I placed my initial order for Azo, with M&P, the day before Kodak announced they were getting out of the B&W paper business. On that news, I immediately contacted Michael and requested a much larger order. He promised me the 500 sheet boxes of grade 2 & 3 and 3 boxes of 20x24 I ordered the prior day, but wasn't supportive of me ordering a couple thousand additional sheets of Azo. As it came to the fall of 2005, I started looking elsewere to build up a stash of Azo. I consider LF photography part of my retirement plan and since Azo would keep, I felt stocking up made sense.
Originally Posted by Curt
B&H, Badger and Calumet all had 100 sheet boxes of grade 2, but a google search turned up two places, Unique Photo Supply in NJ and Discount Photo Club in Brooklyn that had 500 sheet boxes of grade 2. I can't remember which of these two vendors had it, but one of them also listed 500 sheet boxes of grade 3. Unfortunately, by the time I found them, the grade 3 was all sold and no more ever became available. I ordered 500 sheet boxes of grade 2 from each of these vendors. Discount Photo had it in stock, but Unique Photo had to order it from Kodak. Both suppliers came through on the grade 2.
During the summer of '05, I was high bidder on a 500 sheet box of OLD grade 2 Azo. The winning bid was over $500. Fortunate for me the seller dropped a note in with the paper asking me if I was interested in purchasing some more. He sold me two other 500 sheet boxes of old grade 2 Azo for $325 each. I felt I had won the lottery! In the October '05 time frame, Michael called me to say he had a couple 500 sheet boxes of grade 2 if I was still interested. I said sure, and asked him if he had any grade 3 available? He said yes, so I purchased a 500 sheet box.
One of the unforseen issues for a new 8x10 photographer was just how quickly you go through 100 sheets of paper. It seems so obvious, but compared to 4x5 you go through 4 times more paper just proofing your negatives. In September '06 Richard Ritter delivered my 7x17 camera and now it takes two sheets of 8x10 just to proof a negative. I do all of my proofing on the Canadian grade 2 and keep the Old grade 2 and the grade 3 for that 5% of negatives that deserve a fine print. I feel confident I have enough 8x10 Azo....well maybe a little more grade 3 would be handy. What I will need, and what I have on order with M&P, is 8x20 Lodima in grade 2 and grade 3 for those 7x17 negatives.
I've also tuned my TMY Pyrocat HD 2:2:100 negatives so they can take advantage of the Canadian Grade 2's long tonal scale.
Who bought up the grade 3? I haven't a clue, but obviously somebody or perhaps some group of folks got together and decided they needed to stock up.
Perhaps Curt said it best in the other post when he posted "a bird in hand is worth two in the bush." I guess that's how I feel about it. I intend to support M&P by purchasing 8x20 from them when if becomes available, but in the meantime, I've obviously made the decision to stock up while Azo was still available.
Thanks to the other posters for their observations and input and sorry if this post reads more like a blog.