Ilford Multigrade IV vs. Kentmere Fineprint?

Discussion in 'Darkroom Developing and Printing' started by Jean-David Beyer, Jun 17, 2008.

  1. I have been looking at the data sheets for these papers; in particular, I
    have been considering their characteristic curves.

    The curves are quite different, so that should help decide on which one I
    should select.

    The Ilford curves all seem to intersect at a density of about 0.7 but are
    separate elsewhere -- in particular, in the highlights. The Kentmere curves
    all seem to intersect at a density of about 0.35 and practically overlap the
    rest of the way into the highlights. I.e., in the highlights, the Kentmere
    paper grades are all the same, whereas the Ilford papers are more like what
    I would expect from graded papers. I am not clear if this is an advantage, a
    disadvantage, or just in the noise of the measurements.

    Another "feature" of the Ilford paper is that the curves are not smooth in
    the range of 1.0 to about 1.2 density. It is not clear if this is because
    Ilford use three emulsions instead of just two (if that is the case with
    Kentmere), or that Ilford plotted their curves more accurately than
    Kentmere, or what. And does this "irregularity" make any practical
    difference, or is it, again, in the noise level of the measurements.

    Has anyone made practical tests on these two papers and, if so, can you
    comment on the merits of the two papers?
    Jean-David Beyer, Jun 17, 2008
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  2. I have not made any test of these papers for characteristic curves etc
    but I do prefer the results of the enlargements that I have made on th
    Ilford R.C and F.B variable contrast papers compared to those I hav
    made on Kentmere VC Select R.C and Fineprint F.B, but others migh
    prefer the Kentmere V.C papers. The best way to find out if you lik
    any particular photographic product is to try it and see.
    They are both good products, but which one you like best is down t
    your own personal preference
    Keith Tapscott., Jul 13, 2008
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  3. ...>

    I wouldn't put much faith in the published curves. The reality is
    very different.

    Darkroom Automation
    publishes paper speed data for use with its enlarging meters and

    I don't have data on Kentmere VC, but I doubt that the curves don't
    also resemble roller-coasters.

    VC paper has two problems:

    o A hill-and-dale response at low contrast grades
    o Highlight contrast that doesn't change much with paper grade

    The problems are inherent to the principle by which VC paper works.
    Nicholas O. Lindan, Jul 13, 2008
  4. with graded papers such as Gallerie, Ilfospeed, Kentona etc? Test stri
    are easy enough, but..........................
    Keith Tapscott., Jul 14, 2008
  5. Certainly, it works with any paper.
    And even easier with an f-stop timer.............
    Nicholas O. Lindan, Jul 14, 2008
  6. I think I would trust published curves by the manufacturers; I have found
    them usually accurate. The main problem I find is they are not precise
    enough; i.e., they are too small to be read meaningfully. Also, with these
    VC papers, the manufacturers plot them differently. Some let the curves
    intersect at density 0.2 to 0.4, which could be useful (e.g., Kentmere) and
    others let them intersect at a density of about 0.7 (around Zone V), which
    is useful in a different way. But doing this makes comparison's very difficult.
    I do not know how important that is. I have recently bought a box of the
    Ilford paper (since I liked their graded Galerie paper in the past). I put a
    Kodak T-14 step wedge in my enlarger and then made prints with a lot of
    different settings on my cold light head (two tubes with one green and one
    purplish blue. I did not plot points close enough to see hill-and-dale
    response (I am not saying it is not there, just that I did not notice it).
    I think I see what you mean on the Ilford curves between densities 1.0 to
    about 1.3. I have made only a few "real" prints and do not notice it.
    This is clearly shown in the Kentmere curves where they plot them to
    intersect in the very high zones (VIII and IX), but less clearly in the
    Ilford curves where they intersect at about zone V.
    Jean-David Beyer, Jul 14, 2008
  7. Have you compared them with measurements? Ilford's published
    curves are honest in shape though so scrunched up they conceal
    more than they reveal.

    At one paper maker they used single 3rd order polynomials for
    the curves: Smooth as a baby's backside and twice as full of
    poop. The dead giveaway is that the toes are all identical with
    the shoulders.
    "If I can't read it, I trust it." Jean, please, tell me
    you didn't say that.

    The curves and tables on the Darkroom Automation web site
    are designed to let you place tones exactly where you want them.
    For this reason they have to show the paper's real response -
    warts, crooked toes, swayed backs, gimp shoulders and all.

    As an example, say you have a hankering for a sky with a density
    of 1.6 (Zone II) on grade 2.5 MGIV FB - you look at the curve and
    see that 1.6 OD requires 8.2 stops of exposure.

    You then meter the sky and the meter shows 3.5 stops of light
    intensity, the base exposure is 3 stops (2^3 = 8 seconds) so
    you set the timer for a burn of 1.7 stops to give a total
    exposure of 8.2 (3.5 + 3 + 1.7 = 8.2) to the sky. When dry
    the burned in sky will measure 1.6 (or very close to) OD on
    the densitometer.

    The principle is much like the EV system:

    Total Exposure = Stops of light + Stops of time

    If you know the exposure required for the tone you want then
    precision printing without test strips is a snap.

    And, for this sort of work the published curves are useless.
    No. It's not the plots that are different. It's the papers.
    Ilford MGIV's lower-grades locus is different in the RC and FB papers.
    Well, if you have detail where the paper curve hits a flat spot then
    suddenly you don't have any detail anymore. MGIV FB WT has a real
    ledge in the 00 curve. OTOH, I have never used the 00 filter except
    for occasional forays into split-filter land. 99.99% of my printing
    is at grades 1.5 and higher, where curves for VC papers are better
    behaved. I find that to control highlight contrast with VC paper
    I need to flash and bleach (along with a great dollop of luck).
    Nicholas O. Lindan, Jul 15, 2008
  8. I have looked at the curves and decided to test Ilford's paper first. I do
    not really like testing, though I do it. I have then tested Ilford's
    Multigrade IV and figured out how much of blue and how much of green to get
    each of the even contrast grades. I did this by placing a Kodak T-14 step
    wedge in my enlarger and printing a test strip from it. I first determined
    the exposure time required so I could use f/11 on my 180mm Componon-S to
    make and 11x14 enlargement with the density 0.9 step giving Zone V on the
    paper (I use a little more density than most people so I get deep enough
    blacks with Zone 0 and Zone I). I did this first with equal amounts of blue
    and green, assuming that that would come out with about grade 2, and that
    seems to be the case.

    I then changed reduced the green to get grade 3, 4, and 5 (had to turn the
    green completely off for that one). I had to increase the aperture as I
    reduced the green, as expected. Then I went the other way, to get grades 1,
    0, and 00. Here, too, I had to increase the aperture to preserve the 0.9
    step to get Zone V on the paper. So now I have a little chart for that.

    I have a Beseler PM-?? enlarging meter (meant for color) that speeded up
    this testing a lot. But I did not actually plot the curves, since I do not
    have a reflection densitometer, and even if I did, the steps are only 0.15
    apart on the step wedge. On the 00 grade, I can see the most steps, and the
    paper is good enough that no two steps look the same. Of course, the harder
    the grade, the fewer steps appear.

    ILFORD Multigrade IV; D-72 1+2 2 Minutes 75°F; 22 Sec Exp; 180mm lens; max
    height. D-72 1+2
    GRADE SOFT HARD F/ Low step High step Difference
    00 MAX OFF 8 1 13 12
    0 MAX B- 10 1 12 11
    1 MAX F 10 2 12 10
    2 MAX MAX 11 2 11 9
    3 E MAX 10 3 11 8
    4 MIN MAX 9 4 11 7
    5 OFF MAX 8 4 10 <7

    The dials for the green and blue light are labeled OFF, A to H.

    So if I expose my negatives correctly, I should be able to print without
    test strips. I normally came out very close with Kodak's Elite paper which
    was the one I spent the most time with.
    That would certainly be an unlikely result. ;-)
    Sorry, I said that, but there is some interpretation required. I thought I
    implied that they were correct as closely as I could read them. I am more
    inclined to believe the Ilford curves than the Kentmere ones just because of
    the irregularities in the curve in the density range of about 1.0 to 1.3. If
    I drew made-up curves, I would never have put the lump in there. For all I
    know, that might be a valuable feature, though my intuition militates
    against it.
    I think the curves on that site represent actual measurements, and they are
    probably good enough to use. Certainly better than the published curves for
    the papers I have seen. Too bad they did not do any other papers. And I
    assume they did it for papers all in one batch, not over several years of
    I am not totally clear what you are doing here.

    What I do is look at the scene and see what exposures I need to get the
    various parts of the scene on the film, and I usually expose so that what I
    want on Zone V of the print comes out with a net density of 0.9 on the film.
    I check to make sure that the darkest stuff where I want detail is between
    Zone II or III, and the lightest stuff where I want detail is between Zone
    VII or not much more than VIII.

    Then when I go to print it, I make sure that the Zone V thing on the
    negative prints about 18% grey, which is easy enough because my enlarging
    meter will tell me what aperture I need.

    Now sometimes the first print is good enough, but I usually have to make 1/2
    stop or even 1-stop adjustment just because it looks better. Because when
    originally exposing the negative, I think I want something on Zone IV, and
    then, when printing, I change my mind. I guess I am saying that my technique
    is better than my vision. ;-)
    I agree. That is why I plot the stuff myself. I certainly can meter when
    exposing the film and put any particular Zone where I want it, and when I
    process the film, things generally come out within about 1/2 stop of where I
    want them. And if they do, I suppose I could make a print without test strips.

    As a practical matter, I make test strips only when calibrating film or
    paper. I do have a Macbeth TD-901 transmission densitometer for negative
    calibrations, but I never came up with the money for a reflection
    densitometer. I did make a reflection step wedge with 10 steps, where the
    lightest step is as white as the paper gets, and the darkest step is as dark
    as I can get it from a clear negative, and the steps in between seem about
    equally spaced to my eye, and the step that should be Zone V pretty much
    matches my 18% gray card.
    In thinking about it recently, I have come to the same conclusion. I wonder
    if they make the papers that way intentionally, or if it just happens that
    way and there is little they can do about it with the processes they use to
    make the stuff.
    Strange, but I do not care what their RC papers do.
    I have never even used 0 grade. By the time I need that, I must have really
    screwed up in making the negative. If a scene needs that much contraction,
    either in developing the negative, or selection of paper grade, it is my
    experience that the local contrast is too low and I better revisualize the
    whole thing and make a completely different negative; e.g., letting shadows
    go completely black on purpose, or letting the highlights burn out on
    purpose. But usually, I need to change the concept entirely so that I do not
    have to deal with this.
    I noticed with graded papers, I mostly used grade 2 and grade 3, and that my
    grade 4 paper tended to fog and die before I used it all up. I try to make
    everything print on grade 2, but I am not as fanatic about that as some
    people think Ansel Adams was. I know his darkroom in Yosemite had many
    brands and grades of paper in it.
    Jean-David Beyer, Jul 15, 2008
  9. And even easier with an f-stop timer.............[/QUOTE]

    (And even easier with an f-stop timer) Perhaps, but I already have
    good enlarger timer
    Keith Tapscott., Jul 15, 2008
  10. If you set it in seconds then it is the wrong sort of timer.

    Just because one grew up with a concept doesn't mean a bloody
    thing if the concept is wrong: The Earth is flat and the
    center of the universe - the planets are in orbit about it;
    Tossing virgins into the volcano keeps it from erupting;
    Smelly air causes yellow fever; Grain spontaneously generates
    mice; Violets keep away the plague; Enlargers are
    controlled in seconds.

    ASA dial: 1 click = 1 stop (well, 1/3 of a stop)
    Shutter speed dial: 1 click = 1 stop
    Camera aperture: 1 click = 1 stop
    Enlarger aperture: 1 click = 1 stop
    Enlarger timer: 1 click = >> fill in the blank with the logical answer <<

    People buy f-Stop timers and they never go back. There
    is a reason, and it isn't hard to figure out: the timer
    is designed for controlling _exposure_. Gralabs were designed
    to control bread ovens and tire vulcanizers.
    Nicholas O. Lindan, Jul 15, 2008
  11. Jean-David Beyer

    otzi Guest

    Oh I so love your prose. made more pertinent by it's very logic.

    With today's ever accelerating knowledge (not necessarily the use of) It is
    hard to grasp how we ever got out of the dark ages. Just think, if the plebs
    had been encouraged to read, oh what blasphemy, technology would have been
    short circuited by hundreds of years. Just think Kublai Kahn massing his
    troops by mobile phone, or Ahab over seeing the development of the Suez
    Canal with a laptop on the back of a camel. Mmm, just like the do now.

    otzi, Jul 16, 2008
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