View Full Version : Initial Impression: Ilford MGFB IV vs MGFB Classic

Eric Biggerstaff
28-Dec-2013, 10:29
I just came out of the darkroom where I spent the morning working on a print testing the new Ilford MG Classic against the MGFB IV and thought some of you might like to know what my impressions are. I hope others will share their results on this thread so we have a good foundation of experience with the paper that we can share. Your results will not match mine of course, but this is a start.

I exposed all images under my new LED head from Modern Enlarger Lamps (excellent!) and the prints were developed in Dektol, 1+2 for 2 minutes.

1) Weight - New paper seems to be slightly heavier than the MGFB IV and when wet becomes pliable very quickly.

2) Base - Same bright white base as MGFB IV, perhaps a tad whiter if that is possible.

3) Speed - I found a BIG difference in speed, the new MG Classic was 1.25 stops faster than the MGFB IV when printing the same image on the two papers. So, be ready to stop your lens down!

4) Tone - This is a hard one as everyone sees tone slightly different. I find MGFB IV to be pretty much dead neutral, almost to a fault. However, MG Classic appears slightly warmer than neutral to my eye and under my viewing light. It is a very lovely tone and one I find perfect for much of my work.

5) Surface - Smooth, glossy much like the MGFB IV.

6) Toning - I always use Selenium at 1+ 10 and then vary the time depending on the paper, keeps it simple for me. I did a toning test and found the new paper moves in Selenium much more easily than did MGFB IV. After one minute you can begin to see a shift, after 2 to 3 minutes the shadows pick up density and at about 4 minutes I was getting a brownish shift in the shadows. At five minutes tones began to take on a cooler look with a little purplish undertone. I ran it out to 8 minutes and the paper never did shift to red or red / brown, in fact after about 6 minutes I did not see a great deal more toning. I settled on 3.5 minutes as my base time with this paper.

All in all, I am very excited about this new paper! It is priced about the same as MGFB IV and the tone for me is wonderful. I think this is Ilford's answer to Adox MC110 and Foma Fomabrom Varient (both are excellent papers as well). I like this new Ilford so much that I just ordered a 250 sheet box!

I hope others who are working with this paper will post their results as I am interested to learn of your impressions.


Richard Wasserman
28-Dec-2013, 11:00
Thanks Eric, it sounds like a very nice paper indeed.

If I can ever get my new darkroom up and running I'll be testing it as I need a Kentmere replacement.

Renato Tonelli
28-Dec-2013, 11:26
Thanks Eric.
I was especially interested in how the new version reacts to Se toner (same dilution as yours).

28-Dec-2013, 13:22
I am wondering if this paper has that bit of shelf on the paper speed/ reflection density graph at grade o and oo that MGiv warmtone has between reflection density 1.5 and 2 as per the Darkroom automation web site

Oren Grad
28-Dec-2013, 13:53
Thanks for posting! Do you have an impression as to whether MGC gains any DMax compared to MGIVFB, without toning? And has the curve shape changed at all?

28-Dec-2013, 14:14
Sounds very similar to old paper. So, what's the point????

28-Dec-2013, 19:43
I, too, printed in the darkroom today with the new "classic" paper. I agree with everything Mr. Biggerstaff has posted. I really like the paper.

The slip in the box says this paper has an improved maximum density (Dmax) along with 50% less wash time. It also says it has a faster speed and will give sharper images, among other things.

The image comes up very fast in the developer (10 seconds or so) and seems to develop out much quicker than the IV FB. I have not toned yet, but look forward to that along with trying some brush bleaching, something that was tough with the IV FB.

Eric Biggerstaff
28-Dec-2013, 20:38
Well, I should start reading those little pieces of paper!

I agree that it seems to have improved dmax, I made a couple more prints today and I am still very impressed.

RW Hawkins
29-Dec-2013, 00:29
I've been working through a box of the new classic in 11x14 this evening. The thing I noticed is a different curve up around Zone 8. Seems much smoother and better separated than multigrade. But, it just so happened the image I chose to start with is pretty particular about those highlights. I'm also seeing better detail, little flaws that seem to merge in with the grain on MG are very apparent and will need some spotting!

29-Dec-2013, 22:46
Well, I should start reading those little pieces of paper!

Eric, I thought you knew that Real Men never read instructions first!

Andrew O'Neill
29-Dec-2013, 23:03
Thanks for doing that testing, Eric. One question: How did toning affect Dmax? With all the papers that I have used over the years, papers reach optimum Dmax. Toning past this optimum time results in a decrease in Dmax.

Larry Kellogg
30-Dec-2013, 06:47
So, it looks like Classic replaces the existing MGFB IV: "This new product replaces MULTIGRADE IV FB FIBER." from:


Interesting. Thanks for posting your test results.

bob carnie
30-Dec-2013, 07:02
It says a 50% decrease in wash time, what is different with this paper that allows this most significant change???

Steve Goldstein
30-Dec-2013, 07:52
Eric, how would you compare the finished result to MCC110?

Eric Biggerstaff
30-Dec-2013, 09:02
Steve - My impression is that the Adox has a warmer tone before and after Selenium than does the new Ilford Classic, others may disagree.

Bob - Not sure what the difference in the paper is, I still follow my standard process which is treatment in Heico Permawash followed by 30 minutes in an archival washer.

Andrew - I am sure Dmax improves with toning, to what degree I cannot say. My test is purely visual.

neil poulsen
30-Dec-2013, 11:07
I'm pleased that this paper is a little warmer. The older paper was too cold for my tastes. But then, there's FB warmtone, so I had an option there.

30-Dec-2013, 11:47
I always liked the fact that the "old" FB is the same speed as the MG RC paper. That allowed test & proofing on RC, and final prints on the FB.
I wonder if Ilford will use the new emulsion on future RC paper....

30-Dec-2013, 12:45
How much warmer are we talking about. What I loved about the old paper was the dead neutral tone that worked with some subjects better than any other paper. Plenty of warmer or colder paper on the market but the dead neutral tone of MG was more or less unique.

Eric Biggerstaff
30-Dec-2013, 12:59
It is not that warm, and like I said, my eye will see it differently than yours. Also, my viewing light might be a warmer color than yours, so the tone is pretty subjective.

One other note regarding the paper surface. It is very smooth and glossy, very nice. I just mounted a print and the surface appears to be higher gloss than MGFB IV - again, to my eye.

I look forward to seeing other peoples observations.

30-Dec-2013, 14:05
Thanks for the info.

Drew Wiley
2-Jan-2014, 10:00
I've had only a single session with the new Cooltone (not the neutral-tone Classic). It obviously takes awhile to learn the parameters of any new paper, but I proceeded with my favorite amidol tweak and a bit of gold and selenium toning. It was easy to get exhibition-quality prints right off the bat. This particular paper is
very fast to expose, esp compared to MGWT. I got wonderful silvery gradation, with much richer detail well into the high tones as well as shadows compared to MGIV. The image color was initially similar (apples to apples -with same developer), but became a true cool black with GP-1 gold toning, something which MGIV
barely responds to. It also accepted selenium better than MGIV. The paper is a bit fragile when wet, and the gelatin dries glossier. Performance with Farmer's reducer was so-so. Later I'll experiment with a blue-black developer (though I actually suspect a cold MQ might do better with "Classic" than "Cooltone"). And so far I haven't achieved any of those bold knock-your-sox-off blacks like olden Seagull G gave, but time will tell, as I slowly get more opportunities to experiment with various developers and negs.

6-Jan-2014, 19:15
During the last few weeks I had been testing & playing with different paper/developer combinations, and now have added the Ilford Classic to my mix. Here are the fiber papers:

Ilford Warmtone/Dektol
Ilford Warmtone/Ansco 130 (Evan Clarke's)
Adox MCC 110/Dektol
Foamabrom Variant 111/Dektol
Ilford MG IV/Dektol
Ilford Classic/Dektol

The first test was to find the ES of each paper (so you know how to develop your negatives). The ES=the density range of Zone VIII minus Zone II. I use a Stouffer .10 increment step wedge. After enlarging for each grade of filter, I count the just lighter than black strip (Zone II) to the just darker than white strip (Zone VIII) & multiply by 10....IE...12 strips = 1.20 density range. (thank you Howard Bond)

All the Ilford papers had pretty close ES ranges (except the Classic...I'll get to that shortly) For example, using a #2 Ilford filter on my Saunders LPL/4500II enlarger with a VCCE head, the papers that had a 1.20/1.25 ES, which were the Ilford warmtone & the Ilford FB IV, printed very nicely.

In comparisson, the Fomabrom had a 1.40 ES and the Adox had a 1.6 ES for a number #2 filter. What that means is that if you were using either Fomabrom or Adox, & using a #2 filter, your negatives would need a greater density range to fit those papers.

The Ilford Classic, as it turns out, is more like the Fomabrom or the Adox & has a ES of 1.45 for #2 filter. What this tells me is that you will need a little more density in your negatives to print on the new Ilford Classic. IE...if a negative printed well using a #2 filter on the Warmtone or the FB IV, that same negative will now need a 3.75 filter on the new Classic paper.

At the low contrast end, all the papers were about the same with a 1.90/2.00 ES. The high end is a different story. The ES for a #5 filter of the Warmtone was .80 and the ES for the FB IV was .60. The ES for the Classic for #5 filter is 1.00. That means those thin negatives that could be printed on FB IV using a #5 filter, will look flat on the Classic using the same #5 filter.

What all this means is that if I like the Classic (and I do), I'll need to extend my development times a bit & beef up my negatives to fit this paper. Hope this helps.


Drew Wiley
7-Jan-2014, 14:01
My initial impression with Cooltone would replicate that advice. I won't try to quantify it, but am anticipating giving a little more development time to negs intended
for these newer papers.

Eric Biggerstaff
11-Jan-2014, 07:37
Having now made several prints with this paper, I continue to be impressed with it. It is one of of the easiest papers to get a good print on that I have ever used.