After switching to Azo for my contact printing, I've come to like using single weight FB paper. I know this is against the mainstream but I've found handling, drying, and mounting single weight paper to be easier than double weight. I went looking for a single weight, multi-contrast fiber paper that I could use for enlargements that would very similar in handling and look as Azo. Lo and Behold, Kodak makes Polymax Fine Art in single weight. I had used Polymax when I started using FB papers but had drifted away from it because of the wide variety of papers out there to try.
Just finished a set of prints on my new stock of single weight Polymax and I must say I'm quite pleased. Its not quite Azo, but its as good, if not better than any of the other enlarging papers I've used, either MG or graded. In fact, I found it to be a little richer than Ilford MG.
The next big surprise hidden in the grass is Big K makes polymax in a warm tone version, the "C" surface. Double weight only, but actually a few dollars less from B&H than Ilford Warm Tone and less than J&C Polywarmtone. Third surprise: I like it better it better than both Ilford and J&C. (J&C just had a price increase bumping it up as high as Ilford and the others.) Again, just a little bit better tonal values.
Finally, there's the cost. Single weight glossy surface (Big K's F grade) is cheaper than Ilford or any of the other popular double weights for a box of 100. As stated earlier, the warm tone comes in at less dollars than the competition too.
Bottom Line: Don't overlook this nice paper. King K still has some good deals out there and Polymax Fine Art is one of them, unsung as it may be.
i have to admit i have several boxes of polymax single weight paper that are unopened waiting for me to dig in. i also have the ancestor of that paper - which was single weight polyfiber. before i found out about azo, i did all of my contact printing on it, and a lot of enlarging too. it is nice stuff, i agree wholeheartedly
Alex,I find your' post extremely interesting.
Before my multi-year hiatus from the darkroom, I tried a number FB VC papers and settled on the Yellow Devil's Polycontrast FB, (I guess that it was called Polyfiber), as my favorite, used it almost exclusively and made many of my best prints on it.
When I recently started printing again, I noticed that Polycontrast no longer exists, replaced by Polymax. I figured that it was a whole different paper so I didn't hurry to try it out right away. As you said, there are a lot of papers to try out there.
I'm not printing larger than 8x10 and I dry mount anything that I frame so, along with your favorable remarks about this paper, It makes sense for me to try a box of SW Polymax as soon as I can get a hold of one.
Thanks for the post Alex.
That is called grain. It is supposed to be there.
Another nice thing I discovered. Unlike Ilford WT, which I found to be 2 stops slower than MG IV, the Kodak WT (the "C" surface) exposes exactly as the neutral tone does. No difference! To me, this is a good thing.
Second additional nice thing. Drydown is minimal. I noticed hardly any. Others have measured it (somehow) and report between 5-10% drydown factor.