Old timer? OMG did you ruin my day!
I've been doing this schtick since about 1950!
It kills me that some great old materials are gone - mainly since, quality notwithstanding, photographers haven't been using them. But there are some new and amazing materials out there. The Fuji Acros, the Kodak T-Max series of films come to mind immediately. Also some unparalleled optics are available - beyond anything available in the "good old days" - the Super Symmar XL series...
As another long time film user I'd have to totally disagree, the quality of materials has improved dramatically since I first started in the late 60's.
All B&W films have improved, most are now streets ahead of their equivalents, B&W papers have improved too, as others have said the only disappointment has been warm-tone papers, which is due to the removal of cadmium by the early 90's, but we've learnt to live with this.
The one paper who's passing I really lament is Fotospeed's Legacy, a warm VC emulsion. Other then that I find todays materials excellent.
I've settled on Ilford's MG/WT and Foamatone MG Classic. I find these products everybit as good as anything I used in the past.
For roll film I find HP5 and Delta 100+400 superb. For sheet film I think TMX 100 readyloads is the bee's knees.
Just need to give ourselves time to become familiar with the products out there to get the very best from them.
It seems to me that David Plowden must be a "glass half empty" sort of chap.
Certainly, there are products for which we all mourn the passing and indeed companies (Johnson's of Hendon, May and Baker ..... Kodak - OK, the last one's tongue in cheek!) but there are equally some excellent materials available now that weren't when I first started B/W processing 38 years ago. Without getting into the old fibre/RC discussion, having to leave prints washing for ages, then waiting for them to dry (and curl), squeegeeing them to try to get a half-decent glaze free of bubbles and so on were all time-consuming, laborious processes that I'm pleased not to have to do any more, thanks to fine products such as are produced by Ilford.
Speaking from the position of someone who hasn't managed to make it on one of the Ilford visits, I would pretty much bet my pension that with today's electronic technology and the company's obvious enthusiasm, quality control and consistency of its products is better now than it's ever been. Mr Plowden seems to be suggesting that Ilford applies different standards to HP5 manufacture than to Pan-F. I rather suspect that Simon Galley would have something to say about that!
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Photography has always been a technology dependent art form.
When platinum papers were no longer commercially available, the great photographer, Frederick Evans, gave up photography. I've read that Paul Strand, even back in the 'Thirties,was constantly railing against the quality of photographic materials.
I too have lost a number of favourites in my photographic journey which began in about 1961. I miss Super Panchro-Press and Super XX film. I can no longer walk down to my corner camera shop and buy a box of 31/4 X 41/4 film. The camera shop is long gone and 31/4 X 41/4 film has been a catch-as-catch-can proposition for decades. Yet, giving up photography? Sure. The same instant I give up breathing.
I learned to develop and print B&W back in the early 1970's and took a long break from it in the late1980's and early 1990's.
I'm back at it and every time I develop a roll of film or set up the darkroom to print, I am constantly amazed at how much better the materials are today than they were thirty years ago.
BW Materials of today
I loved Royal Pan and Opal G papers. That said,
What I do today, almost 60 years later, is better work. I still have some of the old stuff, and it is nowhere near as good as what I can do today.
It does take some getting used to the different materials, but it beats digital all to pieces, IMHO.
Oh, i remember konica 750, plus-x, velvia, 400ultra color, maco aura, forte polygrade.
I've been doing this for almost 10 years!
Originally Posted by Ian Grant
Interestingly enough, all of the formulas I know of that used Cadmium used it for contrast control. All of the formulas I know that required warm tones used Cupric salts, Mercury salts or Lead salts and some used ammonium salts. Also, in addition to the above salts, most warm tone papers used a different addition method such as Azo warm tone. So, it is interesting that everyone seems to link Cd salts to warm tone when I have never seen it done so in acutal practice.
Cadmium was replaced by a set of non-toxic organic chemicals in the 60s and yet EK still produced a line of warm tone papers.
I have also found that some warm tone papers were exactly that. The emulsion was the same as a cold tone product, but the paper used for coating support had been lightly tinted with a brownish pigment or dye.