Ilford MG Developer

Discussion in 'Talk About Darkroom Work' started by Ian-Barber, Oct 31, 2018.

  1. Ian-Barber

    Ian-Barber Admin Staff Member Registered User

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    Ive just switched from using Fotospeed developer to Ilford MG developer. The Ilford appears to be more contrasty than the Fotospeed or could it be my imagination.
     
  2. Ian Grant

    Ian Grant Active Member Registered User

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    There can be slight differences in contrast between standard developers. Of course there are also contrast developers and soft working developers but you don't really need to use them with MG papers, they are needed with graded papers particularly Ilford Galerie.

    Ian
     
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  3. Alan Clark

    Alan Clark Member Registered User

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    A good few years ago the black & white photography group I was in at the time invited a Welsh photographer, well known on the club circuit, to give us a lecture. She had a formidable reputation and went by the nickname of The Welsh Dragon. After her lecture a friend, rather bravely, showed her some of his prints. She jabbed a finger at one and said, " The blacks aren't deep enough!". Then she jabbed a finger in his chest and ordered him to "Get some P.Q. developer." So he did.
    A short time later we had another lecturer who told us the way to get deep blacks AND nicely gradated highlights was to use two developers. First you put the print into strong Dektol, 1+4. As soon as something started to appear you pull the print out and place it in a weaker developer of your choice. Yes, this was for Multigrade paper, so he said.
    Some time later my friend gave me some PQ and some Dektol developer. I think he had tried them with inconclusive results. At the time my paper developer of choice was Agfa Neutol WA. But out of interest I decided to try the PQ, and also the 2 bath trick with Dektol followed by dilute Neutol WA. I went through all the motions and also printed the negative just with Neutol WA. The paper was Ilford MG4 Fibre.
    I soon came to some definite conclusions.
    The PQ didn't produce very deep blacks.
    The Dektol made the prints look cold.
    The Dektol + Neutol WA seemed to increase contrast in a not very nice way.
    The prints developed in just my normal Neutol WA at 1+9 looked best. No doubt about it. So the Dektol and the PQ went down the sink, and I carried on with Neutal WA as normal.

    I have just dug all these test prints out and had a good look at them. And guess what? They all look the same!

    Alan
     
  4. Alan9940

    Alan9940 Active Member Registered User

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    LOL! First, I'm thinking that with my personality I'd have a bit of a problem with anyone jabbing a finger into my chest; ain't gonna happen. That said, years ago I used the Selectol-Soft / Dektol combo, as used by several famous photographers at the time, to reduce contrast in graded papers with moderate success. Nowadays, I'm using an Amidol / water bath combo to do the same with contact printing papers and, again, it's reservedly successful; really not that much difference between the normally developed print and the water bath treatment. Over the years, I've come to the conclusion that it's much more efficient and preferable to tailor your negative to the paper (graded) or use multi-grade paper.
     
  5. Ian Grant

    Ian Grant Active Member Registered User

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    Selectol-Soft/D165 is the same formula as Ilford's ID-3, and Agfa Adaptol. I used to keep ID-3 and ID-14 a Press/Contrast developer on my darkroom shelf when I used Graded papers, my main paper developer at that time was Ilford PQ Universal.

    The Ilford Galerie paper grades are much wider than other graded papers so you really need to have these developer choices to ge the best from the paper. At one time Ilford used to recommend Dr Beers Variable Contrast developer and it was published in the data sheet for Galerie paper.

    I now only really print on warm tone papers and one issue is different developers have an effect on image colour. I stick to using Ilford ID-78 which I mix to commercial strength, Ilford Warmtone developer is based on it and Neutol WA is almost identical.

    Ian
     
  6. Renato Tonelli

    Renato Tonelli New Member Registered User

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    I still practice the two developer regimen for VC papers: Selector-Soft 1+1 followed by Ethol LPD 1+2.
    I was introduced to it by a well-know printer (Brian Young) who showed me the nuances and advantages of this well-known method. He is a master printer while I have a long way to go...
     
  7. Ian Grant

    Ian Grant Active Member Registered User

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    I'm going back to using 2 or 3 developers as I've recently bought a lot of Grade 3 Kodak Elite and Bergger Prestige 20x16 paper.

    However there are alternative ways to achieve similar results with MG papers like split grade printing, and flashing is also a useful tool (and with Graded papers as well).

    There's no definitive right or wrong way as we have a lot of options particularly with MG papers.

    Ian
     
  8. David M

    David M Well-Known Member Registered User

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    As Alan 9940 said earlier, all these refinements are "... reservedly successful; really not that much difference...", but the differences between an adequate and a good print are often quite small, viewed objectively. It's good to have more tools in the box. "Lots of options..." as Ian says. We all have different ways of working.

    Club photographers used to be obsessed with "good" blacks. (Alan Clark, 2 Nov) Has that race ended or merely faded away because most club photography is in colour? I think Epson now claim to produce blacker blacks than wet paper. Densitometers of the world, unite!
     
  9. Ian Grant

    Ian Grant Active Member Registered User

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    There are still people obsessed with obtaining a high black Dmax, the maximum density is largely down to the paper, warm tone papers don't give a high D max particularly when used to give maximum warmth.

    I don't use split grade printing as such but sometimes give additional exposure at approx Grade 5 filtration (with a colour head) to add a bit of punch but it's subtle.

    I'm actually looking forward to printing on the Kodak Elite Grade 3 paper, most of my negatives print around Grade 2.5 to 3. They'll be the first Fibre based prints I've made on a Neutral paper for maybe 30 yeras, as all my prints have been on Record Rapid, then MCC, and more recently Forte Polywarmtone.

    Ian
     
  10. Alan9940

    Alan9940 Active Member Registered User

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    Ian,

    Once you've had a chance to work with the Kodak Elite paper, I'd love to hear your thoughts. Back when you could buy it new, I tried a box and thought it was going to be something special because John Sexton spoke so highly about it and used it himself. I figured...if Mr. Sexton uses it, it must be good and certainly would be good enough for me! ;)

    But... After burning through nearly 100 sheets of both grade 2 and 3, I just couldn't produce the kind of prints I was used to getting from my other papers at the time; those being mostly Ilford Ilfobrom and Oriental Seagull. The Elite prints looked...for lack of better words...watercolor-ish to me. They just didn't have that "pow" look that I always saw in my prints. As a matter of fact, I have an original print by Mr. Sexton (printed on Elite) that came along with the deluxe edition of "Quiet Light" that I bought and it, too, has that kind of blah look to it. I finally decided that I must be doing something wrong...used the wrong paper developer (Dektol)?

    Looking forward to any comments you'd care to share.
     
  11. Alan Clark

    Alan Clark Member Registered User

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    My developer of choice was always Neutol WA . It did a great job with the old blue label Record Rapid. When this paper went I stuck with the developer for use with other papers. It worked very nicely with the original Ilford warmtone fibre paper with the warm paper base. Then Ilford changed to the current, less warm, paper base and shortly afterwards brought out their warmtone developer. Used with the Ilford warmtone paper I found that the Ilford warmtone developer gave different results to Neutol WA. They were the same until you used selenium toner. Then the prints developed in Neutol WA went a purplish colour which I didn't particularly care for, and the prints developed in Ilford warmtone developer changed to a more subtle warmer colour, which I did like.
    So ever since I have stuck with Ilford warmtone developer, as my "Sunday best" paper of choice is Ilford warmtone fibre. (I also liked the old Ilford Mgd 4 fibre - but have not yet tried the Classic replacement)

    Alan
     
  12. Ian Grant

    Ian Grant Active Member Registered User

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    I'm a bit surprised Alan. Neutol WA and Ilford ID-78 are very similar formulae, and Ilford Warmtone developer is a liquid concentrate form of ID078. The major differance is in the balance of the alkali component both us Potassiun Carbonate and Hydoxide, however Agfa (and successor) use a higher proportion of Hydroxide compared to Ilford this may explain the differences.

    Alan9940, well Dektol was the recommended developer for Kodak Elite, I have seen some Sexton prints, last time I had contact he was after RecordRapid. I'll need to mix a normal developer as my standard developerID-78 a warm tone developer probably isn't ideal for Bromide papers.

    Ian
     
  13. Alan Clark

    Alan Clark Member Registered User

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    Ian, when I noticed that the base colour of Ilford warmtone fibre paper had changed (about 14 years ago) I 'phoned Ilford to find out what was going on, and was told that they had been forced to change to a different paper supplier. I was also told by their technical department that they were about to bring out a warmtone developer that was different to Agfa Neutol WA and would give significantly warmer toners than the latter. When it came out and I tried it, I couldn't see much difference, until I selenium toned it, then I noticed the warmer tone described in my last post. As I like to selenium tone my prints, this was significant enough for me to switch to Ilford Warmtone developer, and I have been using it ever since.

    Alan
     
  14. Ian Grant

    Ian Grant Active Member Registered User

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    Alan, I remember many hears ago, about 30, visiting the annual NEC photography show and looking at all the available Warm tone papers. I'd tried liked Kentmere's Kentona but they'd just cut the range of Grades to just 2 & 3. Ilford's Warmtone paper hadn't been around long but I disliked the creamy off white base, so I went for Agfa Record Rapid instead.

    We all have different tastes which is a good thing or it would be boring. However choices disappear, Ilford Galerie is now only available in Grade 3 and how long will that remain.

    I'm OK using good Variable Contrast papers they are now excellent, but it is a loss of choice.

    Ian
     
  15. Alan Clark

    Alan Clark Member Registered User

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    Ian, I think you are getting your dates mixed up here. Ilford Warmtone paper wasn't around 30 years ago. It was introduced in 1997. And production of Record rapid (blue label i.e. with the cadmium in) ceased about 30 years ago...It carried on for a while without the added cadmium, but wasn't the same paper.
    Kentona was lovely stuff I remember it well!

    Ian you should try Ilford warmtone fibre. It's superb! Paper base colour isn't noticeably warm.

    Alan
     
  16. Ian Grant

    Ian Grant Active Member Registered User

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    Yes you're right, I'm forgetting as I wasn't using the papers.

    I used the Record Rapid with Cadmium for a short time, the new version was OK just not as flexible, I used many boxes, and Agfa MCC was a a good replacement.

    I guess it was when Agfa pulled out I looked at Ilford Warmtone and went for Forte Polywarmtone. But then I'd used Ilfomar . . . . . .

    Now I have a large stock of Ilford Warmtone FB paper but still have some Polywarmtone. All my exhibition sets are printed on the same paper I won't mix and match.

    Ian
     
  17. Alan9940

    Alan9940 Active Member Registered User

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    Now there's a name I haven't heard in a long, long, long time! Very warm and fond memories of that paper!
     
  18. Ian Grant

    Ian Grant Active Member Registered User

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    At the time, I'd guess 1969/70, I didn't particularly like the image colour of Ilfomar and I most likely used D163. At that time D163 was Kodak Ltd's main print developer, D72/Dektol wasn't made in the UK until a few years later. I was still at school and at that time unaware of the nuances of different papers and Ilfomar's warmth was a shock.

    In a circular way that comes back to why Ilford introduced MG dveloper, one problem with MG papers was slight shifts in image colour at different grades in some developers (like PQ Universal) and MG developer was formulated to prevent this.

    Ian
     
  19. Alan9940

    Alan9940 Active Member Registered User

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    At that time, I was just starting out with LF photography so I didn't get a chance to use much of it before it was gone. I used Dektol and really enjoyed the results! Nowadays, one of my favorite papers is Ilford MGFB Warmtone (developed in ID-78) and I've heard so much about the warmtone paper developer that I may just give it a whirl.
     

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