View Full Version : Favorite contact printing paper?

5-Oct-2017, 10:29
I have never made a contact print before, but I have decided to start doing so now that I'm shooting 8 by 10. I've done traditional darkroom printing with my medium format and 4 by 5, but I am very excited at the prospect of just slapping down a negative on a piece of paper and making a print that way (well, technically I just spent way too much money on a nice contact printing frame, so I will be using the frame.)

My question is, what is your favorite contact printing paper for 8x10?

I have read some forums and there are some people that swear by the now-discontinued to Kodak AZO paper, and I even called up a guy that apparently has a huge stockpile of it and we chatted for a long time and he said he would sell me some, so I sent him an email but I never heard back.

So I would appreciate recommendations on what paper to buy, and also what bulb to buy. It's been explained to me that if I use my enlarger to try and do contact prints, I will get very long exposure times (because of how slow the contact printing paper is compared to normal silver gelatin paper) so it's been suggested to use a 250 watt bulb. I have some 250 watt tungsten bulbs laying around, so I could just use those if I don't need to diffuse it in any way to make the light falloff as even as possible.


Mark Sampson
5-Oct-2017, 13:50
You can make contact prints under your enlarger using regular enlarging paper. Some people will say that contact papers produce a better print; as with all such ideas, your own experience will give you your answer. (If I were making contact prints today, I'd try using contact-speed paper.) Michael Smith's Lodima is the remaining contact-speed paper; he and his wife, Paula Chamlee, have it manufactured because Kodak Azo is gone. Both Lodima and Azo are really too slow to use an enlarger as the light source, though.
This is a very large subject, though. Look at michaelandpaula.com for their experiences.

5-Oct-2017, 14:28
I vote for using your enlarger and favorite enlarging papers at first, and then trying some others papers. Make the best prints you can, as you refine your 8x10 use and vision. Buy some Lodima down the road and give it a go...but 250W seems to me to be over-kill. Whatever it takes to get even lighting! Your contrast control will be different than when using the enlarger and variable contrast filters. Lodima is a single grade paper - some adjustments to your negatives might be required to get the most out of the paper.

Bruce Barlow
5-Oct-2017, 15:01
You can use your enlarger for Azo and Lodima if you remove the lens and lens board and just let the light blast. Lower the head as much as you can to still cover the contact frame. I have done this with both a Beseler 45MX and a Saunders LPL. I adjust the head until the exposure times are about 30 sec.

5-Oct-2017, 15:59
There are, I'm sure, still some other contact papers available, beyond Lodima. I have Fomalux in both FB and RC versions. I don't think the RC is still available, but the FB is, and both are nice papers. Foma also produce Fomatone Nature and Chamois, which are contact papers, although also suitable for enlargement. Chamois has a very different look to other papers. Adox recently introduced a contact paper, but I have yet to try that. There was a thread about it here when it was introduced. Whether they produce better results than standard enlarging papers is a matter of personal taste. If you have standard paper available, I would certainly start with that. I haven't made enough contact prints to give a preference, but I've just re-glazed two contact frames with a view to doing some more.

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John Kasaian
5-Oct-2017, 21:29
I've switched to Fomabrom N111 about five years ago when I was getting low on AZO. Fomabrom is not a contact paper, but I like it. I also used Emaks until the factory burned down.

5-Oct-2017, 21:47
I like Lodima and Adox Lupex both developed in Amidol. I print with an R40 250 watt flood about 4.5 feet above the printing frame.

David Karp
5-Oct-2017, 22:06
I am a heretic. I like Adox MCC 110 VC enlarging paper for contacts. I liked Kentmere graded bromide paper too, but it is gone now.

6-Oct-2017, 06:02
Thanks all! @Mark Sampson the guy I spoke to was Michael. I just pinged him back again on email, hopefully he responds. He said he had plenty of AZO and would sell me some. Also I appreciate everyone's advice that I make all my mistakes with normal enlarging paper before I move to the azo/Lodima/etc. Makes sense. And thanks @Bruce Barlow for the enlarger lens removal/lowering trick, I'll try that. I have a diffusuion Enlarger so I'm hoping the light is fairly even anyway.

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Pere Casals
6-Oct-2017, 09:25
I have some 250 watt tungsten bulbs laying around,

Hello Dan,

I use this for 8x10 contact printing


Press Red to have safe light, then (for example) press Yellow (or green) for 20s, then press Magenta (or blue) for some 15s, then press Red to have a safe light again.

During exposition, by adjusting the share of Yellow time vs Magenta time you get contrast control with Multigrade papers, without needing filters or holders. You can also burn or dodge when doing Yellow or Magenta exposure, so you have local contrast control. So you have "Split grade printing" capability.

It is the same exposing with Yellow than with Green, because the LED lamp with Yellow it throws Green with not contributing Red, but throwing red it is useful to see better if your are burning an area. It happens same with Magenta and Blue.


PD: I've viewed http://www.danhuiting.com , impressive !!!

Ted R
6-Oct-2017, 11:54
I also recommend that you begin by using variable contrast enlarging paper for contact prints because dodging and burning with contacts is much more hit-and-miss than with an enlarger, so variable contrast is very useful.

Michael Kadillak
9-Oct-2017, 11:06
Even with a big stash of Azo/Lodima I will share with you that the expediency and efficiency of producing results has steered me to using warm tone glossy Ilford multi grade for contact printing under my Durst 138 with the assistance of a 180mm Nikkor lens and an Ilford 500H multi contrast light head on a regular basis. The combination of being able to mix PDQ Universal from concentrate (i.e. be set up to print in a couple of minutes) and have the flexibility to tweek the delivered contrast via the electronic paper grade controller is just excellent. I find that the time I spend in the darkroom is in defined blocks of time and I enjoy being able to efficiently get the results in short order. I use the same head and set up for 8x20 and 11x14 contact prints with just raising the head and shortening the bellows. The lens is only an illumination control device once I obtain sufficient coverage. I really like the results produced. I will readily admit that an Azo print executed to an optimal degree is at the top of the heap. But the compromise is becoming progressively smaller and quite in line with the desire to produce a high quality print beyond contact print proportions. Luminance in a print is a quality that I feel can be embraced on a scale of 1-10 at a 9.2 as readily as it can at a 9.7 value unless the viewer is really nit picking particularly when the other variables in the process (film resolution, film processing chosen film developer and processing techniques and photographers skills) are taken into consideration. Sometimes as photographers we can get hung up on the process and the nuances of the darkroom and we forget the value of the image itself.

John Bowen
16-Oct-2017, 12:48
I'm still in the Azo/Amidol camp....
If you are fortunate enough to get your hands on some Azo, there is the Azo forum located at:
Tons of useful information on both Azo and Lodima.