I'm looking for a paper brand on which to standardize, and to learn so I can get the best quality prints from it. I'm considering Bergger, Foma, Kentmere, and Oriental. I'll want FB variable contrast, cold-tone/neutral and warm tone, glossy finish in 5x7", 8x10", and 11x14".
I'd prefer to learn the differences in surface texture, base color, and printing characteristics without buying a 10-sheet package of each to use here. Are there any comprehensive descriptions (with film speed curves and other useful information) that can be used to compare these brands?
It would be nice to be able to buy a sample pack for each brand. A few sheets of each type the company sells. I know that charts and tables will not tell me how I like each one for the types of photographs I create, but it would be a useful start.
Suggestions and thoughts appreciated,
Get and use only Oriental Paper, you won't need any other paper. Glossy in fiber base is best. Tones extremely well in selenium. Brett Weston and Ansel Adams used it, look at their prints and see what you can do with it.
Everytime I find a film or paper that I like, they discontinue it. - Paul Strand - Aperture monograph on Strand
Same here. I'm really intriqued by the Fomatone, but I'm reluctant to buy a whole package of each surface to find out what the various textures are like. Other folks are probably wondering exactly how white or warm the papers are. If Freestyle offered some samples, on request, I bet that they would get more orders.
Originally Posted by rshepard
I've tried the Kentmere VC FB in warmtone and it's not really that warm, even when toned in selenium. Ilford would of course be a good bet: they have neutral and warm versions of their papers, are widely available, and the VC is reasonably priced in all sorts of sizes. Bergger is also said to have a nice warmtone.
Using film since before it was hip.
"One of the most singular characters of the hyposulphites, is the property their solutions possess of dissolving muriate of silver and retaining it in considerable quantity in permanent solution" — Sir John Frederick William Herschel, "On the Hyposulphurous Acid and its Compounds." The Edinburgh Philosophical Journal
, Vol. 1 (8 Jan. 1819): 8-29. p. 11
My APUG Portfolio
I'll second Oriental - it produces the deepest blacks and is a pleasure to print on with pyro negatives.
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Yesterday I printed some negs belonging to a client, and I was asked to use 'fiber' paper. So I commenced asking what surface texture, and print tone he would like and I got a big questionmark for an answer. So I printed one neg on four different types of paper, all in Edwal Ultra Black chemistry. The papers used were:
Ilford MGIV Warmtone, semimatte
Kentmere Fineprint VC Warmtone, matte
Fotokemika Varycon, glossy
Ilford MGIV standard, glossy
The MGIV warmtone has a truly matte finish. I would be tempted to say there is no gloss at all. The tonal representation is very nice, although sometimes I find I would like a bit richer blacks. Other than that, it's gorgeous.
The Kentmere paper has a surface very similar to that of Agfa MCC118 matte paper, sort of grainy. The tone is warmer than that of Ilford, with a slightly yellow cast. Fantastic paper that's much faster than Ilford, and responds to filtration differently. What printed as grade 2 on the MGIV warmtone, printed similarly as grade 1 on the Kentmere. Great intense blacks, fantastic separation in the mid values.
The Fotokemika Varycon paper has a pretty dull gloss, if you compare to for instance Kentmere Bromide, but it looks incredible! It printed really well on the same grade filtration as Ilford, and I think it has the best tonal separation I have ever seen in a variable contrast paper. It's about the same speed as Ilford too. It's about as neutral tone as a paper will get. This is remarkable quality, although I have to agree with individuals claiming that it's hardly the most consistent paper in the world. For some, this is a problem, for others, it's not.
Finally Ilford MGIV standard, glossy - I almost use this as a benchmark. It has a wonderful gloss, a highly neutral base, and a near perfect grayscale from black to white. It is so difficult to be disappointed with this paper. It works really well with the Edwal Ultra Black, I've also had great success with Ansco 130, Dektol, and Ilford's own Multigrade developer.
I hope this helps out some, even though it doesn't represent the rest of the papers you're asking about. I love all of these papers. If I had to pick one of them, it would most likely be the Varycon, with Kentmere warmtone a close second.
Bergger has "sample packs", a pack with samples of four different papers. I believe there are two different packs.
Personally I think they're all great!
-- Ole Tjugen, Luddite Elitist
Rather than replying to each of you, allow me to offer a collective, "thank you very much." The answers are what I suspected: they're all good papers, and just how good they are depends on the eye of the viewer. Just like the images printed on them: some viewers like them, some don't, and the rest can't decide.
Originally Posted by rshepard
I'll see if Bergger has a sample pack and try that. Otherwise, I'll just make a choice, use that brand and learn how to get the most out of it.
I've used Ilford extensively in the past. I prefer the smaller companies for two reasons: they are more likely to remain in the market because they have adopted this niche and want to keep customers buying from them. And because they are probably more capable of responding to market changes than is a larger company.
Again, thank you all for your thoughts. The most valuable insight is that we cannot go wrong no matter what paper brand we pick. While I'm sure that some are better for particular subjects than are others, I think that working with one paper in each emulsion type will teach me how to get the prints I like from them.
the best paper I've found IF you can still buy it is the Forte SemiMatte paper.
after trying numerous papers out there I found it to be a true warmtone paper without any dev manipulation. B+H probaby still has it in stock. you'lll have to check it for yourself. I stocked up on it cause it aint no more but try....
First I stuck with Forte FB, then it disappeared. Then I found Kodak paper.. It left me shortly after. Honestly, I'd try different things first but try to settle on something that will be around a while from now. The only company that comes to my mind is Ilford.