Advice sought from UK photogs re: Ilford paper for a beginner...
Ok, due to financial constraints I'm finally getting round to organising a part time DR in my bathroom nearly six months after buying my enlarger. The blackout material is ordered as are trays and safe light. Chemicals and paper are next on the shopping list.
Now, bearing in mind I have never printed a photograph in my life and that as I learn there will be mistakes and some wastage, what Ilford paper deal is the cheapest available and which paper type is best suited to a beginner in making prints? I say Ilford because I use their film and wish to continue my support of their business as I move into making prints.
Thanks in advance,
Ps. Other than ebay, does anyone still sell paper safes?
Anáil nathrach, ortha bháis is beatha, do chéal déanaimh.
Ilford Cooltone paper has been selling at quite low prices in my local JACOBS store for quite some time. It might be worth looking on the web to see if one of these stores are near you. Arem publishing currently have some good deals on Ilford papers (until the end of August).
PS I bought my paper safe from Jessops a few years ago.
If you want to dabble with a cheap paper just to get the feel of it Silverprint were selling Ilford multigrade Pearl finish 10x8 for £12 per 100 sheets. Dont think you'll get cheaper than that new, however I have bought many different papers from eBay at very good prices.
It is not tradition that secures the survival of our craft, its the craft that secures the survival of our traditions.
If you are sticking with Ilford Multigrade IV RC would be your best bet as it will suit most negs and styles. As Les has mentioned check out AREM (www.aremdirect.co.uk) for some good prices. A good cheaper alternative (not Iflord) would be Fotospeed RC VC also from AREM. I would steer away from the more costly fibre based papers until you have some printing experience. Paper safes: I don't think they are made anymore but check out Firstcall as they used to list them. If you don't fancy buying from Epray (Ebay!) check out MrCad (in the AP - www.mrcad.co.uk) who you can always haggle with. Welcome to the wonderful world of printing, I hope it gives you as much pleasure at it has done for me over the past 30 years or so. If you get stuck just ask this forum - someone will help.
All the best,
paper safes are a luxury... IMO (however, I do have one)
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Nova seem to be about the cheapest for Ilford paper -- 20 quid for a box of 100 10x8 RC paper. They're at http://www.novadarkroom.com. However, they seem to be slightly more expensive for chemicals and other stuff. I tend to use Firstcall at www.firstcallphotographic.co.uk. Slightly more for a box of 10x8 than Nova but cheaper on chemicals!
Just a quick query about paper safes -- are you sure that you need one? I've never used one, I don't find it inconvenient opening the box each time I want a sheet of paper and have never had fogging of my paper while stored in the original box.
As far as paper is concerned, stick with Ilford Multigrade RC paper, it's easy to work with as it washes fast and dries flat. Leave the fibre for later. I'd go for the pearl surface as I find the glossy just a bit too glossy! But everyone has their own opinion on that! I'd stick with Ilford chemicals, get some Multigrade developer, stop bath and fixer. The stop bath lasts ages so you'll only need the 500ml size. You may want to get the 1 litre sizes of dev and fix depending on how much printing you'll be doing. The fixer will last you a couple of printing sessions so you'll need a storage bottle for that. Also one for the stop bath -- that's easy to tell when it's exhausted as the pH indicator turns the liquid from yellow to purple. The dev will need to be mixed up fresh each time.
Keep those questions coming!
Just a thought - My local Jacobs store has a small stack of darkroom paper. It is all Ilford Multigrade Cooltone RC. I don't like this particular paper very much and neither, it appears, do most other people. That stack has been sitting there unchanged for at least two years to my certain knowledge, and probably an awful lot longer.
I'd recommend avoiding this sort of situation. Yes, the paper may be marked down, but fresher stock is generally a better bet.
It's probably better to start off on RC papers and leave FB until you find your feet a little. MGIV RC is very nice (I like Pearl finishes, myself) and Silverprint tend to have a pretty fast throughput of stock. MGWT is a shade more expensive, but do try it; it's really nice stuff!
Re paper-safes - Tim Rudman's darkroom book has plans for a light-tight paper drawer, which might be a better bet depending on how handy you are.
All the best,
The destination is important, but so is the journey
It might be cheaper to use east European papers while you find your feet. In the UK Jessops used to have an own brand that I think was made in Hungary and was actually rather good, which they sold well below Ilford rates. I don't know if they still do it.
Another vote for MGIV-RC as a first paper - get glossy as that gives you the best contrast and maximum blacks. Does your enlarger have a colour head? If not, you will also need Multigrade filters - they go on ebay for under a tenner.
I 2nd the idea of not bothering with paper safes - they make me nervous: drop it and the whole lot will pop out! Jessops probably still sell theirs if you really want one. Easier to just use the box (tho' I still have a look before turning on the white light to make double-sure the box is closed...).
I usually buy from Silverprint(.co.uk). There are cheaper sources for Ilford paper as mentioned by others, but Silverprint tend to be reasonably competitive on most things and have large stocks, a wide range and a fast turnover so things don't sit on the shelves for long.
Ilford Multigrade developer is not particularly inexpensive so you might want to look at Agfa's Neutol NE diluted 1+11. In a bathroom, it's worth keeping the pong down to a minimum by using odourless citric acid based stop bath (e.g. Fotospeed SB40) and low odour fixer (e.g. Fotospeed FX30 Odourless).
Actually I just sourced one of these for a friend. Mr CAD http://www.mrcad.co.uk will knock you out a secondhand (but perfectly good one) for a much lower fee than new. Nice people.
Originally Posted by Bob F.
The destination is important, but so is the journey