Ilford MGWT and Forte PWT
My six year old stash of Forte Polywarmtone was exhausted last week, and I’ve bought a box of Ilford MGIV Warmtone to try. As I recall, I used this paper for a while in the late 90’s, before I discovered AGFA MCC.
Anyway, yesterday I made several prints on the MGWT of a 6x6 XP2 negative I had previously printed on the Forte Polywarmtone. The following are my (kind of lengthy) thoughts on how the two papers compare, in my darkroom.
• Paper speed – the Ilford paper is about half a stop faster than the Forte, which is the slowest paper I can remember using. My enlarger is plenty bright and I’m in no hurry, so the speed of these slower warmtone papers presents no problem.
• Contrast – big difference here. In order to make a print on the Ilford MGWT comparable to the one on the Forte paper, I needed to dial in 40M. The Forte print was made with no filtration at all – white light.
I think the Forte Polywarmtone is the contrastiest VC paper I’ve ever used, based on its response to white light. (The Forte paper is six years old. I’ve heard of papers losing contrast over the years; can a paper increase in contrast over time?)
• Response to different developers – I developed samples of the MGWT in both the Ilford Warmtone developer and the Zonal Pro HQ Warmtone developer, and my results were essentially identical.
On the topic of response to development, the Forte paper had shown a characteristic I’ve never really seen before, which is that very significant development continued to take place after two minutes in the developer. To confirm this, I did a test a few weeks ago where I developed identical test prints made on the Forte paper for 2:00, 2:30 and 3:00. There was as much development between 2:00 and 3:00 as there had been between 1:00 and 2:00!
I tried this same test on the Ilford MGWT and there was almost no density increase after 2:00, much more in keeping with papers I’ve used over the years.
• Image color – The Ilford MGWT has the slight greenish cast I’ve experienced with several other papers, while the Forte has a more pleasing (to me) warm tone. I could live with the Forte paper untoned, but I’ll need to selenium tone the Ilford to get an image color I like. So…
• Response to selenium – I toned samples of the MGWT in the two dilutions of Harman Selenium Toner that I had on hand: 1:20 which did almost nothing, and 1:3, which was too much. I’ll try 1:10 next time. The 1:20 dilution had produced a slight but pleasing color shift on the Forte paper.
• Paper base color – the Ilford MGWT has a slightly creamy base color, while the Forte is a purer white, which is more pleasing to my eye.
• Paper surface – when I first looked at my dry Forte prints last month, I was reminded of how really brilliant a surface that paper had. I’ve flattened my Forte prints since, and the surface doesn’t seem quite so brilliant. Could flattening my prints in the dry mount press have taken away some of the surface sheen? I’ve flattened prints in this manner for years, and never suspected that the flattening had any effect on the print surface.
The Ilford paper, fresh off the drying screens, has a really, really brilliant surface! When I get around to flattening the Ilford prints, I’ll leave one as is to see if my flattening procedure is somehow dulling the print surface.
So, those are my initial reactions to MGIV WT, a perfectly nice paper which I look forward to getting better acquainted with.
Still, I’ll join the list of those who mourn the loss of Forte Polywarmtone, as well as the list of those anxiously awaiting the availability of the ADOX MCC!
East Snook, TX
It was only the horrible base colour which stopped me switching to Ilford MGWT when Agfa paper went out of production. Luckily I have a lot of Polywarmtone in my darkroom, as I bought rather a lot from the last production run.
Originally Posted by Resoman
I'm hoping the new Adox(Agfa) or Bergger (Ilford) warm-tone paper will be a good replacement when I need it.
Interesting. Thanks for posting this Gary.
If you very carefully hold the dry flat print over a boiling kettle or pan the steam restores that brilliance. Doesn't need to be too close
Originally Posted by Resoman
If you don't like the base color of Ilford MGWT, you may not like Foma Fomatone MG Classic 131. But it is a paper that is stunning in its own right. I would claim that it is a tad more brilliant than the Ilford MGWT. But its base is probably warmer yet, and you seemed to like the Forte the best (you are not alone in that camp, I'm sure).
Worth trying, if you're not entirely happy with Ilford MGWT. I use both Ilford and Foma, and I love them both. Hopefully both will stick around for a while.
Thanks for posting your thoughts. Very helpful.
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I noticed that 3 year old Polywarmtone Plus fiber lost contrast vs my last shipment of paper. At six years, maybe the continued darkening has something to do with fog or Zonal Pro, a very strong developer.
I don't know of a paper similar to Polywarmtone Plus. For me it was the separation of low to mid tones and the rich tonality when cooled in KRST. However, Ilford WT is a very nice paper which after tweaking negative development may provide results which are close enough. Oriental Warmtone has slightly higher low/midtone contrast than Ilford WT with my negatives. Ilford will print about a .5 higher zone vs Oriental WT.
If you switch paper developer to Ilford PQ or 130 you can avoid the olive color. Potassium Bromide is a factor for the olive color
Last edited by Richard Jepsen; 02-19-2008 at 03:13 PM. Click to view previous post history.
Reason: added info
Somehow I think Berggger knowledge from Guilleminot days went into Polywarmtone.
Agfa Record Rapid (Portriga) had superb shadow rendition, while Ilford Galerie gives amazing highlight separation, other Ilford and Kodak papers were good but Polywarmtone is still by far the best warm-tone paper it has a far longer tonal scale and handles shadows and highlights perfectly.
Hopefully the new Bergger warm-tone papers will be the closest toPolywarmtone. Mean-while Foma are working on a clone
Hopefully the new Bergger warm-tone papers will be closest to the old Bergger warm-tone papers.
Originally Posted by Ian Grant
I love PWT as much as the next guy but I have never seen any paper anywhere near as amazing for the work I produce than VCBS.
I like the warm tone of the Ilford WT, but I would prefer a cooler/whiter base too. I have not tried using the Harman Warmtone developer yet with the regular MGFBIV. Sounds like a small project for this evening. I wonder if there are other papers I should try for that look.
I also find that the Ilford WT has very little if almost no tone change in Kodak Rapid Selenium 1:20 up to 6 minutes. Will try 1:10.