VC Papers - As Good As Graded?

Discussion in 'B&W: Film, Paper, Chemistry' started by seadrive, Jun 24, 2012.

  1. seadrive

    seadrive Member

    Messages:
    348
    Joined:
    Aug 8, 2005
    Location:
    East Marion,
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    Years ago, variable contrast papers were generally considered to be inferior to graded papers. Is this still the case, or has the VC technology improved to the point where they're just as good as graded papers?

    Found an interesting read on local contrast and VC papers: click here to read
     
  2. michael_r

    michael_r Subscriber

    Messages:
    6,614
    Joined:
    Feb 2, 2010
    Location:
    Montreal, Canada
    Shooter:
    4x5 Format
    Just as good. It comes down to knowing how to use them, and understanding your materials.
     
  3. ooze

    ooze Member

    Messages:
    368
    Joined:
    Nov 22, 2004
    Location:
    Istanbul, Tu
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    In case you intend to base your choice on the replies you get here, why take someone else's word for it instead of simply trying? There are only very few graded papers left anyway.

    Recently I compared Ilford's RC Ilfospeed paper with their flagship fiber based MGIV...I was in for a surprise.

    Cheers
     
  4. artonpaper

    artonpaper Subscriber

    Messages:
    326
    Joined:
    Aug 7, 2007
    Location:
    Staten Islan
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    I've been making B&W prints since the 1950s and as you say for the longest time VC papers were inferior to graded. That changed at some point, late 80s - early 90s, and VC papers are my choice now. I can make better prints by using half grades and splitting filters for dodging burning etc. Prior to using VC, we had to modify our developers and do things like sponge hot strong developer onto local areas. And then there was the practical side of it, not having to stock so many different grades. So, IMHO VC papers rule.
     
  5. brian steinberger

    brian steinberger Member

    Messages:
    2,563
    Joined:
    Jan 5, 2007
    Location:
    Pennsylvania
    Shooter:
    Med. Format RF
    Please explain..
     
  6. Bill Burk

    Bill Burk Subscriber

    Messages:
    5,071
    Joined:
    Feb 9, 2010
    Shooter:
    4x5 Format
    Today's MG paper is very good.

    I target Ilford Galerie Graded FB paper and use MGIV FB paper only when I have to, usually when I need grades 3 1/2 to 4.

    I don't have any negatives that require 00 grade, so haven't seen that curve anomaly. If I did have some very long scale negs I would be very interested in printing them on Platinum/Palladium.

    Other than slight surface texture difference and some difference in the way Selenium toner takes... I find the results I get from MGIV indistinguishable from the results I get with Galerie.
     
  7. David A. Goldfarb

    David A. Goldfarb Moderator Staff Member Moderator

    Messages:
    18,000
    Joined:
    Sep 7, 2002
    Location:
    Honolulu, Ha
    Shooter:
    Large Format
    In my opinion no, but you've really got to try things out for yourself. Excellent prints can be made on virtually any of the papers available today, if you know how to use them. If you're looking for a new paper, the best method is just to buy a bunch of 25-sheet packs of 8x10" and make the best prints you can with each of them from a few standard negs, then keep a reference folder with prints labeled on the back.
     
  8. seadrive

    seadrive Member

    Messages:
    348
    Joined:
    Aug 8, 2005
    Location:
    East Marion,
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    So... if you can't tell the difference between Galerie and MGIV, is it the texture difference and the way the toner takes that makes you use MGIV only when you have to?

    Thanks to all for the info!
     
  9. Jeff Kubach

    Jeff Kubach Member

    Messages:
    6,926
    Joined:
    Sep 29, 2007
    Location:
    Richmond VA.
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    I have used VC paper for the last few years, excellant stuff.

    Jeff
     
  10. matti

    matti Member

    Messages:
    652
    Joined:
    Jun 13, 2005
    Location:
    Stockholm, S
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    Only me that find it more fun with fixed grade papers? And fun is my fuel. So for me, fixed grade sometimes equals better.
    /matti
     
  11. Bill Burk

    Bill Burk Subscriber

    Messages:
    5,071
    Joined:
    Feb 9, 2010
    Shooter:
    4x5 Format
    Those two differences are trivial and do not make me prefer Graded paper.

    I don't know if I can rationally explain my preference... Here's a couple thoughts.

    I like knowing in advance what paper a negative might fit. For example I just developed some N+2 shots to N+1 so I expect them to print on Grade 3.

    I can see when I need to dodge and burn more clearly when I use Graded papers. A test print on MG where dodging and burning are indicated, could also be improved by changing filters. So the choice of how to improve the print is not as clear to me when using MG. This clarity of direction with Graded paper, could be framed as an unecessary constraint, so depending on your point of view this could be an advantage for MG.
     
  12. M. Lointain

    M. Lointain Member

    Messages:
    148
    Joined:
    Jun 1, 2011
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    I think graded papers are better but not by much. That being said, I use VC paper because of its flexibility.
     
  13. David Allen

    David Allen Member

    Messages:
    777
    Joined:
    Nov 6, 2008
    Location:
    Berlin
    Shooter:
    Med. Format RF
    What does better mean?

    The theory paper link sent me to sleep! - probably great maths but . . . and who, working with modern materials, ever needs Grade 00 these days?

    In the real world, the 'best' paper is the one that suits what you want to achieve.

    For me this Adox Fine Print Vario Classic developed in Dokumol. The reason is simply that I like punchy prints with detail throughout the range and I can achieve this simply with this paper exposing on a hard grade followed by a little burning in of very bright highlights with a softer grade. I find this is much more effective for my printing style than using graded paper. However, as I indicated at the start of this post "best", "better than" or "superior to" are all subjective decisions that only you as the photographer can make.

    Best,

    David
    www.dsallen.de
     
  14. RalphLambrecht

    RalphLambrecht Subscriber

    Messages:
    8,292
    Joined:
    Sep 19, 2003
    Location:
    Florida
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    i prefer v-c papers, be cause of their flexibility to get all grades on one sheet of paper. that keeps dofging and burning to a minimumand dark room complexity managable.