Newbie: which BW paper to choose for my first prints?
Hi everybody! It seems like yesterday that I developed my first BW roll (it was 1 year ago) and now I might be able to print my first picture in a few days .
A friend of mine has borrowed to me an old Meopta Opemus System enlarger and I am about to set it up in my bathroom to print some 35mm shots.
I need some advice from you guys: I need to shop for some paper and for a safe light. My idea was to start with a lot of 10x15cm graded paper (2 and 3 maybe) and a waste bin to start experimenting (I do not have filters for multicontrast paper) and buy a safe light which is "safe" for that paper.
Does it sound like a good plan? Which paper (and brand) would you choose if you were in my position?
Thanks for any advise you can give to me!
If you can get your hands on some Ilford Resin Coated paper, that would be a very safe place to start.
The RC papers are the easiest to start with, and ilford has a good global presence.
Have fun and good luck
depending on what is available in your town/vicinity I'd start with a RC paper from Ilford, Forte, Agfa or Foma.
RC papers are a lot easier to work with
Mama took my APX away.....
I'll say the Ilford RC papers too. Those are what I started with, and still use. In particular Ilford MG IV RC Pearle.
Anáil nathrach, ortha bháis is beatha, do chéal déanaimh.
I agree on using RC papers to begin with. They require less processing and washing than fiber. While all that I'm aware of are variable contrast papers, you don't actually need to use filters with them. The filters will be necessary to manipulate the contrast of the papers but, without filters, they are normal contrast. That "normal" may vary a bit depending on paper manufacturer. You can always add filters later as you find the need.
I'm a fan of Ilford's Multigrade RC papers, especially the Warmtone. Ilford's are the only currently available RC papers I'm familiar with and I recommend them highly.
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Go with RC Papers to start with. As everyone else has said, they're easier to work with. After you have a little experience, then try FB.
Searching my way to perplexion
You will need some practice to get your printing to where you are really happy with it. That implies a few things. First, choose a manufacturer who is likely to give you a consistent product over time. Right now, that limits the choice a lot. Next, choose a surface that you can live with for just about all your subject material. Stick with your choice until you are an accomplished printer (not great, just accomplished). Then you can explore. RC surfaces are easier to handle than FB, so that may be a wise choice. VC means you do not have to stock multiple contrast grades, so that may be wise. But these things are your choice.
I'd support Andy K on this. I started printing at a college in the U.K. and bought Ilford RC Pearle. Most of my fellow students had bought Ilford as well. Most had bought Glossy which always seemed brighter but Pearle gave a good range of tonesand seemed especially good for prints with people in them. Although dodging and burning did not form part of the course as it was one evening per week and only lasted 10 weeks, I was able to produce very acceptable prints from one test strip per print by straight printing and usually without contrast filtration.
Originally Posted by Andy K
There were about 15-20 student per print session but at the end of a printing session there were very few prints going in the waste basket.
I's a great feeling watching your first 10 x 8 inch print develop, knowing that it will be worth showing to friends and family even if not worth entering for a competition.
I would think that buying a package of variable contrast paper and a set of filters would be less expensive than buying two packages of graded paper, but I'm in the USA and things may be different in Italy. Here in the US, Ilford sells a "student kit" containing a package of RC VC paper and their filter set (I think it contains a couple of rolls of film, too.) If you can't find the filter set in local stores, I would probably still recommend purchasing variable contrast paper and printing without a filter (which will give "normal" contrast,) until you can locate and purchase the filter set.
Now, RC versus graded paper. Personally I don't like RC paper: it feels funny, it smells funny, and I think that fiber paper gives better images. On the other hand, lots of folks like RC paper and can't see a difference between images printed on either paper. One thing is certain: RC paper needs to be washed for a much shorter period of time. On that basis alone, while you are just starting out and struggling to get a print -- any print! -- this would be important at keeping your level of frustration low. Make no mistake -- learning to print will be frustrating. Good luck, and don't give up!
ps: my mother in law was a war bride -- born in Livorno, married a GI in 1946.
I'd suggest buying whatever RC paper is least expensive to get started; there's no point in wasting money on expensive paper when a lot of your early prints will be thrown away. After you've printed a (100-sheet) box or two, you can begin experimenting with other brands and types of paper. Furthermore, advice you get favoring specific brands at least partly reflects the advice-giver's personal preferences, which might or might not match your own. For that matter, you won't be able to form personal preferences of your own until you've tried several products.
One more point: As has been said, you can treat a VC paper as a normal grade (2 or 3) of fixed-contrast paper, so you might as well get VC paper if it's convenient/cost effective. If possible, get some B&W (magenta and yellow) filters. If you don't want to spend a lot of money on them, just keep your eyes open for a used set on eBay, in local used shops, etc.; something cheap may turn up, and in the meantime you can use your VC paper without filtration. With any luck, most of your negatives will print fine without filtration.