Agfa paper characteristics
We have often heard of the wonderful papers made by Agfa, Portriga and Brovira, but some of us (ahem) never got a chance to experience them. While I am certain I have seen the work of other photographers printed on these papers, I really don't know much about the specific characteristics that made them so lovely.
Can some of the seasoned pros describe the characteristics of these papers, with specific attention to the print colors with and without toners?
I used a lot of Brovira when I started out because it was one of the papers my father used. It was a neutral black in Dektol. Toned in KRST, it would intensify slightly and go to a fairly typical "cool" (depending on how you see it) purple-ish. Noticeable but not overwhelming, which was nice. Of course others may have used KRST less dilute than I did, so perhaps they got more pronounced coloring. Oriental toned more strongly.
I found Kodak Elite FA, Ilford Gallerie, and Oriental were all great graded papers and to be honest I'd probably find it difficult to tell the difference between any of them (including Brovira) in a blind test. This seems to agree with Richard Henry's tests (which exploded several myths).
Once Kodak Polymax FA came along that was the end for me and graded papers. It was an exceptional neutral toned paper that worked very subtly in Selenium, looked every bit as good as Brovira or any paper I had ever used, and offered VC control. Ilford Multigrade IV would be the equivalent now.
As is often the story, as fine a paper as Brovira was, I strongly suspect much of the nostalgia for it has little to do with objective data/evidence. As Ansel Adams so wisely remarked: "the good old days are often the product of a failing memory". There's also a lot of unfounded bias out there. People will talk about the specific mid-tone tonality of paper X or the shadow detail, d-max etc of paper Y, highlight separations of paper Z, but most of it is unfounded nonsense, myth etc. For example, how many people decided Oriental was the best because of Brett Weston?
I didn't use the warm tone Agfa papers so I cant comment personally. However I would guess warm toned papers in general are the papers people miss most, because the choice is more limited now, and the cadmium thing seemed to hit warm toned papers pretty hard.
Last edited by Michael R 1974; 03-31-2013 at 09:34 PM. Click to view previous post history.
I loved Agfa Portriga Rapid for its rich blacks. I used to do a lot of night photography and I was very satisfied with the results. It was a warm toned paper but I remember a photo magazine in the mid 80s (Darkroom Techniques, I think) printed a recipe for a developer that changed the paper from a warm to a neutral tone. It involved adding chemicals to Dektol and since it's been so long I can't remember the ingredients. It did slow down the development time to a minimum of 4-5 minutes but it was worth it. After develop and fix, I sometimes would use selenium toner to give it a slightly cool tone.
Why don't you buy a pack of Adoc Mcc 110 and try it out, emulsion-vise, it's the same as the AGFA-paper, but on a whiter base.
I had some AGFA MCP 312 paper, which came with the enlarger I bought used and ADOX also created a remake of that (paper seems whiter than the AGFA paper, but the AGFA-box was rather old, so I cannot be sure)
You could get hold of a small 10-15 sheet test-box and see how they work for you.
Some quick memories:
Brovira didn't separate the shadows very well. Didn't like it at all in fact. Record Rapid had a wonderfully long tone scale and became greenish in Neutol WA. Portriga had a noticeable dry down effect if my memory serves ne right the other way around as usual: it became lighter.
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