Life of b&w papers?

Discussion in 'B&W: Film, Paper, Chemistry' started by pcooklin, Jul 18, 2012.

  1. pcooklin

    pcooklin Member

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    Hello - Ive been given a load of black and white papers which seem to be quite old, most dating back to 1996.
    From what I can see, most of them are unused and still sealed. The papers range from Kodak, Ilford and Kentmeer and varying sizes including sizes no longer available.
    I have done a search for a few of the papers but wanted to get a definitive from the forum. Should these papers be ok to use. I would naturally do tests first but wondered what you thought.
    Ive placed them in the fridge until I take a closer look at each one. Ive also seen a pack of plates which Im going to have to search which camera's use them and more info.
    Many thanks.
    Paul
     
  2. tkamiya

    tkamiya Member

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    I have papers that are two years old that are open and stored in room temperature. Just recently, I noticed they lost some contrast. Perhaps 1/2 grade worth of it. Strangely enough though, it seems to require less exposure to reach the same density.....

    I know this because I used the same enlarger, same setting, same chemical, etc, and the print required additional adjustment.

    I was able to bump the contrast 1/2 grade and lessen the exposure time to make the same print; however....

    Just one experience - not anything scientific.

    I think it's safe to say they do change over time....
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Jul 18, 2012
  3. pcooklin

    pcooklin Member

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    Thanks tkamiya - I wondered if the contrast would be out, but that's not a problem once I work out the actual contrast for each box of paper. I just wondered if there was a max shelf life before they give up the ghost regardless of contrast/exposure adjustments.
    Ive also seen some microphen and id-11 in the original boxes/sachets - would this be ok do you think?
    When did Kodak stop making papers, 2006? Ive only used Ilford and Silverprint. There seems to be a few gems in the box.
     
  4. Colin Corneau

    Colin Corneau Subscriber

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    I've noticed old papers -- 3 or 4 years -- are fogged slightly. That's just my observation in a very limited perspective.

    Powdered chemistry in unopened packets should be OK, esp if it's <10 years
     
  5. tkamiya

    tkamiya Member

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    Hi,

    I was informed by Ilford rep (who is a regular on this forum), they do last quite a bit, especially if they are cold stored. Numbers such as 5 years seem to be tossed around. I have seen some data charting number of years and reduction in contrast somewhere recently.....

    I would think, loss of contrast, loss of Dmax (darkest density), and fogging would be an issue. I think you really will have to test your own stock, since no one knows how they are stored anyway. I certainly wouldn't toss them out. If nothing else, it would be kind of fun to see if they are still in decent shape...
     
  6. ic-racer

    ic-racer Member

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    You will have to test them yourself. Mildly fogged film can still make some fine exposures, but fogged paper produces an annoying gray cast to the entire image and border. You can also try lith printing it if it is fogged and unsuitable for standard prints.
     
  7. pentaxuser

    pentaxuser Subscriber

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    As others have said you have to try them. Even if the fogging is quite pronounced try benzotriazole it can make a difference.

    Even if all the paper is the same age don't assume that if, say the Kentmere is fogged, that the Ilford will be the same. Try each pack.

    pentaxuser
     
  8. pcooklin

    pcooklin Member

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    Thank you all :smile:
    I'll give them all a try and see what's what.
     
  9. Thomas Bertilsson

    Thomas Bertilsson Subscriber

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    Especially the Kentmere Art Document stuff is brilliant for lith printing, even if it's fogged. I think there are many people who would shell out a decent penny for it if you decide to get rid of it.
     
  10. polyglot

    polyglot Member

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    Depends on paper (Agfa was terrible for fogging) and storage conditions (temperature, humidity and presence of sulfides). I have some 4-year-old Kentmere and Ilford that's perfect (no refrigeration but always indoors)... but 1996 was a long time ago and you will have to test.

    If they haven't been stored in the fridge up to now, putting them in the fridge now is pointless. If you're going to use them in the next year or three, refrigeration is irrelevant even if they've been stored cold their entire life. Don't waste the space on such old paper.
     
  11. cliveh

    cliveh Subscriber

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    Well recently I bought a job lot of old papers on ebay with the thought of using them for Lumen printing. Several of them comprised packets and a box of double weight Bromesco, which must date back 30 years +. I developed an unexposed sheet and to my amazement it was extremely white.
     
  12. M. Lointain

    M. Lointain Member

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    I have found RC paper to not last. VC fiber paper will lose contrast which isn't a big deal depending on how you print. Benzo can save papers as mentioned above. I read a long time ago that the papers that predated the removal of Cadmium last longer. That seems to be the case sometimes. Older graded papers seem to fare the best for longevity. I have used papers from as far back as the 40's that worked.
     
  13. DarkroomDan

    DarkroomDan Subscriber

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    If you find that some of the paper is no longer usable for silver printing itstill is of use. As mentioned above, some may be desirable for lith printers. Some Carbon transfer printers (I am one) fix it out and use it for single transfer final support. Cliveh says it may be good for lumen prints. There are most likely other alt-photo process printers who would be glad to take it off your hands should you find you have no use for it.

    Dan
     
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  15. MattKing

    MattKing Subscriber

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    First - you have to be careful here on APUG referring to 1996 as "old" :whistling:

    Second - any Ektalure in the batch :cool:?

    Third - the answer will vary tremendously depending on a number of factors, including the papers themselves.
     
  16. Thomas Bertilsson

    Thomas Bertilsson Subscriber

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    Depends on the kind. I have had two boxes of Brovira (rest in peace) that were perfect at about 20 years past expiration. I just recently sold some Grade 4 Record Rapid that was near perfect. So I wouldn't say all Agfa papers were terrible.

    @ Matt King - are you fishing for some Ektalure? I have a whole bunch of it here, but I'm not sharing... :smile:
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Jul 19, 2012
  17. MattKing

    MattKing Subscriber

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    Thomas:

    Just trying to re-visit my youth :whistling:
     
  18. Slixtiesix

    Slixtiesix Subscriber

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    It really depends on the kind of paper. FB papers can last for years, even decades, while RC papers will not last that long usually. I´ve also made the experience that variable graded papers do suffer more easily than fixed graded RC papers when stored for longer periods. Dry, cool and dark conditions provided, of course.
     
  19. Stan160

    Stan160 Member

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    Another vote for lith printing: I've got some part used boxes of Agfa Record Rapid, some blue label, some white (later, no cadmium IIRC). No idea how old, but it dates back to a time when 25 sheets of 8x10 cost £6.29 and was available in a high street photography shop!

    Completely useless for conventional printing - even with no exposure it goes very dark grey after 30 seconds in the developer. On the other hand, with generous exposure, it develops a beautifully smooth sepia image in lith developer, albeit very slowly, and no fogging of the highlights.

    Ian
     
  20. Simon R Galley

    Simon R Galley Subscriber

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    Dear Paul,

    A few threads on this topic already.

    As you are doing, you need to test each box to ensure they are unaffacted by base fog.....it 100% depends on their age and how they have been stored, plenty of good advice in the thread, I would have to challenge the opinion that RC paper does not last as long as FB, in the early days of RC papers 70's early 80's or when 'developer incorporated' that was the case, but certainly since the
    90's I would expect all our RC products to be as stable ( unexposed ) and fog resistant as the FB products.

    Longevity of unexposed papers is really down to storage, yes you can freeze the product and that undoubtedly is the way to ensure they last the longest, but probably impracticle for most users, but normal storage, in a cool, dark and dry environment ( less than 20c ) should ensure many years of life, minimum 5 years and many examples on APUG of 10+ years.

    As per the thread contibutors say, ageing papers exhibit lower top end contrast ( and D.Max ) and increased level of base fog.

    Simon ILFORD Photo / HARMAN technology Limited :
     
  21. Ian Grant

    Ian Grant Subscriber

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    I've had a lot of experience with older papers, bromide papers keep remarkably well in general, as Simon says contrast & speed drops with age but in my case 1960's Kodak Bromide Paper and Ilfobrom there was no increse in base fog.

    Warmtone papers age very much faster, there's a detectable shift in image colour after a year, but that's only when trying to coax maximum warmth from a paper.

    Some warm tone papers keep very poorly, Sterling (made in India) was the worst, one of the old Oriental WT papers wasn't much better. I'm talking less than 5 years.

    Variable contrast papers differ quite markedly, in general Ilford keep better than Kodak.

    Ian
     
  22. RalphLambrecht

    RalphLambrecht Subscriber

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    papers lose contrast and speed over time, but you can obviously compensate for both,at least with multi-contrast papers.
     
  23. pcooklin

    pcooklin Member

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    Thanks again for all the posts which confirmed my suspicions. I did a test last night on 2 of the many papers. One pack of Kodak Bromesko 2, which is lovely, is fine but there were only 2 small sheets, one I used for a test the other was ok. One small pack of Ilford MG II is fogged. There's loads to go through and to be honest, Im quite excited at the prospect. I think Ive been given a trasure chest of goodies.
    Quite a few of the boxes are unopended and I wont open them until I plan on using them. I'll continue to test the opened packets/boxes.

    Storage - My darkroom is quite small, 5 x 5 metres. Ive got a book case which I use for dry materials etc but Im concerned about keeping the papers in the darkroom.
    Ive never needed to be concerned about long term storage because I normally keep a few packs of paper in the fridge until I need it, but now that I have so much precious paper, Im looking at long term storage.
    Presumably keeping the papers the darkroom is not a good idea due to fumes. I was thinking of a dark plastic storage box which has a lid, would that be ok to keep in the darkroom on a shelf if I keep the lid closed?
    Many thanks again.
     
  24. pcooklin

    pcooklin Member

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    Thanks again for all the posts which confirmed my suspicions. I did a test last night on 2 of the many papers. One pack of Kodak Bromesko 2, which is lovely, is fine but there were only 2 small sheets, one I used for a test the other was ok. One small pack of Ilford MG II is fogged. There's loads to go through and to be honest, Im quite excited at the prospect. I think Ive been given a trasure chest of goodies.
    Quite a few of the boxes are unopended and I wont open them until I plan on using them. I'll continue to test the opened packets/boxes.

    Storage - My darkroom is quite small, 5 x 5 metres. Ive got a book case which I use for dry materials etc but Im concerned about keeping the papers in the darkroom.
    Ive never needed to be concerned about long term storage because I normally keep a few packs of paper in the fridge until I need it, but now that I have so much precious paper, Im looking at long term storage.
    Presumably keeping the papers the darkroom is not a good idea due to fumes. I was thinking of a dark plastic storage box which has a lid, would that be ok to keep in the darkroom on a shelf if I keep the lid closed?
    Many thanks again.
     
  25. Ronald Moravec

    Ronald Moravec Member

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    Older papers from 60`s &70`s held up better than todays papers in storage. Todays papers have additional emulsion components that allow them to be manufactured and sold immediately without 6 months aging. Good for manufactures, bad for users as the shelf life is shortened considerably.

    20 years ago the Ilford rep, when Kodak and Ilford had reps, told me freezing added little to shelf life.

    The good news is I believe the papers today have better tonality than they did then, specially the multicontrast. Ilford Gallery is just outstanding.Knock your socks off good.
     
  26. Mike Wilde

    Mike Wilde Member

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    I play with old paper all the time. Ask those who get psotcard exchange images from me if you think this an idle boast.

    When you test, don't pull from the top of the pile with old papers before deciding the paper is crap.

    There seems to be some kind of interaction with the packaging that makes the top sheet of old paper often behave differently from that found further in.

    Old papers loose contrast in my experience. A step wedge printing test can be very helpful in calibrating how they currently react.