More Varycon experiences wanted...

Discussion in 'B&W: Film, Paper, Chemistry' started by aldevo, Dec 31, 2007.

  1. aldevo

    aldevo Member

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    I've read this thread here:

    http://www.apug.org/forums/forum37/37117-varycon-experience.html


    But it's nine months old and only had the input of a few folks. So I'm soliciting more feedback...

    My own experience is pretty limited. I observed a friend printing with this paper about a year ago (which looked great). My own experience based on about 8 or 10 sheets of a box recently purchased from Freestyle was less successful. Here goes:

    - Very low in contrast. Dialing in a No. 4 on my LPL VCCE 670 was giving me contrast similar to using No. 2 1/2 on Forte Polygrade V.
    - The paper seems to be long-toed and it is very easy to produce muddy highlights. Polygrade V has a long toe but it was much easier to obtain brighter highlights when printing the same negatives.
    - Neutral-to-slightly-warm image tone (base is slightly warm, too) in Formulary 130. By comparison, Forte Polygrade V showed definite cold blue tones
    - The paper is not slow but it hits its reciprocity failure point very quickly.
    - I can't assess dry-down yet, as the prints are still drying.

    I would have thought this behavior (except for the emulsion tone) to be the result of safelight issues. But I performed a test with my dark red Kodak No. 2 and 5 minutes exposure to the safelight and subsequent processing did not produce any fogging at all.

    What sort of experiences are people having with this paper?
     
  2. kman627

    kman627 Member

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    I've found similar results. On a typical neg I print at either 4 or 5. If the neg had a red 25 filter than I can move down to grade 3. I agree about the tones, even developing with Cooltone it still produces a rather warm image.
     
  3. John Simmons

    John Simmons Member

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    Hello, I have extensive experience with this paper and it is essential that your negatives be fairly dense and contrasty to get good results with this paper. There are some quality issues with this paper (the few odd sheets with bad surface defects) but this is tempered by the price of the paper.

    I would not say that the base is warm as it appears pretty white to me but it does not contain any brighteners like Ilfords MGIV. I use dektol and get nice tones...especially after split sepia/selenium toning.

    Look in my gallery and you will see many images printed on Varycon and I would say that contrast is not an issue. This is just one of those papers where you are going to have to tailor your negatives specifically for it to achieve optimum results.

    Regards,
    John
     
  4. Guillaume Zuili

    Guillaume Zuili Subscriber

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    You need a dense negative as John says. It's lovely with Ansco 130 and that paper (and his brother Emak) really needs toning. Then it's stunning.
     
  5. Jersey Vic

    Jersey Vic Member

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    My own experinces are very much the same as your own. Don't love it YET but for lith printing.
    I wish Poly V and Poly WT (and Agfa and PolyMax.. and... and ..) were still options but being they aren't.
    I'm trying to only buy and learn to use what's out there and thereby support ongoing businesses rather than purchase old batches of paper from defunct manufacturers.
     
  6. kman627

    kman627 Member

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    John - What are your methods for selenium? I haven't been able to get any response out of it with KRST.
     
  7. Rolleijoe

    Rolleijoe Member

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    I use this paper as my main paper (in fiber version), and get excellent results from it. No problems at all. Just printed a series of Titanic artifacts shot on Neopan 1600, as well as some Fomapan 100 & 400. Printed great. I'm using an Omega D5XL with all 3 Schneider lenses, and Chromegatrol. Magenta set on 40 (and 45 for 1 shot in lower light) for everything.

    If anything, I can easily get too much contrast. This is a great paper, check out the Flickr group http://www.flickr.com/groups/fotokemika/. It's my replacement for MCC.
     
  8. John Simmons

    John Simmons Member

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    If you want a color shift with KRST on this paper your dilution will need to be around 1+5 or 1+9 for 5 minutes. Weaker dilutions will not really be noticeable. The amount of color shift you will see is influenced by the print developer you use as well.

    I split tone using sepia and selenium and for that I dilute the selenium 1+12 and tone for 3 minutes. Then wash and do a weak sepia to get some warmtones in the highlights.

    Hope this helps.

    Regards,
    John
     
  9. Guillaume Zuili

    Guillaume Zuili Subscriber

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    Selenium 1+9 for 5 minutes.
    Or
    Brown toner gives beautiful subtle tones too.
     
  10. Alden

    Alden Member

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    I've just finished my 2nd 100 sheet box of 8x10 from Freestyle. I found it cooler than Arista ( Forte? ) , and never noticed a contrast issue. It toned well in my regular selenium mix. Multigrade tones less dramatically. Only problem was the occasional loss of surface emulsion to the edges. Now to try Slavich.
     
  11. JBrunner

    JBrunner Moderator Staff Member Moderator

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    Some love it, some hate it. Use a red safelight. Some of my negs just flat out sing with this paper, on others, it is finicky. JMO
     
  12. Thomas Bertilsson

    Thomas Bertilsson Subscriber

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    I have a similar experience to Jason; sometimes I get glowing prints with Varycon and other times I cannot print on it for the life of me. Most of the time it's rewarding and it does respond very well to different developers. I use it with a dilute Ansco-130 developer at high temperature and a developing time of three minutes to reach maximum black and have the most impact.
    - Thomas
     
  13. aldevo

    aldevo Member

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    John,

    What you say makes a great deal of sense to me. Two of the three negs I tested with were either quite flat (needed No. 3 1/2 to print on Forte Polywarmtone) or were stained (developed in Pyrocat-MC, which produces a brown stain).

    I did print a somewhat denser and contrastier neg and the paper seemed to respond somewhat better.
     
  14. aldevo

    aldevo Member

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    I'm getting lots of good information here - thanks.

    Can anybody take a stab at the general contast range (e.g. soft grade 1 - hard grade 3) that is attainable with this paper? It doesn't seem to have much range, but I'd be curious as to what others have found.

    Thanks once again and happy New Year!
     
  15. GeorgK

    GeorgK Member

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    In my experience, toning is 100% essential for this paper. In the beginning I did not like it at all, and It took me one year and almost the complete box to learn how to handle this paper. Also: use a strong developer, not the "economical" dilutions, and give it time in the developer.

    I use Viradon (approx. 1:100) for 1-2 minutes. The tone-shift is minimal, but the deep tones completely change their character. Without toning, the blacks and dark greys are muddy and flat, which might work on an "artistic" shot, but looks lifeless most other times. After toning, you almost can walk into the picture. This might also be a source for different opinions on Varycon, because people who tone routinely never stepped into this problem.

    I do not have any personal experience with selenium, but I guess this might also work well.

    So, for a optimum print on Varycon FB, print a littel brighter than normal (just a hair), and then pull the blacks down by toning. As with all FB papers, it needs to completely dry before you can really judge the print.

    Varycon is the closest substitute for Agfa MCC I've found so far. Not in the highlights (where the Afga MCC was more brilliant), but it gives the same gorgeous "paintery" look in the shadows.

    This paper now has become my favorit, but it is still a good idea to have a box of Kentmere or Ilford by hand for the negatives where it just does not work.

    Regards
    Georg
     
  16. Thomas Bertilsson

    Thomas Bertilsson Subscriber

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    In response to range. I think this paper actually has an incredible range, it's proven by the fact that it needs negatives of high contrast to exhibit the range. If you think you're getting muddy and low impact in the blacks, try to dilute your developer and leave it in for longer. I will admit that it's hard to reach d-max, but with extended development times it's entirely possible (I use three minutes in 1+3 Ansco-130 or 1+2 Dektol), and I trim my exposure time accordingly. That really helps in bringing out the blacks of this paper.
    I'm just now getting into toning it but it really seems to help it along even farther to become one of my favorite papers for standard b&w printing.

    - Thomas
     
  17. Lachlan Young

    Lachlan Young Member

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    I really like this paper - however it is really slow, and indeed on more than one occasion, what I thought was a lack of contrast turned out to be a case of not exposing the paper for long enough - it also needs a good three minutes in the developer, plus a dip in toner as others have said.

    Have fun!

    Lachlan
     
  18. Paul Howell

    Paul Howell Member

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    Has anyone used the Fotokenika Varycon filters? I tried both Ilford and Dupont filters, with the Ilford number 5 filter I got a grade 3 or 3 1/2, with a Dupont number 10 I got a 4 or 41/2, but the number 9 and 10 Dupont filters are cyan and really dark. The Dupont number 8 is mengneta and prints a 2/12or 3 and seems to compare with a number 3 Ilford, but prints at about the 1/2 the time of the Ilford 3. Varycon seems to have only 6 filters as opposed the Ilford set of 11 or 10 for Dupont. I am wondering if a Varycon filter set will make any difference. This may be mood point as I really like Slavich and Kentmire.
     
  19. Andrew Moxom

    Andrew Moxom Member

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    Alden, Slavich will not disappoint.
     
  20. misok

    misok Member

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    what i like to do with varycon is to expose for a regular developer, then immerse it to the lith dev and wait until the infectious development starts. since the paper is underexposed for lith, mids and highs are almost invisible. when the deep shadows are done i wash it briefly and then just put it into the standard print dev to get the rest of the tonal spectrum. this 2 bath approach may not work for everything but i really like what i'm getting - rich deep blacks - then maybe a just a little tonal 'gap' - then pleasing long mids and then not too bright highs. if on the particular negative aren't stronger shadows, i help paper/lith developer with overexposure and then i try to snatch for mids/highs in regular positive developer.
     
  21. MDR

    MDR Member

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    Efke Varycon is my most used paper both in lith and for straight prints I use it a grades 2 1/2 to 3 1/2 and get beautiful tones. I develop it in either Agfa 135 (Homemade with 5.6g Potassium bromide) 1:2 or with Tetenal Eukobrom 1:9. I sometimes tone it in LP-Selenia 1:3 for deep blues but most of the time I am satisfied with untoned prints though I do use Agfa Sistan or Fuji AgGuard. I admit my negatives can be contrastier than usual but not by much.

    Dominik
     
  22. Richard Jepsen

    Richard Jepsen Member

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    I agree with John Simmons comments on negative density. I have limited experience and recall most of my negatives were not tuned for Varycon. I had a few problems running out of contrast with my LPL 670 Dichro. I'm sure one can get stunning results if you get dialed in.

    The tone has a resemblance to Agfa MCC Classic and can produce strong blacks. The paper base has a pleasing slight warm tint much lighter than Ilford WT buff base tint. The paper seems to dry flatter than others.

    I ordered 25 sheets. The price is right.
     
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