Photo Gear
Covering The Photo Beat; Black And White Papers Page 2

There are still a few diehards who denigrate Variable Contrast (VC) papers, often known generically under the Ilford trade name of "Multigrade." It is true that years ago VC papers delivered a far smaller contrast range than graded papers, and it is true to this day that at Grade 5, the very hardest paper is graded at ISO(R) 35-40, while VC with discrete filters is normally ISO(R) 40-45 and VC with a variable contrast head is typically ISO(R) 45-50. It is also true that graded papers were once tonally superior to VC, but unless you need very, very hard paper, the quality and tonality of VC papers caught up with graded at least 20 years ago.

Whatever paper you choose, it is extremely important to develop it to completion: that is, until the blacks are as black as they are going to get, and all other tones are fully developed. At the normal 68ÞF, 20ÞC, this should take 2-3 minutes. "Snatching" a print because it is going too dark, too fast, is a short cut to disaster. Remake the print with less exposure.

Also, don't be afraid to "waste" paper. Your first print could benefit from localized burning and dodging? Remake it. The contrast isn't quite right on your second print? Remake it. Using five sheets to get one great print isn't a waste: it's an intelligent use of resources. Which is better: one great print from five sheets, or five mediocre ones?

If you are just starting to print, or if you live in an area prone to water shortages, the best choice is resin-coated paper. Beginners can process more prints faster (and practice is the key to getting better) and your water bills will be lower. Although developing and fixing times for resin-coated papers and fiber-based papers are very similar, washing times are very different. As long as the water is above about 40ÞF, 5ÞC, it only takes 2 minutes to wash a resin-coated print. You can however speed the washing of fiber-based prints considerably with a rapid-wash sequence: a brief wash, followed by a hypo clear bath (available from numerous manufacturers), followed by another wash, usually 5-10 minutes. Just follow the manufacturer's instructions.

ISO(R) And Paper Grades

Paper grades--from 00 (very soft) to 5 (very hard)-- are not standardized: one manufacturer's Grade 3 may behave very similarly to another manufacturer's Grade 2. The best way around this confusion is to try to find the ISO(R) paper grades in the spec sheets or on the websites: the lower the ISO(R), the higher the contrast. The following ISO(R) figures give a good idea of contrast levels, but remember that different developers can effect wide variations in contrast.

Paper Grade
00 150-180+ Extremely soft; normally VC only
0 140-160 Extra soft
1 120-150 Soft
2 90-130 Normal or "soft standard"
3 70-100 Hard or "hard standard"
4 50-80 "Vigorous" or "hard"
5 35-50 "Extra hard"; see text

Foma papers are distributed by OmegaSatter. This well-known Czech manufacturer makes a wide range of papers, not all textures and sizes of which are necessarily available. Check their website for details.

Silver Tone paper from Event Cameras is a resin-coated, VC paper.

Freestyle has picked up substantially the whole of Kentmere's range of papers, plus Kentmere Bromide Glossy in Grades 2, 3, and 4, made especially for the US market. Kentmere papers come in 8x10, 11x14, and 16x20" in all three grades and in 20x24" in Grades 2 and 3. Kentmere will be celebrating their centenary next year, so look for new (or old) papers to be introduced or re-introduced.

Adorama Camera, Inc.
42 W 18th St.
New York, NY 10011
(800) 223-2500
(212) 741-0052

AgfaPhoto USA Corp.
100 Challenger Rd.
Ridgefield Park, NJ 07660
(800) 243-2652
(201) 373-4290

B&H Photo
420 9th Ave.
New York, NY 10001
(800) 972-5999
(212) 502-6200

Bergger Products, Inc.
5955 Palo Verde Dr.
Rockford, IL 61114
(815) 282-9876

Eastman Kodak Company
343 State St.
Rochester, NY 14650
(800) 242-2424

Event Cameras
8919 NE 198th St.
Bothell, WA 60060
(888) 396-8872

Freestyle Photographic Supplies (Arista, Kentmere, Maco)
5124 Sunset Blvd.
Hollywood, CA 90027
(800) 292-6137 (North America)
(323) 660-3460 (International)

Ilford Imaging USA Inc.
W 115 Century Rd.
Paramus, NJ 07652
(800) 631-2522
(201) 265-6000

OmegaSatter (Foma, Forte)
1041 S Carroll St.
Hampstead, MD 21074
(410) 374-3250

Oriental Photo USA
945 W Hyde Park Blvd.
Inglewood, CA 90302
(800) 999-1984

Paterson Photographic Inc. (USA)
4680-A Industrial Access Rd.
Douglasville GA 30134
(770) 947-9796

18808 142nd Ave. NE, Ste. 2B
Woodinville, WA 98072
(425) 396-8872


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