The RC Myth.

Discussion in 'B&W: Film, Paper, Chemistry' started by Dave Miller, Aug 29, 2004.

  1. Dave Miller

    Dave Miller Member

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    It seems to be generally advocated within this forum that fibre paper gives superior printing results to resin coated material. May I offer the argument that this is false, misleading, and probably driven by snobbery?
    Assuming the same image is printed equally well on both products of an equal finish, it is almost impossible to tell which medium is providing the support without physical help. Further if the finished print is displayed behind glass then it is IMPOSSIBLE to tell which type of paper was used. After all it is the emulsion that we look at, not the sub-carrier. So, why do we make life even more difficult, and expensive for ourselves than it already is? I accept that some fibre papers tone a little better than their resin counterparts, and certain processes will not work on RC, but that’s mainly because the emulsion type required isn’t available on that bearer. I’m thinking here of Bromoil, and Lith as examples.
    So, what argument can the forum offer for the exclusion of RC papers?
     
  2. dr bob

    dr bob Member

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    For me personally, the choice of paper and finishes depends on the image and what I visualize as the final product. RC does the job in many cases.
     
  3. Eric Rose

    Eric Rose Subscriber

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    I quite enjoy RC papers for the easy of us, but when it comes to producing a "fine" print I find that many of the processes I need to use to get what I want do not work well with RC papers. But if I can get what I want from RC I stick with it.
     
  4. David A. Goldfarb

    David A. Goldfarb Moderator Staff Member Moderator

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    We still don't know how archivally stable the latest RC papers are, and fiber is proven technology. I have some 20-year-old RC prints that have lasted, and I have some 10-year old RC prints that have silvered out on display.

    High end galleries that sell to serious collectors show very few RC B&W prints. Maybe it's snobbery, but, hey if the snobs are your market, there's no downside to catering to it.

    Personally, I don't think any RC paper I've tried really produces the blacks and the subtle gradation you can get with graded fiber papers. On the other hand, they may work for some kinds of images and some tastes.

    I use RC papers for convenience sometimes, for some proofs, prints for reproduction that don't need to last a long time, and for snapshots that are for passing around more than for mounting. Prints that are important to me are on fiber.
     
  5. jovo

    jovo Membership Council Council

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    I always make contact sheets, and often make work prints on RC paper because it's so much quicker and I can experiment and get a sense of direction from quickly washed and dried prints. Then I use fiber paper for the greater depth of tone and 'look' that clearly differentiates it from RC for finished prints. I wish the RC material were as good as the fiber stuff, but so far at least, it doesn't seem to be. OTOH, depending on whom you are making prints for, RC prints do indeed look pretty darn good and just may be good enough...just not compared to the same image on fiber paper.
     
  6. doughowk

    doughowk Subscriber

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    I've used both & prefer the look of fiber - there is a different appearance with the image on RC floating on the surface while same image seems to have a 3 dimensional quality on fiber.
    Also, as mentioned above & in Ctein's Post Exposure the jury is still out on the longevity/permanence of RC. Many on the Pure-Silver list as well as manufacturers would argue that Ctein's observations were for single batch with one manufacturer; but there seems enough anecdotal evidence that the problem is pervasive. After reading what manufacturers have to go thru in order to try to make RC permanent, makes me wonder about the long-term reliability of the solution(s).
     
  7. BWGirl

    BWGirl Member

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    Well, Dave, I for one am very happy you bring this up! I have been trying to figure out if there are real differences (besides fiber being an all around pain in the posterior... extra washing, curly prints, dry down). I love it that every day I come here and learn something new!
    Jeanette
     
  8. FrankB

    FrankB Member

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    I'm with Jeanette on this one. I'm a newbie to FB and would appreciate as many views and as much information as possible (without actual bloodshed!) on this thread.

    Great thread and (as always) great forum!

    Frank
     
  9. fhovie

    fhovie Subscriber

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    RC paper is great for testing and a lot of commercial work but for "fine art" it is not generally accepted. We know how archival properly used fiber papers are and that they will look great in 50 or more years. I like the look of fiber paper better and when I use RC paper, I can see the thin plastic layer over my image like a old soap film. When I look at a fiber prnt, I can see the image directly. I still use RC to fiber paper about -2 to 1. I put the work I am really proud of on fiber.
     
  10. paul ron

    paul ron Member

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    But Aren't the emulsions the same?

    It seems the papers I once used in the 70s are very different than the papers of today. I see these differences in todays emulsions and that raises the age old question of longevity. Yes the old papers have a proven track record but they suposedly had more silver compound in them. According to another discussion I saw here, new emulsions are silver starved. From what I read about emulsions of Agfa, Kodak and Illford, they are all using the same compounds in both their RCs and FB papers.

    Since New RC and FB are both using the same emulsions but have different bases... will modern papers hold up as well as their grandparent's papers? Which one is better if both emulsions are the same? Does the base material realyl make any difference if the emusions fail?
     
  11. ann

    ann Subscriber

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    beauty is in the eye of the beholder.
     
  12. Andre R. de Avillez

    Andre R. de Avillez Member

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    Paul,

    I believe the stability problem of RC is due to the base material degrading, not the emulsion. As far as I know, if properly processed, the emulsion will keep for longer than the paper it's printed on. In RC, the resin coat and the emultion (I believe) react, causing any archival processing useless. That, anyway, is what I was told by a professor, and he could be wrong (but then and again, he did have his Master's in photography).

    In fiber, the emulsion is right on the paper, and nothing sits on top of it. Hence, no malign reactions take place... In the end, the problem with RC is the plastic.
     
  13. Leon

    Leon Member

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    Dave - it's all in the tactile quality for me - FB glossy papers just FEEL so much nicer, dont you think??

    Granted, when mounted and under glass it's difficult to see the difference between good inkjet pigment prints against FB prints, let alone RC vs FB (I cant beleive I said that on apug). But it still FEELS so much nicer - snobbery .... probably!
     
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  15. Dave Miller

    Dave Miller Member

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    Yes, you did - now go and wash your mouth out with soapy water! :mad: And remember where you are. :wink:
     
  16. fred

    fred Member

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    It is not or Fiber or RC
    But and, and...

    And right you are, it is the content of the image that counts, even on newspaper quality a good image keeps "standing".

    But

    It's almost impossible to distinguish fiber or rc...
    But it is!
    Even when it is displayed behind glass.
    Many times fiber prints are not presented behind glass (books)
    And some of us show their images without glass protection.

    Fiber has more life, ther is more dept in it.
    When you dry it on glass it receives an extra element...

    I think, one has to optimalize his fiber-workflow at a maximum, so that it is not a pain to work with fiber papers. (working with analyser, mounting press, and so on).

    For some of us, making a final print isn't a 5 minute job, but more an 4 hours work.
    So RC or Fiber it makes not much difference.

    Photography Live has to be difficult :smile:
    Photography don't accept lazyness... :smile:

    Fred
     
  17. roteague

    roteague Member

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    I think you hit on something here. One of the reasons (not the only one) that I still work with traditional methods is the sense I get when working with the materials; there is just something in the feel of real film, real paper, chemicals, etc. Frankly, I would much rather spend hours in the darkroom, working on a fine print, then spend hours in front of the computer doing the same thing in PS.
     
  18. Aggie

    Aggie Member

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    Something that has not been mentioned is Clyde Butcher. Not long ago he had to replace most of the prints he did on RC. Nearly bankrupted him. The RC prints he made, were degrading. He is a pro, and certainly knows how to archivally process prints.

    From just that experience, I tend to ere in favor of a known quantity and print my final work on fiber. Yes it akes longer, and had a few quirks, but you learn quickly how to deal with them.
     
  19. Donald Miller

    Donald Miller Member

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    So, what argument can the forum offer for the exclusion of RC papers?

    Short answer: Fiber looks better and lasts longer. My subjective observation.
     
  20. Landrum

    Landrum Member

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    Have any of you guys heard of Clyde Butcher in S. Florida or any of the tests that Ctein has researched for Photo Techniques. Clyde Butcher makes enormous prints from 8x10 and larger negatives but printed them on RC paper because it's too hard to print big murals on Fiber. It's to easy to expose a 4 foot long print and then feed it into the roller transport black and white print processor. It's hard to process a 4 foot long print on fiber paper in trays or in large diameter tubes that some folks use. Fiber paper cannot be run through a roller transport machine like RC. Guess what, if you are able to charge $3000 for a print you better do it the right way. The right way usually isn't the easy way. All of his prints that he printed for years on RC need to be replaced, he won't call and tell you that the prints start silvering out. Only the people that complained because they new that prints aren't supposed to do this got replacements on fiber. Oh yeah, he wouldn't even replace them for free, he charged my friend about $700.00 to replace his 4 foot mural in fiber. It should have been free.

    Ctein did extensive testing on the outgassing and problems of RC paper a couple of years ago in the above mentioned magazine. I'm sure there's tons of info on this on the web.

    As far as image quality, it isn't even as good as fiber. Hold an RC print in glancing light and see all of the veiling that hides and obscures shadow detail. This does not happen with fiber.

    RC is fine for proofing and figuring out what you need to do but for serious work it is not even an option.

    Greg
     
  21. Dave Miller

    Dave Miller Member

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    I think that you have hit the crux of the problem there Paul. It makes sense for a paper manufacturer to use the same emulsion mix on both their RC and Fibre papers, and most do. The problem of delamination of RC papers dates back to it’s early days. Today it is only a problem if the prints spend too long in water, over-washing or too long in toning baths for example, or at least that is my experience. Trimming the edges off the finished print effects a cure. The only thing I can be reasonably certain of is that either type will out last my pigment inkjet prints – I think!
     
  22. Konical

    Konical Subscriber

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    Good Evening,

    I use both types of paper; over the years, I've used a lot more RC than fiber, but that's mostly because many of my prints have been for reproduction or other short-term use. I like the look of an air-dried glossy fiber print and the ease of dry-mounting one, but I hate the long fixing and washing times. Also, I haven't so far found a fiber paper with the brilliant whites that MG IV or Polymax RC can deliver. I guess I'd advise a beginner to do a lot of printing on RC to get technique down pat, then use fiber-base when it better serves a particular purpose.

    Konical
     
  23. Flotsam

    Flotsam Member

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    I have to agree with Paul. I remember a definite difference between RC and FB back in the early days. You really were making a choice between the best quality and the big convenience. I remember that the highlights always had a veiled look to them on RC. I haven't done any real comparisons recently and I assume that a couple of decades of improvements have reduced or eliminated the differences.
     
  24. David A. Goldfarb

    David A. Goldfarb Moderator Staff Member Moderator

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    One big difference is that many older RC papers incorporated developer in the emulsion, and Ilford and others have ended that practice, as it was a source of instability.

    Outgassing is still a consideration. The problem of "silvering out" isn't delamination--that's a different issue, and it is detectable more or less at the time of printing. Degradation of the emulsion that shows up as "silvering out" is something you would discover years later, when you may or may not have the negatives anymore.

    I do treat RC prints that I want to last in Sistan, and this is supposed to help, but I still don't think they look as good as graded fiber prints.
     
  25. john_s

    john_s Subscriber

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    How long do you intend a print to last? We have a paper print taken of my great grandfather and his family in 1889. I doubt that they intended us to be viewing it in 2004, but maybe they did. Anyway, it appears to have not faded, and has not stained or silvered out. It was stored in a box of papers for most of those years, hardly what you'd call "archival".

    So I use fibre for any prints that I'm pleased to give or display. Even prints that are produced for a short term purpose, such as displaying actors in a theatre foyer, can end up valuable souvenirs. Since most people's colour prints will be crap in a couple of decades, I'm doing my bit for posterity, as far as I know.
     
  26. mark

    mark Member

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    It is that certain something in a fiber print that makes me use it. It is just not present in an RC print. I realize that first sentence is vague but I was never able to get a print on RC to look as good as it did on fiber. When I did exhibition prints of historic negs, at the darkroom I used to work in, the professor or writer or whoever wanted the prints done always specified RC paper. I would print two sets of the first neg. One on fiber and the other on RC. After seeing the prints they always went with the fiber for the rest of the prints. We made no money from these exhibitions so cost was not the issue.

    As to curley PIA prints, dry them upside down on screens, stick them in the press and then right under a cold plate. It always seemed to work. Since I don't have a press anymore I just stack them under books for a couple of days works the same. AZO on the other hand is PIA and a real big one. I guess that is the nature of single weight papers though.

    AA dried his test prints in a microwave to see drydown. It really works. Plus RC papers have drydown issues as well.