Ilford Multigrade Filters Lifespan
It has been a long time since I've been active on these boards, since I've been without a darkroom for nearly 14 years now. However, just recently got one setup and I'm starting back into it. I have two sets of Ilford Multigrade gel filters (the smaller size and 6x6) that I originally bought sometime in the early 1990's for use with my Aristo 4500 VC enlarging head. I rarely used the smaller size, but did use the larger ones for all my 4x5 printing. Does anyone know if these filters fade or otherwise wear out over the years? Would it be advisable to buy a new set?
Thank you for any help provided.
They do fade. In regular use( problem 1 - define regular?) Ilford seems to suggest replacement every 5 years or so. I am less sure about fading due solely to age. Deprived of UV i.e. in a box I'd have thought that normal daylight fade would be negligible.
Try each of them on fresh paper with fresh dev and see if each grade gives a noticeably different and progressively more contrasty result.
The stability of the dyes may depend on the storage conditions, but I think fading would be most heavily influenced by the amount of use rather than just age.
Regardless, it might be a good idea to get a new set anyway, especially if you don't have the latest version. You can tell by looking at the 00 and 5 filters. In the more recent sets, the 00 is no longer yellow, but a more orange-ish colour, and the 5 doesn't look as "purple" anymore. And the newest Ilford papers are really optimized to work with the latest version of the filters.
Thanks for the quick replies!
I wouldn't classify my filters as having heavy use because I was a graded paper only user up until about the mid-1990's. Therefore, at most my 6x6 set saw about 4 - 5 years of what I'd call low-to-moderate use. For the past 13 years or so, both sets have been stored in a cabinet drawer devoid of any light, in their respective original spiral thingy in the box, and in my house. I wouldn't imagine anything related to storage being an issue.
@Michael R 1974 - the 00 and 5 filters in my sets are as you describe. I must have a later version rather than an earlier one.
I think I'll proceed as pentaxuser suggested...I'll grab a known neg and print it through the various filter strengths that I would normally use, and then simply compare for expected contrast differences.
Originally Posted by chip j
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I would think that when a paper is re-formulated, that there might be a slightly different spectral sensitivity. I.E. example MG3/MG4 it would be important to use the newest filters matched to the paper. The difference might be slight, but using the correct filter values will eliminate another variable in the process. Perhaps Simon may comment on this. I know that analyzing filter values from MG2 to MG4 there is a slight difference. That is without taking fading into account.
Why are there no speaker jacks on a stereo camera?
I had the same question not long ago:
Following the majority opinion of responders, I bought a new set of filters. With ~35€ now out of my pocket I found that both in appearance and function the old ones (purchased 30 yrs ago) were identical to the new ones.
+1 on the advice of pentaxuser. Make sure the other variables are known: fresh paper, fresh dev; remember that there is hardly any difference between grades 4 and 5.
A slightly OT comment - never try using alcohol or lens cleaning fluid on Ilford filters to clean them. You don't need to ask me how I know. Who needs grade 4.5 anyway !
The ILFORD Multigrade filters do fade over time, and especially related to actual use and should be replaced 5 years + but as always, test them and as long as they work OK then thats fine.
The BIGGEST cause of replacement of filters though is handling not fading, darkrooms / wet fingers / not replacing them in the box / scratching....
So HANDLE with care.
Simon ILFORD Photo / HARMAN technology Limited :
Many many thanks, Simon, to Ilford for still manufacturing multigrade filters in various sizes. I use the filters in condenser drawers well above the negative and lens stages, and have found their various dye stabilities change remarkably slowly with age and use. I always buy a pair of filter sets at one go, date the different filter boxes, and use one set until I can visually notice filter-fading. Then I replace with the other 'new' paired set, toss the faded filters, and buy two new Ilford sets.