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  1. #1

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    Filtration for multigrade papers

    I recently bought an enlarger with a colour head (CMY) and am looking for advice on contrast filtration for B&W paper. My experience is in graded paper, and Ilford filters for multicontrast varieties in a drawer, but I'm ignorant of colour head settings for grade 1, 2, 3, 4, equivalents. It's an LPL enlarger.

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    Quote Originally Posted by blockend View Post
    I recently bought an enlarger with a colour head (CMY) and am looking for advice on contrast filtration for B&W paper. My experience is in graded paper, and Ilford filters for multicontrast varieties in a drawer, but I'm ignorant of colour head settings for grade 1, 2, 3, 4, equivalents. It's an LPL enlarger.
    Here is Ilford's data sheet with that information. The LPL enlarger is listed under the Kodak heading.

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    The Kodak values for Ilford also include Kentmere papers too. There is a data sheet included with all packs of both papers. However I type them out in large (Very) bold print and pin them to the darkroom wall so I can see them when the light is out and I'm working by safety light. This enables me to alter the enlarger filtration when multi exposures with different values without difficulty

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    My advice is to forget about using the colour head and stick to graded filters under white light. It can be a recipe for madness trying to find the right balance and when I tried I wasted many, many sheets of paper in the process. The simple theory for graded filters is "time for the whites, filters for the blacks". i.e. once you find the right times for highlights you shouldn't have to adjust that time as you go up the grades to grade 3 1/2 to drive more contrast. The trouble with colour heads in my experience is you also have to worry out times and so it's like starting all over again every time you want to change contrast. The fewer the variables the easier to make a satisfying print.
    http://www.tonyeganphotography.com/index.html
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    Bruce Barnbaum, Les McLean and others swear by multigrade papers. Their books would be a good starting point.
    I personally only use VC paper when a negative is such that I can't get what I want with a graded paper.
    There are also some VC papers such as Ilford ART300 for which can't find a similar graded paper.
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    Here is the chart I have taped to the front of my enlarger. The numbers are transcribed from the Ilford data sheet.
    These are the two filter settings that will give you consistant exposures through the middle grades.

    If you test and compare, you probably will find that the multigrade #5 filter will get you a little more contrast than the color head. This is one reason I still have a multigrade filter set, but I can't remember the last time I actually used it, except for doing that test.

    For simplicity, I use the Ilford settings for all vc papers I work with.
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    Last edited by bdial; 08-09-2013 at 07:54 AM. Click to view previous post history.

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    Thanks for your help. Unfortunately the LPL doesn't have a filter drawer, which would mean buying below the lens filters and I have issues with them degrading image quality. Bdial, I assume from the chart you provided all Cyan is dialled to zero?

  8. #8
    ROL
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    Quote Originally Posted by Tony Egan View Post
    My advice is to forget about using the colour head and stick to graded filters under white light.
    Did you mean graded papers under white light?


    BW enlarging papers are not sensitive to red light, therefore cyan filtration is not needed. MC papers achieve contrast variation through the use of blue and green sensitive emulsions, hard and soft contrast respectively. Magenta filtration controls hard (blue) and yellow (green) filtration controls soft contrasts. Sometimes you use both.

  9. #9
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    I use my Durst 184 with a color head. IF you use both the Magenta and yellow together time adjustment is not necessary (except when jumping up to grade 4-5, same as with filters) I thought I would not like using the color head, but after living with it for a few months I do like it better than filters. YMMV though.

  10. #10

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    Thanks again everyone, I think I get the idea. I have some cheapish RC vari-contrast paper and developer to practice on, and will move onto fibre based paper when I've nailed contrast and exposure. The filter head may allow for easier mixed filtering (say, grade 2 with partial grade 0) as opening filter drawers can tend to move enlarger position. At least, that's my hope.

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