What is the probability of old paper being good?

Discussion in 'B&W: Film, Paper, Chemistry' started by fotch, Apr 5, 2013.

  1. fotch

    fotch Member

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    I purchase a Beseler Stand from someone closing down their darkroom. I am offered the following paper for $ however, I don't want it if its no good. I am not able to set up a darkroom to test it although maybe could do some limited testing. Anyway, I listed below what is offered.

    Any comment of what is likely to be good vs, not, assuming no exposure thru improper handling? He had it in paper safes & removed it to go back in the original packages when he sold the paper safes. He would of known to use a safe light. Dates, if shown, from retailers label or mfg. date code?

    Ilford
    1. Multigrade III RC Perle 1/22/99
    2. Ilforbrom 1 DW Glossy 19A-802
    3. Ilforbrom 2 DW Glossy 17B-804
    4. Ilforbrom 2 DW Glossy Galerie Fiberbase 24A173
    5. Multigrade RC Cooltone Pearl 3/11/03
    6. Multigrade IV Fiber DW Glossy 18C703
    7. Multigrade IV Fiber DW Glossy 30A701
    8. MGIV Multigrade FB Glossy
    9. Kodak Polycontrast Rapid II RC Glossy

    Most of packages open, not sure how much is in them, if its worth testing (how without enlarger & neg.?), can then figure out approximate quantity.

    Any advise or comments appreciated. Thank you.
     
  2. noacronym

    noacronym Member

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    Some of it can be good. Set up your darkroom, tear off a little piece of each and throw it in the developer a couple minutes, fix it, and look to see if it's dingy.
     
  3. MartinP

    MartinP Member

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    The Multigrade III and the Polycontrast are prehistoric, so don't bother with those. For the others you could send the batch codes to Ilford with a nice note asking for the approximate production dates -- if they are more than five years old then you will likely lose some maximum contrast and/or gain some fogging. Personally, I'd suggest not purchasing unless you have a use for old paper (the fibre-based materials could be fixed out and used for some alternative processes, for example).
     
  4. GKR1

    GKR1 Member

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    This is from another post I've archived and used with great results on old paper with fog.

    Anti-Fog Process
    1) Cut a small piece (about 1 inch square) of paper from the box you are currently testing. Then in full room light place half of it in paper developer (like Dektol 1 + 2 dilution) in order to see how long it takes for maximum black (probably less than one minute). Note the time in seconds.

    2) Cut another similar piece of paper. Keep the room light off. Place a small coin in the middle of the paper and firmly hold the coin down with your finger. With the coin held down, turn on the room lights for about 5 seconds. Turn off all lights and develop for the time needed in step one for maximum black.

    3) After fixation, note the tone of the coin area: if pure white you have perfect paper in that box. If medium grey it is still usable but will need other treatment to make beautiful prints.

    4) If medium grey: you need a two fold approach towards getting that pure white back. Add either potassium bromide or benzotriazole to the developer. (NOTA BENE: To make a stock solution (MY way) of potassium bromide add 12 ml volume of powder (about 18 G) to 100 ml of water. To make a stock solution (MY way) of benzotriazole add 1 G (sorry, volumetric measuring is not practical because this chemical is like feathers) to 100 ml of water). With either of these restraining solutions you add about 20 ml to each liter of developer working solution. Now, the addition of this will slow down the time it takes to achieve maximum black, so test again with the tiny piece of paper like in step two. Add carbonate to the developer if it is TOO slow.

    5) Finally, if the coin area still shows some grey you have to make your print a bit darker and then use a reducer after fixation to take off that ugly veil of grey. Reducing solution, like Farmer's Reducer, but slightly different, is this: mix 1 G of potassium ferricyanide (or 1 ml by volume: with potassium ferricyanide the grams are the same as the volume) into 100 ml of water. That is your 'bleach'. Take one part bleach and add to one part 'paper strength' fixer. That is your reducing solution but, beware, that is quite strong. Depending upon how much grey you wish to remove you can dilute this solution up to FIVE TIMES! That means, a solution of 100 ml of reducer (ie, 50 ml of bleach plus 50 ml of paper fixer) can have up to 400 ml of water added to make a total of 500 ml of diluted reducer. Agitate frequently and watch the print like a hawk. Too much reduction means a lost print.

    6) The combination of both the restrainer and reducer has meant that many a box of photo paper deemed lost is now found. It does take a bit of experience to 'dance around' with this procedure but, in the end, you will have obtained a king's ransom of paper for pennies.
     
  5. noacronym

    noacronym Member

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    Personally I don't think much of any of it. But if it's free, something in the batch might turn out to give something.
     
  6. pentaxuser

    pentaxuser Subscriber

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    Yes dev and fix one piece and just fix another. The latter will be pure white and it will be easy to see how much more grey than this piece is the potentially age-fogged stuff.

    Benzotriazole can reduce age-fogging considerably so if the stuff is only light grey then it might be worth buying.

    I don't think anybody can really predict how it will turn out. A test is necessary. For what it is worth I'd hazard a guess that only the MGIV might have no issues but even here and depending on storage conditions there can be no guarantee.

    pentaxuser
     
  7. ic-racer

    ic-racer Member

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    I spent over a year printing on expired paper at at time when $$ tight. In retrospect, it was a mistake. The borders and whites in all the prints are distinctly gray and ideally need to go in the trash. Too bad, a years worth of work.
     
  8. Jojje

    Jojje Member

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    In 2010 I bought (among other things) from Berlin (e-Bay) some really old paper very cheaply. East german Orwo - from 1980's! Intended to use it as contact copy paper but amazingly most of it has turned out to be in excellent condition. (Now in deep freeze.) Long ago I used really old Agfa Brovira which also was very useable but a bit softer than new.
    Are some long ago forbidden chemicals behind the permanence of these ancient papers..?
     
  9. Mike Wilde

    Mike Wilde Member

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    Older traditional papers will loose contrast. Older MG papera will loose upper end contrast. I used Ilfrod MG FB many years old with success

    MGIII RC paper has always been bad when I have tried it.

    When trying them out for fog, pick from the middle. Contact with the cardboard or plastic can change the behavior of the top sheet.
     
  10. fotch

    fotch Member

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    Well, he said it was all out of the packages and in the paper safes. When he sold the safes, he put the paper back into the packages. My guess is they are well shuffled. Probably try several sheets randomly.
     
  11. Molli

    Molli Subscriber

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    Ninety nine percent of my paper is aged between ten and seventy years of age. All of the Ilfobrom has been good (both the very old yellow packaged boxes and the more recent white and blue). Ilfospeed and Multigrade I've had less luck with - the Ilfospeed seems incapable of getting any true black and some of the Multigrade has been beyond salvation (but I'm referring to II and III here; I can't imagine the IV being bad unless it's been seriously mishandled.) The Kodak Polycontrast I had was actually excellent.
     
  12. mgb74

    mgb74 Subscriber

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    I received a bunch of old paper; quite a few packages of varying mfg, types, grades. They were all from a single source so I suspect (but am not sure) they were stored at least somewhat the same. The packages were not dated but based on packaging, I could get a sense of relative age.

    I found great variation of the degree of fog and not always consistent with the apparent age of the paper (based on packaging). I don't have my notes handy, but I believe that some brands/types seemed better than others when it came to fogging.
     
  13. Dr. no

    Dr. no Subscriber

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    Newer papers with incorporated developers are less likely to be good, while older papers without seem to work better. This also depends, of course, on the personal history of the paper.
    For example, I have used reams of kodak polycontrast II which appears excellent, while every batch of PC IV I've tried has been gray (or worse). I've had good luck with most infords and small label stuff.
     
  14. palewin

    palewin Member

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    Your easiest answer comes from just trying it. Ilfobrom was very good graded paper. I found several boxes of Zone VI Brilliant dated 1983 and it still prints well; to be honest I still need to try it "straight," I jumped straight to the benzotriazole anti-fog (you can get the powder from Photographers Formulary, it mixes very easily into stock solution). The point is that all this conjecture is useless, as Fred Picker used to say "Try it yourself and see." If it is fogged, a few prints will let you know whether or not it is worth using, and benzotriazole is inexpensive, a little will last you a lifetime. While doing tests with small pieces and pennies is fine, its easier to print a negative you like and see what is going on, whether it gives you a good print or not. It will be obvious if you have no highlights, i.e. what should print as bright white prints as grey.
     
  15. fotch

    fotch Member

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    In addition to this old stock, I have my own old stock to try. I will will get some benzotriazole, to bad Freestyle does not sell it. The shipping from the Photographers Formulary is high unless ordering lots of stuff, which I don't need to do at this time.

    Also recomended here is potassium bromide, what is the difference or pros & cons between potassium bromide or benzotriazole?

    Thanks.
     
  16. MarkL

    MarkL Subscriber

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    Even if it turns out to be spoiled it could be valueable if you ever decide to lith print. A lot of people put sacrificial paper in a new batch of lith developer to season it. Besides that, if any of the paper is lithable maybe it would still lith well.
     
  17. noacronym

    noacronym Member

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    Bumping this question because I want to know too.
     
  18. David Lyga

    David Lyga Subscriber

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    As restrainer, I use either potassium bromide or benzatriazole, but prefer the benzatriazole. I use only about 1/10th as much BZ as PB. If you mix a 1% solution of BZ and store it in PET plastic (no oxidation worries with either PB or BZ so any container is OK) it lasts forever. I have had no problems with long storage.

    First, fotch, do this: For each package of paper cut off about one square inch of paper (of course, in total darkness: I do not use 'safe'lights). Then, mark each piece on the back with a felt marker in order to identify which package it represents. (Use a simple number system.) Then place half of each piece of paper under an ABSOLUTELY light tight item (for example, a dead flat bottom of an item like a tape dispenser that has felt at the bottom). (NOTE: the raised devices of a coin might allow light to creep in unless you hold the coin down FIRMLY throughout the exposure.) Expose the paper to full room light. Then process normally. If the unexposed part is white, or nearly so, you have struck gold. The paper is good with little modification. If it is medium grey, you must do more than merely process, which I will explain later. If the paper is totally black, that might be an insurmountable problem but one that could greatly be improved with what I say below.

    Add about 30 - 50ml of the restrainer per liter of working strength paper developer. (IE, 10% PB or 1% BZ solutions).

    The trick to working with age-fogged papers is to develop for as long as you can in order to achieve max black while not developing so long that your 'whites' get any darker than medium grey. Restrainers work only so far in helping to rectify age fog. The rest of the problem is solved with reducer, after the processing is complete.

    After development and fixation, do the following to reduce density: first mix potassium ferricyanide (4ml per 250ml of water; I use volume to measure powders, not mass) into a separate container. That is your bleach and will keep indefinitely. Then shortly before you reduce: mix four parts of this bleach to one part of fresh film-strength fixer. This is your undiluted reducer and is a bit different dilution than Farmer's Reducer. Then mix this reducer with from 10 to 50 parts water to make your working strength reducer because if you do not, the reduction will take place too rapidly. You must experiment here and make sure to make your print a bit darker than normal so that the reduction in density will not leave you with a washed out print. Knowing just how much water to add will have to become known through trial and error at the beginning. However, the 4 + 1 ratio of fericyanide and fixer remains constant. Agitate continuously in the reducer and remove just BEFORE achieving desired reduction. It does not hurt to briefly dip the print into the original paper fixer after this reduction. Wash.

    You will find that this ratio of Ferricyanide to fixer is best for PRIMARILY reducing the 'dirty' whites in order to make them sparkle, without unduly reducing the blacks. It is remarkable how badly age-fogged paper can be and still allow great prints to result with this method. (However, don't think that you will retain the 'right' to change contrast with variable contrast papers: you will either have a far less ability to do so or you will find that filtration matters not with age-fogged papers) You will become frustrated upon your first attempts and I strongly suggest that you experiment with tiny prints in order to not only waste little paper but to allow rapid experimentation to be easy. You WILL attain confidence but too many of you will still use large sheets of paper and end up totally dismayed. Work small until you really master this process. The mixed reducer will last for maybe one hour since the amount of fixer is kept minimal with my ratio. - David Lyga
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Apr 10, 2013
  19. GKR1

    GKR1 Member

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    This is what you need from freestyle. http://www.freestylephoto.biz/125851-Moersch-Restrainer-Neutral-100-ml
     
  20. Phillip P. Dimor

    Phillip P. Dimor Member

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    I have a 500 sheet box of 11x14 Kodak Kodabrome II RC Grade 3 that had expired in the early 80s. I know it hasn't spent it's life in the fridge but it's perfectly usable. I had a large roll of 5" Polycontrast that had been expired by about five years. I loved that paper. Sorry if none of this helps answer your question, i've just been pretty lucky with outdated/expired paper. If the paper is bunk, you can always use it for carbon transfer printing!
     
  21. ndrs

    ndrs Subscriber

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    To my great surprise, an open pack of Ilford Multigrade II RC (yes, II) I've had for two years, and that I finally tested a couple days ago, was perfectly usable. No fogging at all. Never judge your MG by its number...

    During the same test session, Kodak Bromide, unknown origin and storage, and expired in 1970, showed slight fogging but should be usable with benzotriazole added to the developer.

    ORWO papers from the same era seem to be more likely fine than fogged.
     
  22. HTF III

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    Is there a way of saving this thread inside the APUG preferences? I know I can save it in Firefox, but that's not what I'm wanting. TY
     
  23. spacer

    spacer Subscriber

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    Ah, thanks, GKR! My recent tub deal included a bunch of paper (Ilford mostly) and I'd been wondering whether it'd be any good. I'll give that methodology a try.
     
  24. MattKing

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    Look up near the top of the page - you will see a tab that says "Thread Tools".

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