Ilford MG filters
Hello Folks, once again I seek the wisdom of the net. The issue is Ilford Multigrade filters. I have had a set for a long time, and on the box is “Ilford Multigrade II”. They have been there for a long time because I was primarily a Kodak paper user. Now I use Ilford fiber and Ilford and Oriental Seagull RC paper. And with all the papers, probably 95% of my printing was done with grades 2 through 3 ½. But I was printing with Ilford recently and got the impression that printing with the 4 and 4 ½ filters actually gave lower contrast than printing with the 3 ½ filter. And I printed something with some old Kodak paper that I had in the freezer; I printed with a Kodak 4 ½ filter, and it was way higher contrast. Also, with higher number Ilford filters, I need less exposure. I either close down a stop, or I have to cut exposure time by about half. This is the opposite of the Kodak filters; more exposure is needed with higher number filters.
So what’s up with the apparent low contrast with the Ilford higher number filters? I notice this on both fiber and RC. Are my filters out of date; that is, is there a newer version around? I checked the B&H web site, and there is no designation on the filters. Any ideas out there?
Thanks in advance,
Som filters fade with time.
Ambient light levels and heat can be the biggest issues.
Papers do loose contrast (even MG ones)
I have a set of the earliest of the current (not 40's) Ilford MG filters (late 70's I guess) , and they were not speed matched at all; there was a little dial calculator to aid in swapping filters. I cannot recall which ones fit where. I keep them as a historical item, and have never actually used them.
I think it was the II filters that were suppose to be speed matched for 0-3.5, and double exposure of 4 and 4.5, which is not what your current expereinces with your set seems to exhibit.
The most recent Ilford filters had a 00 lowest setting. The most recent Kodak's were branded Polymax, and went from -1 to 7 I think. I just mailed a set off to a guy in the UK, and did not look all to carefully at them.
I still have a few sets of NIB spares in my stash of too much gear for one guy to own.... PM me if you are interested in a set for $10 and the cost of postage. Let me know if you need the below the lens or above, and the size needed and I will see if I have what you may need.
my real name, imagine that.
If i remember correctly, the Multigrade II filters had to be used with the Multigrade II paper, which was replaced with the Multigrade III and later IV paper some thirty years ago. It came with some kind of calculator, because you had to change the exposure time of the paper when changing grades. With the introduction of the Multigrade III paper, a new filterset was introduced where you only had to change the exposure time when switching grades between 3.5 and 4. A second reason to replace the old set is that filters tend to bleach, especially the higher grades. And as your current set should be at least 30 years old...
But why not use the Kodak filter set on the Ilford paper? To my understanding they were pretty much interchangable, with only minor differences between the sets.
Dear Mark, See Huub's reply, its spot on :
Simon ILFORD Photo / HARMAN technology Limited :
So based on the above and Simon Galley's response MGII filters are useless with modern(MGIII and IV) paper as they need a calculator but this in turn became redundant when MGIII and IV paper came along so even unused MGII filters with or without a calculator are waste bin material?
Originally Posted by Huub
This surprises me. I had never seen any statement to this effect being made before. Maybe and hopefully I have misunderstood Huub's statement and in fact MGII filters can be used but a calculator is now unnecessary as changes to the paper make it redundant?
Can anyone clear this up for me?
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I shall definitely try the Kodak filters with the Ilford and Oriental paper. Unfortunately, I won't be in the darkroom for a week or so. But I will pass on my results.
I wonder which is older - Simon R. Galley or Ilford MGII filters?
Those are really old filters, designed for paper that was really different than the current papers.
It is probably time
EDIT: And I bet the Kodak filters will be functional, if they are in good condition. They won't be speed matched, but they will be close.
“Photography is a complex and fluid medium, and its many factors are not applied in simple sequence. Rather, the process may be likened to the art of the juggler in keeping many balls in the air at one time!”
Ansel Adams, from the introduction to The Negative - The New Ansel Adams Photography Series / Book 2
I have found a site which in the past I have found to be reliable. it is called Ilford memorabilia and covers the history of MG paper and filters. If it is to be believed then the need for a calculator was before MGII filters.
The essential differences between MGII and MGIV filters appear to be two-fold:
1. The MGIV set is 12 filters and includes an 00 grade whereas the MGII is 11 filters with no 00 grade
2. Both work fine with current MGIV paper but the older MGII filters have the same exposure for grades 0 to 3.5 with twice the exposure for grades 4 and 5 whereas the MGIV filters have the same exposure for grades 0- 3 and twice the exposure for grades 3.5 to 5
In another search of APUG threads I found a reference to MGII filters by an APUGer who made no mention of his MGII filters "not working" with current MGIV paper
So it appears that unless Huub was referring to the set of filters before MGII filters, then MGII filters operate OK with MGIV paper with a slight variation on which grade onward requires the twice exposure routine.
All of this of course assumes that I read Huub's post correctly. He might not have been saying that MGII filters need a calculator and neither might Simon Galley. It was simply me that was misunderstanding their posts.
Those filters don't last forever, however, new filter sets are pretty reasonably priced.
Originally Posted by mfohl
One advantage of a dichroic head is you don't have those worries.
I can assure you I am significantly older than MULTIGRADE II, but thankfully not MULTIGRADE I
( Circa 1940 ).
Whilst the 'matching' of the grade speeds with MULTIGRADE filters has changed the much bigger issue is with the age of 'these' MGII filters themselves, they FADE, slowy, but they FADE and the more they are used the more they degrade by 'WFS' ( Wet finger syndrome ) and 'LOTBS' ( left on the bench syndrome, instead of being put back in the box provided . We want everyone to get the maximum use out of every ILFORD Photo product....and 5 years minimum with care should be easily achievable.... but you can use them for longer, whilst they may not fade at exactly the same rate, as they fade you will move 'down grade' as opposed to 'up grade' so as long as you are exposing in the Grade 1.5 to 3.5 area ( Grade 2 ish being usual for a well exposed ) you should still have a usable filter it just may not neccesarily reflect the 'actual' grade required from a new set of filters....you will only therefore need to adjust ( down grade ) when you get a new set of ILFORD filters. I have now read that back twice and it makes sense to me, hope it does to you.
Simon ILFORD Photo / HARMAN technology Limited :