View Full Version : Printers! Paper/Developer combinations.
Beginning printer. (YAY!) I need advice on paper/developer combinations. Mix it yourself is okay (going to start mixing fixer anyway) and I'll be ordering paper online so I have plenty of choice. Now, for the questions.
What did you use when you first started out? What do you use now? Knowing what you do now, what would you recommend to a beginner?
And my comments. I was first going to use Agfa Neutol Plus and Ilford Multigrade RC, but since Neutol has become hard to find in the states (I could import it from across the pond, but it's liquid so shipping charges would be horrible), I'm going to need something else. I've considered Ilford developers. I've also considered just buying up a good stock of Rodinal and using that as both a paper developer and a film developer, but I want to save Rodinal for film only. Also, as I've said, mix-it-yourself is fine as I plan to buy a scale soon anyway.
I'm just looking for as many opinions as I can get at this time from people who've done it. Paper/developer buying will happen in early November and printing will start late, hopefully, so that I can possibly start getting good ones for family before Christmas. ;)
Congrats!! You´re in for some great experience!!
I´ve started printing nearly a year ago and guess what all my relatives got for Xmas ;)
my advice is that as a beginner you will burn alot of paper so stay with the cheap stuff untill you nail the process! (also buying some small sizes is nice for experimenting at first) I started out with mostly AGFA papers wich were lying around in many shops here in vienna and I got good prices on those.
For developer get something wich is readily available near you since as a starter you will have other things to worry about than slight differences in image tone.
Have fun in the dark!!! (hopefully other members can give more specific advice)
First just get an RC paper to practice printing that is cheap. Same with developer. Learn to make good prints consistantly. It will take a while. The first step is learning the difference between exposure and contrast - not the easiest thing for first time printer (even experienced printers have problem).
In printing, the developer is not really an issue. But when you think you are ready to go to a better paper, Ilford Multi-grade Fiber based is very good. The glossy surface will give the greatest contrast range, but the fiber base still gives a little texture. I would stick to milti-grade as you can do contrast burns - you can use a lower contrast filter during the burn to bring in blown out highlights.
However, film developers are not strong enough to create print densities. You will need a paper developer.
I'm sorry to say I just use a boring combination of Ilford MG Pearl papers (MGIV or WT) in Ilford Multigrade developer. I'm missing Agfa MCP and Ilford MG Cooltone (both gloss) which were excellent for frames that needed more punch.
Go cheap with the paper...as all the above have stated you will burn through it at a very fast rate.
is my suggestion...a very good VC paper and VC paper is the way to go for the beginner or someone not using the zone system.
I have the mind to go with the Foma paper. I'll be using Foma film for a while once my Tri-X runs out so it may be a good way to go. Developer is my main problem. I thought about Ilford Multigrade developer or Ilford Warmtone.
Your first challenge would be getting a print that doesn't look disgusting, so the others' advices on economizing are very sound. Papers of even 2nd tier manuafacturers exceed capabilities of beginning printers (me included). You going to waste paper by packs and chemistry by gallons before you get there, and experience gained will give you clues what missing in your prints and what should be done about it w.r.t. materials used.
Hrm. The Foma paper and cheap developer it is. I may just go with my original plan and use Dektol for the first sessions...I can order it in large quantities from an online shop cheaper than I can get it at a local one.
Sounds like you already made your decision, but here's my input:
-start out with RC. Nothing like being able to judge a print in like 2 minutes total (if you use rapid fixer it's only like 30 seconds to fix).
-If you are going to tone, then you have a lot of options out there
-I do not recommend toning at the beginning
-If you are not going to tone (see previous point), then there are only a few papers, actually, that will print neutrally straight out of the developer.
-the best of these, after much asking on my part and answering on apug's part, is still Ilford MG. It's good stuff. Stick with it.
Last I knew, the Foma Variable Contrast works very well with Ilford Multigrade filters (which I'll be using as soon as I get ahold of someone who can sell me the set). I'm thinking it would be a good way to go. I'll be buying it as Arista EDU Ultra, of course, but it's the same thing. If only they made paper developer. After further looking around, though, I'll be going with Ilford developer.
why not arista paper?it seems very cheap.
As someone else mentioned, unless you are going for a warm or coldtone developer, all paper developers are _about_ the same. And, in line with my other post, the Ilford developer is a very neutral one. Not too warm or cool.
All VC papers should "respond" well to the Ilford filters. Otherwise they wouldn't be very "variable." :-)
another note - not sure if they still even have arista.edu.forte (not Ultra/foma), but that paper is almost designed specifically for toning. It'll be a little green without toniing, but takes sepia beautifully by all accounts and comes out very neutrally with selenium. so you probably don't want to start with that.
Keep in mind that just because Foma film works for you doesn't mean the paper will. Brand loyalty is good, but don't take it overboard. Having said that, I have never tried foma paper :-).
Foma papers are great, RC as well as fiber-based. Since they started offering Fomabrom Variant III the line-up is about the same in both types.
Foma makes paper developers, too (Fomatol LQN, Fomatol P, Fomatol PW). LQN is a liquid developer, P and PW are powder developers. P is a neutral developer, PW is a warm tone developer. Over here, only Fomatol PW is easily available, but it is an absolutely stunning and dirt cheap developer that delivers stunning results especially with Fomatone MG paper.
Otherwise, I use Foma papers with Calbe N113 (a neutral-tone powder developer available dirt cheap). J&C used to import it, I don't know if they still do (their web catalog is horrible).
I'll look around for Fomatol PW or see if someone imports it under another name. Thanks for that heads up!
I'd suggest cheapest developer to start with. I guess Fomatol PW was mentioned as an example of such good yet not expensive developer. There are lots of differences between developers, but all these differencies aren't really relevant to consider for beginer. Comparing prices take into consideration how many sheets you can develop per liter of working solution, and if you can keep and reuse deluted solution (if you intend to). For paper, I'd suggest Ilford. There are more differences between brands than was mentioned here. Of course, buy cheapest one, RC.
Recently I had an e-mail discussion with my friend, he mentioned that ilford filters don't really work or work in a way he doesn't understand. He had a hard time printing a flat negative on Forte paper and was not able to increase contrast using filters. Here is my research, I just compiled data from different datasheets.
R is a dynamic range, R=100*log(Dmax/Dmin). I don't know if this table won't look like a mess in my post, but Ilford allows to control R from very wide R180 to quite narrow R40. This gives great flexibility for printing different negatives. And Forte behind filter #5 has R70 which is almost normal contrast - AGFA behind #3 gives R75.
Just my $0.02CA
Edit: format table using underscore. ND - no data.
Good advice, all. Here's a little more, in my opinion.
Choose materials and stay with them for a good long time. I've found troubleshooting to be a huge time waster, so less variables is better. Wait until you've got a really good handle on the whole process before trying different materials.
Specifically, I'd start with whatever RC/VC paper is most available and economical for you. I used Ilford stuff to start with and have no complaints. For a developer, most any will do, but I'd argue for Dektol. It's especially cheap, has a good lifespan, can be shipped, and has been the industry standard for millenia. I still use it exclusively. I started with Ilford's multigrade developer and found that it gives most prints a bluish green color.
Stop- any, I use Ilford. Fix- I use Ilford's rapid fixer. Never found a reason to change.
FYI, the Arista.edu Ultra paper is quite thin. It's great to start with because it's really cheap. I've only tried the glossy variety.
For paper developer, consider Ethol LPD. Key advantages for you:
-- More resistant to oxidation than most; lasts a long time in the tray.
-- Liquid, so you spend more time printing and less time mixing stuff.
-- Works well with a variety of papers.
-- Can be used at various dilutions for more economy. (Don't believe the stuff on the label about varying dilution for warm or cold tones, though; I never could see any difference.)
-- Made in USA, so no import hassles.
-- Less likely to precipitate out brown crud than the Ilford liquid paper developers.
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