View Full Version : Contact printing a B&W negative film

17-Jan-2006, 22:59
I am going contact printing 12x20" B&W negative film to paper.

As there is uncertainty about the future of Azo or its replacement, could you suggest other papers (I prefer double weigth) and developers which are good for contact printing?

Thanks a lot.

Andrew O'Neill
17-Jan-2006, 23:12
Forte Polygrade V is a very nice paper. It also tones beautifully. For a developer I've used it with Dectol, Ilford MG, and pyrocat-HD.

Oren Grad
17-Jan-2006, 23:24
Just try any of the regular enlarging papers and developers until you find one or more that's a good match to your negatives and your taste. There's no reason why any of them is necessarily superior specifically for contact printing.

Nick Morris
18-Jan-2006, 05:40
I would suggest Ilfobrom Galerie, a graded fiber based paper. However, I do not know if it is available in the size you require.

N Dhananjay
18-Jan-2006, 07:22
While Azo is gone, Michael Smith and Paula Chamlee are working at getting another silver chloride contact printing paper made. Going by past history, they have been nothing but dogged and I'm sure they will get this project seen through as well.

Enlarging papers: I've had trouble getting these to work to my tastes, primarily because the relatively steeper characteristic curve of enlarging papers means that the toe and shoulder form fairly pronounced portions of the range of print tones. Some folks have suggested Bergger's papers to be worth the trouble. Bergger does have a paper they tout as a contact printing paper, although from what I have heard, it is not a pure silver chloride paper. I'm sure other enlarging papers would provide comparable results also.

Obviously, a lot depends upon how you want your prints to look and what your negatives look like. There is also the issue of whether these are just a one-off set of negatives you want to print or whether you are tailoring things to suit a relatively long term style of work. If the former, experimenting with a bunch of papers is probably a good idea - you want to find a paper whose scale is a nice match to the scale of the negative (i.e., where the combination of the charactersitic curves of the negative and paper yield a pleasing print). If the latter, you might want to consider the fact that silver chloride papers tend to have a longer scale than enlarging papers (which are primarily chloro-bromide emulsions). Thus, it can become a tad hard to have a negative that is simultaneously tailored to chloride paper and enlarging paper.

Cheers, DJ

George Losse
18-Jan-2006, 07:39

While Azo is a wonderful paper, it is not as some might want you to believe, the only paper that you can contact print on. If it were, then it would have never died. And other manufacturers would be tripping over themselves to produce something close to it. I don't see that happening either.

As others here have suggested, try some of the different "enlarging" papers, find one that produces the look you want for your work and start printing. Life is too short to worry about one paper.

Aaron van de Sande
18-Jan-2006, 08:17
Some people have claimed that they have gotten a "floating effect" similar to azo on kentmere bromide papers. YMMV of course.

Ed K.
18-Jan-2006, 18:35
Kentmere Art Document and others from them, although enlarging papers, can be very good in the softest grades. Agfa Neutol in various dilutions works very well. And a slightly more compressed negative than one made for AZO grade 2 is good.

For wider tonal range ( dare I say such a thing ), if you are willing to handle it with extreme care and go through a lot of extra trouble toning it, Centinnial POP is capable of very amazing tonal range from a contrasty neg, as well as a high gloss if you are willing to ferrotype it on absolutely, totally clean plates. Hmmm, another downside of POP is that it requires a major amount of light to expose the stuff - a regular contact printer won't do.

The POP is "self masking" whereas AZO is not. So, POP gets you some of the tonal ranges certain alternative processes do without having to hand-coat. Art Document is matte, double-weight with a hint of a sheen. Some of the other Ketmeres have worked well for me too. One of the more lovely aspects of AZO is that the image is so close to the surface, and the paper is so smooth and glossy - if that's what you like, finding a replacement will take more experimentation. I thought that Kentmere Fineprint VC was too fast and difficult to get contrast low enough, so I gave up on it except for soft negs. Definitely try some of the soft graded Kentmeres though - nice papers.

I agree with others that M&P will probably figure something out. I sure hope so because the tonal range and surface of AZO, combined with the different print color possible with various developers is pretty tough to beat with the right neg. And while not as high-end as Pt, the tonal range really is great.