Printing your BW Leica images..... : LUSENET : Leica Photography : One Thread


I have not had the use of a darkroom for years and until recently would develop my B&W film at home and scan the negs into the computer and either print them on my A3 Epson or put them on a disk and get a lab to do it. This week I have been luck enough to have been given access to a great B&W darkroom that I can use when ever I like.

So to my question...

What paper do printers in the group like and why?

I shoot mainly Delta 400, 3200 and some PANF so would be gratefull for any pointers as it's been quiet a few years.



-- Mark Griffin (, February 13, 2002


Mark, I like and use TMAX 100 and 400, i tried to go to ilford, but i was drawn back to TMAX. you must be very consistent with the agitation , but the consistent results pay off. I fo like the HP5 from time to time though. I love ilford paper, FB Multi. its very controllable in the soup. the only complaint is that it seleniums slowly. at least these are my observations. Start by experimenting, the only problem with experimenting too much is it takes longer to take root. with your past experience, you will come out of the woods quickly. one note: the films today are incredible! sharp, flexible, contrasty or not as you choose. take a short course in Zone system, these films beg to be used to the fullest. mike

-- mike (, February 13, 2002.

Your mix of films, to properly print would require a couple different papers. The Pan F is a long scale conventional film that works best with a 'conventional' paper such as Kodak Polycontrast or Agfa Multicontrast Premium (both RC papers). Of the two I find that the Agfa has the smoothest tonal range and according to test is the least affected by bronzing (literelly a rusting of the emulsion base of the paper that shortens the lifespan of an RC print). Polymax RC and Ilford Multigrade IV are best used with the newer T-grained films as there contrast range suits the higher natural contrast of these films. Unfortunately what makes these papers work best with the new films (real 'punchy') is the addition of titanium white, which is the stuff they think oxidizes and causes the aformentioned bronzing problem. This is the reason that RC prints made 20 years ago (and properly fixed) are still looking good, but a 4 year old print on the new stuff deteriorates. My favorites for fibre printing for exhibition are Agfa Multicontrast Classic and Kodak Polymax C surface (often a special order). For most general subjects the Agfa has a great tonal range and is very slightly warmer than the regular Polymax or Ilford Fibrebase. But for portrait work I highly recommend the C surface Polymax. Introduced about 4 years ago, it is the reformulation of a Kodak portrait paper popular in the '40s. Very warm toned (no whiteners at all I've been told). Very subtle detail range in the hightlights.

-- Bob Todrick (, February 13, 2002.

I really like Ilford's Warmtone FB paper, glossy for some pix and matte for others. I have found that warmth is conducive to the photography i enjoy (mostly people, see link below). Its also not so warm that it becomes distracting (i am often annoyed by "sepia'd" prints). It has a good heavy feel, too. I have heard good reports about Agfa warmtone as well, but have never used it.


blue, Ink.

-- jeremyT (, February 13, 2002.

Hey Mark- I hope you enjoy getting back into a darkroom. As to papers, I can only echo the excellent advice given above by Bob Todrick. For portraits, I use the Kodak Polymax for the same warmth he notes. For architecture and scenics and most other subjects, I use the Agfa Multicontrast Premium, for it's long smooth tonal range and for it's very real rich blacks.

Took a seminar with Jim Megargee a while ago in which he talked a lot about matching papers to subjects and using papers whose bases and silver contents would combine well to give the most desired effect. He was quick to point out, however, that development is jsut as important with paer as it is for film. Different chemistry works differently with different papers, and of course development times and temps are just as important for repeatability. Also, he taught me to pay just as much attention to agitation of paper in the trays as to film in the tanks. Agigtation controls contrast, as the saying goes, and this is true of paper and prints as well as film. Try it- you'll be amazed. So, as always, test!


-- drew (, February 13, 2002.

Every paper looks different. I'm not sure how what someone else likes could help, since it can have a major effect on how your prints look, which I assume you would want to control. I've used the same paper for traditional prints for years, but I happen to like the look. But what I use suits what I do, not what you do.

-- Jeff Spirer (, February 13, 2002.

For b&w, I've used most of the Ilford films developed in Xtol 1:2. I use the Ilford MG WarmTone most often for portraits, but I also use the MG IV and CoolTone for some images. There's no single paper that's perfect for all your images, but I'm happy with the way the Ilford films and papers work together.

Image below is PanF+ printed on MG CoolTone.

-- Mike Dixon (, February 13, 2002.

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