Will There Ever Be Single Weight Paper Again?

Discussion in 'Product Availability' started by Alex Hawley, Aug 6, 2006.

  1. Alex Hawley

    Alex Hawley Member

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    Not to start the debate over single weight versus double weight (we're talkin' fiber here, not RC) - that's been done a thousand times. You either love SW or you don't - and I'm one that does.

    So, with no SW fiber paper on the market, I have to ask: will we ever see it again? I know about the prospective Lodima contact printing paper. I hope it goes. But what about a single weight enlarging paper? Any hope, or am I doomed to DW for ever?
     
  2. jnanian

    jnanian Advertiser Advertiser

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    i know what you mean alex.
    i love single weight paper too.

    maybe i can tape together all the pieces of test strips and ripped pieces left in empty boxes and get one last sheet to print on ...

    --john
     
  3. eumenius

    eumenius Member

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    Well, I think it would be available again - at least in Russia it has never disappeared, and Slavich Unibrom paper is made on both SW and DW paper bases. It's an enlarging paper, about 160 ANSI - a bit on a slow side, graded, old-style looking. A reason why it's still made: the main consumer of this paper is an ID photography, where SW paper is required for better mounting of the picture to the ID cover. As I know, the base for Slavich paper is being made in Germany - so maybe there is some German-made SW paper, too?

    Cheers from Moscow, Zhenya
     
  4. Petzi

    Petzi Member

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    The base could still be available. At least if you buy a large quantity. This could be a problem for a small manufacturer.

    Agfa also used to make single weight paper (MCC 1) but I think sales were very slow. There is no stock left of it now.
     
  5. Denis P.

    Denis P. Member

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    Efke can make one any time - no problem - I've been bugging them for a while about it now...

    All they need is a guaranteed sale of most of the batch they make :smile:

    Mr. Miskec told me "No problem, we can make it any time. But who will buy all of it? We can't make the whole batch and let it rot in the warehouse.... because nobody buys it."

    Maybe a group effort could be pulled off?

    BTW, I still have about 30 sheets of their wonderful P888 single weight. I got a remains of a box - a leftover from a local photo lab. I tried it first last year for an enlargement and didn't like it - too thin. Then a few months later I made my first 4x5 contact on it... Wow!!!!

    Well, I'll keep bugging them at Fotokemika (Efke) about it - but they need to sell more than a few 100-sheet boxes if they are to decide to make it :smile:

    Denis
     
  6. Petzi

    Petzi Member

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    What is the size of that batch? One master roll I guess? How many m² of paper is that at Efke?

    It would have to be a decent variable contrast paper.

    If only someone could bring back Agfa MCC. *sob*
     
  7. Photo Engineer

    Photo Engineer Subscriber

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    SW FB paper is difficult to make. It is hard to coat emulsion on it. Imagine making paper towels, but at very high speed and pressure, and then coat on top of it. Then you have wet paper towels.

    No one wants to make SW paper anymore, and I would guess that production will stop soon, even in Russia if they try to speed up the coating machines.

    And if Efke can complain about B&W paper sales, then imagine how bad it was for Kodak.

    PE
     
  8. Alex Hawley

    Alex Hawley Member

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    Interesting Ron. However, the two points you made are also the ones that perplex me about this whole issue.

    If SW is harder to make, then why was it the standard of use for so many years? The machinery of a century ago was far less precise in its control of process than what we can attain now. With this in mind, what made so viable over DW for so many years?

    And, just why did the sales drop off? This seems to be a late 20th century occurrence, asy the last 25 years of the century. What were the factors?
     
  9. Petzi

    Petzi Member

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    It is obvious that wet paper is prone to tearing, and that this problem is worse when the paper is thinner. The coating was slower in the past as far as I know. Production downtime due to torn paper in the coating machine would be unpopular with manufacturers.

    Photo papers were also a lot more expensive. I think 30 years ago, there were actual cost savings in single weight paper.

    The higher demand for double weight paper nowadays is partly because baryta paper is now primarily used for exhibiton quality prints. In this application, double weight paper is preferred. 30 or 40 years ago, however, people had any and all prints done on baryta paper. In this application, people would mount their images in albums, where thinner paper is better, so the album does not become too thick. So single weight baryta paper was the "bread and butter" paper of the past. This application of baryta paper is now gone, it has been completely replaced by resin coated (PE) paper. (Not that RC paper is much thinner than double-weight baryta, but I think the album manufacturers have adjusted their products to that...)

    Another reason that increased demand for double-weight paper is, that darkroom enthusiasts now dry their prints in the air. They no longer produce glossy prints using a hot plate or drum, like photo labs did in the past. It is obvious that the curl of single weight paper is severe when air dried, while it is a lot more manageable with double weight paper. (I know what I am talking about, I have tried drying single weight FB paper with warm air...)

    The other day I bought myself one of these drum dryers for FB paper, I look forward to producing glossy FB prints soon. :smile:
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Aug 7, 2006
  10. jnanian

    jnanian Advertiser Advertiser

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    hey alex

    i also think that there has been a concerted effort over the years made by the companies that make photo papers to push the double weight papers on the consumer. i may be wrong and i am guessing here, but maybe the big companies allowed for a hefty mark-up for double weight papers and salesmen/women told the consumer that the paper was better all-around, thicker base = better paper ... i was told that it was harder to use single weight papers after i discovered boxes of 11x14 kodabromide when i was in college. "you'll never be able to handle it right, it'll rip or fold and you will be outta luck." i think it is the same kind of a myth, just as it is a myth about large format photography being harder than other formats. people who don't know any better to believe what they are told, especially by sales people who tend to have a case of the "i know everything" from time to time.

    ===
    ===

    i agree petzi single weight paper does curl like mad, but if you take it down when it is "just dry enough" it can be flat without any problems. can't tell you when "just dry enough" is, its kind of like asking a tea(or coffee)-guru how much water is just enough :wink:

    ===
    ===

    denis: ekfe single weight, that would be pretty cool!
    i'd love to know more about it if this comes to light ( red light that is! ).

    --john
     
  11. Alex Hawley

    Alex Hawley Member

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    John, your reasoning makes sense. If DW became easier to make as PE says, then I can believe the manufacturers used the sales force to spread misinformation in an effort to ween the public away from it.

    That would also explain why it may be "preferred" for exhibition prints. I don't buy this one at all. What, pray tell, makes a DW paper more preferred than SW for exhibition, other than the artist's personal belief, which may be based upon what a sales person said, or, as I've said before, the Gospel of St. Ansel?

    As far as curl is concerned, yeah, SW curls more upon drying. But so does DW and my experience says the slight curl of DW is just as hard, if not harder, to eliminate than the distinct curl of SW. Both types can be nicely flattened with no more technology that being under a stack of books for a few days.
     
  12. Photo Engineer

    Photo Engineer Subscriber

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    Petzi has it all down pat. The coating speeds of 50 to 100 years ago ranged in the 10 - 100 ft/min, whereas today it is far greater than that. Since machines are bigger, a tear really stops things up pretty well.

    But, since EFKE still coats rather in the low range of speeds, it should be easier for them to coat SW paper, so economics must be the driving force for them, I guess.

    PE
     
  13. Alex Hawley

    Alex Hawley Member

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    OK, now its starting to come together. Increase coating machine speeds to increase production which in turn, lowers cost, increases or maintains profit margin. SW starts losing because of the lower volume of production. Therefore, two things happen. Marketing starts pushing DW and everyone starts believing SW is no good.

    Throw in Ansel Adams' text where he says he prefers DW and BINGO! How much did Ansel get in consulting fees each year from Kodak?

    Hey, maybe John at JandC will come to our rescue? Small company not needing a bizillion feet per minute on the coating machine could make this work, as EFKE has already indicated.
     
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  15. meltronic

    meltronic Member

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    It's available from Fujifilm.

    Fujifilm makes a beautiful single weight fiber paper called Rembrandt. It's variable grade, with a fairly glossy surface. If you're interested, I can send some to you without a mark-up. I use it on occassion, but find it difficult to keep it from creasing in the wash. Yours, Matt
     
  16. Charles Webb

    Charles Webb Member

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    During the period of time that AA made that statement there was concern about how a print should be presented for exhibition. There was a great number of Adams desciples and the beginning of the belief that photography was art. A news paper print or a commercial photo could be made on SW,
    however to mount and frame a single weight print was unheard of. During that same period that photographer had dozens of textured papers readily available in most any photo shop. The textures were chosen to enhance and compliment the content of the negative, to use single weight glossy for a gallery print would not have been accepted or hung.

    I believe the art photographers also had a hand in bringing about SW's demise with their demands for DW.

    This time frame was in the mid to late 50's. The printing industry, book and
    newspapers needed SW glossie for half tones, and they became the minority using SW paper.

    If any one produced a SW paper today, I personally would like to see it in graded, rather than VC.

    Charlie.......................................................
     
  17. Alex Hawley

    Alex Hawley Member

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    Thanks Matt. I'll PM you tomorrow. Too bad Fuji paper isn't distributed here in the USA.

    Charlie, thanks for your knowledgeable insight. More pieces of the puzzle are falling in place.
     
  18. David H. Bebbington

    David H. Bebbington Inactive

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    During my years as a full-time pro in the 60s and 70s, I must have handled thousands of SW prints. I have always regarded this paper's reason for being as its suitability for hot glazing (ferrotyping), very often using rotary machines. Apart from anything else, the ferrotyping operation got rid of any slight creases, dents, etc. There is of course the fact that SW paper is easier to wash thoroughly, but this was not an argument at the time.

    It is my impression that the cessation of hot ferrotyping (and the switch to RC paper when high-gloss prints are required) meant the death of SW paper, certainly it must have killed the demand for the vast quantities which commercial studios used to use. I certainly would not like to make a SW print and present it as an "art" print (air-dried unglazed), I think it would look like a piece of chewed rag, even hot mounting would likely not press out all the small creases and I personally find SW unnecessarily difficult to handle both during processing and after.
     
  19. jnanian

    jnanian Advertiser Advertiser

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    thanks charlie + and PE
    and here i was thinking it was
    the salesman "ballooning the sale" as they say :smile:

    i am glad i am wrong a lot of the time!

    john
     
  20. Ole

    Ole Moderator Staff Member Moderator

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    So has anyone tried wet-mounting SW paper?
     
  21. David H. Bebbington

    David H. Bebbington Inactive

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    I'm sure it can be done - I've seen enough Victorian albumen prints (very thin paper base) cheerfully pasted into books - but I'm equally sure that there would be problems with creases unless you were VERY careful!

    Regards,

    David
     
  22. David A. Goldfarb

    David A. Goldfarb Moderator Staff Member Moderator

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    I've been experimenting with wet mounting single-ply albumen prints using archival wheat starch.

    It's easy enough to avoid creases, but not so easy to keep adhesive from oozing out onto the mount. I think the thing is just to wipe it off with a not-too-damp cloth, so as not to get the mounting board too wet, which damages the surface. Old albumen prints were often mounted on a board with a very narrow margin, so ooze probably just didn't matter too much.

    The method described by Reilly involves mounting the print to a thin support, trimming, and then hinge mounting to a heavier support.

    For the time being, I'm trying the more traditional approach of mounting directly to 4-ply. Traditionally, they probably used a book press. I mount to the board, cover the print with wax paper, roll with a large brayer, wipe the ooze, and put the whole thing with a clean sheet of wax paper under some heavy books.

    I also drymount them, and I don't have creases.
     
  23. Petzi

    Petzi Member

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    Think twice about that. Currently, manufacturers have a problem selling one production run of single-weight paper. Now you demand they should produce four or five times that amount. (You're not suggesting everybody should use grade 2, are you?)
     
  24. Simon R Galley

    Simon R Galley Subscriber

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    Dear All,

    In my 'life before ILFORD' I can remember printing on SW and having to buy a box especially for USA passport photographs, and not very easy to handle as I recall.. but a little easier than trying to photograph a two week baby, full face, with its eyes open as per 'the requirement'... not very Cartier Bresson..but a short pinch did the trick..that kid must be about 26 now...

    Well no surprise ILFORD Photo / HARMAN will not be making a SW product, why... base quantities, one order ( for us ) would be about 20 years supply, thats if you could sell it, which I am afraid you could not ( in my humble opinion ) and if you did make it it would cost at least 3 times what DW costs if you had to coat it at about 10 mpm : Plus as Photo Engineer mentions web breaks are seriously bad news to coaters, its not just the waste, its the cleaning time ( considerable ) and if you have more than one break, you can on occasion lose the whole emulsion melt ( out of time ).

    So we will not, but speak to Fotokemica or Slavich if they really can make it ( and sell it economically ) then good luck to them, you would have to ask for a VC product or just one grade.

    A quick point, sometimes we would be willing to make something, but resellers are very reluctant to stock the more esoteric products ( you have a hard time sometimes ensuring FB is on the shelves ! and not just RC...chemistry too ! ) and you are then left with the specialists like J&C , B&H , Freestyle and the likes of Silverprint in the UK these guys are really great but its another ( possibly slow moving ) product for them.

    As an FYI our paper mill reels are about 2,500 sq mtrs and we would have an ( absolute ) minimum commercial coat of 8* mill reels of paper, equivalent to about 4,000 boxes of 10 x 8 100's, we have done less to maintain products in the range like ILFOBROM GALERIE, but it is very expensive to do, so any new product would have to be commercially viable. Photo Engineer will no doubt agree thats a very, very small run for paper, so we are, and do try to be quite flexible and adaptable


    Sorry

    Simon ILFORD Photo / HARMAN technology Limited :
     
  25. Alex Hawley

    Alex Hawley Member

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    Now I See sez the Blind One

    Thanks Simon, and thanks everyone else. Now I have a basic understanding of the problem. Guess I will have to be content to occasionally grouse about those "good ol' days". Double Weight Rules!

    ALH
     
  26. Photo Engineer

    Photo Engineer Subscriber

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    A quick reply to Alex Hawley here:

    The supplier of the SW FB paper is reluctant to make it as well, even if the photo manufacturers wanted to coat a product. In fact, even if EK had stayed in the AZO business, getting the support would have been a hassle. I suspect that Fuji will be out of the SW FB market soon as well.

    As for web breaks, imagine a break with paper that literally turns nearly a mile of paper into confetti or waste and sticks to the inside of the machine. That is why coaters keep putty knives handy - to scrape the mess off the machine. I've been there on the "B" trick helping them when my coating caused the problem.

    Now, imagine a film jam. (estar does not normally break) In that case, a high speed coating machine can be seriously damaged.

    Then, coating color, you lose a minimum of 6 melts of emulsion in the case of color paper. And, if you are in the coating room when this happens, the room is filled with 'sticky confetti'. BTST. I'm glad I was wearing a white suit then, or I would have been a mess.

    PE