Are some B/W papers sharper than others? : LUSENET : Large format photography : One Thread

I just did a series of 8X10 contact prints using the same negative, same development sequence and 2 different papers. Both are FB papers, one is Oriental and the other is a glossy warm-toned paper made here in Germany called Webphota. After drying the prints, the Oriental prints are noticably sharper than the others. Is this possible? Any personal experiences out there with this same thing?

Thanks in advance for the input.

-- William Levitt (, October 09, 2000


William I too have found this to be the case with several different papers I've used. I think it's commonly beleived that bromide papers(Oriental) are sharper looking then the warm toned chlorobromide emulsions. I've found Kentmere's Fineprint glossy a bromo-iodide paper to be one of the sharpest looking papers I've used, but grainy. Chlorobromides are finer grained grade for grade. Regards,

-- Trevor Crone (, October 09, 2000.

Ctein wrote a very interesting and comprehensive article for 'Darkroom User' (the U.K magazine, now known as Camera & Darkroom) a couple of years ago in which he proved that the spectral response of V.C. papers in combination with many enlarging lenses, introdoced a focus shift of up to 12mm, even though the grain appeared sharp through a high quality focus finder. He suggested shimming the base of a focus finder in stages to determine the sharpest

-- Tony McLean (, October 12, 2000.

Wasn't Cteins article at least partly disproven by a gentleman that showed that this focus shift was caused by focusing changes in your eye to different colors. He maintained that you focus your grain magnifier with white light but when strong colors are introduced these focussing distances change due your eyes abilty to focus the colors. So the grain magnifier was to blame because the focus distance between the magnifiers lens and mirror would need to be different for white light, magenta light and yellow light. This doesn't answer the orginal question but is something to consider.

-- Jeff White (, October 13, 2000.

Cteins article is interesting but what has it to do with contact prints?

Erik Ryberg noticed that contact prints made by enlarger light were sharper than those made by bare bulb.

-- Sean yates (, October 13, 2000.

I'm sorry, i didn't get the last part in.

In addition to Erik's experience, I believe this question was asked on another forum. If I can find it, I'll send the link.

Did anything change during the session at all? I am not arguing for the benefit of the Webphota, or against the hypothesis, just wondering if all variables have been considered.

Did you make the Oriental prints first, and then the Webphotas or the other way around? Were you more careful making one than the other? less tired or nervous or whatever? Just asking.

-- Sean yates (, October 13, 2000.

I don't think this was it, but it bears reading

-- Sean yates (, October 14, 2000.

Here is some additional information regarding the exposure and developing process I used. The Oriental paper was exposed and developed first, then the Wephota paper, right after each other. This was at the begining of the printing session with freshly prepared chemicals. The gradations were the same (#2) and, although I do not use a timer when developing prints, I do look for the same characteristics when moving from the first developer (Dokumol) to the second bath (Centrabrom). The light source was the same as was the drying technique (air dried face up on glass).

I want to take this opportunity to thank all of you for your responses, both in the forum and via email. It is certainly an interesting discussion. What is missing though, and what I have yet to run across in my own research, is technical information from any of the paper manufacturers or any mention of this subject (with the exception of high praise for Azo) in books such as The Print or Darkroom Cookbook.

-- William Levitt (, October 14, 2000.

Is there any possibility that your contact printing frame did not put sufficient pressure on the negative/paper sandwich to keep it in perfect contact? An edge curling of one paper more than the other maybe? If so, that could account for a difference. But again, it could easily be that one paper may be sharper than another. Certainly surface differences would make a difference.

-- Dan Smith (, October 17, 2000.

I recently tested 5 different fb papers. Using the same negative and printing untill I got the best print I could with similar contrast. To compare sharpness and tonality. I found not only did paper effect apparent sharpness also developer had a role.

-- scott dordick (, December 30, 2000.

Moderation questions? read the FAQ