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  1. #1

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    Please explain Ilford multigrade filters to me.

    I know this is a really basic and almost stupid question. Can anyone help explain multigrade, specifically Ilford filters to me?

    I'm printing on a Beseler 23CIII-XL enlarger with a variable contrast head. This is a link to the head. I'm printing with Ilford MG IV RC Pearl paper at the moment, although I do have some MG Fibre as well. My head has settings for Agfa, Ilford and Kodak papers if IIRC. The Ilford setting goes from green (0) to a dark blue/violet (5). The only instructions I found on Ilfords site say to just set it at 2 and go from there. One of the data sheets also explained that the emulsion on MG paper is sensitive to certain spectrums of light, hence why green vs blue light will help vary the contrast. They offer no other explanation on exactly how or in what situations you would need to use the different filter colors.

    If anyone has a link to a basic tutorial I'd really appreciate it. A few hours of searching via google turned up nothing. If anyone can help with a link, or simple explanation of the filters in regard to the specific Ilford paper, I'd really appreciate that too.

  2. #2

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    I looked on the Ilford site and they, as one would expect, have a huge amount of material which will interest you.

    Try the following initially . . .

    http://www.ilfordphoto.com/Webfiles/...8932591755.pdf

  3. #3

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    Hi,

    I am actually not sure what you are asking.......probably just me ?!.

    The use of different colours illuminated on the paper via the negative is what changes the contrast of the multigrade* paper from 0 (soft ) to 5 ( hard ) with grade 2 to 2.5 being the normal grade for printing a correctly exposed and processed negative. You do not have to worry, or indeed know anything regarding the actual colour of the filtrations used.

    You dial in the grade and thats the grade the paper will print at.

    Is that what you are asking?

    * all MULTIGRADE type papers, generically known as Variable Contrast papers.

    Simon. ILFORD Photo / HARMAN technology limited :

  4. #4
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    I'm a newb in the DR, so all I can offer to you is this . . . .

    Don't wash them

    LOL

    Good Luck.

  5. #5

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    These are for split grade printing. So for example, you put in the number 2 filter and make your test print or strip to gauge the exposure time. See number 2 as neutral in light or dark contrast. You don't have to do split grade printing and if you have a good negative you can go ahead and print your picture on a grade 2 or any other filter. As the numbers to up so the darker the contrast becomes.

    For example, here is a basic scenario.

    >You make a test strip on Grade 2 and discover your optimal exposure time is 20 seconds.
    >You find that all tones look good and that grade 2 is sufficient so you go ahead and print on grade 2
    >You don't have to use split grade printing on Variable Grade paper, so you could decide on more contrast and use a Grade 3 filter (or vice versa)

    >You make a test strip on Grade 2 and discover your optimal exposure time is 20 seconds.
    >You split the exposure into 2 part of 10 seconds
    >10 seconds with a grade 5 filter and 10 seconds with a grade 0 filter
    >You can use any grade up and down the grade scale depending on what you want

    Split grade comes in handy when doing lots of dodging and burning and controlling area specific contrast.

    I find I need to be careful about split grade (as a newbie in printing) and first check what I can achieve with a good negative and a straight up single grade exposure.

    Split grade is fun though.

    So, use neutral grade 2 to get your exposure time on a test strip, then divide that time up into however much of the two multigrade paper emulsions you want to expose. For a simple exposure, split in half and try the two extremes (grade 5 and grade 0) then decide what would be optimal from there.

    There is no standard, use and do what gives you the effect you want.

  6. #6

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    I did find that PDF. All it tells me is that multigrade filters are available from 00-5 in 1/2 steps, and that the lowest number is the softest contrast.

    Reading back through the bit about the light sensitivity of the emulsion make a good bit more sense now. I think what was confusing me is that it spends more time talking about magenta, yellow and other color filters. When I went to my enlarger, the dial adjusts from green to blue. Reading more carefully, it seems to be talking about using colored filters to filter white light coming from an enlarger with no variable contrast head.

    I just thought they would spend more time talking about filter colors and giving examples of filters seemingly designed specifically for their MG paper...

  7. #7

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    I use an Aristo VCL 4500 which allows me to dial in a contrast from green to blue/violet as you mention. It also has other settings that can turn off the green or blue or have blue max. It has a separate switch for normal or split printing. If this is the type of light except for the size then: the on/off switch (not the main power switch) in the "on" position will give you blue max -- blue only at maximum brightness; blue/off -- blue only with adjustable brightness control; green/blue -- green and blue combined with blue intensity being fully adjustable (probably the setting you will most prefer); with that switch in the "off" position it will give you blue max. -- blue only at maximum brightness; blue/off -- off only; green/blue -- green only no blue.


    The more blue the more contrast and the more green the less contrast. A setting of 2 would be a starting point. If more overall contrast is needed then increase toward 5 and conversely less contrast toward 0. You can expose different areas at different contrasts for example you could give an overall exposure at 2 but some part could be burned at 4 if that is your desire or you could go the opposite way or hold back and then expose at some other contrast. Try a test print at different contrast settings and you will see the effect.

    I use Ilford MGF and it works fine. I hope this was of some help.

    http://www.jeffreyglasser.com/

  8. #8

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    Quote Originally Posted by Ghostman View Post
    These are for split grade printing. So for example, you put in the number 2 filter and make your test print or strip to gauge the exposure time. See number 2 as neutral in light or dark contrast. You don't have to do split grade printing and if you have a good negative you can go ahead and print your picture on a grade 2 or any other filter. As the numbers to up so the darker the contrast becomes.

    For example, here is a basic scenario.

    >You make a test strip on Grade 2 and discover your optimal exposure time is 20 seconds.
    >You find that all tones look good and that grade 2 is sufficient so you go ahead and print on grade 2
    >You don't have to use split grade printing on Variable Grade paper, so you could decide on more contrast and use a Grade 3 filter (or vice versa)

    >You make a test strip on Grade 2 and discover your optimal exposure time is 20 seconds.
    >You split the exposure into 2 part of 10 seconds
    >10 seconds with a grade 5 filter and 10 seconds with a grade 0 filter
    >You can use any grade up and down the grade scale depending on what you want

    Split grade comes in handy when doing lots of dodging and burning and controlling area specific contrast.

    I find I need to be careful about split grade (as a newbie in printing) and first check what I can achieve with a good negative and a straight up single grade exposure.

    Split grade is fun though.

    So, use neutral grade 2 to get your exposure time on a test strip, then divide that time up into however much of the two multigrade paper emulsions you want to expose. For a simple exposure, split in half and try the two extremes (grade 5 and grade 0) then decide what would be optimal from there.

    There is no standard, use and do what gives you the effect you want.
    Ok that makes a good bit more sense! So lets say I'm printing a somewhat low lit picture of a large old house with plants and ivy growing up the side. I want to get a lot of detail from the bricks, ivy, windows etc. I find my optimal exposure is 20 seconds. I could use a higher number filter (more blue) to really burn in the detail without making the subtle transitions in the shadows fill in. I could then come back and finish the rest of the exposure time with a lower number (more green) to help with the subtle detail.

    Or, say I just want a really high contrast print...because thats my "artistic" vision. I can get my basic exposure using a 2, then just dial it up to obtain a higher contrast?

  9. #9

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    Xegatly!

  10. #10

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    Awesome! That clears things up a lot.

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