Current crop of silver gelatin enlarging papers - preferences?
I've been away from silver gelatin printing for a while. I know the landscape has changed, alot, since I last did it. It wasn't something I was terribly worried about as I was off in alt process and large format la-la-land. I've rediscovered the joy of working with roll film in the guise of my Rolleiflex, and so I'm wanting to get back in to enlarging silver prints. As I see the range of available papers, there's:
- Ilford 300 Fine Art
- Ilford Multigrade
- Ilford Multigrade Warmtone
- Bergger VC Warmtone
- Bergger VC Cooltone
- Foma Fomatone
- Foma Fomabrom
- Fotochemika Varykon
- Arista Silver Artist
- Arista EDU Ultra
Am I missing any options? I'm more partial to warmtone papers than coldtone, because I can always make a warmtone paper go cold if I want to, but not the other way round. I prefer glossy/semi-gloss/pearl to matte, and I'm only interested in fiber papers. When I did a lot of silver, I was very partial to Bergger VCCB, but #1, I don't know that it's the same paper any more - they used to have Forte coat it for them, but Forte is long gone. If memory serves, Ilford is doing the coating for them now, and #2, the price has gone up (along with everything else). If I can get results that I'd like from alternate papers, I'd be happy to switch to something more economical. Please respond with opinions, and if possible, attach scans to support your contentions! Thanks!
This doesn't fall within the range of "available papers" but the polywarmtone project is working on bringing forte polywarmtone papers back. http://www.polywarmtone.com
I'd be interested in hearing from people who use Arista FB VC paper and like it. I wasn't that impressed during my limited use of it. I'd heard it was one of the Foma papers but someone else at my darkroom told me they compared the two and they were different.
I prefer the three main Ilford fibre papers.. Ilford Warmtone, Art 300 and MG4
Ilford paper has never let me down, its fresh, available, consistent and all three have marvelous attributes.
I find that for 90% of all my applications one of these three papers can fit the bill.
I quite like Adox Variotone Warmtone. Bright white paper base and a warmtone emulsion that you can keep fairly cool or warmer dependent on the developer. I find that it tones beautiful in selenium toner (KRST 1+9, 3-5min) when developed in Harman WT developer. Example scans in my gallery.
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Sadly chlorobromide papers with the likes of Agfa Record rapid, Portriga and Brovira, are no longer available to enable us to print portraits like Yousuf Karsh of Ottawa.
“The contemplation of things as they are, without error or confusion, without substitution or imposture, is in itself a nobler thing than a whole harvest of invention”
Scott- I agree with Bob, on the Ilford. There's something to be said about not worrying about availability.
A paper which hasn't been mentioned, but may interest you is the David Lewis bromoil paper. It's matte, though (and Grade 2 only). It's non-supercoated, and fairly priced (around $100 for 100 sheets 8x10). I've only used it for my (so far) pathetic bromoil attempts, but before tanning, it was very nice. As I've only used it for the purpose of creating a bromoil matrix, I can't speak to it's toning properties.
I have a few of the papers you've listed. If you'd like, I'd be glad to get you a few sheets of each. I think I can offer Ilford MGIV (glossy and matte), MGWT (semi-matte), Art 300, David Lewis, and Foma Variant 112 (matte- 7.5x9 inch, if I recall correctly).
I agree with Bob on the three Ilford papers, they are outstanding all three. My personal favourite among them is Multigrade Warmtone. I have also tried a few sheets of the new Berger VC Warmtone which I feel is as good as MGWT but with a slightly different warmtone character. The new ADOX MCC 110 is also a top class paper, in between MGIV and MGWT when it comes to image tone. Perhaps a litle closer to MGIV than MGWT. It is almost identical to the old AGFA MCC 111 , but coated on a clean white base.
Don't forget that ILFORD GALERIE is also available in grades two and three. If you have a negative with normal contrast that doesn't require split grade printing, GALERIE beats all the rest.
Ilford 300 fine art is a superb warmtone paper for those who like a textured surface, but as you seem to prefer glossy surface I don't think it will be your primary choice.
It is a good thing that there are still so many papers on the market that you will have a hard time to decide. Good luck !
Adorama sells a VC matt fiber paper with a warm tone emulsion and a bright white base. The surface is luster/semi-matt. Do a search and you'll find some informative threads. I quite like this paper, just wish the base was a bit warmer.
in the latest issue of Photo Techniques Bruce Barnbaum states that Fomabrom 111 is as good or better than ANY paper he has ever used. bought a box but haven't tried it yet....