B & W enlarging paper

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Where can I get test results of black & white enlarging papers? Which have the highest silver content, tonal range, etc.

-- Bob Butterfield (bbphoto@maui.net), October 17, 1998


Bob, I don't think you will get any specific tests that will really help you as so much in B&W printing is subjective. The paper I really like isn't liked by some friends who prefer something different, and a third one likes something else yet. Almost any major brand premium paper will do a very good job if you are a good printer and have quality negatives to work with. Then it is a matter of matching your preferences to papers that show the image the way you like.

I like Forte Polygrade V & warmtone, and Ilford Multigrade FB, and Agfa Brovira. All are nice. I am sure some of the stuff made by the Yellow Peril is good also as many excellent printers use it.

The only way you will find what you like best is to try it. If AA and Edward Weston were around today with the quality of papers we have now they would think they had died & gone to heaven.

-- Dan Smith (shooter@brigham.net), October 24, 1998.

I don't know of any sources for things like silver content (and, in any event, I think Robert Henry in his book "Controls in Black and White Printing." pretty well demolished the idea that more silver translates into better paper. However, if you are really interested buy a 21 step wedge (Stouffers sells them for around $5), make prints of the wedge with whatever papers you are interested in, at varying contrasts if you are using VC paper, with different developers and/or different development times, and look at the strips after you have developed them. This will give you a lot of information about tonal ranges and D Max of various papers with different developers, development times, and contrasts. If you want to go even further you can send the strips to Darkroom Innovations. For something like $3 per test they will make densitometer readings and put the results in a computer using Phil Davis' program to give you even more information but the information you get just from eye balling the test strips after you develop them is worthwhile.

-- Brian Ellis (beellis@gte.net), October 26, 1998.

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