Contact printing - AZO etc : LUSENET : Large format photography : One Thread

I'm getting ready to go with my move into 8x10. My aim is to contact print on Azo. So, a couple of questions.

First, what are folks using to contact print Azo with - just a large chunk of glass, or an actual old fashioned contact printing frame (I am assuming that with the shorter exposure time for azo you wouldn't be inspecting it compared with other papers/processes?). And if a wooden contact frame, would you go for one bigger than the 8x10 paper size?

Secondly, what are good developers for Azo? How are the good old standards? or something more exotic (+, I am presuming, toning?)


Tim A

-- Tim Atherton (, May 14, 2001


Azo does very well in Amidol, Ansco 130, etc. I have been using it with Dektol which produces a blue-ish tone, which can be removed with selenium toning. It used to be common to complain of Azo's "olive" tone, but I haven't seen that. Maybe it shows up with Selectol Soft? It used to split tone magnificently, as Olivia Parker demonstrated. I have not had much luck using her technique, but I imagine other ways could produce similar effects.

IMHO the hinged style contact printers - those designed as "Proof Printers" work best. Get one without the apparatus designed to hold strips of roll film in place.

It's hard to beat the old style split-back frames for contact though. If the springs are strong, there is no doubt in your mind that the negative is well and firmly pressed against the paper and glass. You WILL want the next size larger than your negative, though.

The same size frames prevent you from printing "full-frame", i.e. all the way to the unexposed edge of the negative, and it's rather difficult to position your paper exactly how you want it on your negative. I have a heckuva time getting my fingers into the 8 X 10 frames when printing 8 X 10 negatives. Also the new ones are ludicrously expensive, IMHO, unless you can find a Premier or a good deal on Ebay, etc.

Lastly, unless they are well designed or made, you get little wood shavings in the printing area every time you open them.

I made a 18" X 22" hinged, "proof-printer" style one by going to the hardware store and buying those metal hinges for glass doors - like what you find on "entertainment centers". They were something like $3.00. I mounted them to an old piece of counter top and then went to the glass store and got a piece of glass, 1/4" thick by 18" X 22" with beveled edges. That cost $20.00.

-- Sean yates (, May 14, 2001.

Hi Tim, the old style contact printing frames can be a real pain for the kind of under the enlarger or light bulb printing you are thinking about. I think they are more suitable for somekind of POP process where you have to inspect how far things have gone; I think that is what the hinge on the back is for. The time and trouble it takes to learn how to use a frame, you could have taught yourself to hate contact printing. The glass plate on a hinge style contact printer seems much more user friendly to me. I've also had a lot less trouble with Newton rings since I've gone that route, although it might not be a causal thing there. Best, David

-- david clark (, May 15, 2001.

Split-back contact printing frames are for paper that darken by itself in the sun. A piece of glass is better for your purpose.

-- William Marderness (, May 15, 2001.

I like the good contact one obtains with a split-back frame (I have an old Century frame), but an oversized sheet of glass and foam pad are faster to work with.

My combo for Azo is 2 minutes in Agfa Neutol WA 1:11, finishing with 3 minutes in Kodak Rapid Selenium Toner 1:15, all at 68 degrees F for nice neutral to warm blacks. 4 minutes in Selenium will turn it purple brown.

-- David Goldfarb (, May 15, 2001.

Tim, I use an old Burke & James Rexo contact printer. The one I have is an 8x10 model with a masking frame, and 9 bulbs, including a safelight lamp as well. I mostly use this, hooked up to a voltage stabilizer for duping negs, but with Azo my exposures are like 10 sec. or so. These are nice because you can get control by laying in acetate or tissue diffusion sheets to mask areas, or turn on/off different lamps for exposure control. B&J made tons of these, and you can find them really cheap usually. Arkay made contact printers as well, with 26 bulbs or more. Stouffer is about the only company still manufacturing contact printers, but these are really industrial models.

-- DK Thompson (, May 15, 2001.

I use a 75w Plant Gro bulb (ultra violet) in a 11 inch brushed alumniun reflector and the paper under a 11x14 sheet of 1/4 inch plate glass to contact print on Azo and develope in Pechham's Amidol which will keep for 2 weeks in a sealed container. I adjust my exposure so that I can develope for 5:00 with contineous brush agitation, there is a depth to the prints that cannot be achieved with just 2-3 minutes of development. Pat

-- pat krentz (, May 15, 2001.

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