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  1. #1

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    Should I Make the Move to Graded Fiber Paper?

    Hi everyone,

    I need some advice. I have been doing darkroom work extensively for about 8 months.

    I used mostly Ilford and Agfa (my favorite!) resin coated variable contrast papers. I was really pleased with the results. However, I just tried a sample of old (prob 20 years +) agfa grade 3 fiber paper. I was stunned with the results.

    I found that the gradation between shadows and highlights to be absolutely lovely. I my eye, they seem better than using multicontrast papers/filters. I found that the hightlights are more difficult to block (in a condenser enlarger) too.

    First, is my perception pretty common, or am I completely crazy?

    Second, is this lovely tonal range due to the fact that the paper is graded or that it is fiber?

    I will definitely make the move to fiber and/or graded papers, but what sould I look for? Will multicontrast fiber paper give me these results or I should go for graded?

    I would also have impressions on fiber papers, I don't like glossy finish, I prefer semi-matt. But since a lot of graded fb papers seem to be glossy, I am wondering is the glossy finish is the same as resin-coated ones.

    Going back in the darkroom,

    Thanks for your answers to this bunch of newbie interrogations,

    Kris

  2. #2
    David A. Goldfarb's Avatar
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    It's both because it's fiber and because it's graded, and probably you've got a good stash of an older paper like Brovira.

    I like graded fiber papers (current favorite is Emaks and if it wasn't around, I'd probably use Oriental Seagull), but really it's all a matter of taste. Slavich makes a nice graded paper, and of course there's Ilford Galerie (which has the whitest base of anything out there, if that's of interest). Your best bet is to buy some packets of 8x10" of several of the current papers available and make the best print you can on each paper with one negative so you can compare, and then keep the prints in a file for future reference. Try making sets of reference prints with a couple of different negs, like a portrait where you can look at skin tones and a landscape where you can see how each paper handles a wide range of tones and textures. This will tell you a thousand times more than what anyone can tell you on an internet forum.
    flickr--http://www.flickr.com/photos/davidagoldfarb/
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  3. #3
    Alex Hawley's Avatar
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    I think most of the differences you are seeing is the difference between FB and RC papers.

    Most glossy surface FB papers are more akin to the semi-mat surface in RC. I've never seen a FB surface as glossy as the RC glossy unless it was ferrotyped.

    I suggest getting a 25 sheet package of a good variable contrast FB paper. Try that first then reevaluate whether to go with graded or not. Fact is, most VC papers do just as good as graded. No one can tell the difference when looking at the prints.
    Semper Fi & God Bless America
    My Photography Blog

  4. #4
    Rob Skeoch's Avatar
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    I think you've discovered the advantage of fiber paper... rich tones, great shadows, blacks.... a bit higher skill level is needed though.

    My self I happen to use only graded papers but that's because of the type of enlarger I use... I think you'll find great results with most of the fiber papers whether they're graded or MC.

    RC coated is still a fine product though... many people use them regularly for contact sheets and file shots.

    -Rob
    Rob Skeoch
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  5. #5
    brian steinberger's Avatar
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    Using graded papers is going to require a higher skill of exposure and development control of your negatives. You also have to keep a greater stock of graded papers at one time. And you can't do things like split grade printing.

    I personally find the advantages that VC papers offer greatly outweighs using graded papers. I too agree that you're seeing the differences between RC and FB papers. Fiber base glossy papers are not like RC glossy papers. I like Ilfords pearl finish in RC paper and glossy in fiber base paper. Fiber base paper does require a lot longer final wash but the results are stunning. I also recommend that you try a pack of 25 sheets of 8x10 Ilford MGIV paper, whether warmtone or not. It's great stuff.

  6. #6

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    I don't have much experience with graded paper save some Kentmere Bromide Gr 2, but I have fallen in love with fiber in general. Mostly because it's such a pleasure to handle, in addition to the image quality (though that may be a placebo effect). I'll second that fiber base glossy is much closer to semi-matte RC, not the polished glass shiny of glossy RC. I will caution that while I do enjoy the semi-matte Ilford MGFB Warmtone, the standard multigrade fiber in matte is EXTREMELY matte. I had a hard time telling which side was the base and which side the emulsion! I'm smitten with the tone of the Ilford warmtone, and can't wait to try it in Formulary 130 developer (which I think is the same as Ansco 130). That won't stop me from trying some more graded paper on the side though :P

    - Justin

  7. #7

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    With Graded you'll enjoy a much more well
    lite darkroom. Graded is blue only sensitive.
    A bright yellow or orange-ish safelighting
    can be used. Dan

  8. #8
    Ian Grant's Avatar
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    Modern VC fibre papers are so good it shouldn't really matter whether VC or fixed grade.

    It's the fibre base that makes the difference.

    Ian

  9. #9

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    Hi everyone,

    Thanks for your answers,

    I just found what kind of paper I used. It was old Agfa Portega Rapid. Do someone know what would be a good replacement?

    I will definetely move to Fiber paper, I just made my first 16x20 print and I am still stunned. I will probablely try both MC and graded papers.

    I went from far... 1 and half year ago, I was shooting only Digital SLR, Then came the Rolleiflex (still my favorite camera), then a scanner, then the darkroom, then a Leica, then a Minox... and soon the fiber paper! I am thinking of doing glass plates too! Do someone want a DSLR? I don't use it anymore, and don't plan too. I simply ruined myself in aquering what I need for analogue photography and I am a student (in political science), but it is so satisfying!

    Thanks a lot!

    Kris

  10. #10

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    Hi everyone,

    Thanks for your answers,

    I just found what kind of paper I used. It was old Agfa Portega Rapid. Do someone know what would be a good replacement?

    I will definetely move to Fiber paper, I just made my first 16x20 print and I am still stunned. I will probablely try both MC and graded papers.

    I went from far... 1 and half year ago, I was shooting only Digital SLR, Then came the Rolleiflex (still my favorite camera), then a scanner, then the darkroom, then a Leica, then a Minox... and soon the fiber paper! I am thinking of doing glass plates too! Do someone want a DSLR? I don't use it anymore, and don't plan too. I simply ruined myself in aquering what I need for analogue photography and I am a student (in political science), but it is so satisfying!

    Thanks a lot!

    Kris

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