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  1. #1

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    VC contrast filters

    Sorry to keep bothering everybody with the stupid questions, but I have another one. I finally managed to get a 4x5 enlarger, which is much bigger than I expected. Have to will have to assemble it before every use, but I can live with that.

    I was shopping at my local camera store and they had a couple of sets of VC contrast filters. One was Ilford, and the other was Gekko (ie Mitsubishi). The Ilford filters were about 70 dollars, the Gekko are on closeout for 30. My only concern are all the filters the same. If the Gekko filters are the same as the Ilford, its a no brainer choice. I looked around but could not find an answer. I honestly dont know, if there is any difference between the two, but I thought I should ask.

    Thanx again for the help.

    Gary

  2. #2
    Marco Gilardetti's Avatar
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    There may be differences but basically all the filters do the same thing: vary the proportion between magenta and yellow light. One may read "2" while the other reads "3", but things remain consistent once you get familiar with your filter set. After all you'd have drift in contrast even by replacing the lamp bulb. I would go with the cheaper one.
    I know a chap who does excellent portraits. The chap is a camera.
    (Tristan Tzara, 1922)

  3. #3

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    Quote Originally Posted by coriana6jp
    If the Gekko filters are the same as the Ilford, its a no brainer choice. I looked around but could not find an answer.
    I've heard the rumor that they are, but I'm not exactly sure about it since I've been in a similar situation as yours for the most part.

    My general understanding is they are close, if one is not the OEM of the other. Choosing Gekko would certainly be alright, but since it's been out of production, so you might want to grab more than one set.

    Fuji VC filters are also not that different from the Ilford, either, but the Fuji filters are much bigger than the other two.

    I believe Oriental makes a filter set, also, but I've never seen and/or heard anyone actually using it.

    My usual setup is the Ilford filters on the Nikkor lenses, which I'm familiar with. I use the Fuji filters on the Fujinon lenses to get slightly different results sometimes.

  4. #4

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    Even if the filters aren't 100% the same it's not a big issue. Between differences in light sources and even developer the exact grade you'll get will vary from the grade somebody else gets.

    Somebody put together a list of Rosco gel filters and the contrast grades they match up to. I think it was in a US magazine last year. You might want to consider that option to.

  5. #5
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    Gary -

    While there is a standard that defines contrast variations in graded papers, there is no corresponding standard to define contrast variations with VC filters. Therefore, it is likely that a filter set from manufacturer X will be different from a filter set from manufacturer Y (unless, of course, both filter sets are actually manufactured and private-labeled by manufacturer Z).

    Instead, what you do know is that the contrast that you get increases as the number on the filter becomes larger. There are a few instances (reported here in the APUG forum) of contrast reaching a plateau, or perhaps even decreasing as the filter number increases, but that's a characteristic of the VC paper and not of the filter itself.

    So the key is to find a filter set from one manufacturer hat provides the gradation you are looking for, in the format you need (size, filter drawer or under-the-lens, etc), and at a price that you consider reasonable. And then use it to learn how various papers respond. Printint with VC filters is a bit like cooking - there is no absolute formula, but rather you have to "season to taste" by experimenting with various filters to achieve the result you want.

    The one thing you don't want to do is intermix filters from different manufacturers.

  6. #6

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    Different manufactures filters may produce a little different contrast per filter but if your neg is ok you should be able to get a good print with anyones vc filters. You might try looking online for a set of clean filters for less than 10 bucks but 30 for new ones sounds ok. Ilford mg vc filters are way overpriced. If you look on the auction site you can find a set of good clean (not scrached) filters for pretty good price. Make sure they are not scrathed as they do scratch very easily and many used sets are pretty shot. Good sets can be found from students who only used them a few times.

  7. #7

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    I'll just add that the variability mentioned by others is compounded by variability between papers. In other words, if you get a good print with, say, a grade 3 filter with Brand X paper, and then try to reproduce that print with the same filter on Brand Y paper, you might find that the contrast is different than what you got with the first paper. (Exposure times also vary between papers, but let's just ignore that for the moment -- it's complex enough already!)

  8. #8
    resummerfield's Avatar
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    If you are using them below the lens, get the best and clearest set you can find. If the filters are above the negative, it doesn't matter.
    —Eric

  9. #9

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    Again I want to thank you all for the great advice. The enlarger has a filter drawer, but it takes 4x5 filters, And none of the filter that I have seen are they big, so I will mount them below the lens. I will probably go with the Ilford VC filters, mainly for the simple fact I want to help support the company.

    Again thank you very much. I have a long way to go to get all of this stuff working, but hopefully it should not be too difficult.

    Thanks Again!!

    Gary

  10. #10
    Marco Gilardetti's Avatar
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    Ilford filters are available in 6x6 inches format too, to be resized to 4x5 with scissors. I'd personally avoid putting anything between the lens and the paper...
    I know a chap who does excellent portraits. The chap is a camera.
    (Tristan Tzara, 1922)

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