A while back, several fellow members were asking if contact prints on AZO paper were really so much better that if printed on a good enlarging paper, such as Ilford MG IV, and if an Azo print was available for comparison. I had been wanting to run such a comparison myself so I decided to do it and send the prints to anyone who wanted to them for comparison.
I took one of my best negatives and made three sets of two prints, each set having an Azo print and and an Ilford print. The Azo version was printed just like the one posted in the Standard Gallery on grade 2 Azo. The Ilford version was exposed under the enlarger light using a grade 2 multicontrast filter to get the contrast as close as I could to the Azo print.
Both were printed using Michael A. Smith's Amidol formulas. I added an extra couple shots of bromide to get a slight warm tone. For the Ilford prints, 60 ml of 1% benzotryazinol (BB compound) were added per Michael's formula for enlarging paper.
All the prints received identical post-development processing which included four minutes in selenium toner, 1:100 dilution.
All the prints were made from the same negative. It was shot and developed by inspection to the density necessary for Azo printing. Film was J&C Classic 200 developed in ABC Pyro, 1:1:1:7. Exposure was set with shadow values in Zone IV which is a common practice for Azo printing. A standard yellow filter was used to improve contrast and darken the sky.
The prints have just about made it around to everyone who asked to participate. It was suggested that I start this thread to report the results, so here goes. I will be posting the comments I have received and the participants will add more in the next few days.
Of course, I'm an Azo addict so I kept my opinions to myself so they wouldn't influence anyone. Here goes.