AZO report in "View Camera" : LUSENET : Large format photography : One Thread

Has anyone seen the report Steve Simmons did on AZO in the recent View Camera? I wonder what it would have looked like if he used Amidol? Frankly I did not like the image at all. Very drab.

-- Michael Pry (, January 17, 2002


You really can't judge an image by how it looks in a publication. Some magazines do better than others in the reproduction process but I don't think any can duplicate the look of an original print. I recently had the opportunity to see the Steiglitz exhibit at the National Gallery in Washington. It included a lot of the famous photographs by Strand, Steiglitz, Steichen, and others that I've seen many times in books and magazines. The originals just floored me, they looked so much better than the reproductions I've seen. FWIW, I use Azo and I think it's terrific for contact printing.

-- Brian Ellis (, January 17, 2002.

My initial reaction was the same Michael. However I am tempted to try it. But, I was told that they do not make AZO paper anymore... is this true?

-- Larry Sandt (, January 18, 2002.

They've eliminated a number of sizes and grades, but they still seem to be making it. You can still get it at B&H or

-- David Goldfarb (, January 18, 2002.

I was also disappointed by the photo in the article. However, I know just how superb Azo can be through personal use of the product. Nothing else I've ever tried even comes close when I'm contact printing. I develop it in Ansco 130 and the results are so good I don't feel any overwhelming need to give it a shot in Amidol. Azo is definitely being made, albeit in fewer grades and sizes than in past years. Michael Smith and Paula Chamlee are the big users and proponents of the paper, and it can be bought directly from them, as well as B&H and Badger Graphic. Azo is great stuff to be sure, and I encourage anyone to try it.

-- David Munson (, January 18, 2002.

Keep in mind that the negative was probably not scaled for Azo. I think the point being made was that Azo was a 'longer scale paper', and provided results quite different from typical enlarging papers. Azo does look very good in Ansco 130 but one shouldn't fear Amidol as being ruinously expensive - there are economical Amidol formulae (something like Peckham's Amidol may actually be cheaper than Ansco 130). Cheers, DJ.

-- N Dhananjay (, January 18, 2002.

Isn't longer scale the same as lower contrast? Or does AZO have a longer toe and shoulder while still retaining a high contrast midtone area. This would let it show more detail (but with lower contrast) in highlights and shadows.

-- Chuck Pere (, January 19, 2002.

In the context of grade 2 Azo paper, "longer scale" means that a much greater range of negative densities are recorded while retaiing detail in the print. This results both from a low slope in the curve's straight line section and an exceptionally long shoulder. My approach to using Azo has been standardizing on grade 3. Its slope (contrast) is higher and it has a shoulder more typical of enlarging papers. Targeting negatives to grade 3 Azo means they will also be easily compatible with enlarging papers if/when I manage to set up an 8x10 enlarger. You can still obtain grade 3 in 100 sheet boxes, but only, as far as I know, from Michael Smith Elsewhere it's a 500 sheet purchase.

-- Sal Santamaura (, January 19, 2002.

I shouldn't post so early in the morning. My last post should have read " exceptionally long toe."

-- Sal Santamaura (, January 19, 2002.

And "...a toe more typical of enlarging papers,"


-- Sal Santamaura (, January 19, 2002.

Dan Smith adivses that he sells 8x10 grades 2 and 3 Azo in 50 sheet boxes. He also cuts and packages in 5x8 (or 5x7 if you want it cut that way) in 50s and 4x5 in 50s or 100s. Dan's email address is Sorry for the oversight Dan.

-- Sal Santamaura (, January 19, 2002.

Both Michael Smith and Dan Smith are supplying AZO paper?

Just curious.

-- Andre Noble (, January 20, 2002.

For clarification, Michael and I are not related. We are friends & both of us use Azo as well as Amidol. Michael got into selling Azo mainly to assure continued supply for his personal work. I got into it for the same reason.

I sell Azo in smaller amounts than Michael and I re-package it as well as cutting to smaller sizes. Michael only sells the factory packed amounts. If you need 100 sheets or more, he is your source.

If you need Amidol pre-measured developer to make one or 3 litres of working solution, I also mix & sell that.

Contact me OFF LIST for information.

There is no 'azo conspiracy' involved.

Michael is the master of contact printing using Azo & Amidol & if you have questions on it go to and read some of his articles. Or, get the copies of View Camera magazine many of them appear in. With luck, Steve Simmons will have Michael or another Azo printer do some direct comparison prints using various developers to get further information out there. I have done some with Amidol and other developers as with aged Azo.(some say Old Azo works as well as new.. not quite accurate) I will put it in article form before too long, just looking for a profitable way to print it.

-- Dan Smith (, January 20, 2002.

I was disappointed by the article in VC on Azo as well. For all film/developer/paper combinations the negative must be scaled (ie film speed/development time)appropriately. It was clear Steve did not do this and so his prints appeared a little "flat" on Azo. Once your system is calibrated (I use HP5, 250ASA, PMK, Azo/Amidol)grades two and three can cover anything you could be confronted with. Having tried several combinations since returning to LF a few years ago there is nothing that can compare with this or similiar combinations. The effect of PMK development and the very long range of Azo/Amidol (Im sure a few other developers work as well) is stunning. I have done several side by side tests to compare PMK/non-PMK as well as Azo/galerie (where negatives were developed differently)-it is easy to pick out Azo/Amidol prints. I encourage everyone to do the same- once you do you'll be a convert.


-- Alan Barton (, January 20, 2002.

Just how differently do negs bound for AZO have to be scaled? If it's very different, isn't this a big disadvantage for someone wanting to both enlarge onto conventional paper, and contact print AZO using the same negative?

-- Andre Noble (, January 20, 2002.

Very good Andre, now you are getting an idea. As you can see, many photographers plan their negatives according to the medium they plan to use, and they search for the type of images that suit best their vision, I guess this is called developing a "style". Please don't misinterpret my commentI don't mean to be condescending,I am just point this out because to me I feel it was the time when I became a photgrapher and not just another guy taking pictures. The time when I saw the entire print in my mind, and all I needed to do was to set the camera and depress the shutter. So to ansewer your question, yes it would be a disadvantage if you plan to use the negative for all kinds of printing.

-- Jorge Gasteazoro (, January 21, 2002.

One way around shooting negs just for contact printing is to contact on grade 3 Azo and use a water bath development to help control the contrast while getting more pop to the image. Azo works well in a water bath as long as you give enough exposure time. If you are going to print on Azo often you will most likely start shooting & processing your negatives more like you would for platinum printing.

-- Dan Smith (, January 21, 2002.

A lot of folks feel you can have your cake and eat it too to an extent with Pyro. You plan for that loooong scale that platinum needs, and usually they work well with AZO also, but then when enlarging on VCFB papers the color of the stain acts like a brake up in the highlights where you need it most.

Freestyle Sales used to have a generic #2 paper they called Europes Finest Warmtone. Those same long negs would fall onto that paper with Ansco 135 and are some of the finest I've ever done. But then it went away and I've been heartbroken ever since! Well I'm off the AZO topic. Anybody know what that stuff was. Forte Fortezo graded? Agfa Insignia? I should start another thread and ask.

-- Jim Galli (, January 21, 2002.

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