Newbie: which BW paper to choose for my first prints?

Discussion in 'B&W: Film, Paper, Chemistry' started by sterioma, Nov 3, 2005.

  1. sterioma

    sterioma Member

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    Hi everybody! It seems like yesterday that I developed my first BW roll (it was 1 year ago) and now I might be able to print my first picture in a few days :cool:.

    A friend of mine has borrowed to me an old Meopta Opemus System enlarger and I am about to set it up in my bathroom to print some 35mm shots.

    I need some advice from you guys: I need to shop for some paper and for a safe light. My idea was to start with a lot of 10x15cm graded paper (2 and 3 maybe) and a waste bin to start experimenting (I do not have filters for multicontrast paper) and buy a safe light which is "safe" for that paper.

    Does it sound like a good plan? Which paper (and brand) would you choose if you were in my position?

    Thanks for any advise you can give to me! :smile:
    Stefano
     
  2. PeterDendrinos

    PeterDendrinos Member

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    Stefano,

    If you can get your hands on some Ilford Resin Coated paper, that would be a very safe place to start.

    The RC papers are the easiest to start with, and ilford has a good global presence.

    Have fun and good luck

    Pete
     
  3. titrisol

    titrisol Member

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    Ciao Stefano,
    depending on what is available in your town/vicinity I'd start with a RC paper from Ilford, Forte, Agfa or Foma.

    RC papers are a lot easier to work with
     
  4. Andy K

    Andy K Member

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    I'll say the Ilford RC papers too. Those are what I started with, and still use. In particular Ilford MG IV RC Pearle.
     
  5. Lee Shively

    Lee Shively Member

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    I agree on using RC papers to begin with. They require less processing and washing than fiber. While all that I'm aware of are variable contrast papers, you don't actually need to use filters with them. The filters will be necessary to manipulate the contrast of the papers but, without filters, they are normal contrast. That "normal" may vary a bit depending on paper manufacturer. You can always add filters later as you find the need.

    I'm a fan of Ilford's Multigrade RC papers, especially the Warmtone. Ilford's are the only currently available RC papers I'm familiar with and I recommend them highly.
     
  6. Travis Nunn

    Travis Nunn Member

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    Go with RC Papers to start with. As everyone else has said, they're easier to work with. After you have a little experience, then try FB.
     
  7. nworth

    nworth Subscriber

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    You will need some practice to get your printing to where you are really happy with it. That implies a few things. First, choose a manufacturer who is likely to give you a consistent product over time. Right now, that limits the choice a lot. Next, choose a surface that you can live with for just about all your subject material. Stick with your choice until you are an accomplished printer (not great, just accomplished). Then you can explore. RC surfaces are easier to handle than FB, so that may be a wise choice. VC means you do not have to stock multiple contrast grades, so that may be wise. But these things are your choice.
     
  8. pentaxuser

    pentaxuser Subscriber

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    I'd support Andy K on this. I started printing at a college in the U.K. and bought Ilford RC Pearle. Most of my fellow students had bought Ilford as well. Most had bought Glossy which always seemed brighter but Pearle gave a good range of tonesand seemed especially good for prints with people in them. Although dodging and burning did not form part of the course as it was one evening per week and only lasted 10 weeks, I was able to produce very acceptable prints from one test strip per print by straight printing and usually without contrast filtration.

    There were about 15-20 student per print session but at the end of a printing session there were very few prints going in the waste basket.

    I's a great feeling watching your first 10 x 8 inch print develop, knowing that it will be worth showing to friends and family even if not worth entering for a competition.

    Pentaxuser
     
  9. mjs

    mjs Member

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    I would think that buying a package of variable contrast paper and a set of filters would be less expensive than buying two packages of graded paper, but I'm in the USA and things may be different in Italy. Here in the US, Ilford sells a "student kit" containing a package of RC VC paper and their filter set (I think it contains a couple of rolls of film, too.) If you can't find the filter set in local stores, I would probably still recommend purchasing variable contrast paper and printing without a filter (which will give "normal" contrast,) until you can locate and purchase the filter set.

    Now, RC versus graded paper. Personally I don't like RC paper: it feels funny, it smells funny, and I think that fiber paper gives better images. On the other hand, lots of folks like RC paper and can't see a difference between images printed on either paper. One thing is certain: RC paper needs to be washed for a much shorter period of time. On that basis alone, while you are just starting out and struggling to get a print -- any print! -- this would be important at keeping your level of frustration low. Make no mistake -- learning to print will be frustrating. Good luck, and don't give up!

    mjs

    ps: my mother in law was a war bride -- born in Livorno, married a GI in 1946.
     
  10. srs5694

    srs5694 Member

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    I'd suggest buying whatever RC paper is least expensive to get started; there's no point in wasting money on expensive paper when a lot of your early prints will be thrown away. After you've printed a (100-sheet) box or two, you can begin experimenting with other brands and types of paper. Furthermore, advice you get favoring specific brands at least partly reflects the advice-giver's personal preferences, which might or might not match your own. For that matter, you won't be able to form personal preferences of your own until you've tried several products.

    One more point: As has been said, you can treat a VC paper as a normal grade (2 or 3) of fixed-contrast paper, so you might as well get VC paper if it's convenient/cost effective. If possible, get some B&W (magenta and yellow) filters. If you don't want to spend a lot of money on them, just keep your eyes open for a used set on eBay, in local used shops, etc.; something cheap may turn up, and in the meantime you can use your VC paper without filtration. With any luck, most of your negatives will print fine without filtration.
     
  11. Thomas Bertilsson

    Thomas Bertilsson Subscriber

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    Stefano,

    I just started printing myself a few months ago, and found it simple to use a variable contrast paper.

    Is there no way you can get a set of Ilford filters applied to your system? It would be a lot easier, and a set of grade 00 to 5 is just a couple of dollars. I second that RC papers are a lot easier to deal with. Ilford RC are widely available.

    As a good starting point, i learned from studying Michael Smith and his and Paula Chamlee's web site, to use a certain methodology when printing. Make a judgement, based on negative density and contrast, which grade paper (or filter) to use (comes with experience). Then make one print too dark, and one too bright, and make adjustments accordingly to get the third one right.
    This has saved me a lot of grief, and a lot of wasted paper. It really works.

    Just my 2 cents,

    - Thomas
     
  12. brent8927

    brent8927 Member

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    Check out Ebay for the multigrade filters; they should be dirt cheap.

    Another vote for Ilford RC paper; I think Ilford will be around the longest of all the B&W companies.
     
  13. sterioma

    sterioma Member

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    Thanks everybody! It look like that RC papers is the way to go now.

    About the multigrade filters, I am not sure how one uses them. The enlarger I have borrowed for some time is is shown at this link link. Can that be equipped with multigrade filters and how?
     
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  15. brent8927

    brent8927 Member

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    I haven't used that enlarger, but unless there is a filter fixed in that little peice underneath the lens, that's where the filters should go; I'm not sure if Ilford makes filters that size, or if you'd have to cut them yourself and find a mount (which you might not need).

    In theory... you could just tape the filter to the lens, or hold it... I use an enlarger in which the filter goes an inch or two above the negative. I think as long as it isn't in contact with the negative (in which case any dust/scratches on the filter would show up on the print) then you can really put the filter anywhere.

    But I think that piece right below the lens is the best place for the filters; unless there was a fixed filter there (usually red I think... so you could put paper under the enlarger and have the enlarger on) then it was built specifically to hold the multigrade (any any other) filters.
     
  16. Lee Shively

    Lee Shively Member

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    I can't tell from the picture--does it have a filter drawer above the negative carrier? If it does, get a set of filters sized to fit the drawer or buy a larger size and trim them to fit.

    If there is no filter drawer, you can still use filters. If the enlarger allows, you can just lift the top of the head (where the light bulb is located) and put your filter on top the condensers. You can also get a kit to attach filters below the lens. Or you can rig up a filter holder below the lens.

    There's lots of ways to use multi-contrast filters. :smile:
     
  17. Thomas Bertilsson

    Thomas Bertilsson Subscriber

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    The filters are normally placed above the negative in the enlarger to give the light going through the negative a specific color cast which makes a variable contrast paper 'act' like a specific grade of paper. They are transparent gel sheets of filter in roughly 3-1/2 inches square (can be cut to a size that will fit your enlarger drawer).

    Usually they are inserted into the lamp house in a filter drawer. This means it's OK if they are not 100% clean (of course they should be anyway). Worst case scenario, they can probably be applied right above the lens, or possibly even atop the neg holder. (I have the filter drawer, so I haven't really experimented with it). I'm sure some solution can be find to this pickle.

    Here's a link:
    http://www.freestylephoto.biz/sc_prod.php?cat_id=&pid=1563

    Good luck with it.

    - Thomas
     
  18. srs5694

    srs5694 Member

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    Concerning the filters, try a Google (or other search engine) search on "Meopta Opemus filters" or something to that effect. I didn't see any obvious hits on information on using filters with your specific model in the first few pages when I tried that search, but you might find it if you check out more links or try some variant. (You might try the specific model number, for instance, in quotes.)

    Failing that, filter drawers should be slots or other openings in which things can obviously be inserted. If yours lacks filter drawers, you should be able to jury-rig something, as others have suggested.
     
  19. fschifano

    fschifano Member

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    The least expensive resin coated, variable contrast paper you can find in 8x10. Don't bother with a 25 sheet pack; it's too small. One hundred or 250 sheet boxes of house branded papers from Adorama or Freestyle usually represent the best value here in the US. The Adorama papers are very good despite the bargain price, and rumor has it that the Freestyle Arista brand is the same thing. You will go through a lot of paper in the learning process and no sense in wasting the expensive stuff when the less expensive stuff will do just as well.
     
  20. srs5694

    srs5694 Member

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    They aren't the same -- or at least, Freestyle's Arista.EDU Ultra (their lowest-cost paper when I ordered, and probably still today) VC RC glossy paper clearly wasn't the same paper as Adorama's only house brand VC RC glossy paper. Since Freestyle's got several house brands from different suppliers (Arista, Arista II, Arista.EDU, and Arista.EDU Ultra), it's conceivable that one of their other variants is the same as Adorama's single house brand.
     
  21. vet173

    vet173 Member

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    I second ,(or 3rd ) andy on this one. Get the multigrade as you WILL be running out and get a set of filters before the first package of paper is gone. Your going to look at that print and say to yourself " If it only had a little more contrast", and you won't be able to wait. You have to have the proper needle to feed the addiction.
     
  22. dancqu

    dancqu Member

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    I seem to be the only one concious of the noticeably
    higher level of darkroom lighting afforded by the
    use of Graded papers.

    Graded paper lighting runs yellow to orangeish yellow
    while VC papers require amber to redish amber. Dan
     
  23. Peter Schrager

    Peter Schrager Subscriber

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    Paper+light

    Calumet ZoneVI LED safelight. Has the switch for graded and VC papers. Never had any fog problem with the VC which is unknowingly common with most lights. Paper-personally why even start with RC? I always thought that stuff was for bathroom mats. If you want to make prints then make them on fiberbased paper. We're talking chevy and porsche here folks....not that the look of some RC paper aint bad-just exactly how long does the stuff last?
    No one knows for sure and that's good enough for me.......
    Best, Peter
     
  24. modafoto

    modafoto Subscriber

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    RC multicontrast is a great beginner's choice. I have used it for years and now I have started doing fibre. I can only say fibre is a hell to use if you haven't got the basics in the darkroom down first.
     
  25. gbroadbridge

    gbroadbridge Member

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    Sometimes it's hell even if you do have the basics in hand :smile:

    If RC had been invented first we wouln't have this problem :smile:


    Graham
     
  26. dancqu

    dancqu Member

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    I don't think there would be a RC paper on the market were
    it not for machine processing; the over-night of years ago
    and today's one hour. The comparatively small market
    apart from the tonnages put through machines would
    not have prompted RC's production. Dan