Variable-contrast RC paper options besides Illford

Discussion in 'B&W: Film, Paper, Chemistry' started by BetterSense, Jun 7, 2009.

  1. BetterSense

    BetterSense Member

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    For me, the standard is Illford. I started out using the MGIV paper which I got used for cheap. I have no complaints with the MGIV, either in satin or glossy.

    My supply eventually dwindled and I balked at the price of new MGIV. I bought some AristaEDU.Ultra paper, which is quite cheap and I like very much...as long as I want a warmtone paper. To me, this paper is practically a warmtone paper. I printed a whole vacations worth of photos on it and it's great but they are all warm toned, and it doesn't always suit the subject. Very nice, I have found a cheap warmtone paper! But I usually want a more neutral paper.

    I also bought some Arista II paper but I am convinced that I got a bad batch, which I am trying to send back to Freestylephoto.

    There are other brands of RC VC paper on Freestylephoto...Adox, Kentmere, Fotokemika. And of course, Illford. I have gotten used to my $.33-per-sheet Arista paper...I could just buy Illford but at over $.60 a sheet it would hold me back from the darkroom a bit I'm afraid. What I'm still looking for is a cheaper Illford MGIV VC RC paper. How do the other brands of paper available compare?
     
  2. fschifano

    fschifano Member

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    I use a lot of the Arista.EDU Ultra paper and yes, you're right about it being a bit on the warm side. One thing I've noticed though is that this characteristic is sensitive to the developer used. In fresh Dektol, 1+2, the paper is quite neutral. Once the developer starts becoming exhausted, the paper slows down and shifts to a warmer tone. I've also noticed that this paper takes a bit more time than many other papers to develop fully. I use 2 1/2 minutes for the resin coated papers, and a full 3 minutes for the fiber based material. The paper warms up very nicely in selenium toner, which is something that Ilford MGIV will not do.
     
  3. rwyoung

    rwyoung Member

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    Try using the Ansco 130 formula (Photographer's Formulary sells a you-mix-it kit that works well) with the Arista.EDU paper. Vary the dilution, you may need to go as high as 1+4 but it won't be "warmtone" any more. I don't use the Arista.EDU for much except proofs and as "film" in pinhole cameras but it never seemed all that warm to me with Dektol 1+0 and 1+1.

    There are other Foma VCRC papers available from Freestyle as well as the Kentmere (yes, Ilford made but different formulas) and some other goodies like old stock of Forte (obviously don't get too attached to that stuff) and Varycon. On the graded RC side there are a few choices from Arista (Foma I assume), old stock Forte and Efke.
     
  4. wrench

    wrench Member

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    I really like the Adox MCP paper. The 310 is a glossy surface and the 312 is satin which is what I use the most. It's more contrasty than the ilford, but I find that I get a good tonal range out of a #2 filter. It's not as cheap as the Arista brands, but significantly less than Ilford. The weight of the paper is close to Ilford, perhaps slightly thinner, but not by much. All in all, I think it's a good alternative especially for contact printing and such.
     
  5. BetterSense

    BetterSense Member

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    Thank you! I've noticed that the tone of the paper seems to vary and sometimes it's a lot warmer than others. I get a lot of mileage out of my Dektol so I'm sure that's what's happening. Maybe if I keep my developer more fresh I would be able to employ it more widely.
     
  6. rwyoung

    rwyoung Member

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    Again, try the Ansco 130 formula. Higher effective capacity per oz than Dektol and keeps longer (use a glass bottle/jar).
     
  7. dpurdy

    dpurdy Member

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    You might give the Oriental non warm tone VC paper a try.
     
  8. fschifano

    fschifano Member

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    There you go. And that's precisely why I keep some well used Dektol around long after it should have been tossed. You can use it if you want that effect. Prints made with the Arista.EDU Ultra papers in partially exhausted Dektol warm up noticeably more in selenium toner than do prints made with fresh developer.
     
  9. jgjbowen

    jgjbowen Member

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    Help me out here, for you the standard is Ilford, but you won't buy Ilford because it costs a little more?

    Some suggestions:

    Continue to buy "used" MGIV off Ebay. How do you print on "used" paper??? :smile: All the "used" paper I've ever seen already had a print on it!

    Make smaller prints. Instead of an 8x10, print to 5x7 or 4x5 and use "the standard."

    Good Luck!
     
  10. BetterSense

    BetterSense Member

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    That's correct. I got several hundred sheets of old opened MGIV on craigslist for practically free; that's what I started using so that's what I'm comparing to. But I would like to find a cheaper paper that is similar in characteristics to MGIV.
     
  11. ath

    ath Member

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    well, my opinion regarding RC is: MCP rules!
    I never really liked MG4 although it has some desireable characteristics: low batch to batch variation, holds up well in sunlight.
    For me the pictures on MCP just look better.

    Maybe you should try a few papers before setting a "standard".
    Fomaspeed Variant, Kentmere VC Select (both available rebranded) come to mind.

    I too started out on MG4 and switched to MCP after a few prints.
     
  12. Pablito

    Pablito Member

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    Unfortunately, I have found that older Ilford paper develops a pink tint to the base, loses speed, and prints flatter. Does not seem to happend with FB.