Azo paper : LUSENET : Large format photography : One Thread

I keep hearing about Azo paper with Amidol being superior for contacts. I've known about this stuff for years but never tried it, thinking that regular hi-quality paper is good for contacts. Why is it better than regular paper? If it has more latitude, I certainly would like to try it. I find it difficult to judge the darkroom exposure time for different negatives for contact prints, unlike enlarged negatives. Where can I get Azo, and Amidol developer? Isn't this the developer that stains your fingernails?

-- Bruce Schultz (, February 25, 1999


I know of no propritetary source for pre-mixed Amidol..(it's very unstable, anyway) but the bulk chemicals are available from the Photographer's Formulary in Montana... Try Edward Westons's Amidol formula; reproduced in "THE PRINT", by Ansel Adams. Azo is still being produced by Eastman Kodak... .pl?product=KODAK+AZO+Paper. I haven't bought it for a while ..but I believe Calumet Photographic or B&H Photo in NY still stock it. Azo is a graded paper with a very high silver content. It is very slow, so therefore generally used primarily for contact prints. I know of people who do enlarge with it using very high output Xenon pulse light sources..and I have exposed it in the past (with relatively dense, full negs) by putting loaded printing frames in direct sunlight.

-- C Matter (, February 25, 1999.

Azo can be had from Calumet Photographic 1-800-calumet, and at one point Abbey Camera in Philadelphia, 1-800-252-2239. If you've got the $ you can order it directly from Kodak, but of course they expect you to buy enough to choke an army of horses. It comes in grades 1-3 although currently I've only seen it in grades 2 & 3 in 100 sheet boxes.

There is an article on the use of Azo and Amidol by Michael A. Smith in the July/August '96 issue of View Camera. I have not adequate experience with the multitude of papers out there, but Azo is supposed to have a very stright line and is ideal when combined with a film like Super XX or the new equivalent by Berger/Lotus.

You will need a light source other than your enlarger as Azo is quite slow. I've seen older (i.e. mid 60's) articles describing the use of a common desk lamp with a 15 watt bulb. I use a 300 watt reflector flood about 4 -4.5 feet from the print. I'm not sure about judging the times with enlarging papers, but with Azo, most of my prints are running 15 - 20 seconds.

Amidol can be had from The Photographers Formulary 1-800-922-5255. Yes, Amidol stains your fingernails.

-- Sean yates (, February 25, 1999.

Here's Wynn Bullock's Amidol formula I came accross in "DARKROOM" (Lustrum Press, NY,1977)

Water, 1/2 gal Sodium Sulfite, 3 tablespoons Amidol, 2 teaspoons Potassium Bromide (10%sol.) 10cc BB Compound, 10cc Citric Acid, 1/2 teaspoon

Note...Although it dosen't say so, I presume that the BB Compound is a 1% this is how it is commonly used. If you are surprised @ 'tablespoons ans teaspoons'..not to worry. As long as you are consistent in your measurements (i.e. level measures), this will work fine..and eliminate the need to purchase a triple beam balance.

-- C Matter (, March 01, 1999.

I have used Azo and love its tonal scale, I used Peckham's Amidol found in Dignan Photographic 150 B/W Formula's on pp.31, as far as I am concerned it is an unbeatable combination. I have used the 15 watt houseplant light for exposure and it works very well. Also I use a soft natural fiber 3" paint brush with constant brushing for 3 minutes when developing. Hope this will help you.

-- pat j. krentz (, May 24, 1999.

BB solution is reported to be a "10%" solution of Benzotriazole, not 1%, at least thats what the darkroom cookbook says. Ive used AZO only a very little, but I've gotten prints with the lens removed from a Beseler 45, with a 150 watt bulb, in as little as 12-25 seconds. I think the need for a spotlight is overstated.

-- Wayne (, April 03, 2000.

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