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  1. #1

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    What do the grades mean?

    I ordered a box of the Arista RC Plus 5x7 pearl paper. This is my first paper I've ever used.

    I noticed it is a Grade 3 paper. What does that mean? Can someone give me a rundown of what the different grades mean, and which filter I should use. I have a set of the Ilford filters as well to go in my enlarger.

    Thanks.

  2. #2
    Ian Grant's Avatar
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    You should do some reading. Have a look at Ilfords website and these articles on B&W printing.

    You have bought a fixed Grade of paper, grade 2 isconsidered to be Normal, and you're negatives should ideally print on this grade. You have Grade 3 which will give slightly more contrasty results.

    Multigrade papers are different you control the Grade by changing the filtration, softer Grades 0 &1 with more Yellow, harder Grades 3,4, 5 etc with more Magenta.

    Ian

  3. #3
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    Grades mean that the Ilford filters (or any others) will not affect the paper in any way except as a neutral density filter. The contrast is "locked" in. A grade 2 is usually "normal" grade (like variable contrast paper without any filter used). Grade 3 will give you a little more contrast -- and luckily, a good paper to begin with. But next time get a variable contrast paper if you want to use the filters.

    Exactly how much contrast a graded paper can give you depends on the brand. Often they are in Grades 1 to 4. One rarely uses Grade 1...but if one has a negative that is very high in contrast, it might print well (or if you want to print a normal contrast neg to make a low contrast print). Grade 2 would be for negs of average contrast. Grades 3 and 4 is for negs of low contrast -- or average negs that you want to make a print of high contrast.

    Vaughn
    At least with LF landscape, a bad day of photography can still be a good day of exercise.

  4. #4

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    I have a pack of RC VC paper in 8x10 glossy as well, but it's only 25 sheets. I intend to hold off on that until I get my darkroom procedures down-pat because it's the paper I am going to use for my portfolio.

    I will read those articles. Thanks!

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    You'll need a heck of a lot more than 25 sheets to even start building a portfolio. Save your pennies, and get a 250sheet box. Then start practicing. Think I'm joking? No.
    Frank Schifano

  6. #6

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    I am not talking about a full portfolio. I am talking about a 10-sample portfolio I have to have for my photo major at school.

    When I begin work on "my" portfolio, I will most certainly buy a much larger pack of paper :-D

  7. #7
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    Quote Originally Posted by brofkand View Post
    I am not talking about a full portfolio. I am talking about a 10-sample portfolio I have to have for my photo major at school.

    When I begin work on "my" portfolio, I will most certainly buy a much larger pack of paper :-D
    10 samples - probably about 100 sheets, unless you have very consistent negatives, and lots of printing experience.

    The upside is that it is a lot of fun using up those 100 sheets!

    Matt

  8. #8
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    Quote Originally Posted by brofkand View Post
    I noticed it is a Grade 3 paper. What does that mean?
    "Grade" is an attempt to quantify the light intensity range to which the paper will respond.

    ISO grade is simple to figure out as it is 100 times the log of the luminous range of sensitivity.

    In simple terms your Grade 3 may be like ISO-R 90 which will show about six grays with the standard 21 step wedge. (.15 x 6 x 100 =90)

  9. #9

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    Grades are a measure of how much contrast there will be in the print. The more contrast the more pure black and pure white there will be with just a few greys in the middle. The less contrast there is then the more of the picture is just shades of grey with, perhaps, nothing truly pure black or white. Lots of contrast is known as Hard, less contrast is known as Soft. In number terms Hard/Contrasty is Grade 5, Soft/low contrast is Grade 0.

    In the old days all paper came in a specific grade. You could buy grade 1 or grade 4 or, as you have a box of, grade 3. Nowadays most paper is Multidgrade, that is it can be made to behave like any grade between Grade 0 and Grade 5 by using the correct filter. (Filters don't have any effect on Fixed Grade Paper).

    There are two reasons for having different grades. On one hand some people prefer to have contrasty prints, some prefer soft prints. So obviously they would print on different grades.

    Then there are the different negatives. Depending on the light when you took the picture and how you processed your negatives some negatives will be contrasty, some less so. If you wish to have the final prints look the same then you need to print the contrasty negative on a less contrasty/softer/lower grade paper and the less contrasty negative on a harder/higher grade number paper.

    Some people (Ansel Adams for example) was very meticulous about adjusting his exposures and developing times for each and every picture he took (on sheet film) so that it would print just perfectly on Grade 2 paper. With roll film and changing light this just doesn't work so well so you'll always have some variations in your negatives, and hence the need for different grades of paper to make consistent looking prints. Hence the popularity of Multigrade paper, where you can get all those grades in just one box.

    The best way to get a feel for the different grades is to use some of your Multigrade paper and print a picture at different grades. Do one at the same time for Grades 1, 2 and 3 and at double that time for Grade 4 (always double the time for Grades 4 and 5, don't ask me why). You'll see the change. There's no way to explain it in a way you'll understand it in words.

    That all said my first 100 sheets of paper were all fixed grade, grade 2 in my case, and practicing on that taught me an awful lot about burning and dodging, so get going on your Grade 3 and see what you can produce and then open up the Multigrade and see how much easier it is with different Grades available. Unfortunately I am sort of with everyone else in thinking that you are going to need more paper, testing and trialling and investigating the variations being the key to understanding the differences and learning how to deal with them. And when learning about Grades perhaps cut the 8x10 paper in half to make it go further.

    Most of all have fun, and good luck,

    Hywel

  10. #10

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    Thanks everyone for the hints. SO, VC paper is what I want to use the filters. I tend to like contrasty images (especially in B&W), so my grade 3 paper may have a use yet. I have 2 boxes of 100 sheets 5x7 in pearl finish. Glad to know it wasn't for naught.

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