View Full Version : Recommended contact printing paper

Ron Marshall
26-Jan-2006, 10:29
My 5x7 will soon arrive so I am looking forward to some contact printing. Currently I don't have space for a darkroom, so I have been scanning 4x5 negs. I havn't done any printing for 25 years, and never contact printed, so I am completely out of touch with current paper offerings.

What is a good paper for 5x7 contact prints?

Diane Maher
26-Jan-2006, 10:40
What process will you be using to make the prints? Silver or an alt process?

Ron Marshall
26-Jan-2006, 12:26
Diane, I am looking for silver papers.

Ron Marshall
26-Jan-2006, 14:23
I think I have answered my question, since Azo will again be available.

Bruce E. Rathbun
26-Jan-2006, 19:47

Be sure to keep your options open. As much as we all hope that the Azo replacement is a done deal there are still no guarantees. The time frame for the Azo replacement may be later this year as well. I for one hope that there are no problems yet there are no certainties.


Oren Grad
26-Jan-2006, 20:58
A good paper for making contact prints is whatever paper you would use to make enlargements from the film you're using.

There are lots of Azo fans floating around here, which is fine. You might even have liked it, too. But it's not a requirement for contact printing. I've never been especially impressed with Azo myself, and I'm perfectly happy making contact prints on ordinary, enlarging-speed paper.

Alex Hawley
27-Jan-2006, 17:49
I'm one of the Azo fans but as Bruce said, keep your options open. Oren is quite right-you can use any paper you want to. Its what ever you feel comfortable with.

Ron Marshall
27-Jan-2006, 19:08
My problem is that I haven't printed in 25 years, so any suggestions for current papers would be appreciated. Then I used Kodak fiber based. Now that is not a possibility.

Alex Hawley
27-Jan-2006, 19:38
My suggestion would be Kentmere Bromide, grade 2 and grade 3. It comes in grade 4 too if you need it.

Oren Grad
27-Jan-2006, 19:52
Ron, what film will you be using?

Ron Marshall
27-Jan-2006, 19:54
Oren, I'll be using T-max 100.

Oren Grad
27-Jan-2006, 20:30
OK, here are my thoughts. If I were developing in D-76 (my standard for TMX) or Xtol, both of which can produce a bit of a shoulder with TMX, I would start with Ilford MG FB Warmtone. If I were using a developer that tends to produce a straighter curve with TMX, like T-Max RS, I would start with Forte Polygrade V. The reason for my choices is to get a curve match that will give me a "full information" print with a minimum of manipulation. I don't really care much about image color, or response to toning. FYI, if you care about the latter, both papers respond strongly to selenium.

I'm sure you'll get lots more opinions here. Whichever way you go, good luck!

James Bleifus
27-Jan-2006, 21:46
I'm with Alex, Kentmere Bromide is a great paper. I prefer it with Ansco 120/130 from Photographer's Formulary though there a plenty of people who like it with Amidol. The paper is fast compared to Azo. I don't have room for a darkroom either so I use a 15w bulb with a couple sheets of plain printer paper over the reflector to help reduce the light. Good luck and welcome back to the darkroom.

Cheers, James

Ron Marshall
28-Jan-2006, 00:37
Thanks for all of the responses.

Oren, I use D76 1:1. I will give your suggestion a try. Since it is a MG paper I guess I need a set of MG gels? What contrast would result from exposing with just a bare bulb?

Oren Grad
28-Jan-2006, 10:28
If you can at all manage it, I'd recommend buying the cheapest enlarger with a color head that you can find, purely to use as a variable contrast light source. By cheap, I mean really cheap - you can probably find a second-hand low-end 35mm or medium-format enlarger with color head for less than $200. Or you could just buy a condenser enlarger with a filter drawer and get a set of VC filters - or even a below-the-lens filter set, since you won't be projecting the image through the filter anyway. Many low-end enlarger models are also quite compact and relatively lightweight, so you could easily tuck them away somewhere in between printing sessions if you don't have space for a permanent darkroom setup.

Working without any contrast control in printing would be extremely limiting. To gain that control, going the extra modest step to have a proper variable contrast light source will make your life vastly easier, compared with working with graded papers plus split development to control contrast, or trying to rig a makeshift filter holder that you can use safely with a hot bare bulb.

Ron Marshall
28-Jan-2006, 10:58
Thanks Oren. That is good advice. I'm sure I can find an old 35mm enlarger on ebay for very little now.

Ron Marshall
3-Feb-2006, 08:02
Oren, which paper developer would you recommend for that paper? All I ever used years ago was Dektol.

Oren Grad
3-Feb-2006, 09:13
Ron, I've never been able to get excited about the differences among paper developers. At the moment I'm using Ilford PQ Universal, which I bought in a huge 5L jug so it ends up being really cheap per printing session. Dektol brings with it the minor hassle of having to mix a stock solution from powder. But if you don't mind that and you're happy with Dektol, it's a perfectly good developer too. I agree with Dan that it's helpful to have a well-understood standard if you do decide that you want to tinker later on.