So tell me why there are so many kinds of sepia toner....

Discussion in 'B&W: Film, Paper, Chemistry' started by jovo, Nov 7, 2007.

  1. jovo

    jovo Membership Council Council

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    Please!

    I have been wanting to try a warmer approach to some prints that will likely be in a show in March. I want to experiment with sepia toner on Ilford MGIV FB, and Kentmere VC paper. I looked at what's available from B&H and found:

    Kodak Toner - 1 quart - $3.69
    Kodak Toner II - 1 quart - $4.99
    Berg Rapid RC Sepia toner - $10.95
    Fotospeed - 1.5 liters - $19.99
    Photographer's Formulary - HypoAlum Sepia - 1 liter - $13.50

    So the obvious questions arise, i.e. what's the difference between these, and why do you suppose they're so different in price? Incidentally, some of these (the Kodak versions) cannot be shipped at all and must be purchased in store. What's that all about?

    Thanks in advance for any help and information you can offer!
     
  2. Ian Grant

    Ian Grant Subscriber

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    Same reason as why there are so many types of car.

    Or different types of film, or shoes, hats, dogs. Supply & demand.

    Ian
     
  3. TheFlyingCamera

    TheFlyingCamera Membership Council Council

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    I've always used the Berg and been quite happy with it. While it isn't totally odorless, it is not as stinky as the Kodak. I believe the reason the Kodak cannot be shipped is that it contains a cyanide based bleach that if mixed improperly and mishandled will produce cyanide gas. Now, you and I both know that in order to do so, someone has to have a serious will to do harm, but shipping regulations being what they are, and B&H being inordinately paranoid about shipping certain things, well... They won't even ship Kodak Rapid Fixer anymore!

    The Berg toner kit lasts a long time, and is easy to use. It's also the least expensive non-Kodak offering. I'd give it a try. As a word of warning, with any of the sepia toners, and a number of other toning kits, you need to use a non-hardening fixer, or you'll get WIERD colors in your prints. Berg Copper/Brown turns hot pink if you tone hardened prints, for example.
     
  4. Sanjay Sen

    Sanjay Sen Member

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    As far as the shipping is concerned, I find that Freestyle will ship most of the chems that B&H will not.
     
  5. Stoo Batchelor

    Stoo Batchelor Member

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    John, it seems that the difference between Kodak sepia 1 and Kodak sepia 2 is that the number two is to give you a warmer tone than the sepia 1.

    I would imagine that they do this by messing with the amount of addative. To explain, there are variable and non variable sepia toners, Fotospeed make the two kits. The non variable comes in a two bottle kit, a bleach and a toner. The variable comes with an extra bottle, an addative. By adjusting the amount of addative you can adjust the colour of the final print. The more addative, the browner the print.

    A good starting point is the non vairiable. Its a darn sight cheaper than the vairiable kit, in the U.K, nearly a third of the price, and it gives a lovely tone.

    Myself, and alot of other APUGers, prefer to split tone with selenium, as a totally bleached back and re-developed sepia print can be a bit lacking in clout, as the shadows can look a bit muted.

    Stoo

    P.S If you like what you get from your toning, home brew is definately the way to go.
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Nov 7, 2007
  6. Michel Hardy-Vallée

    Michel Hardy-Vallée Membership Council Council

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    If you can find Tim Rudman's book on toning, he explains the differences between the various kinds of sepia toner. There are two main kinds, bleach/redevelop vs. direct.

    I have the book at home, so I can send you some notes if I can.
     
  7. TheFlyingCamera

    TheFlyingCamera Membership Council Council

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    Another thing to bear in mind when printing for toning, if you're going to sepia tone (perhaps some other toners as well), print at least a half if not a whole stop darker than you would for an un-toned print. This will lead to richer shadows and a retention of detail in the highlights after bleaching.
     
  8. Ian Grant

    Ian Grant Subscriber

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    Here's a very quick list of basic types of Sepia Toner

    Hypo-Alum, direct toner produces purple/brown tone on Bromide papers, a fairly cold brown

    Polysulphide, direct toner, can also be used indirect

    Selenium/Sulphide toners, direct toners warmer than Hypo-Alum

    Sodium Sulphide, indirect toner, sulphide fumes are quite obnoxious. Classic sepia toner.

    Thiourea/Thiocarbamide, indirect toner, by varying the pH a wide range of tones are available, no smell.

    Direct toners are used on well washed prints, indirect toners require a rehalogenating bleach bath first,

    Ilford have a useful PDF on toning

    Ian
     
  9. jovo

    jovo Membership Council Council

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    Thank you all for your really helpful replies, and thank you, Ian, for the Ilford link. I downloaded the information and will use it and the advice from all of you to get started on this variation of my printing. Thanks again.
     
  10. nworth

    nworth Subscriber

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    There are thousands of sepia toners. In the early days of photography it seems that everybody had his own special concoction. I did some experimenting a while back with different bleaches and sulfiding mixtures. You can get an amazing variety of tones by varying the formulae. The Rudman book is excellent on the subject. For traditional sulfide sepia toners, the DuPont 6T series is a good way to go. Two bleaches and two toning baths are used in different proportions to give a very wide range of sepia and brown tones. For prepared toners, they all give somewhat different tones (as far as I know). Toning is always an adventure. Different papers respond differently. The same paper tones differently depending on exposure and development. Be prepared to experiment, and be prepared for some failures before you get what you want.
     
  11. Dan Henderson

    Dan Henderson Member

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    I've started exploring my mad scientist gene by buying chemicals from Photo Formulary, a beam scale from ebay, and mixing my own bleach and thiocarbimide toner. I find that I prefer subtle toning, and I can really fine tune the color by mixing my own.

    I don't purchase much from B&H because Calumet gets stuff to me the next day, but at least at one time B&H shipped via Fedex, and I've wondered if they have more strict shipping regulations than UPS (which Calumet uses)?
     
  12. TheFlyingCamera

    TheFlyingCamera Membership Council Council

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    B&H ships pretty much however the salesman wants to ship it to you that day. If you order off their website you can choose just about any shipping method you want other than Juan Valdez' burro. I once went in the store and had a salesman in the used department tell me they COULD NOT ship it FedEx, under any circumstances. This despite the fact that I had just walked past the FedEx truck in their loading bay not fifteen minutes earlier, and had ordered from them in the past and gotten FedEx delivery. It's an internal B&H thing about what chemistry they're willing to ship or not, not a specific delivery service restriction. B&H uses them all, from the post office to United Parcel Smashers to FedUp.