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  1. #1

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    graded paper--how much better is it?

    I'm looking for a new paper and I'm not afraid to do some extra work to get the results I want. I've been trying to glean some real info about whether or not there are advantages to using graded paper, but, as we all know, this can be a religious war and lots of VC people immediately dismiss graded paper since "emulsions have come far enough". So, I'm putting this out hoping to get some experiences from people who know graded paper well and can give an objective comparison to VC today.

    A couple of rumors about graded paper are particularly intriguing:
    1. graded paper newbies who started with VC seem to mention more exposure lattitude with graded paper and thus easier prints with greater range.
    2. do graded papers really have a higher silver content?
    3. people seem to talk about better highlights and shadows on graded paper
    4. some particularly anal printers claim a sharper focus due to a narrower sensitivity range
    5. any other "graded papers are great" rumors I haven't heard

    What's the scoop? I'm going to try it either way myself, but I'd love some insight.

    Thanks.

    Jarred

  2. #2
    David A. Goldfarb's Avatar
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    Get yourself a half-dozen 25-packs of a range of premium papers and make some comparison prints, and that will really tell you what you haven't heard.

    I find that graded papers have richer blacks and some are more responsive to process manipulations like water bath development, bleaching, amidol, and such. On the other hand, they also need those kinds of manipulations more, because they don't provide the options of local contrast control, split filtration, and the things you can do with VC papers. I keep some VC paper around for occasional use, but most of my fine prints are on graded paper (Azo for contact prints, Maco Expo RF for enlargements).
    flickr--http://www.flickr.com/photos/davidagoldfarb/
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  3. #3

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    Thanks David--I hadn't thought about graded paper and process manipulations, but that makes sense. The theory with VC paper is you select your contrast optically, so adding some resistance to chemical contrast influence sounds like something a manufacturer might do.

  4. #4
    Alex Hawley's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by David A. Goldfarb
    I find that graded papers have richer blacks and some are more responsive to process manipulations like water bath development, bleaching, amidol, and such.
    I agree with David's assessment, but there are a few premium VC papers available now that have these same traits. The Berrger line and especially J&C/Forte polywarmtone. A marvelous paper, especially when developed in Amidol.
    Semper Fi & God Bless America
    My Photography Blog

  5. #5
    ann
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    another vote for David's suggestion about getting a 25 sheet pack and check for youself. i use seagull oriental about 95% of the time, galerie about 4 % and a variety of other stuff the other 1%. Bergger papers are very nice and they come in graded as well as mc. haven't tried the J&C product that ALex mentioned but did use Forte graded and Mc for several projects have keep some on hand.

    On the other hand, i have a lot of the old Forte polywarmtone paper in the frezzer for a project of split toning, and it is a MC paper.

  6. #6
    Alex Hawley's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by ann
    On the other hand, i have a lot of the old Forte polywarmtone paper in the frezzer for a project of split toning, and it is a MC paper.
    Right Ann. Forte polywarmtone and J&C polywarmtone are the same paper, just a different name on the label.
    Semper Fi & God Bless America
    My Photography Blog

  7. #7
    Loose Gravel's Avatar
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    I think VC paper is a god send. It makes possible prints that before were impossible to difficult. Another feature is that it is fresher. Since one paper works for all grades, it moves faster than a graded 4 or 5. These higher grades tended to shift, fog, and age in horrible ways.
    Watch for Loose Gravel

  8. #8

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    Forte Fortezo and Polywarmtone really caught my eye from what I've read online lately. I'll definitely be trying these soon.

  9. #9
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    In my darkroom - the Graded paper is fresher. I keep some VC around for when I screw up - by now - 90% of my negatives land nicely on grade 2 or grade 3 paper due to experience with exposure and development. For those time I screw up, the VC is there to help. It doesn't tone very well, grade 4 or 5 don't seem so much more contrasty that grade 3 graded paper. The color is different and I am not sure I like it better. It is not bad paper, just slightly not as good as graded - in my darkroom with what I shoot and how I deveolp film. - VC Resin paper seem more flexable.

  10. #10
    david b's Avatar
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    I've just tried some J&C polywarmtone and it is a very contrasty paper. More than the Ilford warmtone I compared it to.

    I like it and plan on using it more in the future.

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