View Full Version : Paper negs - paper or film developer?

Scott --
16-Mar-2011, 11:57
Hi, all -

I'm planning on shooting a lot of paper negatives with the new 10x12 and, having scant experience with it, did some searching on youtube. This guy (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wtvKrLJmqW0) uses film developer for the negatives, paper developer for the prints. When I'd tried this before, I tried film developer unsuccessfully, and was recommended to use paper straight through.

What's the consensus on this?


Jay DeFehr
16-Mar-2011, 12:06
Paging John Nanian!

16-Mar-2011, 14:37
I have had the best results with paper developers. What I have used primarily is Solution A of the famous Beers Solution, which I dilute 1:4 to 1:8 to get the necessary amount of contrast on the paper negative. For those who don't know it, the Beers Solution was used to alter the contrast of graded papers by making the print softer or harder by altering the amount of metol or hydroquinone in the working solution. It rather disappeared with the popularity of VC papers but is a good solution for developing paper negatives.

Solution A is mixed as follows
Water at 52C or 125F -- 750 cc
Metol -- 8 grams
Sodium sulfite -- 23 grams
Sodium carbonate -- 20 grams
Potassium bromide -- 11 cc of a 10% solution
Water to 1000 cc

Depending on paper contrast you will need to dilute the stock solution from 1:4 to 1:8 (assuming grade 2,3, or 4 papers).

Pretty sure you would not need Solution B for developing paper as a negative so did not include it.

Sandy King

16-Mar-2011, 16:56
hi scott

i use exhausted paper to control contrast and then i dip it in a fresh bath of paper developer to boost the contrast ...
so i waffle between the two ...
ansco 130 is what i have been using most of the time, mainly because it is the only print developer i use and i have it on hand
you could probably use any print developer you have, just don't dump it after a session ( the ansco is black like coca cola when i use it for paper )

lately though i have been using sumatranol 130
it is free-poured ( not exact measured ) caffenol c with a splash of ansco 130 mixed in.
i roast my own sumatran robusta coffee beans so i changed the name :)
it works great ...

i use it as my first bath, instead of the exhausted print developer .. and i still use a fresh tray of
ansco 130 for about a 5 second dip. it takes about 4 minutes for a print to develop
to completion in coffee, so if you try it, keep in mind 2 mins the image appears,

i guess in the end you can use whatever you want :)
the learning curve isn't too steep, if one method doesn't work try another ...
in the end it is about controlling the contrast and getting a decent negative to print

have fun !

Scott --
28-Mar-2011, 14:09
Okay, John and Sandy, I appreciate the thoughtful info. Next question fer yas: graded or VC papers for the negatives? I can see the point in using VC for the contact prints, but which is better for the actual negative? :confused:

28-Mar-2011, 14:56
hey scott

i have used both. outdoors i have only used vc but indoors
with lights &C i have used both. the low # graded agfa i have ( 0? 1? )
took a huge amount of light to get a similar negative to the vc.
( 45seconds + 900ws of flash vs 20seconds and no flash )
i am not a spectral-genius but from what i understand
they are sensitive to different colors of light ...

have fun !

ps. a lot of people love vc rc paper for paper negatives, it is much easier to
print through !

Robert Hughes
29-Mar-2011, 12:01
I've used both D76 and Dektol on paper negatives, the D76 is not quite as contrasty, but unless you use a low # graded paper or a green filter on VC paper it's not going to matter much what developer you use - it'll be high contrast, almost poster like.

Emil Schildt
29-Mar-2011, 12:42
actually there are some info right here:


(I use VC papers as I then can controll the contrast in the paper - just place a filter in front of your camera...)

29-Mar-2011, 12:54
There are many ways to help avoid the higher contrast issues.
1) As far developer goes, try Selectol Soft or dilute dektol more then "normal
2) Expose and develop as you would for a film negative if you wanted lower contrast
ie: don't overexpose and don't over develop it.
3) To evaluate a paper negative, look through it not at it - hold it up to a light or put it on a light table to judge exposure and development - it is a diapositive not a positive print you're needing, remember, light is going to shine trough it to make a print.
4) Bright contrasty light and contrasty subject will add to the efforts required to get middle values in most any negative and that is true of paper negatives as well, so don't do that.
5) You can also preflash paper to lower contrast.