View Full Version : What paper for 4x5 contact printing?

11-Mar-2008, 13:42
Second question of the day :)

Would you experts tell me your favorite paper and chemicals for making 4x5 contact prints?

Jan Pedersen
11-Mar-2008, 17:37
Hi sdwfx and welcome to the LF world.
I would say it depends. What light source will you be using? If an enlarger with a filter tray start with some of he VC papers. Freestyle (If you are in the US) have an assortment of papers.
If you instead plan on using a light bulb hanging in your ceiling go with some graded papers. If you are just starting to develop you own film you may need a little assorment of different grades from 2 to 5 It takes some practice to get your negatives to match a specific paper grade.
That is also why VC papers would be a good start if you have the filter tray. Just one box of paper.
No need to spend your money on the most expensive papers you can find, learn to get some good results before spending money on the more expensive papers.

11-Mar-2008, 18:22
I use some Adorama RC Medium Weight 5 x 7 I pick up a box of 100 at a camera show for almost nothing. I use this to get my exposure time. I than move up to Ilford MGIV Multigrade RC Deluxe in 8X10 for test print, then the same paper for 11x14 and up prints.

I use Kodak Dektol and Fixer.

12-Mar-2008, 08:46
Thanks gents,

I am ready to hit the checkout on Freestyle for the following items:

Ilford Multigrade developer, Ilford RC VC, Ilford Fixer.

I don't have an enlarger, so I'd start with the light bulb ceiling. Is there a good article online on timings depending on the wattage of the bulb and the ditance from the contact print?

12-Mar-2008, 09:03
POP and Gold toner works nicely for me.

Pete Watkins
12-Mar-2008, 10:18
I'll second the POP & gold toner. I keep my POP in the freezer but it still slows down after a few years, nice stuff though.

Ole Tjugen
12-Mar-2008, 10:34
POP - if the negative has enough contrast for it, and the sun is out that day.

With anything like "normal" contrast range I would much rather use graded "ordinary" paper, or perhaps Bergger Art Contact (expensive).

Mark Sampson
12-Mar-2008, 11:04
sdwfx, you have a good starting point. You won't need a very powerful bulb, say 40w or so. Just make test strips, you don't want an exposure time less than 10sec. POP (Print Out Paper) and other 19th century contact processes will be for after you have the basics down.

12-Mar-2008, 12:15
If it's for reference, I use 10x8 RC paper, and I use a piece of glass. I get 4 negs per 10x8 (or else the paper can be cut to quarters and used individually).

I only really contact print 6x4,5 medium format film for wallet prints. Most of the time I enlarge everything.

As said by everyone else - test strip, get your exposure time, make your proper contact print, and you're done. Universal paper developer and Ilford multigrade is my choice ;)

12-Mar-2008, 14:26
Ah, the test-strip, of course, something that obvious I can't even think about.

Tell me if I'm half-way getting it. So first I get a black (light tight) mask to cover a portion of the test paper in the dark, turn on the light for say 10 seconds, right?

Then shift the mask and expose the subsequent portion of the paper for longer (20s ?) then continue until all the test paper is exposed?

But how do I "read" the developed test paper? I should be looking at the black-ish strip that I am aiming for?

Gosh, it's painful to be a newbie, isn't it?

12-Mar-2008, 14:36
Here's the basic technique for a test strip:

1. Define your timespan - you do this by assessing the density of the neg, and the power of the light hitting the paper. Usually you do something like 10, 20, 30 seconds. If 10 is black, you need 2,4,6,8,10 ...if 20 is black then 10 should be okay-ish so you can do 5,10,15,20. If 30 is black then you should see 20 is around about right so 15,20,25,30.

2. Expose the sheet using the light source and a piece of black card. have the neg and paper sandwiched under glass, rest the black card over the paper, moving it across to expose each section to accumulate your total exposure. So the side with most time exposed to light versus the side with least light.

3. Decide whether the basic count is accurate enough, or do second intervals either side of your basic (5/10/15 - so 8 9 10 11 12 13 14).

4. Expose a whole contact print of the neg using your specified time.

Ole Tjugen
12-Mar-2008, 14:50
Basic f-stop test strip method:

Take a sheet of something - thick enough to be opaque.

Turn on the light.

Count to 2, then cover a small bit. Keep counting, and cover more and more at 4, 8, and 16, then turn off the light at the count of 32.

If the darkest bit is still too light, you need more light - unless you want exposures running to minutes. If correct exposure lies below 8, you need less light - somewhere between 8 and 16 is a good time for exposure IMO. With only five steps it's easy to tell which is which.

The difference between each step is one stop. The half-stops will be at 2.8, 5.6, 11 and 22 counts. With a little (very little) practice it's easy to tell if the paper needs a half-stop more, or a half-and-a-bit more. That's close enough for most work.