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  1. #1

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    Graded paper and Variable Contrast Paper..same quality?

    Of the currently available enlarging papers..is there a "quality" difference, in regards to image tone and depth between traditional graded papers and the various Multicontrast type of papers? I got my start in photography back in the 1960's, when the overwhelming majority of what I could purchase were "graded" papers, and I recently have been printing on some graded Portriga Rapid and Brovira and Ilford Gallerie from the late 1970's up into the 1980's and am very satisfied with the images...but I will run out of these, and it seems that today there are far more choices available in Multicontrast type papers. So what is the general consensus about this comparison? Not considering the "convenience" of Multigrade type papers, but just considering the "look" of the final print.

  2. #2
    Michel Hardy-Vallée's Avatar
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    I think if you're doing only a straight print from an ordinary negative, with little manipulations, you might not see the difference. It's really when you want to go further that either paper starts to become more characterized. I don't think you will find anymore a lot of people arguing that graded papers are categorically superior over VC papers (Picker characterized them as "Polycontrastless..."). So in terms of quality as "goodness" both should be close enough; in terms of quality as "qualitative differences" then it is safe to say that the fine printer could find aspects of each to use to his advantage.

    Personally, I've just started using graded papers because I thought Why not, and I print from 35mm negatives. In my situation, I can't be exactly sure whether the differences I get between VC and graded (both on FB) are due to brand-specific characteristics, or to the graded/vc fact. Given that my negatives print on a G2.5-3 on VC paper 90% of the time, I decided that I might as well standardized on graded paper and be gone with the filter sandwich.

    Of course, there are purely practical reasons to prefer one over the other: with VC you can do split-filtering; with graded you can print more easily pyro negs (or so I'm told). VC paper can work as a decent ortho-look paper negative. Graded papers allow you to use a brighter safelight (more yellow). Graded papers are less sensitive to variations in light color temperature; vc papers allow you to use a color head for continuous contrast adjustement.
    Using film since before it was hip.


    "One of the most singular characters of the hyposulphites, is the property their solutions possess of dissolving muriate of silver and retaining it in considerable quantity in permanent solution" — Sir John Frederick William Herschel, "On the Hyposulphurous Acid and its Compounds." The Edinburgh Philosophical Journal, Vol. 1 (8 Jan. 1819): 8-29. p. 11

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  3. #3
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    Some VC papers have very poor or 'kinked' curves which give odd tone scales to some prints. The article by Dickerson and Zawadski says it all. Photo Techniques about 1 year ago.

    PE

  4. #4

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    I should add, or re-emphasize that I am asking in reference to what I can purchase today in current double weight fibre paper stocks. As a side question, if I like what I am getting from Ilford Gallerie paper purchased in the 1980's, would I still recognize the current fresh Ilford Gallerie paper as being the same?

  5. #5
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    In general, graded papers have a more even tone scale than VC papers. The ones in the article look rather poor. I wish Dick and Sylvia had given the names of the mfgrs, but that would have been poor form. So, I have to agree that what they did was right.

    PE

  6. #6
    David A. Goldfarb's Avatar
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    I still prefer graded papers for most things. Every once in a while I have something that I want to burn or dodge one area at a different filtration than another area, and I use MGIV FB, and I have some on hand for convenience or if there's a neg that doesn't quite fit on one of the graded papers I use, but I don't find myself using it that much.
    flickr--http://www.flickr.com/photos/davidagoldfarb/
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  7. #7
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    I agree with David. For that purpose, I keep graded and VC papers on RC and FB support.

    PE

  8. #8
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    I agree with the reasons mentioned in favor of graded papers.

    Also, with graded papers you can adjust contrast with the color of light you project through the negative. I have two theatre gels, one a deep sky blue and one a medium green that I use above the negative to effect a color shift in the light source. When using the deep blue for overall or even selective manipulation you can increase contrast by about 1/3 of a grade. Likewise, with the green filter you can lessen contrast nearly ½ grade with pure green light.

    Not to worry about increasing your printing times as these filters are additive in nature rather than subtractive, as is the case with multicontrast filters. I’d say about 25% more exposure should compensate for added density. Filters are made by Rosco and are very inexpensive.

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  9. #9
    Bob Carnie's Avatar
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    I do like graded papers, but I think that the new VC papers totally blow away the graded papers in their ability to split contrast print and isolate tonalitys.
    I come from the graded paper only background and would like to see some of the papers back with the cadium still in them, otherwise I will continue with Ilford Warmtone VC and split print.
    I use graded papers for certain Lith applications , but always defer to VC when making traditional prints.

  10. #10
    Michel Hardy-Vallée's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Steve Sherman View Post
    Also, with graded papers you can adjust contrast with the color of light you project through the negative. I have two theatre gels, one a deep sky blue and one a medium green that I use above the negative to effect a color shift in the light source. When using the deep blue for overall or even selective manipulation you can increase contrast by about 1/3 of a grade. Likewise, with the green filter you can lessen contrast nearly ½ grade with pure green light.
    How do you explain that behaviour? I know that contrast manipulation in VC paper is possible because of the two-plus emulsion layers that have different inherent contrast and different spectral sensitivity, but why does it work too on graded paper? I thought graded papers only had one characteristic curve, and that development was the only way to alter it.
    Using film since before it was hip.


    "One of the most singular characters of the hyposulphites, is the property their solutions possess of dissolving muriate of silver and retaining it in considerable quantity in permanent solution" — Sir John Frederick William Herschel, "On the Hyposulphurous Acid and its Compounds." The Edinburgh Philosophical Journal, Vol. 1 (8 Jan. 1819): 8-29. p. 11

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