Multigrade 300 Art - user views, feedback and thoughts ...
Ilford Multigrade 300 Art
It is not everyday that we get a new black and white paper on the market but what's it like, how best to use it, is it useable for my style of shooting/printing?
These questions can be easily answered just by trying the paper out and finding ones own results, however; with everybodys personal budget having to be optimised I thought that it might be useful if people could post their impressions/feedback/likes-dislikes etc about Muktigrade Art 300. This then might give some user experience of the paper or a set of conflicting confusing reports.
I know that some exceptional printers have already used this paper and having recently seen some samples and spoken with Tim Rudman about using Art 300 I had a better understanding of the paper than if I had "bought blind" (for want of a better phrase).
All inputs welcomed - let the games commence!
Ilford Multigrade 300 Art - first impressions
Please do not read this as a definitive guide to this paper or to using this paper, this is my first impressions; thoughts, working methods and conclusions may change as experience is gained with 300 Art.
Initially the paper is thick, woah, really thick. I purchased a box of 50 sheets of 10x8 and to be honest thought that reducing the quantity from a standard 100 sheets may have had more to do with keeping the box price of 50 sheets comparable to 100 sheets of ordinary Multigrade. It is thick; the 50 sheets nearly fill the box up, I think that 70 sheets might be the maximum that could be fitted into the standard box but it would be a squeeze. The 50 sheets makes sense. Did I mention it is thick? Much thicker and stiffer than "normal" Multigrade - rather card like as opposed to paper.
The paper has a natural inward curl, nothing alarming but helps to identify the emulsion side which to be fair is fairly obvious compared to the paper base. My small easel held the paper flat with ease, the weight of a four blade or RRB type easel will ensure paper flatness as with other fibre papers.
I cut the paper with scissors for test strips rather than my usual tendency to tear paper, it cut with a clean edge but cannot report if the emulsion tears easily or rips unevenly.
The paper is a floater! Boy, does it float. I think that it has a phobia of getting wet. It would seem that the chemical do not soak in as much as on other Multigrade papers, this can be good - less carry-over - but my usual technique is to go face-down first and the flip over after about 30 seconds. Using this "method" it seemed that the paper was floating on top of the dev/fix with minimal chemical coverage. I quickly changed to leaving face-down, though with the risk of air bubbles.
My D-max test gave a solid black at a similar time to other papers, interestingly compared to some of the samples I have seen the dry D-max strips had more of a satin sheen rather than the matt "charcoal" of the samples. Intriguing. Certainly less matt than Multigrade matt fibre.
Dry-down tests ran at around 8-9% with a normal lightening of the blacks. The test prints I have so far done have air dried flatter than normal Multigrade or Warmtone. A final print has been hung, weighted to air dry before being pressed, so verdicts await!
Texture. Oh, yes it has texture! If you want a smooth print finish move along please, this is not for you. I cannot reference it to old by-gone papers however, I compare it to a watercolor paper base. It may sound dramatic but the ridges and hollows of the texture are very visible. Nice, if that is what you are looking for.
I had heard that the paper was "reluctant" or slow to tone. Based on this I chose selenium diluted at 1+5, this being the dilution I use with Warmtone paper. Settling down to an interminable wait for any action, the paper started turning after around 4 minutes - I pulled it after a further 3 mins with an obvious darkening of the blacks/dark greys and a shift towards the red/orange. I did not leave to completion as personally I prefer the light tones to stay whiter. Quicker than I thought.
Did I mention it was a floater? This may cause "fun and games" but when in the Nova washer a good inch of the 10x8 paper would consistently bob above the surface to the water. The paper had to be held below the surface, in this case held under by balancing under a print tong. I can see all sorts of weird and wonderful contraptions/solutions to keeping this paper submerged. The instruction sheet says not to wash for more than 45 minutes, I suspect this is very important as I post-process washed for about 45 mins, dried over night, resoaked prior to selenium toning then rewashed for around 20 mins. Even before the post toning wash I noticed some edge delamination where the tongs had held the print down. This may just be my harsh work methods or the emulsion layer may be increasingly fragile after lengthy washing.
More thoughts may become apparent but do not expect a huge number of variable tests from this source - very slow exploration of this paper beckons over the next month! However, initial thoughts are that Art 300 is an interesting welcome addition to the paper varieties, probably not a "killer app" in the sense that the reintroduction of MCC was a "killer app" for some printers - though I feel that there will be some gorgeous portfolios made with this paper in time.
I was using liquid Dektol 1+9 @ 22c, rapid fix 1+9, selenium 1+5 and air-dried. Other users experience will vary!
Opened my pack last night and exposed a couple of sheets - Considerably slower than I expected (one to two stops). Not sure if I like the finish yet, will have to try some other negs.
Does it need to be Fixed and washed longer than most papers? I discovered that I needed to Fix and wash Kodak Elite (thicker base) little longer.
The Technical Information sheet says 45 minutes thats much less than traditional FB Baryta.
Simon. ILFORD Photo / HARMAN technology Limited :
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Yes....it does float! See below.
I like the texture of the paper...almost as printing on canvas.
Weird sensation when I opened the box and the envelope...I first looked for the "shiny side" before noticing the slighly shine on the emulsion side. And yes, as noted, the paper does curl towards the emulsion side. Interesting feel and texture to the dry paper. I have never handled anything quite like this paper...I suppose those who do digital printing or Pt. printing might use a similarly textured and weighted paper. Simply a matter of getting used to something.
Slower by about a stop ( on the F Stop timer ) than Ilford MG FB glossy paper..I contact print using my Durst 8x10 color head as the light source. Printed the same negative at the same time on the two papers, one after the other so as to be able to make a reasonably valid comparison. Both prints "needed" the same grade. Used an 8x10 negative, HP5, developed in Formulary 1027, Jobo, ES of 1.36.
As compared to the MG FB paper-I like the deeper contrast that I seem to be able to achieve at the same paper grade using the same negative...that is, the Fine Art seemed to have more "pop" and detail. Developed in Ilford Multigrade Paper Developer at 1 +9 for 3 minutes. Face down in the trays, no problem with floating, and no air bubbles noted. BTW, I like this paper developer...easy to use, long lasting, and is not too costly. Recommended for this paper by Ilford. Running water stop bath face dwon in the tray, then into Ilford Rapid Fix 1+4 for one minute, face down.
Agree that the paper seems to dry flatter than many...air dried on screens.
To tone over next day or two, then dry mount as usual. Thanks for the reminder about washing times! I almost placed in some trays and just walked away as I do often with the Ilford FB VC. I'll have to be careful when toning. However, the DMax is quite impressive and I am not certain that the blacks need the boost that selenium will supply. However, thanks for the heads up about the timing of the color shift...will probably use 1:20 and look to pull after 1-2 minutes. They hypo clear, and a careful timed final wash. I want no color shift...the color is great the way it is!
So far I really like this paper. A very unique appearance of the image on the textured base...almost lends a three dimensionaltiy to the print. I need to do some additional printing to be able to make additional comments.
Anyone else using Multigrade Fine Art? And I echo the praise for Ilford/Harman...takes some corporate courage to introduce a new paper. Support Ilford/Harman...the company deserves such support now.
Last edited by Mahler_one; 08-24-2011 at 06:34 PM. Click to view previous post history.
I have made some additional prints on the new Ilford Multigrade Art. Not yet toned. So far there has been nothing to contradict what I posted a few days ago. The new prints still appear to have a quality that is rather unique. The image is indeed warmer, and the canvas like surface of the paper imparts a very interesting and rather unique look to the fine details such as blades of grass, bark on a tree, etc.
Echo the thoughts about the print washer. I use the Cross Jet from Alistair Inglis. I already contacted Alistair, and he is fabricating some new spacer bars which will hold the paper deeper under the top of the wash water. Alistair is, as most of us know, one of the most honest and helpful sources of equipment for LF photographers.
I have shortened the washing time after the first fix ( I use two fixes....one after toning ) to about 15 minutes. I have also eschewed the use of a running water stop bath for the standard citric acid stop. Still, one or two prints have just a bit of delaminating on the edges of the paper.
The paper is now being sold by B&H as well as Freestyle-and perhaps it will be stocked by others including Adorama, etc. Do your own research as far as cost is concerned! I have already ordered another box from B&H and will likely order a third within a few more weeks. Staying with Ilford Multigrade Developer-I see no compelling need to switch.
As stated, I would certainly welcome knowing the experience of any others who have used the paper.
Last edited by Mahler_one; 08-31-2011 at 10:25 PM. Click to view previous post history.