Opinions on Forte RC papers?
I have never used any of these in RC, but am a fan of then FB. Any opinions (as I heard that they lack Dmax in RC....possibly rubbish rumour). I ask as they are dirt cheap from Silverprint in the UK!
They are 1/2 the price of Agfa RC, which I love....but they would have to be good!
I've never used Forte's RC paper, so I can't give you an opinion. However, a friend who prints exclusively on Forte FB papers absolutely hates Forte RC paper. He said that the tonal rendition of the RC paper is *nothing* like the FB paper. Based on the quality of his work and on his vast amount of experience, I tend to believe him.
However, that's not to say that the paper won't work for you. Why not get a small box, and give it a shot? From what you're said above it's relatively inexpensive, so you won't be out much if you do invest in a small box.
I used FORTE RC a lot because it was very cheap in the early-mid 90s, haven;t used any since 99.
I used mostly the graded version (Forte Speed) and very little of the MC at the time.
What I remember from those:
The graded versions were about 1/2 to 1 contrast grade higher than Ilford's Ilfospeed.
The tonal rendition was not bad, they used to have deeper blacks than Ilfords but not so deep as AGFA Broviras
Developing in diluted dektol (1+5 or so) the tonal rendition was very good, with nice skintones
The surfaces ere nice, I preferred the semi matt, but the glossy was not plasticky
Since you say it is pretty cheap, give it a go, and find uses for it.
Mama took my APX away.....
I've used the neutral/cool tone Forte RC once (100 sheets 8x10, also bought from Silverprint because it was cheap) but won't use it again. I just didn't like it at all. I would only use it for contact sheets if I have to.
BUT, a warmtone RC version has also been available for a while; now that's a completely different story. It gives very warm, even brownish tones (in Agfa Neutol WA) and IMO can be an excellent paper. It needs the same longish development time as Polywarmtone FB for full development. I usually develop these two for 3 minutes, but can still detect tonal changes if development is extended to 5 minutes. It's also very responsive to selenium toner.
I have used both Polygrade (cold tone) and Polywarmtone in RC. I like them both. Polygrade has a habit of blocking up the shadows rather easily. Neither of these papers are developer incorporated so you have some flexibility. Polywarmtone gives more delicate tonal separation. I used to develop it in Maxim Muir's blue black developer to get rid of the olive colour. However Polywarmtone is hideous in Selenium going to a horrible vibrant red very quickly. Polygrade tones more slowly to a deep Aubergine colour. Given the very reasonable price they are worth giving a try. Although Silverprint give a maximum size of 16x12 I understand that they can obtain these papers in 20x16 size.
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Based on price and availability, this is my cold tone paper of choice. I develop in Neutol Plus and get excellent results. It's a bit lightweight compared to Agfa, but the tone is completely different. It also tones rather well for a RC paper. I keep regular supplies of the Forte RC and Ilford RC to meet most of my printing needs.
I tend to echo Adrian's sentiments. I'll add some of my own, too.
Firstly, the Polygrade V RC paper's gradation is pretty similar to the FB's, IMO. Of course, the usual FB vs RC observations apply here as they will for all paper brands.
I do find that the ultimate transition from deep shadow to black is a little more abrupt than I would like. This isn't evident from the paper's characteristic curve (which looks like it was plotted by a high school kid using Excel if Forte's rather amatuerish data sheet can be believed) but it seems to consistently appear.
I really prize this paper for its toe. It's got a pretty lengthy toe with a relatively gentle upsweep (again, not that you'd notice it from the curve) and I find highlights are very easy to capture though overall highlight separation is not aggressive. It's definitely mellower than Multigrade IV and Polycontrast IV. Midtone separation is marvelous and I find the midtones and the lighter shadow particularly rich looking.
It's got wonderful toning behavior. If anything, it tones too aggresively (hint: mix your KRST at 1:20!) in selenium and sepia. I'd prefer a bit more time before the start of color shifting in selenium.
Also, despite seeming somewhat flimsy, I've found the edges can hold up to quite a bit of abuse or overwashing without delaminating (Kodak please take note!).
So what are it's warts?
Well it goes greener than I like in Dektol and perhaps a bit bluer than I'd like in Sprint PQ developer.
You really have to watch it in an RC dryer as it appears to be a thinner paper that curls more easily. The good news is that it will uncurl with a hair dryer or even exposed to ambient temperature relatively easily.
Overall, it's my choice for about 90% of my photography. The exceptions would be some portraits (where I want something warmer) or scenes where aggressive highlight separation is required.
Most of the FB paper's traits appear to be identical. It should also be noted that I use Arista.EDU paper and I consider it to be identical to Polygrade V.
One other "wart".
Exposure times are pretty long with this paper. With a Polymax grade #3 filter and a condenser light source this paper seems to be nearly 1 1/2 stops slower than Ilford Multigrade IV RC. I've routinely had printing times in excess of a minute at f/8 which is a bit much.
I'll prob give it a go, tho I would rather it had been dev incorporated for pure speed. I adore the Agfa and buy 250 sheet boxes of 10x8 for value. The Forte is still cheaper.
One thing I love about the agfa is its astonishing consistency. Every box I have used has been exactly the same as the last in speed and contrast.....to a ridiculous extent. I have bought it off ebay and, however long it had been sitting about, bang on! I think I would be crazy to change in hindsight.
Funny you should mention that, Agfa MCP is my "backup" RC paper.
The Agfa has got quite a bit more highlight contrast than the Forte Polygrade V (which sometimes is what I want, but not as often) and the overall image tone is slightly warm. Then again, it stays pretty much the same tone in Dektol or Sprint PQ which is nice. I like it for portraits, particularly. It tones nicely in Selenium, too, generally starting to go "eggplant" after 60 seconds of KRST at 1:10.
What infuriates me no end about Agfa Multicontrast is that while the RC is on a pure white paper base, the FB is cream-colored. As I'm starting to use mostly FB paper rather than RC, this is becoming a factor.