Ilford MGWT and Forte PWT
My six year old stash of Forte Polywarmtone was exhausted last week, and I’ve bought a box of Ilford MGIV Warmtone to try. As I recall, I used this paper for a while in the late 90’s, before I discovered AGFA MCC.
Anyway, yesterday I made several prints on the MGWT of a 6x6 XP2 negative I had previously printed on the Forte Polywarmtone. The following are my (kind of lengthy) thoughts on how the two papers compare, in my darkroom.
• Paper speed – the Ilford paper is about half a stop faster than the Forte, which is the slowest paper I can remember using. My enlarger is plenty bright and I’m in no hurry, so the speed of these slower warmtone papers presents no problem.
• Contrast – big difference here. In order to make a print on the Ilford MGWT comparable to the one on the Forte paper, I needed to dial in 40M. The Forte print was made with no filtration at all – white light.
I think the Forte Polywarmtone is the contrastiest VC paper I’ve ever used, based on its response to white light. (The Forte paper is six years old. I’ve heard of papers losing contrast over the years; can a paper increase in contrast over time?)
• Response to different developers – I developed samples of the MGWT in both the Ilford Warmtone developer and the Zonal Pro HQ Warmtone developer, and my results were essentially identical.
On the topic of response to development, the Forte paper had shown a characteristic I’ve never really seen before, which is that very significant development continued to take place after two minutes in the developer. To confirm this, I did a test a few weeks ago where I developed identical test prints made on the Forte paper for 2:00, 2:30 and 3:00. There was as much development between 2:00 and 3:00 as there had been between 1:00 and 2:00!
I tried this same test on the Ilford MGWT and there was almost no density increase after 2:00, much more in keeping with papers I’ve used over the years.
• Image color – The Ilford MGWT has the slight greenish cast I’ve experienced with several other papers, while the Forte has a more pleasing (to me) warm tone. I could live with the Forte paper untoned, but I’ll need to selenium tone the Ilford to get an image color I like. So…
• Response to selenium – I toned samples of the MGWT in the two dilutions of Harman Selenium Toner that I had on hand: 1:20 which did almost nothing, and 1:3, which was too much. I’ll try 1:10 next time. The 1:20 dilution had produced a slight but pleasing color shift on the Forte paper.
• Paper base color – the Ilford MGWT has a slightly creamy base color, while the Forte is a purer white, which is more pleasing to my eye.
• Paper surface – when I first looked at my dry Forte prints last month, I was reminded of how really brilliant a surface that paper had. I’ve flattened my Forte prints since, and the surface doesn’t seem quite so brilliant. Could flattening my prints in the dry mount press have taken away some of the surface sheen? I’ve flattened prints in this manner for years, and never suspected that the flattening had any effect on the print surface.
The Ilford paper, fresh off the drying screens, has a really, really brilliant surface! When I get around to flattening the Ilford prints, I’ll leave one as is to see if my flattening procedure is somehow dulling the print surface.
So, those are my initial reactions to MGIV WT, a perfectly nice paper which I look forward to getting better acquainted with.
Still, I’ll join the list of those who mourn the loss of Forte Polywarmtone, as well as the list of those anxiously awaiting the availability of the ADOX MCC!
East Snook, TX