They're actually pretty good about replying, though who knows whether they've actually tested papers for sharpness. If you hear from David Carper, make sure he knows about apug.org. He follows some of the online forums.
Thanks David. I actually made sure I mentioned apug in my email. I was hoping they would check us out.
Some papers have a little more surface texture then others that can effect the impression of sharpness. I think Ilford Gallerie has the most. The sharpest paper I have ever used was the now discontinued Zone VI graded papers. Very little suface texture. It was a great paper. Now I think the best paper on the market is Oriental Seagull graded papers. Deep rich tones with excellant toning abilities. I do not use VC papers. They seem to lack the ability to give a real deep night sky like black that you can really look into. I have never seen any of Ansel Adams books where he printed on VC papers. Though in his darkrrom book, he has a photo of an old style VC head.
Time & tides wait for no one, especially photographers.
re: "Do they publish lines per mm ratings for paper? "
I read that in order for an 8 x 10 print to be perfectly sharp we need to have 30 lp/mm. If the print has as few as 5 lp/mm it would be considered generally sharp for the casual viewer. Most of us probably like something in the middle and strive for closer to 30 lp/mm for perfect viewing pleasure.
To get that type of resolution at the 8x10 print level you need to get 200 lp/mm or more in a 35mm format. Hard to do. In a 4x5 format you'll need about 60 lp/mm in your neg which is quite possible and frequently achieved.
Color negative paper can achieve about 65 lp/mm and most quality B&W papers can easily go as far as 125 lp/mm. Even though all B&W papers are not equal, even with an average paper used correctly can easily reach 60 lp/mm , which is double the requirement to get crystal sharp prints.
If you are really interested in improving sharpness during the printing stage (aside from a very good negative, which is another topic) then your enlarger lens is the single most important element to consider.
The single simple thing that anybody should do is ensuring that your enlarger is properly aligned. The cost is only time and the improvement (if misaligned) is usually quite evident and a quick reward.
Hope this might help with your question. Sometimes folks seem to claim that one paper is sharper than another but I believe this is mostly due to other factors like acutance (perceived from the paper surface) and different contrast grading from manufacture to manufacture.
Never be afraid to try something new. Remember, amateurs built the ark. Professionals built the Titanic.
Wow great reply GreyWolf! While I have been fairly happy with the sharpness of my prints, I am wondering if somehow I couldn't make it better. I know that I need to align my new enlarger. Time to get out the laser and mirrors! Oh and some bubble levels too. I would like to test out another 210 or 150 LF lens against mine to see if I can see any difference in neg sharpness. I can't wait to try out my new Rodagon 150, but have had a bit of a challenge getting it to fit to the enlarger lens turret. Maybe tomorrow night.
In another post on this board, and PN too, I have asked for some advice on adjusting my color head laterally. Still no replies so I guess I'm on my own. Since the move I can't find any of my tools so should be fun.
Good to hear from you again.
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Since I have been using Azo, I have noticed that the paper actually does seem significantly sharper than enlarging papers. And I don't mean maybe sharper, or sharper with a certain kind of print in a certain kind of light. I mean that when I compare my azo contacts to contacts done on enlarging paper, the azo really looks a whole lot sharper.
Why? I assume it's some kind of optical illusion. Is it because the blacks are much blacker? Local contrast greater? Some kind of edge effects?
David, I concur with your experience using Azo. With Amidol, it is wonderful stuff. The best that I have used. The Amidol is pricey but the quality keeps me coming back.
</span><table border='0' align='center' width='95%' cellpadding='3' cellspacing='1'><tr><td>QUOTE (dnmilikan @ Feb 20 2003, 05:19 AM)</td></tr><tr><td id='QUOTE'> David, I concur with your experience using Azo. With Amidol, it is wonderful stuff. The best that I have used. The Amidol is pricey but the quality keeps me coming back. </td></tr></table><span class='postcolor'>
The way Michael Smith describes it is that the development occurs on the very top of the emulsion (using amidol). Perhaps the extreme thinness of the silver layer contributes to the percieved sharpness.
art is about managing compromise
Maybe. There is also a depth that is more pronounced than with enlarging papers. I have NO idea how that happens. But I know that when looking at a well printed Azo print, the thing looks like it's three feet deep. I have noticed this with Azo and other developers too, like Ilfobrom and Neutol WA, but it is clearly the most obvious with Amidol.
Resurrecting old threads again...
I've been using a lot of different papers lately, including some very old and rare ones. In most cases the visible differences are in the tonality, and "feel", not sharpness. I have tried all the papers by enlarging the same 4x5" negative to 8x10", so the only difference is the paper.
There is, however, one exception: Ilfospeed G3, matte. This paper (bought around 1985) is visibly and obviously sharper than anything else I've tried. Looking at the print with a 20x loupe, the only "softness" I could see came from the negative (confirmed by checking the negative at 60x and 400x under a microscope).
Thinking that the higher contrast (compared to the other graded papers) could have caused higher apparent sharpness, I dug deep in the drawer and pulled out an ancient pack of Agfa Brovira grade 4. The Ilfospeed was still sharper.
Unfortunately I do not own this paper in any other surface than matte, or any other grade than 3. But I will try to get hold of some more.[/b]
-- Ole Tjugen, Luddite Elitist