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  1. #1

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    Fiber-Based Paper Recs

    My Photo II class this coming semester requires the purchase of fiber-based paper.

    I am looking for some recommendations as to which papers APUGgers have had good success with. For example, how are the Slavia papers?

    I will buy some 11x14 and 16x20 paper, so I'll be spending quite a lot of money on paper, and would love to go with lesser-priced brands where available. I'll be spending quite a bit on film (4x5 and 120) already.

    I would love to buy Ilford papers as well as Ilford films, but I can't afford it. What are the real-world differences in warmtone, coldtone, etc papers?

    Also, would it be worth it to buy graded papers (is the quality better), or VC papers? Single-weight or double-weight?

    Thanks!

  2. #2

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    Fomabrom Variant works well for a neutral tone.

    Tom

  3. #3
    DarkroomDan's Avatar
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    You will probably get a lot of recommendations in answer to your question. Here is mine.

    In 11x14 and larger I would definitely get double weight. Wet-strength really becomes important in larger sizes. It is possibly to work with the lighter paper in these sizes but, from experience, I can tell you that it isn't worth the "Ahh Shit" moment when you have a great print in the tray and you crease or tear it moving to the next tray.

    I have tried Slavich but mostly use it for the unusual lith results it gives, It is an interesting paper but, if what you need is reliable results, I'm not sure I would pick this paper.

    I used to use PolyWarmTone for several years. Unfortunately it is no longer available - it may be again but is not at this time. I really liked Agfa but, again, RIP.

    I just bought some Arista II however I haven't used it enough to come to a firm decision. My early impressions are I like it and will get more. I have maybe five other papers in my darkroom. I have used each of them enough to know when the difference each provides can be an advantage for a given image.

    I use Ilford papers for cold tone images but don't care for the way they tone. The regular hardly takes a tone and the Warm Tone goes chocolate brown way too fast.

    What papers did you use previously? What did you think of them? Much of any paper's appeal is how it fits with your vision and style for a given image. Shy of some other criteria other than fiber and price, I would strongly suggest a double weight general purpose variable contrast paper such as Arista II.

    Dan
    Daniel Williams
    Enumclaw WA USA

  4. #4
    keithwms's Avatar
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    The slavich papers are very nice, I use the graded unibrom papers quite a lot. It is nice and cold and modern. A bit thin, but double weight is fine. I use grade 3 most, sometimes grade 2.

    I do use multigrade papers too, but to be honest I get most of what I need done on graded papers. I could get by on slavich alone, actually.

    I haven't tried lithing the slavich, Dan, hmm....
    "Only dead fish follow the stream"

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  5. #5

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    ILFORD Galerie and Kentmere Bromide are excellent papers if you are looking at graded products.

    Tom

  6. #6

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    Before, I've used Promaster and Arista II papers (both of which I believe are re-branded Ilford or Kentmere products, because they were labeled as made in UK) in VC RC, 8x11. They're all I've used, and I never got to the point where I "knew" them like I "know" how Plus-X or Tri-X work in a given situation. I don't really have anything to compare against. I do know that we'll be using Dektol to develop prints, if that makes any difference in recommendations.

    I have absolutely no experience with fiber based papers, so I am completely in the dark (pun!) as to what they mean. What does cold tone vs warm tone mean, and when are either preferable over the other?

    I've noticed I mostly use a #3 filter when I print (or no filter, which I assume is equivalent to a grade 3 as well?). So, should I just buy grade 3 papers, or should I buy VC papers? Is there any advantage to one over the other? (as in, are graded papers of a higher quality than VC papers).

    Thanks for all the suggestions so far!

  7. #7
    Paul Sorensen's Avatar
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    You might look at Kentmere and Arista II from Freestyle. Arista II is rebranded Kentmere, and I have been happy with both, and both are somewhat cheaper than Ilford. I have heard very good things about Fotokemika Varycon paper, also available at Freestyle, but it does require a red safelight, so that is going to be an issue at many or most group darkrooms. I have never tried it myself for that reason.

  8. #8
    Paul Sorensen's Avatar
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    Oh, to your more recent question. Warm tone papers have an emulsion which is of a warmer color, more of a reddish/brownish color than a neutral. Cold will be more of a bluish color. I have tended to use warm tone papers, but I would just look for a good neutral paper to start with, probably, such as the Kentmere above or Ilford.

  9. #9
    Mark Fisher's Avatar
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    Go with the Arista (freestyle) papers. One is Fomabrom and one is Kentmere. Both are good variable contrast papers, just different. Stay away from Slavich for a Photo II class. It is a fixed grade meaning that your negatives need to be pretty consistent to print on only one grade and gets expensive if you need two. Just stick to a neutral tone paper for now. The differences between warm and neutral are pretty subtle until you tone them. If toned, the differences can be pretty substantial. I like to use exclusively neutral paper for conventional B&W printing and tone in selenium (always) and add a little sepia toning to get a if I want a warmer tone.

  10. #10

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    Well, my professor recently emailed me and said I can buy a package of Ilford Fiber Base Double Wt. MG IV Paper (50 11x14 sheet) for $58.17 through a supplier the school uses under contract. Freestyle sells the same paper for something like $80.

    I realize I could buy Freestyle papers for probably around the same price, but I figure at least now I won't have to worry about 11x14 paper, until I run out.

    I really want to know how do people avoid doing test strips when paper is that expensive? Do you use RC paper, which is much cheaper to do your test strips, then do your final exposure on your good paper, or is there enough of a difference between RC and fiber paper that the exposures will be different?

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