Graded paper tryout
I am going to try out graded FB paper (Ilford Ilfobrom).
This has been discussed before, but here you go :
Is it possible to summarize the advantages of graded paper (versus multigrade) ?
I can only comment regarding my personal experiences from 30 years ago. I tried to like multi-grade papers but could never get the tonal values or final print hues I wanted. The color changed depending on the contrast and split-grade printing resulted in prints with odd-looking multiple tones. Also, the multi-grade papers I tried didn't tone very well... or evenly.
I switched to graded paper... tried many brands developed in several types of developers. I finally found Ilford Gallery and a phenidone-based developer (can't remember the brand). I disliked the untoned slight olive drab hue but selenium toner did a beautiful job of producing a subdued plum color. I only used grade 2 or 3... and nearly always 3 unless I accidentally selenium toned a neg a little too much. I also achieved better shadow detail but this also improved as my methods improved. I stuck with this combination for years and never tried multi-grade papers again.
ETA... Summation (just my ancient experience):
Improved tonal values
Better shadow detail
Better acceptance of toner
Last edited by Old-N-Feeble; 05-12-2012 at 10:52 AM. Click to view previous post history.
I like modern multicontrast papers very much. In the 70s I had a job where we printed on Kodak Polycontrast. I did not really like that paper very much. But multicontrast papers improved in the late 80s and 90s. Now, I'm not sure I see any advantage to graded papers. But there will be subtle differences in print tone, meaning image color. And they may respond differently to toners from what you are used to. I did notice a difference between Ilford Multigrade and Ilford Galleria. The Galleria, a graded paper, had deeper tones and surprisingly prints made on that paper dried flatter. However it was at least ten years ago that I had that experience and I'm sure these papers continue to evolve. I think you are right to try the graded paper, you may see things in it that suit you. But it disappointing when making a print on grade 2 paper and realizing that you need grade 3 and you don't have enough of it.
There's an easy fix for that. Have enough of anything you might need. Or you could just selenium tone the neg for more contrast.
Originally Posted by artonpaper
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Graded papers are very good for consistency and can be versatile with increasing experience . For example, altering exposure time and development time can produce differences in contrast, whilst neutral, warm and soft acting developers and the use of toning can impart a whole variety of 'flavours' to your printing. With dodging and burning and bleaching, the range of tools available is quite often sufficient to make a particular grade work for you. Having said that it would be useful to stock a couple of different grades, with G2 and G3 probably best.
I'm not sure these days if graded papers offer much difference to the look of a print, I have a large range of papers (too many) that are very different from each other, but I would recommend using single grade paper at some point because I think it would add to your understanding and technique and, in some ways it can make printing a more straightforward path by taking the choices within multigrade out of the picture, if you pardon the pun.
In short, it shouldn't be seen as a limitation of your objectives.
Regards, Mark Walker.
My experience (from early 60's on) is consistent with artonpaper, basically, years ago, VC, or MG as they are known today, were just not up to the quality of the best graded papers.
Chimneyfinder makes some points about using graded paper, but I don't see them as advantages, rather techniques that can help.
My opinion on your question, as asked, is that there is no advantage, except:
If you like the look (color, tonal response, response to toning, etc) of a graded paper very much and can't reproduce it with any MG paper, or
Due to your enlarger light source, you have problems using MG papers with their filtration.
As Chimneyfinder points out, graded papers may be more consistent, especially if your light source varies, or if your MG filters fade over time, etc. To me, this isn't a problem, though. I keep very good records of exposure and filter combinations (I do a lot of split filter printing - not possible with graded paper), and if I start to reprint something 2 years after the original, following the "recipe" from the first time, I just adjust to get what I want (I might even change my mind about what I want. . .) I don't see any inconsistencies with printing multiple copies at the same time.
Just to add a bit, I worked in a lab for 15 years (part time mostly) and we used MG papers. I would frequently have to reprint a negative months after I originally printed it, and the customer would bring my first print in and ask me to match it. I printed far too many negatives to keep notes. I always managed to make a match print or prints. I did notice that Ilford filters tended to fade after a while, Kodak filters were very stable. We also had one enlarger with an Ilford MG head on it. That was very easy to use. The recommendations above about negative toning and changing developing time and developers will all work, but all those variables get difficult to control should you want to reprint consistently.
I use graded paper, Ilford Galerie 2 and 3 whenever I can. I like the fact that I can be decisive.
When a negative is over the edge, I will pick up Ilford MGIV. But even then I will have a specific grade in mind for that negative.
It might be fair to say I work as if I am using graded papers even when I use multigrade.
Graded papers can sometimes tone quite differently than VC papers. They also work differently with negatives that have been developed in some staining developers. These are some differences to be aware of, but not good or bad qualities. There are no advantages to using graded papers compared to current VC papers, unless you value having much less flexibility in printing (particularly when working with difficult negatives).