View Full Version : Graded Fiber Paper Opinions?

Erik Asgeirsson
15-Nov-2001, 19:43
I have been printing my keepers on Kodak Polymax Fine Art FB, but I am considering switching to a graded FB paper since my D-II doesn't have a filter d rawer and for my LF pictures. I tend to print everything at a grade 2 or 3 with filters anyway. Does anyone have a specific paper to try first? I was thinking a bout either Forte, Ilford Galerie, or Oriental as a start. B&H seems to be out o f pretty much every size of the Forte, though. Any suggestions?

Walter Glover
16-Nov-2001, 01:59

It has been a while since I've used Galerie (it's indent only here in Australia - a carton of each grade at a time!) but it was always something of a bench mark for me.

Recently I've been having great joy with Fortezo museum weight. It is fairly punchy but I find the 'Soft' gives me a nice print from a full range TMY neg. Dektol 1+2 at 24? for around 2 mins.

I might add that I am never as elated with any of the VC papers I use. The wait for supply may well be worth the inconvenience.

Cheers ... WG

Jeff Buckels
16-Nov-2001, 08:47
For contact printing, Kodak Azo "gaslight" paper. Look at Michael Smith's website and article (he's in the list of photographer websites in this LF website). The oldest continuously marketed photographic product in existence (over 100 years). Tonal range approaches that of platinum. Easy to use (extremely slow, a tungsten lamp in the next room around the corner is no big deal).... For enlarging, the Bergger papers, especially Silver Supreme. Check out their website, which includes a list of vendors (Freestyle included). -jeff buckels (albuquerque nm)

Charlie Stracl
16-Nov-2001, 17:36
Paper is a very personal thing, but for me Oriental Seagull wins hands down. Not that other papers aren't fine.

Jorge Gasteazoro
16-Nov-2001, 17:49
I also agree with Charlie...Oriental is a wonderful paper.

Sal Santamaura
16-Nov-2001, 18:19
While graded papers can have some advantages, and I frequently promote their use here and elsewhere, if you are happy with your smaller format "keepers" on Polymax Fine Art FB, why not use it with the D-II as well? Polymax is a very nice paper, and, if you use under-lens Polymax filters (the ones in plastic frames), keeping them dust- and scratch-free, there will be no difference in print sharpness compared to above the negative filters.

Nicholas F. Jones
19-Nov-2001, 02:27

Another vote for Oriental Seagull G. Nick.

14-Jan-2004, 18:24

This is my first post here. After an absence from photography for several years (and a couple of beautiful daughters later), I am getting back into the hobby that I really love, (despite the amount of time it takes).

In any event, it appears that many of my old favorite graded papers are no longer available, including Agfa Insignia and even Oriental Seagul (referenced in the old posts above in 2001).

Any suggestions on current graded fiber papers? It seems that the choices are very narrow, and I am not currently set up to do VC printing.


Sal Santamaura
14-Jan-2004, 19:10
Rob, 2+ years after Erik's original post there are still fine graded papers available. Oriental is back, albeit without the cadmium; most current users say it's still a great product. If you're after neutral tone, I can personally recommend Bergger Prestige graded NB. Many others here and elsewhere speak highly of Bergger's warm toned counterpart, CB. Give one or more of those a try and you'll probably be very happy.

14-Jan-2004, 19:58
Thanks for the heads up regarding Oriental and Bergger Sal. I've never heard of Bergger until reading some of the threads here. I will see if I can pick some up and give that a try.

Since I was last active in this hobby, it looks like the Zone VI papers are also no longer being made. Is that correct?

Sal Santamaura
15-Jan-2004, 05:06
When its French supplier went out of business, Zone VI (now part of Calumet) sourced printing papers from the UK. I believe Brilliant Bromide II was being made for it by Kentmere. Not too long ago it dropped that graded product; only VC is left. Bergger was founded by a former employee of the original French company that supplied Zone VI.

Robert A. Zeichner
15-Jan-2004, 05:32
I've had great success with the Polymax Fine Art and have been using an Aristo VCL-4500 dual grid cold light on a Beseler 45MXII enlarger for all of my printing. I would consider getting one of these heads as opposed to switching over to graded paper for three reasons. 1. I think you will love the way you can make fine adjustments to contrast without having to apply compensatory exposure for different filters. 2. The time it takes to arrive at the best contrast setting will be much faster. 3. You will save money in the long run by only having to buy one type of paper. You can even cut down from large sheets and not have to stock different sizes, if you wish. The other thing that occurs to me is that the product life of graded paper is more apt to be shorter in that most printers I know are using VC types. Why spend a lot of time messing around with stuff that may go away?

And now for the most compelling reason for the above: If you've never seen how easy it is to print with say, the equivalent of a #3 filter and then burn in dense highlights with a #00, you are in for a real treat. That's the beauty of VC paper.

15-Jan-2004, 08:53

Yes, there are some compelling reasons to go with a VC head. But the last time I used a VC paper, I was not impressed. However, that was probably 8 years ago. Based on your comments, I am assuming there have been some great improvements in these papers?

Also, cost is obviously a factor. Checking Calumet's website, it appears their lowest priced VC cold light source is $950.00. I could purchase quite a bit of graded paper for that amount of money.

Of course, nobody ever said this hobby was cheap!