What happens if I use old paper?
Old 03-05-2007   #1
Jeremy Z
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What happens if I use old paper?

I just bought a darkroom setup from a fellow RFFer.

There is probably $600 worth of paper, 8x10, RC and FB, 11x14 RC and FB. However, I think most of it is at least 10 years old.

I hate to throw it out, but if I'm guaranteed poor results, I will chuck it.

Also, I see that FB paper is said to be more archival. Does that mean it will last 100 years instead of 10? What is said to be the difference?
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Old 03-05-2007   #2
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Quick test: Mix up your printing chemicals and cut a sheet of the paper into some strips. Process one strip without exposing it to light at all; set another strip outside the darkroom so it gets fully exposed, then process it.

If the no-exposure strip stays white and the fully exposed strip turns deep black after developing, it's worth at least trying the paper.

Archivality has more to do with how you process than the type of paper; a properly processed b&w print on RC paper should easily last 100 years or more. The reason fiber paper is said to be more archival is that it's already been around for 100 years, so we know it can last that long; RC papers have only been around since about the 1980s, so their long-term keeping properties are still speculation.

Also, some of the early RC papers were prone to problems such as the resin separating or the brightening agents discoloring. The paper manufacturers said they learned what caused those problems and solved them, but some people are still skeptical, or at least cautious.
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Old 03-05-2007   #3
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I have some Ilford Galerie (FB) from 1984, that I purchased in Paris. It has been kept in a basement (no refrigeration). I just tried it again, and it shows absolutely no fog! If there is some fog, you can always try some anti-fog (such as Edwal Othazite or mix up some benzotriazole solution).
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Old 03-05-2007   #4
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If I remember right, Archival has to do with the purity of the paper and how well you wash out the fixer. Drying in a dryer that has only handled well washed paper is important too (for FB).

Run a quick test on the paper and let us know. I have tons of old stuff (more like 25 yrs now) and would like to know what you find (tells me to keep or trash).

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Old 03-05-2007   #5
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The thread title suggested answers like "your body parts shrivel, then drop off". OK, perhaps I've been working to hard. I think I should lie down now...

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Old 03-05-2007   #6
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I'm qualified to post on a thread about "your body parts shrivel, then drop off."

You've got too much not to try it out thoroughly before tossing it.
jlw's development test is basically sound.

I'm not confident that RC will last 100 years but if it's still viable it'll
make a great, cheap learning tool. In the darkroom 'experience'
is another word for 'failure' (quoting W. Eugene Smith.)
Many times you've just got to print too light, too dark, too flat,
too contrasty to know what you want. Besides, you are just starting,
that alone is good for burning paper.

Read up a little on archival printing and use the FB for the keeper
stuff as much as possible. Your local library is a great resource for
the darkroom newbie.

I think I read that one of the things that'll eventually get any film or paper,
no matter how carefuly stored is cosmic radiation. Goes through everything,
its effect is cumulative and it affects film (more sensitive) sooner than

Good luck!
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Old 03-06-2007   #7
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Originally Posted by Jeremy Z
I hate to throw it out, but if I'm guaranteed poor results, I will chuck it.
I think your results will be terrible and you should send it to me for proper disposal

Life is too short for cheap film

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