Graded paper vs. VC

Discussion in 'The Darkroom' started by doobs, Nov 27, 2007.

  1. doobs

    doobs TPF Noob!

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    So I hear all this about how people like Graded paper over VC and I've noticed some excellent prints on graded paper. I'm curious about how these graded papers work. I do know VC has two light sensitive layers, a Yellow and a Magenta that react to the color filters on an enlarger. I have learned to print on VC and I have only ever printed on VC (both Fiber and RC). I figure the grades are similar to the grades that you use with the filters on VC paper. Is there any difference in printing or exposure? Any expansions on this topic would be helpful as I'm interested in expanding my paper use from just the usual. Thanks!
     
  2. JC1220

    JC1220 TPF Noob!

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    you pretty much have it, VC fiber allows you to have one paper Vs. several graded papers, in simple terms you achieve the "grading" with VC with the use of filters instea of different paper grades, 0, 1, 2, 3, 4. There a differences between the choices that only hands on use will tell you if either is for you.

    Printing and exposure will depend on the paper choice.

    Many use a split filtration process with VC, google it for more info.
     
  3. Alpha

    Alpha Troll Extraordinaire

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    A lot of it has to do with the qualities of individual papers. Some graded papers just have looks or feels to them that are markedly different than their VC counterparts. Also, I think that the differences become more apparent when working with harder (higher grade) prints. That is, I tend to think that it's a little easier to get good results printing on grade 4 paper with a soft neg than a grade 4 filter on VC.
     
  4. doobs

    doobs TPF Noob!

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    Hmm, I do enjoy spilt-filter printing a good deal, so I might just stick with VC for now. I might do some experimenting later, but it just sounds like I'd need to buy more paper at once.
     
  5. Bobby Ironsights

    Bobby Ironsights TPF Noob!

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    It does.

    But I'm suprised that I've not seen the number one most underrated benefit of graded papers discussed here.

    Safelight.

    Variable contrast requires working with an OC brown safelight and working reasonably quickly to avoid fogging the paper. Even with relatively good working practice, a slight amount of fogging is unavoidable.

    But graded papers....DAMN!

    I bought a case of grade 2 papers, 250 sheets of 8x10, just because they were priced right, on sale from freestyle.

    I expected they would mostly go for my GF's current fascination with photograms, which she is actually quite good at.

    What I wasn't quite prepared for, was the severe resistance to fogging. Testing with a coin on a square of paper, I couldn't get it to fog at five minutes.

    Then ten minutes,
    Then half an hour,

    Then I changed the filter to red, which was substantially brighter, and put it on for an hour and a quarter while I watched t.v.

    Then I lowered the spotlight type safelight with bright red filter to about ten inches from the paper directly above it, and waited for half an hour, and got a very small bit of fog.

    So far as I can tell, the old darkroom workers were able, with proper darkroom practice, to work in light that must have seemed like broad daylight, red tinted, in comparison to today's OC Brown Variable Contrast gloom.
     
  6. doobs

    doobs TPF Noob!

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    My paper never fogs and I use an orange Thomas Duplex Super Safelight or whatever.
     
  7. Bobby Ironsights

    Bobby Ironsights TPF Noob!

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    Yes, Orange=OC brown.

    But you might not be as safe from fog as you think, if you have good lighting levels with a fast paper like kentmere. I use the tried and true coin test, like we were taught in class.

    A penny on a square of paper under the light for a quarter or a half of an a hour, then developed and fixed normally, and you'll almost always see a slightly brighter circle where the penny lay. It may not be much, but it is fog.

    Also, I wanted to mention that Contrast with graded papers, can still be adjusted chemically, up or down a grade, just like in the old days.
     
  8. JC1220

    JC1220 TPF Noob!

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    Working in a darkroom with a Thomas is just shear joy.
     
  9. doobs

    doobs TPF Noob!

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    Well, I'll consider myself lucky. I've never used anything else.
     
  10. Early

    Early TPF Noob!

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    My only experience is with the Kodak RC papers, and no matter what the brochures say, I found the graded ones far and away better then the VC type. The tonal difference was like night and day. A pack of #2 and a pack of #3 should fill most of your needs. The contrast on these can be tweaked a little by different developers.

    You can have a pack of VC hanging around just in case.
     
  11. Hertz van Rental

    Hertz van Rental TPF Noob!

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    There is very little difference between graded and VC fibre papers - whatever anyone says.
    If you put prints from both side by side most people wouldn't be able to tell the difference.
    The best safelight to use in any darkroom is a red one. Used it in all of the darkrooms I have set up (even the pro ones) and I've never had a problem.
    VC papers have some advantages over graded that make them a better proposition.
    Firstly you only need one box of paper and not three or four.
    Secondly, using the right set of filters and adjusting developer VC will give you much better control over contrast.
    Thirdly, you can burn areas of a print locally using a different filter grade (for example, print Gd1 overall but spot dodge and burn an area with Gd3) which is useful sometimes.

    But in the end it's all down to personal preference. If you think graded is better than VC then go with it. And vice versa.
     

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