Azo - negs for contact and enlarging : LUSENET : Large format photography : One Thread

I am shooting on FP4, developed in PMK Pyro. Want to make contact prints on Azo. Also want to make enlargements from the same negs. I have heard that Azo requires a negative of wider tonal range than would normally be used for enlargement.

How do I overcome this if I want to do both things with the same negs?

Many Thanks in advance

-- Stephen Vaughan (, September 10, 2001



I have been told (By the Palladio folks in Cambridge MA USA in their excellent booklet on Pd/Pt printing) that AZO is about equivalent to a filter grade #1. You can therefore use a harder neg and a #1 or 0 filter.

Palladio also suggest using split D-23 which is an excellent compensating developer that gives an extra "Zone" or two in range and can be contact printed as well as by projection, both easily. I have done it with silver paper, and Palladium papers.

BTW, what is the attraction of AZO paper? Modern MC/MG papers can do everything they could and more. I use Pd/Pt papers only because they give me something silver can't.


-- RICHARD ILOMAKI (, September 10, 2001.

I suggest you target your negatives for grade 3 Azo. That will render them suitable for enlarging as well. Go to for more information and a source of grade 3 Azo in smaller quantities.

-- Sal Santamaura (, September 10, 2001.

"BTW, what is the attraction of AZO paper? Modern MC/MG papers can do everything they could and more. I use Pd/Pt papers only because they give me something silver can't."

I used to think the same thing regarding AZO vs. modern multigrade papers, but now that I'm using AZO, I'm convinced of the contrary. Multigrade paper is capable of producing some incredible prints (and, admittedly, most of my best prints have been made on MG paper) and can hold a lot of information from Dmax to Dmin, especially with split filter printing, but it still can't match the scale of AZO, IMHO. I've got a couple 8x10 negs that are a real bear to print on my normal MG paper (Luminos Flexicon) that just sing on AZO. It's pretty cool stuff, AZO is. Not for everyone or every application, but use it right and there's nothing like it.

-- David Munson (, September 10, 2001.

I think AZO may only be so wonderful if developed in Amidol formula. I've never used it myself, but I have many friends who have done so with everythng from Dektol to Amsco 130, and none have that special quality.

-- Wilhelm (, September 10, 2001.

Azo in Amidol (esp. Smith formula and/or Fein formula) is superior to any modern paper. Also, being the slowest of all papers, you can use it in lighter conditions (a lamp around the corner in the adjacent room is no big deal) and it resists degradation in storage better than any other paper. Azo and its [all now extinct] contact printing papers of old were referred to as "gaslight" papers (sometimes just "gas") because you could work in such light conditions. It is the oldest continuously produced photographic material in the world. I urge you to go to the Smith-Chamlee website and read up. -jb

-- Jeff Buckels (, September 10, 2001.

I've done some comparison prints of 8x10 negatives contact printed on Azo and on Polymax Fine Art VC paper because I really like the advantages of VC paper and wanted to use it for contact prints unless Azo showed a noticeable advantage. The Azo prints did show noticeably more detail in some of the shadow and highlight areas of the print. I've discussed this with several people who say that this isn't really an advantage of Azo because the same amount of detail could have been obtained by dodging and burning the enlarging paper. That may be theoretically true but as a practical matter the areas in question were so small and numerous (e.g. a bunch of small dark rocks in a river, very small branches on a tree) that burning or dodging would not have been possible or, if possible, wouldn't have been practical. The benefits (assuming that you think there are any) of Azo aren't limited to using Amidol as the developer. Amidol produces a different tonality (warmer) than "normal" developers but it doesn't otherwise change the print as far as I know. When I use Dektol or Ilford Universal developers with Azo the print has a bluish tint that has to be removed by toning in selenium (unless, of course, you like the bluish tint which I don't). I've heard other people say they too get this bluish tint with Dektol but others have said they don't. I have no idea why different people have these differences - maybe it's affected by local water quality but since it can be removed by toning in selenium, which I usually do anyhow, it hasn't been a major concern.

-- Brian Ellis (, September 10, 2001.

I've found I get better shadow and midtone detail with Azo with less work. I develop it in Agfa Neutol WA and tone in Kodak Rapid Selenium Toner to extend D-max.

-- David Goldfarb (, September 10, 2001.

I've been experimenting with Azo and am impressed by the results. I do have one or two negatives that will need the grade 3, but I find that most of my negatives can be printed on grade 2 just fine--my PMK negatives especially seem to have a lot of contrast with the Azo, but also one that was developed in D-23. I love the tonal qualities of this product--it is unique. I've been exposing with my Zone VI cold light head as close to the paper as I can get it--times range between 2 and 5 minutes. My developer for the tests has been Peckham Amidol at half strength--very economical and clean working. Developing times are from 3 to 15 minutes (it doesn't seem possible to overdevelop if you have a contrasty negative).

-- Ed Buffaloe (, September 10, 2001.

My question to you Ed, is it really that much different than a good print from a regular enlarger paper? Do you see a difference in paper scale and have you made a paper curve for Azo? Let me know since I am starting to get the bug ..:-))

-- Jorge Gasteazoro (, September 10, 2001.

When I first used Azo grade 2, I developed it in Dektol 1:2. The resulting prints looked a tad flat, so I upped the dillution to 1:1, and there was a noticeable increase in contrast. The bluish tint does (at least to my eye) disappear in selenium.

-- Ben Calwell (, September 11, 2001.

I have found that Azo also works well with Ethol LPD as a developer. I mix it and then leave it overnight to 'age' a bit and run 6-10 sheets of paper through it. This results in Azo that is not blue tinted. If I use the developer freshly mixed I get the blue tint. But Azo in Amidol still looks very, very good. And, for the sake of disclosure, I do sell Azo and Amidol pre/measured & mixed packets for those who want to try it but don't want the expense of buying a larger batch of Amidol. I do so only because I use amidol developer myself and thank Michael A. Smith (no relation) for his help with it.

A contact print on enlarging paper still looks very good and I do it with some negatives that need a different tonal rendition than I can get with Azo and various developers.

-- Dan Smith (, September 11, 2001.

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