View Full Version : what is the sharpest B&W paper?

brian steinberger
10-Mar-2005, 22:08
i'm just curious for everyone's opinions. i'm shooting 4x5 and want to enlarge up to 16x20. i want the sharpest possible print. what is the sharpest paper you have experience with? i'm using a diffused head. thanks

Tom Westbrook
11-Mar-2005, 04:53
I don't have any advice about specific papers, but if you haven't already read it, the late, great Barry Thornton's book Edge of Darkness (http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/tg/detail/-/0817438157) is the bible of print sharpness. It has a plethora of great info on the subject.

Neal Wydra
11-Mar-2005, 08:24
Dear Brian,

Check out the Mar/April 2002 edition (Volume 23, No.2) of Photo Techniques. There is a detailed article starting on page 44.

Donald Qualls
11-Mar-2005, 08:53
Maybe I'm confused here -- I find it hard to believe that difference in acutance of a paper/developer combination would be large enough to see with the naked eye, even if you (somehow) had a negative that was so sharp as to allow the acutance of the paper to be measured. You certainly won't see the grain images in the print without magnification, given only a 4x enlargement; actual image detail is unlikely to be affected by the paper, certainly not before all sources of defocus, diffraction, and vibration are eliminated.

Conrad Hoffman
11-Mar-2005, 09:08
Sharpness of any glossy paper is far beyond anything needed. You can contact print a glass resolution target and get 100 lpm or better. You'll never project a sharp enough image to even come close to what paper, fiber or RC, is capable of. Even for contact prints, if the absolute outside requirement is 30 lpm (see Ctein, Post Exposure), any glossy has you covered. Matte surfaces are another story, and it's entirely dependent on what surface we're talking about. The old Kodak mural paper could hide just about anything. Anyway, trying to chase down sharpness in papers is probably a dead end in terms of improving your image quality.

Tom Westbrook
11-Mar-2005, 10:36
If you read some of the stuff in the Thornton book and some other things Ctein has written, I think you're right that it's not so much about the specific paper used as other factors.

Though, there were some points made about VC papers being more sensitive to UV than graded papers, esp. at harder contrast levels. Had something to do with the fact that no enlarger lens, even APO, focuses UV to the same point as other colors. Ctein's tests showed that filtering most of the UV out slowed down the papers a fair amount vs. no filtration, which, he concluded, meant that a significant part of the exposure was coming from the UV. The point was that it's possible that graded papers could be sharper than VC papers, depending on equipment used for printing, like how strongly the enlarger light source emits in the UV range. I wonder if the UV filtering in 100TMax that's caused consternation among the contact printers might help with this or not.

Sal Santamaura
11-Mar-2005, 12:01
See what I wrote on the subject in

this thread (http://www.greenspun.com/bboard/q-and-a-fetch-msg.tcl?msg_id=004TDI).

Note that references to Brilliant Bromide II likely also apply to Kentmere's Bromide, which is scheduled to become available in the US next month.

12-Mar-2005, 09:22
I suspect you'd be wise to choose a paper that looks good to you, and seek your sharpness elsewhere.
The only generalizations I'd follow: smoother surfaces will generally give sharper looking results than textured ones; graded papers may produce infinitessimally sharper results than vc papers (for reasons mentioned); sharpness and resolution are only distantly related--if you confuse the two you'll have a hard time getting to the bottom of anything.

Sal Santamaura
12-Mar-2005, 10:37
Sharpness differences between the graded and vc papers I described in the above linked thread are far from infinitesimal. To quote myself four years later:

"All evaluations were done at a normal viewing distance of around 12 inches by my middle aged eyes without benefit of any magnifying device. The differences were significant and readily apparent. I'm not saying sharpness is everything, but if your artistic goals require it, these paper characteristics exist and should be considered."

14-Mar-2005, 18:21
I imagine the difference would be influenced not only by the specific papers in question, but also by the light source.
A sheet of UV filtering glass would definitely help level the playing field.