Continuing with my photographic commentaries, this is an opinion on the available photographic papers produced by Ilford. A few basics to begin with: Black and white photographic paper comes in two different sorts: Resin coated, known as R.C., and fibre based, known as FB or Fiber. The R.C. paper is the choice of many students, as it is cheaper, dries quickly and flat and can be used in most processing machines. Fibre paper is usually thicker (double weight), has no resin coating, takes longer to dry, can only be used in a few processing machines and is on the whole, more expensive. Papers also come in the choice of Multigrade (M.G. or V.C. for Variable contrast - exactly the same), or graded papers - 00 - 5. Multigrade means that YOU grade the picture - either with multigrade filters (Ilford's or Jessop's, there is no difference), or with the enlarger head's built in filters if you have a colour enlarger. The graded paper is pre-graded to give you the softness or the hardness of contrast that you wish for your photographic image. 00 is very soft, and yes, you guessed it, 5 gives you a very hard and stark contrast. Graded papers come in whole grades (1,2,3 etc.) where as the multigrade filters will allow you to choose from 12 grades as you can use half grades as well. I'll begin with the most popular and versatile of papers: *Multigrade IV R.C. Deluxe This is an all round, general purpose, great for students, photographic paper. Probably the biggest seller for Ilford, the Multigrade R.C. is updated with new technology every once in a while - the IV version gives a better tonal range than III, and there is a little improvement in the highlights. The paper will give you a cool image with neutral blacks; you can use it with all black and white negatives and XP2 or CN400 negatives as well. It comes in three finishes: 1M - Glossy 25M - Satin 44M - Pearl Glossy is just that,
a shiny, happy finish that gleams - not such a good idea for photographs that will be behind glass. Satin is as matt as you can get with a resin coated paper, this is my preferred finish if I am using R.C. Pearl is an in between finish, It is also known as Lustre with other paper manufacturers. Now, all Ilford products recommend using other Ilford products, so you will find the praised developers, stop bath, fixers etc. on the information leaflet that comes with the paper; to an extent, this is sound advice, but there is no real detrimental effect to using another brand's developer if it is suitable for the job: The best developer for this paper is a multigrade developer, be it Ilford or otherwise. Another developer that can be used is Ilford's Universal Developer - this can also be used for negative development as well, but check the specifics of that. Multigrade IV R.C. is terribly useful when your in a rush - washing times for the paper should be 30 seconds to one minute. DO NOT leave your print submersed for more than 15 minutes, or you will find that the water has penetrated the resin coating, and the edges will begin to curl. *Multigrade IV FB Fiber This is a heavier weight paper than the R.C. version (255mg/m2), it comes in the basic finishes of fibre papers: 1K - Glossy 5K - Matt So what are the benefits of using a fibre based paper? Fibre based is the choice of many because of the weight/ thickness, the texture, the outstanding quality, ease of retouches and the ability to tone really well - R.C. papers do, but not to the same extent or effects. Try using PQ Universal Developer (Ilford) for this paper, or other recommended fibre based developers. If you can, use Ilfotol (Ilford) when you rinse your print (dilution 1-200), as this will help with drying. Also try Ilford Gallerie Washaid, but DO NOT add a hardener to your fixer, or use a hardening fixer for that matter. This p
aper responds well to all forms of toners; For protection and archival qualities use selenium toner; this WILL NOT effect the image, but try to use this chemical safely as it is really nasty stuff. *Ilford Multigrade Warmtone R.C. Developed back in 1997, this is a warmer version of the normal Multigrade IV paper: Instead of the neutral whites and blacks, this paper has a creamy base white and almost chocolatey blacks. It is available in: 1M - Glossy 44M - Pearl I don't know if Ilford plan to add a satin finish - we'll wait and see. All the benefits of a R.C. paper, with the added benefits of responding well to toners and warm based developers: Multigrade brings it up nice and warm, and sepia, selenium and sulphide toners work a treat. * Ilford Multigrade Warmtone FB Fiber Another warm paper, but this time on a fibre base. This is a double weight paper, with a really creamy base and rich blacks. Available in: 1K - Glossy 24K - Semi-matt Try developing in Multigrade and Bromophen (Ilford) for the warmest results - PQ Universal can also be used, but it doesn't bring out the true depth of the paper. Another tip is to wash the print for longer; a 30 minute wash will provide you with the warmest results. Use Gallerie Washaid, and again NO hardener. For optimum permanence then use sepia, gold or platinum toners - this paper responds incredibly well to all toners, but these three will protect the metal content of the print. *Ilfospeed RC Deluxe Graded R.C. This paper is becoming harder to find; I don't know whether that is a good or bad thing. This is a resin coated graded paper, available in grades 1 - 5, and finishes: 1M - Glossy 24M - Semi - matt 44M - Pearl It's a medium weight paper, with VERY bright whites and neutral blacks. In my experience the paper is too thin, luminescent even, and it should only be used for prints you do
n't expect to show - this is the sketchbook of photographic papers. The plus point is that Ilfospeed is incredibly cheap, so you can make your own decisions on that one. *Ilfobrom Gallerie FB This is an absolutely wonderful paper, be sure to know which grade you need before buying, as it doesn't come cheap. It is a double weight fibre based graded paper, available in grades 1-4, finishes: 1K - Glossy 5K - Matt It has seriously good highlight and shadow detail, and responds like a darling to any toners you wish to wave in it's direction. It is supposedly a neutral based paper, but if you want to play around and warm it up, then I suggest using Bromophen and Multigrade developers. I love this paper, but do it justice and archive any prints you make on it. *Ilfocolor RC This is NOT a black and white paper, it is for colour negatives only, using RA4 chemistry. In my experience, this is an average colour print paper - I have to admit to preferring Fuji. It has a bright white base and comes in the following finishes: IPRA.1MD - Glossy IPRA.24MD - Semi - matt *Ilfochrome Classic I haven't had much use of this paper, but I know it is highly recommended for printing chrome images (transparencies, slides). It is a resin coated paper, can be used with P3X, P3 and P30 chemistry and comes in the following finishes: CPM.1K - Glossy CPM.44K - Pearl All of these papers SHOULD be available at good photographic stockists, but if in real need, then contact Ilford themselves for further information. Most of the papers are available in packs of 10, 25, 50 and 100. Sizes available depends on the stockists, but you should be able to find: 4x5 5x7 6.5x8.5 8x10 8.5x11 9.5x12 11x14 12x16 16x20 20x24 30x40 42 inches x 30 metres 50 inches x 10 metres Thank you for having the time and patience
to read this. Happy Photographing.