I would like to use photographic paper instead of film

Discussion in 'Large Format' started by johncox, Nov 30, 2014.

  1. I'm considering getting a 4x5 camera (a DaYi or FotoMan) I would use 4x5 film but the possibility of purchase hinges on the ability to use darkroom paper as well as film (due to cost and ease of developing).
    I can't find a good source for 4"x5" paper on line and I have a feeling I would have to break it down my self.
    Are there any other options?
    Is this a good idea?
    I would be scanning and contact printing at first.
  2. 4x5 paper negatives are a good idea for learning at a low cost; however, there are some caveats.
    1. Not easy to find 4x5 paper. Ilford make it but I only know of it online in 1000 sheets. UltrafineOnline.com also has 4x5 paper in a more manageable 400 sheets pack.
    2. 4x5 paper and 4x5 film are not exactly the same size. 4x5 paper is actually 4x5 whereas the film of the same size is a tad smaller in both dimensions. If you wish to use 4x5 paper you would have to trim it by approx. 1/16 to 1/8 inch to get it to fit in a 4x5 film holder.
    Because you would have to trim the paper it might be better to just trim 8x10 paper to fit.
    Some alternatives are...
    4x5 Direct Positive paper from Ilford is sized for 4x5 film holders but I am not sure if it is still available.
    Ortho film is often less expensive Freestyle Photo and Ultrafine Online have their own brands.
    Use Freestyle house brand Arista Ultra EDU in 4x5 film, it is a lot less expensive than the major brands.
    good luck
  3. Be prepared for extremely long exposure times. 45 lenses perform best around f22. Enlarger lenses perform best around 2 stops from wide open. Enlarging exposures come from low wattage light bulbs with fairly long exposure times to allow time for image manipulation during printing. So enlarging paper is a fraction of light sensitive as film.
    What would you then do with paper negatives? They are still negs and not positives.
  4. Not sure why you would want to make "negatives," onto paper. When you say you would be scanning and contact printing, this is what you would get from a direct exposure onto print paper. To rephotograph the contact print for later use, if that is your intent, basically defeats the idea of large format resolution. Also, you may have trouble getting any double weight paper into the film holders without damaging corners.
  5. When I did paper negatives I used single weight paper cut to 4x5 size. I rated it at ISO 1(one). I then processed with d76 as it was a print. After rinsing I did not hang it to dry. Instead I wet double weight printing paper, made a sandwich paper to paper. Be sure to use a roller(brayer sp) to clear the sandwich of air bubbles. Expose to the light of the enlarger, process accordingly, hang negative and print to dry.
  6. The original negatives from the 1840's were all made on paper because clear film hadn't been invented yet and no one had yet figured out a way to coat glass with a photographic emulsion. But as others have pointed out the exposure times are very long. And because film is much thinner than paper, Paul's suggestion of using single weight paper will work best.
  7. hi john
    shooting paper negatives is a lot of fun. i have been using paper for negatives probably for 25 years?
    regular paper is fine, just trim it to fit in your film holders, and don't worry about it being too thick to fit, you won't really have any trouble. you will notice that paper is sensitive to blue light and the amount of blue light varies depending on were you are and the type of day it is. paper can be as fast as iso 25 depending on the light conditions, so in some cases it is just a few stops slower than iso 100 film. but there are papers that are extremely slow, 7 stops slower than iso 1. single weight paper works well, if you can find it, there aren't many manufacturers of single weight papers left, because it is more difficult to coat. i read somewhere that slavich is the last one, but i don't know for sure because i haven't bought paper in a long time. i tend to buy liquid emulsion and make my own photo paper for negatives.
    one thing you might find is that photo paper tends to have contrast, so you might flash it, or use an enlarger-filter to shoot through to tame the contrast. you might also look into lower contrast developers like coffee based ones.
    have fun !
  8. After an extensive search looking for single weight papers, I finally gave up. I have even contacted Slavich; they certainly made them, but they refer to their dealers (no stock) or to directly order from them, large stocks, custom and import taxes to pay.
    BTW, I have done some negative papers on 5x7". Don`t ask me why, the negative paper was really far from the usual film negative sharpness I`m used to. Maybe I did something wrong, or it was the emulsion which has thicker grains... I have no clue on this.
    There are still some suppliers selling the remaining stocks of Direct Positive in europe, but according to Harman, production is stopped.
  9. The trimming is probably the same hassle as cutting down 8x10 paper. Thanks for the heads up. I'll look for direct positive paper from Ilford if I do this. Is that the stuff that came with the Harman pinhole camera?
  10. You might consider going over to the Large Format Forum and looking at the two xray film threads--one technical, one for photos. I was putting off using a 5x7 that was given to me--tried paper and direct positive paper with no happiness (there is no happiness at ISO 3!), and real film just seemed too expensive for something I was doing for fun. . . . . However, xray film is 40 cents an 8x10 sheet, and it's wonderful stuff. It can be handled and developed under a safelight, and rates around ISO 80, which makes it actually useable.
  11. John, right.
  12. i don't think the ilford DP paper is being made anymore. BUT you might have luck overseas
    because another DP paper is being manufactured for imago.
    good luck!
  13. Buying paper in specific sizes like 4x5 or 5x7 was something I did when I was a beginner and had not yet figured out how inefficient and expensive it was. Once I caught on, I always bought 8x10. It's no hassle at all to slice 8x10 in half to two 5x8 sheets, then trim off the extra from a 5x7 after developing, or to slice twice and get four 4x5 sheets. Any $20 paper cutter can do the job; ones that have an adjustable "stop" along the edge will make it easier when working under a safelight. Buying 8x10 and cutting it is far cheaper than buying already cut film, which as you have found is hard to find these days anyhow.

    If you're going to make paper negatives, be sure to choose a paper that does not have the manufacturer's name printed on the back. Otherwise it will show up in your image when you try to print a positive from the negative.
  14. Another option is Ilford MG IV RC paper in a 5 inch wide by 250 foot roll. It is special order from B&H and ships in 2-4 weeks. Just cut off 3.9 inch wide pieces from the roll. You may also have to trim 1/10 inch from the 5 inch side too. Some film holders seem to take full 5 inch wide sheets and some don't. With 3 sheets per foot that would make 750 sheets for $126, about 17 cents per sheet. Using 2 sheets, one to make a contact print, would make it 34 cents each for a positive print. There is something to keep in mind about direct positive paper, the image is reversed, left to right. I'd just as soon make a negative and contact print it.
    Full disclosure. Although I shoot paper negatives I have not tried the Ilford roll paper. However I have used Ilford MG IV RC paper for negatives and like it so my next purchase will be in this configuration. I have been cutting up this same paper from 8X10 sheets. The ISO that has worked best is ISO 6 for daylight exposures.
    Another reason I'm ordering this paper is that I'm intending to use it on a curved film plane, 5 X 12 inch, panoramic pinhole camera. That is a late winter project.
  15. if i am not hand coating, i usually use expired paper, it can be purchased cheaply,
    and if there is a little base fog, it helps reduce contrast some people find difficult to control.
    i just loaded some 15+ year old polymax rc and will be processing it in black dektol and caffenol.
    works like a charm.
  16. First of all, keep in mind that paper negatives are NOT film negatives. Paper negatives produce a different "look" in
    photographs. Photographs produced with paper negatives appear higher in contrast, more compressed in tonal range,
    and less sharp than photographs produced with film negatives. Double-weight multicontrast rc paper works fine. I rate
    the paper at ISO 8 and develop in Dektol 1:2 at 68 degrees for 1-1.5 minutes. To control contrast, you can pre-flash the
    photographic paper used for the negative. Google "Ilford and pre-flashing paper" for details on the process.

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