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What to look for in photographic paper from Ilford Photo

Photos by Tomas Wikers | @tomaswikers

 

Ilford Photo offer an extensive range of black & white photographic paper. Papers all have different characteristics and purposes. This guide will walk you through the terminology and choices available to help you pick the perfect paper for darkroom printing.

 

What you need to know about photographic paper

Paper base
The majority of Ilford papers cover two different base types. Resin Coated (RC) and Fibre Base (FB). RC paper is sealed between layers of polyethylene with the emulsion and a ‘super-coating’ on top. This makes them typically more robust and therefore quicker and easier to handle during the printing process. FB paper has a layer of baryta (barium sulphate) applied to the paper base which is then coated with emulsion. These papers have a hand-crafted look and feel and a heavier weight which can result in prints of superb quality with deep blacks that make prints look richer and add depth.

Paper grade
Ilford Multigrade papers are variable contrast papers designed to be used in conjunction with Multigrade filters or an enlarger with a colour head. This allows the full range of contrast (00 soft through to 5 hard) to be attained from negatives. If Ilford Multigrade variable contrast paper is used without any filters it equates to approximately grades 2-3. Fixed grade papers are designed for use without filters and therefore avoid the added cost of buying filter kits. Graded papers were traditionally very popular but have largely been replaced by variable contrast papers. As such the ILFORD range only includes grades 2 and 3.

Paper rolls
Photographic paper rolls are manufactured with the emulsion side winding facing IN or OUT. In general, widths of 50.8cm or less have the emulsion facing out (EO) while wider rolls typically have the emulsion facing in (EI).

Paper surface
The surface of the paper will help determine the final look and feel of the print.

Glossy: a smooth surface that can boost contrast and make blacks pop and whites shine bright.
Pearl: a subtle pearlescent finish that helps images look sharp and clear with added depth.
Satin: a smooth finish without the shine of gloss or pearl but all the contrast.
Lustre: smooth, subtle sheen that doesn’t detract from the image.
Matt: a smooth, clean and natural looking surface without the shine of gloss. Perfect for lighting conditions when reflections may impact the viewing experience.
Semi-matt: a smooth and natural looking finish with similar qualities and attributes to most matt surfaces.

Image tone
Many Ilford papers have a choice of tone covering cool, neutral and warmtone. Images can also be toned using chemistry as part of the printing process with FB papers being particularly suited to this.

1. Paper range: Multigrade RC

Multigrade IV RC Deluxe
Resin coated, variable contrast black & white photo paper that delivers a full tonal range and exceptional image quality throughout its wide contrast range of grades 00-5. Available in: Resin coated, Neutral tone, Gloss, Pearl, Satin, Sheet & Roll.

  • Medium weight 190gsm resin coated paper
  • Neutral image tone with a bright white base tint

Multigrade RC Warmtone
Variable contrast, resin coated black and white photo paper on a warm white base. Available in: Resin coated, Warm tone, Gloss, Pearl, Sheet, Roll.

  • Medium weight 190gsm resin coated paper
  • Warm image tone with a warm white base tint

2. Paper range: Multigrade FB

Multigrade FB Classic
Premium quality, variable contrast black & white photo paper on a double weight 255gsm fibre base. Suitable for all types of darkroom enlargers. Available in: Fibre base, Neutral tone, Gloss, Matt, Sheet & Roll.

  • Rich deep blacks and excellent tonal rendition
  • Responds well to toning

Multigrade FB Cooltone
Versatile and easy to use, variable contrast black & white photo paper on a double weight 255gsm fibre base. Ideal for creative printers wanting glossy images, cool image tones and clean crisp whites. Available in: Fibre base, Cool tone, Gloss, Sheet & Roll.

  • Cool white base tint and cool image tone
  • Responds well to toning, chemical reduction and retouching techniques
  • Well separated mid tones

Multigrade FB Warmtone
Designed for ultimate image quality, with warm image tones and a high response to toning techniques, this variable contrast photo paper has long been regarded as the discerning printers first choice. Available in: Fibre base, Warm tone, Gloss, Semi matt, Sheet & Roll.

  • Luxuriously rich prints with warm deep blacks and creamy whites
  • Highly responsive to toning, chemical reduction and retouching techniques

Multigrade Art 300
The world’s only black & white, variable contrast, silver gelatin coated, 100% Cotton Rag darkroom paper. Available in: Fine art, Warm tone, Matt, Sheet & Roll.

  • Slightly warm image tone with a neutral to cool acid free base
  • Especially suSlow ISO speed (around 1-3)ited to toning and hand colouring
  • Matt textured paper with an eggshell sheen

Harman Direct Positive
Fixed grade, high contrast, glossy black & white photo paper which produces positive prints. Coated on a 255gsm fibre base. Ideal for pinhole photography and photograms. Available in: Fibre base, Neutral tone, Gloss, Sheet & Roll.

  • Positive paper – no need for a negative
  • Slow ISO speed (around 1-3)
  • Process in conventional B&W photo chemistry

3. Paper range: LAB papers

Galerie Digital Silver RC
Premium quality, silver gelatin, black & white panchromatic photographic paper on a resin coated base. Produces excellent contrast and sharpness for gallery quality results. Available in: Resin coated, Neutral tone, Gloss, Pearl & Roll.

  • Emulsion optimised for digital exposure
  • Produces real silver gelatin RC prints

Multigrade RC Express
Specially designed for high speed printing applications and compatible with all conventional black & white exposing and photo finishing equipment found in professional labs. Available in: Resin coated, Cool tone, Gloss, Pearl, Sheet & Roll.

  • Cool image tone on a bright white base tint
  • Medium weight 190gsm resin coated paper

Ilford Photo photographic paper at a glance

Nuotrauka: Tomas Wikers

Ilford Photo

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