Which contrast grades for 35mm on a condenser?

Discussion in 'B&W: Film, Paper, Chemistry' started by Andrey, Jan 27, 2008.

  1. Andrey

    Andrey Member

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    I'm just curious which paper grades you end up using the most for 35mm.

    I have messed around with VC paper, and after a couple of prints sheets I decide to change the contrast grade and start printing all over again.

    I'm going to try to elliminate this mess by sticking to one or two grades of paper.

    Which ones are the most popular for you?
     
  2. PHOTOTONE

    PHOTOTONE Member

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    It is impossible to advise you because every one has different criteria for what they want in a print. When I was printing "my" b/w negatives on a condenser enlarger I found I could use almost all the grades available. If you go by manufacturer recomendations, then Grade No 2 is considered the paper for "normal" contrast negatives, but that brings up the philosophical question of just what is "normal?"

    In general, I think one eventually develops ones negatives to a density that works on the intended enlarger within the parameters of the paper choices available. If YOU want to only stock No. 2 paper, or No. 3 paper then you are going to have to learn to expose and develop your film to "fit" on these papers.
     
  3. Pinholemaster

    Pinholemaster Member

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    I have no idea how you print and what final look and feel you are after.

    When I printed on graded paper, I'd end up the a little of everything because of the nature of 35 mm capturing so many different contrast scenes on one roll of film.

    But logic says you should buy in a bell curve, so you want more of the middle grades and less of the extremes.

    Also you must test you development time to make sure you are getting consistent results. If you always find your negatives are too contrasty, you need to back off the developer time. Vise verses, if your negs are always flat, increase the time. This way most of you images will need two grades found in the middle.
     
  4. 23mjm

    23mjm Member

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    With my development style and preference I tend to gravitate to grade 2 1/2 to 3 for 80% of my prints. I prefer VC paper--makes it easy to do 1/2 grades. If you don't want to deal with the "mess" then don't use all the grade. But is the end the grade you choose to use is strictly your preference!!! But VC papers are very convenient.
     
  5. Ole

    Ole Moderator Staff Member Moderator

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    I print just about everything on Grade 2, except that which I print on Grade 1. If I need finer divisions than that I would change the developer, the fixer (yes, the fixer), or the toning. The same if I need more contrast, I find that with a little tinkering I can easily get a full grade more or less from any good graded FB paper.
     
  6. ann

    ann Subscriber

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    with my beginning students we usually begin with grade three, and then adjust from there if necessary.

    as has already been suggested, you just need to test for yourself.

    make your negatives fit your light source and paper grade and you have less worries and work.
     
  7. Monophoto

    Monophoto Member

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    Andrey -

    You are asking the wrong question.

    As Phototone noted, the first issue is that contrast choice is an artistic decision, and only you can decide what is right for you. Some people (Ralph Gibson, for example) prefer a more contrasty result, while others (Bill Abranowicz) tend toward lower contrast. Different strokes for different folks.

    Another issue is that the selection of paper grade is inextricably tied to the range of contrasts in your negatives. If you are sloppy in exposing and processing your negatives, you will probably need a wider range of paper contrasts to accommodate the wider range of negative contrast. But if you are anal about exposure and development you can get a fairly narrow range of negative contrasts, and can then be satisfied with fewer paper grades.

    Finally, contrast grade is not something that is highly standardized. You will find that Brand X paper will yield a totally different result from Brand Y paper using the same filter. And switching brand (or vintage) of filters while keeping the paper the same will also lead to different results.

    My approach to printing was influenced by Abranowicz, and as a result I tend to want to see detail over a very wide range of shadow through highlights. I try (but don't always succeed) to expose and develop negatives such that I can achieve the print quality that I want with a contrast range of 1 to 3 with my filters and using Ilford MG papers. If I am using Kentmere papers, I find that I need a contrast range using the same filters of 0 through 2. And if I were to switch to another brand of filters (or even a new set of filters in the same brand), I would probably get a different answer.
     
  8. Shawn Dougherty

    Shawn Dougherty Member

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    If you're using VC paper I highly recommend learning to split grade print. If you are experienced enough to guess your exposure within a few seconds, then two test sheets/strips and your third should be a nice straight print at the contrast you desire. Check out Les McClean's writings on the subject. Best. Shawn
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Jan 27, 2008
  9. gainer

    gainer Subscriber

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    Old timers, which I will be soon as I'm in my 81st year, say 35 mm quality is better if you underdevelop slightly and use grade 3. Keep some grade 2 on hand for the times when you are doing unavailable light. Sometimes that looks more real if the quality is not too high anyway.
     
  10. Andrey

    Andrey Member

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    Awesome. Thanks