Photographic Paper FAQ's

Which paper product is best/suitable for photograms. 

All of our ILFORD photographic papers will easily produce photograms, so the choice will depend on which surface finish you prefer and whether or not you want fibre or resin coated. Resin coated paper is lower cost, easy to process and dry flat and would be a good choice for starting out.

Does reciprocity affect paper?

Paper products are designed for much longer exposure times than film and are less sensitive to reciprocity failure. Whilst there may be a small effect over very long times it is generally not necessary to make any compensation for reciprocity failure on paper products

How do I control the contrast of ILFORD Multigrade Papers?

Our technical information sheet ‘contrast control for Ilford Multigrade papers’ covers topics including contrast range, using MULTIGRADE filters, using enlargers with variable contrast heads fitted (eg 600 heads), using enlargers with colour heads, cold cathode enlargers, diffuser versus condenser enlargers, and filter factors.

Can I use a Colour enlarger head to control contrast with MULTIGRADE Papers?

Yes, our technical information document ‘contrast control for ILFORD Multigrade papers’ gives guide filter settings for the grade range. This covers single and dual filters.

 Can I use old MULTIGRADE filter sets?

To attain optimum performance with our Range of MULTIGRADE papers we advise using our current MULTIGRADE filter sets.

If an old filter set is used - such as the type that was sold with Multigrade III, the extreme filter grades (00 and 5) will not be attainable and the spacing will be wrong.

What is the difference between RC and FB papers?

RC or resin coated is a misnomer as the paper is actually a paper layer sandwiched between two layers of polythene. This means the paper layer does not get wet during processing.

FB or fibre based paper consists of a high quality paper fibre base with a layer of barium sulphate calendered on one surface to give a smooth white surface that we then coat with photographic emulsion.  The longer washing times are required to remove the processing chemicals from the paper. 

How long will my photographic prints last

Properly processed prints will last for many decades. Much depends on the care taken during fixing and washing and protection from pollutants during display.

Longevity can be further improved by use of selenium toner may be after processing.

 Is RC Paper as Archival as FB paper?

At present, there is no industry standard for testing the longevity of black and white papers.

Although we believe that RC papers can be as permanent as fibre based. If long-term archival stability is your primary requirement, we recommend fibre base papers as the medium of choice.

What is the ILFORD Photo Archival Wash Sequence?

You can find this information in our learning zone, or on any of our fibre base paper technical data sheets

Which ILFORD Papers Work Best with the Bromoil Printing Process?

Based on advice from members of the UK Bromoil society, the below gives an indication of which FB papers work most effectively - for Bromoil printing.

MULTIGRADE FB Cooltone glossy is reported as giving excellent results.

MULTIGRADE FB Classic glossy and matt surfaces are reported to work well,  although perhaps not quite as well as MGFB Cooltone. The matt surface is more receptive than the gloss.

MULTIGRADE FB Warmtone - available as gloss and semi-matt. Works, but not very well. The semi-matt works better than gloss.

MULTIGRADE Art 300 - This was mostly deemed unsuitable for Bromoil printing.

What is split grade printing?

Split grade printing is a method of exposing variable contrast papers such as the ILFORD MULTIGRADE range by completing two separate exposures, one with a low contrast filter and another with a high contrast filter. The two exposures combine to form a normally exposed image, allowing precise control over both highlight and shadow detail.

How do you split grade print?

Variations on split grade printing can include exposures with different grades of filters and selective contrast control by dodging and burning using high or low contrast filters on different areas of an image.

More information on split grade printing can be found in our learning zone

How should I mount my RC prints?

We would recommend one of the following methods; Spray Adhesive, Dry mounting or Double sided mount film.

More information can be found in our learning zone

How should I mount my FB prints?

For perfectly flat mounted FB prints we would recommend dry mounting. Some Galleries or Museums may prefer the use of “museum mounting corners”

More information can be found in our learning zone

What Pens can I use for signing/marking prints

We advise using a pen such as a Staedtler permanent marker pen. You can also use a Chinagraph type pen.

Which ILFORD papers work best with hand colouring?

Most ILFORD FB papers can be hand coloured, water-based, acrylic art paints work best. You can find further information on hand-colouring in our learning zone

Which safelights should I use for ILFORD paper products?

Amber/Orange or Red safelights may be used with our standard photographic papers as long as they stop light with wavelengths shorter than 580nm. The ILFORD Orange Safelight is called a 902 and the ILFORD Red Safelight is called a 906.

NB Only Deep Red safelights are safe to use with Direct Positive Paper. (ILFORD 906)

It is always good practice to carry out a safelight test with a new safelight, our testing yours safelight post in the learning zone tells you more.

What are Chloro-bromo, Bromo-iodo emulsions?

All of our papers are coated with emulsions consisting of crystals formed from a mixture of silver chloride and silver bromide (referred to as chloro-bromo emulsions).

Our films use emulsions consisting of crystals that are a mixture of silver bromide and silver iodide (iodo-bromo emulsions).

Can I still use my old out of date paper?

We do not put expiry dates on paper as there are so many factors which influence how it will perform over time, for example, papers stored in cool dry conditions will fare better than those stored under more adverse conditions. Refrigerated papers will last even longer.

A simple print test will tell you if an old box of paper is performing to standard.

How do I dispose of my ILFORD paper?

There are no special requirements for disposal of photographic paper. Please check with local recycling regulations regarding packaging materials.