long time because I was primarily a Kodak paper user. Now I use Ilford fiber and Ilford and Oriental Seagull RC paper. And with all the papers, probably 95% of my printing was done with grades 2 through 3 ½. But I was printing with Ilford recently and got the impression that printing with the 4 and 4 ½ filters actually gave lower contrast than printing with the 3 ½ filter. And I printed something with some old Kodak paper that I had in the freezer; I printed with a Kodak 4 ½ filter, and it was way higher contrast. Also, with higher number Ilford filters, I need less exposure. I either close down a stop, or I have to cut exposure time by about half. This is the opposite of the Kodak filters; more exposure is needed with higher number filters.

    So what’s up with the apparent low contrast with the Ilford higher number filters? I notice this on both fiber and RC. Are my filters out of date; that is, is there a newer version around? I checked the B&H web site, and there is no designation on the filters. Any ideas out there?

    Thanks in advance,

    -- Mark
     
  2. Mike Wilde

    Mike Wilde Member

    Messages:
    2,933
    Joined:
    Aug 10, 2006
    Location:
    Misissauaga
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    Som filters fade with time.

    Ambient light levels and heat can be the biggest issues.

    Papers do loose contrast (even MG ones)

    I have a set of the earliest of the current (not 40's) Ilford MG filters (late 70's I guess) , and they were not speed matched at all; there was a little dial calculator to aid in swapping filters. I cannot recall which ones fit where. I keep them as a historical item, and have never actually used them.

    I think it was the II filters that were suppose to be speed matched for 0-3.5, and double exposure of 4 and 4.5, which is not what your current expereinces with your set seems to exhibit.

    The most recent Ilford filters had a 00 lowest setting. The most recent Kodak's were branded Polymax, and went from -1 to 7 I think. I just mailed a set off to a guy in the UK, and did not look all to carefully at them.

    I still have a few sets of NIB spares in my stash of too much gear for one guy to own.... PM me if you are interested in a set for $10 and the cost of postage. Let me know if you need the below the lens or above, and the size needed and I will see if I have what you may need.
     
  3. Huub

    Huub Member

    Messages:
    188
    Joined:
    Dec 4, 2007
    Shooter:
    4x5 Format
    If i remember correctly, the Multigrade II filters had to be used with the Multigrade II paper, which was replaced with the Multigrade III and later IV paper some thirty years ago. It came with some kind of calculator, because you had to change the exposure time of the paper when changing grades. With the introduction of the Multigrade III paper, a new filterset was introduced where you only had to change the exposure time when switching grades between 3.5 and 4. A second reason to replace the old set is that filters tend to bleach, especially the higher grades. And as your current set should be at least 30 years old...
    But why not use the Kodak filter set on the Ilford paper? To my understanding they were pretty much interchangable, with only minor differences between the sets.
     
  4. Simon R Galley

    Simon R Galley Subscriber

    Messages:
    2,048
    Joined:
    Nov 2, 2005
    Location:
    Cheshire UK
    Shooter:
    Medium Format
    Dear Mark, See Huub's reply, its spot on :

    Simon ILFORD Photo / HARMAN technology Limited :
     
  5. pentaxuser

    pentaxuser Subscriber

    Messages:
    8,257
    Joined:
    May 9, 2005
    Location:
    Daventry, No
    Shooter:
    35mm
    So based on the above and Simon Galley's response MGII filters are useless with modern(MGIII and IV) paper as they need a calculator but this in turn became redundant when MGIII and IV paper came along so even unused MGII filters with or without a calculator are waste bin material?

    This surprises me. I had never seen any statement to this effect being made before. Maybe and hopefully I have misunderstood Huub's statement and in fact MGII filters can be used but a calculator is now unnecessary as changes to the paper make it redundant?

    Can anyone clear this up for me?

    Thanks

    pentaxuser
     
  6. mfohl

    mfohl Subscriber

    Messages:
    504
    Joined:
    Jan 10, 2007
    Location:
    Westerville,
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    I shall definitely try the Kodak filters with the Ilford and Oriental paper. Unfortunately, I won't be in the darkroom for a week or so. But I will pass on my results.

    Thanks Folks.
     
  7. MattKing

    MattKing Subscriber

    Messages:
    17,183
    Joined:
    Apr 24, 2005
    Location:
    Delta, BC, Canada
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    I wonder which is older - Simon R. Galley or Ilford MGII filters?

    Those are really old filters, designed for paper that was really different than the current papers.

    It is probably time :whistling:

    EDIT: And I bet the Kodak filters will be functional, if they are in good condition. They won't be speed matched, but they will be close.
     
  8. pentaxuser

    pentaxuser Subscriber

    Messages:
    8,257
    Joined:
    May 9, 2005
    Location:
    Daventry, No
    Shooter:
    35mm
    I have found a site which in the past I have found to be reliable. it is called Ilford memorabilia and covers the history of MG paper and filters. If it is to be believed then the need for a calculator was before MGII filters.

    The essential differences between MGII and MGIV filters appear to be two-fold:

    1. The MGIV set is 12 filters and includes an 00 grade whereas the MGII is 11 filters with no 00 grade

    2. Both work fine with current MGIV paper but the older MGII filters have the same exposure for grades 0 to 3.5 with twice the exposure for grades 4 and 5 whereas the MGIV filters have the same exposure for grades 0- 3 and twice the exposure for grades 3.5 to 5

    In another search of APUG threads I found a reference to MGII filters by an APUGer who made no mention of his MGII filters "not working" with current MGIV paper

    So it appears that unless Huub was referring to the set of filters before MGII filters, then MGII filters operate OK with MGIV paper with a slight variation on which grade onward requires the twice exposure routine.

    All of this of course assumes that I read Huub's post correctly. He might not have been saying that MGII filters need a calculator and neither might Simon Galley. It was simply me that was misunderstanding their posts.

    pentaxuser
     
  9. ic-racer

    ic-racer Member

    Messages:
    7,514
    Joined:
    Feb 25, 2007
    Location:
    Midwest USA
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    Those filters don't last forever, however, new filter sets are pretty reasonably priced.
    One advantage of a dichroic head is you don't have those worries.
     
  10. Simon R Galley

    Simon R Galley Subscriber

    Messages:
    2,048
    Joined:
    Nov 2, 2005
    Location:
    Cheshire UK
    Shooter:
    Medium Format
    I can assure you I am significantly older than MULTIGRADE II, but thankfully not MULTIGRADE I
    ( Circa 1940 ).

    Whilst the 'matching' of the grade speeds with MULTIGRADE filters has changed the much bigger issue is with the age of 'these' MGII filters themselves, they FADE, slowy, but they FADE and the more they are used the more they degrade by 'WFS' ( Wet finger syndrome ) and 'LOTBS' ( left on the bench syndrome, instead of being put back in the box provided . We want everyone to get the maximum use out of every ILFORD Photo product....and 5 years minimum with care should be easily achievable.... but you can use them for longer, whilst they may not fade at exactly the same rate, as they fade you will move 'down grade' as opposed to 'up grade' so as long as you are exposing in the Grade 1.5 to 3.5 area ( Grade 2 ish being usual for a well exposed ) you should still have a usable filter it just may not neccesarily reflect the 'actual' grade required from a new set of filters....you will only therefore need to adjust ( down grade ) when you get a new set of ILFORD filters. I have now read that back twice and it makes sense to me, hope it does to you.

    Simon ILFORD Photo / HARMAN technology Limited :
     
  11. pentaxuser

    pentaxuser Subscriber

    Messages:
    8,257
    Joined:
    May 9, 2005
    Location:
    Daventry, No
    Shooter:
    35mm
    Makes complete sense, Simon, but could you say whether MGII filters can in fact be used with MGIV paper in respect of their speed matching and whether the change that came about with MGIV filters, namely the change to double exposure from grade 3 instead of 3.5 as with the older speed matched(I hope) filters is correct.

    I have acquired a set of MGII filters complete and in their box, recently and believe they were used very little so fading may not be an issued.

    Thanks

    pentaxuser
     
  12. mfohl

    mfohl Subscriber

    Messages:
    504
    Joined:
    Jan 10, 2007
    Location:
    Westerville,
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    I just want to add a couple of things, I guess to my original post. First, I never, and I mean never touch my filters with wet fingers. My darkroom has a wet side and a dry side, and never the twain doth meet. Also, I always keep my filters in the box, actually in that Rolodex type thing with the index tabs. I don't think fading is an issue, but if it was, I would have expected the lower numbered filters to have faded more since they were used more.

    One interesting thing is that with the Ilford filters, the 4, 4 1/2, and 5 are noticebly lighter; they are more pink, and clearly (to me) pass more light through. Hence the lower exposure required. The Kodak filters are the opposite. The higher numbered filters are darker, and definitely require more exposure. Regarding the Ilford filters, when I used the number 4 earlier this week, I checked the actual number on the filter, just to guard against my having misfiled one or more of the filters. I checked, and it was the number 4.

    So I have two possibilities. One is to experiment with the Kodak filters. The other is to buy a new set, and I have already placed a bid on eBay. And speed matching is not an issue. I always do test strips, and I at least put a quarter or eighth sheet in for a test exposure when I change filters.

    So I will experiment again next week or so, and I'll report back. Thanks again for all the comments.
     
  13. MartinP

    MartinP Member

    Messages:
    1,516
    Joined:
    Jun 23, 2007
    Location:
    Netherlands
    Shooter:
    35mm
    If the filters are coming from ebay then one can't really say they are 'new'. It would be worth buying some new ones, even a generic brand. The Kodak ones would probably do the job too.
     
  14. michael_r

    michael_r Subscriber

    Messages:
    6,614
    Joined:
    Feb 2, 2010
    Location:
    Montreal, Canada
    Shooter:
    4x5 Format
    mfohl - I have an extra set of new (never used) Ilford Multigrade (3.5"x3.5") I would be willing to give you for free. You'd just have to pay the shipping (depending on how fast you need them the shipping could be as low as ~$7 based on experience). If you want them let me know.
     
  15. sandermarijn

    sandermarijn Member

    Messages:
    769
    Joined:
    Oct 19, 2005
    Location:
    Leiden, Neth
    Shooter:
    35mm
    I've worked with a MG II filter set for about 8 years. The filters came with my most-used enlarger (Durst M800). They did a fine job with different brands and types of MG paper.

    Then I read this thread earlier this year and decided to replace the MG II filters.

    Well, in the grade range that I regularly use (1-2.5) the new filters work the exact same way, judged from the prints, with a not so scientific eye.

    There may be a visible difference at higher grades, I have yet to try.

    Sander

    ilford_mg_filtersets.jpg
     
  16. pentaxuser

    pentaxuser Subscriber

    Messages:
    8,257
    Joined:
    May 9, 2005
    Location:
    Daventry, No
    Shooter:
    35mm
    sandermarijn, it was you I was referring to in my post as I had spotted in a search that you had used MGII filters with later MG paper successfully as you have confirmed.

    I think you are saying that your old MGII filters are in fact producing exactly the same grades as your new MGIV set? Maybe they haven't yet faded.

    As I said in my above post my MGII filters seem to show little use as well but I have yet to test them

    pentaxuser
     
  17. mfohl

    mfohl Subscriber

    Messages:
    504
    Joined:
    Jan 10, 2007
    Location:
    Westerville,
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    Hey Michael R, thanks for the offer. But I need the larger filters, 6 inch or 5 1/2 inch or whatever. And I have that bid on the ebay things.

    Also I read the other thread, and it seems that other folks have had my experience. I'm looking forward to trying the Kodak filters.

    And I hope I get outbid on my eBay filters!
     
  18. mfohl

    mfohl Subscriber

    Messages:
    504
    Joined:
    Jan 10, 2007
    Location:
    Westerville,
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    Hello Folks, I did a quick test last night with a Kodak 4 1/2 filter and Oriental Seagull RC. Much better: much higher contrast. More experimenting in order, but it looks like higher contrast is within reach.

    Thanks for all the suggestions.
     
  19. Martin Aislabie

    Martin Aislabie Subscriber

    Messages:
    1,416
    Joined:
    Nov 17, 2007
    Location:
    Stratford-up
    Shooter:
    4x5 Format
    I had pretty much the same experience with old MG Filters (10+ years old) - so tested it with my Step Wedge - and I found I got the highest contrast with G3.5, with G4, G4.5 & G5 all giving lower contrast by varying amounts.

    A new box of MG Filters was bought and retested

    All the steps were a bit more contrasty - but the difference was larger the higher up the contrast scale you got.

    Martin
     
  20. HowieP

    HowieP Member

    Messages:
    34
    Joined:
    Dec 15, 2012
    Location:
    Long Island
    Shooter:
    35mm
    Hi, I've never not used Kodak filters - Polycontrast then Polymax - on Ilford MG and then Oriental Seagull RC papers. This covers about a 30-year period. The filters work in an entirely predictable way in providing appropriate contrast grades at predictable exposure times. Only recently it seems that my most frequently used filters are wearing out, resulting in lesser sharpness. But Kodak filters work great on most brands of VC paper.