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  1. #1
    fotch's Avatar
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    What is the probability of old paper being good?

    I purchase a Beseler Stand from someone closing down their darkroom. I am offered the following paper for $ however, I don't want it if its no good. I am not able to set up a darkroom to test it although maybe could do some limited testing. Anyway, I listed below what is offered.

    Any comment of what is likely to be good vs, not, assuming no exposure thru improper handling? He had it in paper safes & removed it to go back in the original packages when he sold the paper safes. He would of known to use a safe light. Dates, if shown, from retailers label or mfg. date code?

    Ilford
    1. Multigrade III RC Perle 1/22/99
    2. Ilforbrom 1 DW Glossy 19A-802
    3. Ilforbrom 2 DW Glossy 17B-804
    4. Ilforbrom 2 DW Glossy Galerie Fiberbase 24A173
    5. Multigrade RC Cooltone Pearl 3/11/03
    6. Multigrade IV Fiber DW Glossy 18C703
    7. Multigrade IV Fiber DW Glossy 30A701
    8. MGIV Multigrade FB Glossy
    9. Kodak Polycontrast Rapid II RC Glossy

    Most of packages open, not sure how much is in them, if its worth testing (how without enlarger & neg.?), can then figure out approximate quantity.

    Any advise or comments appreciated. Thank you.
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  2. #2

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    The Multigrade III and the Polycontrast are prehistoric, so don't bother with those. For the others you could send the batch codes to Ilford with a nice note asking for the approximate production dates -- if they are more than five years old then you will likely lose some maximum contrast and/or gain some fogging. Personally, I'd suggest not purchasing unless you have a use for old paper (the fibre-based materials could be fixed out and used for some alternative processes, for example).

  3. #3
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    This is from another post I've archived and used with great results on old paper with fog.

    Anti-Fog Process
    1) Cut a small piece (about 1 inch square) of paper from the box you are currently testing. Then in full room light place half of it in paper developer (like Dektol 1 + 2 dilution) in order to see how long it takes for maximum black (probably less than one minute). Note the time in seconds.

    2) Cut another similar piece of paper. Keep the room light off. Place a small coin in the middle of the paper and firmly hold the coin down with your finger. With the coin held down, turn on the room lights for about 5 seconds. Turn off all lights and develop for the time needed in step one for maximum black.

    3) After fixation, note the tone of the coin area: if pure white you have perfect paper in that box. If medium grey it is still usable but will need other treatment to make beautiful prints.

    4) If medium grey: you need a two fold approach towards getting that pure white back. Add either potassium bromide or benzotriazole to the developer. (NOTA BENE: To make a stock solution (MY way) of potassium bromide add 12 ml volume of powder (about 18 G) to 100 ml of water. To make a stock solution (MY way) of benzotriazole add 1 G (sorry, volumetric measuring is not practical because this chemical is like feathers) to 100 ml of water). With either of these restraining solutions you add about 20 ml to each liter of developer working solution. Now, the addition of this will slow down the time it takes to achieve maximum black, so test again with the tiny piece of paper like in step two. Add carbonate to the developer if it is TOO slow.

    5) Finally, if the coin area still shows some grey you have to make your print a bit darker and then use a reducer after fixation to take off that ugly veil of grey. Reducing solution, like Farmer's Reducer, but slightly different, is this: mix 1 G of potassium ferricyanide (or 1 ml by volume: with potassium ferricyanide the grams are the same as the volume) into 100 ml of water. That is your 'bleach'. Take one part bleach and add to one part 'paper strength' fixer. That is your reducing solution but, beware, that is quite strong. Depending upon how much grey you wish to remove you can dilute this solution up to FIVE TIMES! That means, a solution of 100 ml of reducer (ie, 50 ml of bleach plus 50 ml of paper fixer) can have up to 400 ml of water added to make a total of 500 ml of diluted reducer. Agitate frequently and watch the print like a hawk. Too much reduction means a lost print.

    6) The combination of both the restrainer and reducer has meant that many a box of photo paper deemed lost is now found. It does take a bit of experience to 'dance around' with this procedure but, in the end, you will have obtained a king's ransom of paper for pennies.

  4. #4

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    Yes dev and fix one piece and just fix another. The latter will be pure white and it will be easy to see how much more grey than this piece is the potentially age-fogged stuff.

    Benzotriazole can reduce age-fogging considerably so if the stuff is only light grey then it might be worth buying.

    I don't think anybody can really predict how it will turn out. A test is necessary. For what it is worth I'd hazard a guess that only the MGIV might have no issues but even here and depending on storage conditions there can be no guarantee.

    pentaxuser

  5. #5
    ic-racer's Avatar
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    I spent over a year printing on expired paper at at time when $$ tight. In retrospect, it was a mistake. The borders and whites in all the prints are distinctly gray and ideally need to go in the trash. Too bad, a years worth of work.

  6. #6

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    In 2010 I bought (among other things) from Berlin (e-Bay) some really old paper very cheaply. East german Orwo - from 1980's! Intended to use it as contact copy paper but amazingly most of it has turned out to be in excellent condition. (Now in deep freeze.) Long ago I used really old Agfa Brovira which also was very useable but a bit softer than new.
    Are some long ago forbidden chemicals behind the permanence of these ancient papers..?

  7. #7
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    Older traditional papers will loose contrast. Older MG papera will loose upper end contrast. I used Ilfrod MG FB many years old with success

    MGIII RC paper has always been bad when I have tried it.

    When trying them out for fog, pick from the middle. Contact with the cardboard or plastic can change the behavior of the top sheet.
    my real name, imagine that.

  8. #8
    fotch's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Mike Wilde View Post
    Older traditional papers will loose contrast. Older MG papera will loose upper end contrast. I used Ilfrod MG FB many years old with success

    MGIII RC paper has always been bad when I have tried it.

    When trying them out for fog, pick from the middle. Contact with the cardboard or plastic can change the behavior of the top sheet.
    Well, he said it was all out of the packages and in the paper safes. When he sold the safes, he put the paper back into the packages. My guess is they are well shuffled. Probably try several sheets randomly.
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  9. #9
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    Ninety nine percent of my paper is aged between ten and seventy years of age. All of the Ilfobrom has been good (both the very old yellow packaged boxes and the more recent white and blue). Ilfospeed and Multigrade I've had less luck with - the Ilfospeed seems incapable of getting any true black and some of the Multigrade has been beyond salvation (but I'm referring to II and III here; I can't imagine the IV being bad unless it's been seriously mishandled.) The Kodak Polycontrast I had was actually excellent.

  10. #10

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    I received a bunch of old paper; quite a few packages of varying mfg, types, grades. They were all from a single source so I suspect (but am not sure) they were stored at least somewhat the same. The packages were not dated but based on packaging, I could get a sense of relative age.

    I found great variation of the degree of fog and not always consistent with the apparent age of the paper (based on packaging). I don't have my notes handy, but I believe that some brands/types seemed better than others when it came to fogging.
    "Far more critical than what we know or do not know is what we do not want to know." - Eric Hoffer

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