Forte FB -vs- RC

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Eric Rose

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I am getting ready to hang a show at the end of the month and was doing some testing using both FB and RC Forte papers. Primarily I wanted to find out if I could use the same exposure times from small sheets of RC on the 20x24 sheets of FB as I was told it's the same emulsion.

First I will give you some technical stuff, well as technical as I ever get anyway, the developer I was using was Agfa Multicontrast liquid mixed 1:4. Developing times are 2 minutes for FB and 1 min for RC. What I found was that exposure times could be transferred straight across.

Now for the interesting stuff. The images tonal qualities looked identical. The FB did not have some magical ethereal qualities to it and in fact had a very slight green cast to it. Another observation was that the image seemed slightly sharper on the RC paper. This could be due to the glossy nature of the RC paper however.

Since on the very odd occasion I use bleach on my prints I have found the FB much better than RC for this procedure. The only toning I do is selenium and both seem to tone that same way.

So my question is, except for bleaching what's the big deal with FB? It's a royal pain in the butt to deal with and from what I hear is just as archival as FB.
 

fschifano

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Well, there you have it. If the RC prints look good to you then that's what you should use. I think that FB paper feels better once dried, but that's a minor consideration. In my experience, resin coated papers are a lot more sturdy than fiber based papers. They wash out fast, they dry fast, and they don't curl. The only reservation I have about using RC paper for a gallery show is that it is too slick and shiny. If you are mounting behind glass, it won't make a bit of difference.
 

rogueish

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EricR said:
So my question is, except for bleaching what's the big deal with FB? It's a royal pain in the butt to deal with and from what I hear is just as archival as FB.
Uuumm....
FB is a royal pita and just as archival as FB? :confused:
Actually I think I get what you asked. The sides have been drawn as to archival life of RC to FB. Don't know as I have no FB (or RC) prints more than 2 years old, but they both look good for their age... :rolleyes:
Never used Forte RC, have one print on Forte FB (looks good to me). I have found that (to me, for me) FB needs a second or three more in exposure than RC ( on the Ilford paper I was using and my personal "look" preference).
Sorry not much help in the tech section.
 

photomc

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EricR, search this site..the RC vs FB debate is a long one. For my own work, it is all FB, reason - I would like it to last as long as possible and I like the look of FB. As to the archival debate..find thread on Clyde Butcher having to replace prints for customers that were printed on RC and if you can locate the article by Ctein both are pretty convincing why FB is better - YMMV.
 

Peter Schrager

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FB vs RC

Eric-it's all how YOU feel about it. If I remember correctly there was a serious article in Photo-Techniques about a few photographers who had sold several hundred RC prints to customers. Well after a couple of years the prints started to glaze/haze just plain deteriate and they were stuck having to remake all those prints on fober. Mfgs. CLAIM they have solved these problrems. Sure-I DO believe Kodak-right? Anyhoo- a fiber print properly fixed,toned,washed and mounted will last indefinately. Have you actualy gone to a museum and seen a Edward Weston or Paul Caponigro print? Sure-I bet EW would have used RC to save 5 minutes of time. I make prints for sale and myself but I put the most effort into it because that's how I approach my craft. Be the BEST at what you do-don't look for short cuts in a fastfood, throw away world. It's not really that much more effort to use Fiber and you will never regret it.
Regards Peter
 

L Gebhardt

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I have found that the Forte is different between boxes of FB. I think you got lucky that the times were the same, and when you open a new box of either RC or FB the times may diverge. I generally found the FB needed much more exposure than the RC when I tried them together.

RC is fine, but the jury is still out on its longevity. In another 100 years we will know the answer.
 

Les McLean

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My experience with Forte papers is that they are inconsistent from one batch to another so that would immediately kill the idea to use the same exposure times for FB and RC papers. Eric, it seems as though you are looking for the quick easy solution and that indicates to me that you are in the lazy mode :smile:
and that's not a good way to to make fine prints my friend.
 
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Eric Rose

Eric Rose

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Les McLean said:
My experience with Forte papers is that they are inconsistent from one batch to another so that would immediately kill the idea to use the same exposure times for FB and RC papers. Eric, it seems as though you are looking for the quick easy solution and that indicates to me that you are in the lazy mode :smile:
and that's not a good way to to make fine prints my friend.

I agree in the past Forte did have a consistancy problem. It appears at least in the short term they have been able to tighten things up.

I am not being lazy, just thrifty. Not wanting to blow paper at $10 a sheet is ok in my books.

IMHO most of the problems with RC paper discolournig is due to poor fixing and washing technique. Early RC papers were another matter however as they were pretty flacky.

I wish a museum would do some aging tests on modern papers to see what the results are. As far as I can see the permanance factor is the only benefit of FB. Which of course is no small thing. If in fact it's still a factor.
 

L Gebhardt

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EricR said:
I agree in the past Forte did have a consistancy problem. It appears at least in the short term they have been able to tighten things up.

I am not being lazy, just thrifty. Not wanting to blow paper at $10 a sheet is ok in my books.

IMHO most of the problems with RC paper discolournig is due to poor fixing and washing technique. Early RC papers were another matter however as they were pretty flacky.

I wish a museum would do some aging tests on modern papers to see what the results are. As far as I can see the permanance factor is the only benefit of FB. Which of course is no small thing. If in fact it's still a factor.
With large sheets just cut one up into smaller sizes and lay them down in important areas of the picture and expose as normal. This will save you big bucks as you can get alot of info out of two 4x5 sections in most cases.

I have had problems with Kodak and Ilford RC papers silvering out. THis seems to happen immediately after drying and is not an age problem. I have never had this with Forte RC or any FB paper. The silvering problem looks like a layer of metalic silver haze on the dark areas when seen at glancing angles.
 
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I don't think I'm alone, but glass or no glass I can see the difference in prints that are hung at shows. At a recent group show the RC prints stuck out like a sore thumb. The fiber based prints did have a better richness... Might be the skill of the printers, but part of it was the very materials they were on.

Each photographer will choose the tools that suit them best... For me, RC is for contact sheets, everything else is FB.

The "claims" of archival stability with RC are just that... When tests are done, they never go toe to toe with FB. (Note the references to articles posted above). Usually by someone trying to either sell you RC paper, or someone justifying why they use it.

joe
 

McCarthy

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I agree with Joe. FB paper is for the "keepers" and RC paper is for contact sheets. Actually instead of contact sheets I have my local pro photostudio make 4" X 4" machine prints of my negatives on RC paper. Then I store (in archival materials) the negatives next to the prints in binder boxes. This is convenient for me and gives me a good idea of which photos to print having the larger 4X4 prints.

Back to the RC vs FB debate, IMO FB blows away RC in the blacks, the grays, and the highlights. For all else, there's RC.
 

Scott Edwards

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RC Issues

As far as durability is concerned, FB is far more so in my honest opinion. I have printed RC extensively for hanging in shows, and the problem I always had was fine hairline scratches in the protective coating over the emulsion. I have not had this problem with the FB. For image quality, for some reason, even given the fact that the emulsion is supposed to be identical in chemical makeup and thickness, the FB certainly does lend itself to be deeper and more 3-dimensional. This is not evident until the FB paper dries down.
Bottom line, FB is worth the effort. I haven't gone back to RC in the last 2 years since printing FB (save for printing images to scan).
 

Ed Sukach

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Well, there is always someone who will have a different opinion.

I *refuse* to lump ALL RC paper together. I have been using Ilford MG "Portfolio" (usually with the "pearl" surface) nearly exclusively for my exhibition prints - and I have been more than satisfied with it.

I'm a trifle puzzled by the "fine scratches" bit ... Something inherent in the paper itself? - and with what surface? I would think that they would have to be more than "fine" on anything other than "glossy".

BTW ... as I understand RC, there is no "protective coating" over the emulsion itself ... the base (usualy, but not always, paper) is encapsulated (except for the very edges) in PE.
 

jd callow

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I agree with Joe with some clarification...
RC gloss is the sharpest appearing 'paper,' and has the deepest blacks. As you move to satin and matt finishes RC looses that distinction. FB has a richness that makes it sufficiently 'different' from RC (especially gloss) as to make comparisons somewhat worthless.

From an appearance or display perspective...
It is my opinion that some work will look best on RC gloss and others are best suited to FB.

From a sales perspective...
Whether in reality RC is the equal to FB for longevity or not really is not an issue. The perception is that FB is *the* archival medium. Perception trumps reality every time.

From another point of view...
A photo printed on RC gloss, that utilizes RC's strengths, to my eye, still lacks the presence of a FB print that utilizes FB's strengths.

The time taken to wash, dry flat and flatten if still needed an FB print is part of the admission price. I wouldn't use it as deciding factor. (Easy for me to say I print a handful of B&W prints a year and a gazillion colour RC machines prints).
 
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Eric Rose

Eric Rose

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Well I have just finished doing 10, 20x24 prints on FB Forte Cold Tone. I found that the exposure times determined using RC Cold Tone Forte paper were dead on to the FB stuff. I'm sorry but my Scotish/Taurus nature precludes me from wasting a $10 sheet of paper to test strips.

I must say I am not very impressed with this paper. I realize it's a personal thing, and generally I can get a good print out of just about any paper, but this stuff for the most part is lifeless. I did a print on the warmtone FB Forte stuff and it appears to be much better albeit not very warm. More neutral in my books.

For the stuff I was printing the only way in which to get any zip would be a lot of selective bleaching and probably dual bath development. I'm going out to buy some Ilford, my old standby, and give it another go. Most of my negs do not need heavy manipulations. In fact as an artistic choice I try and stay away from them as much as possible. But that's the headspace I'm in right now.

I know other photographers that use Forte quite successfully, Barmbaum being one of them. He also does a LOT of bleaching to get the images he wants. For his vision this paper is probably best. I'm not sure if he uses the Cold Tone or not. I'll have to call him and find out.
 

doughowk

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J&C carry Forte Fortezo (their J&C Classic Museum) in 16X20. Not sure what the Polywarmtone in 20X24 is; but at $3.50 per sheet it might be worth investigating.

Read in Ctein & elsewhere what manufacturers have to go thru in order to try to make RC archival; and it seems too open to errors/problems. Also, fiber is what galleries prefer.
 

Konical

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Good Evening,

I use both FB and RC and find things to like about each. As to fine scratches, I have noticed that using a squeegee on RC prints can produce scratches more easily than on FB.

Konical
 

KenM

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EricR said:
I know other photographers that use Forte quite successfully, Barmbaum being one of them. He also does a LOT of bleaching to get the images he wants. For his vision this paper is probably best. I'm not sure if he uses the Cold Tone or not. I'll have to call him and find out.

I'm pretty sure that Bruce uses only the cold tone paper. Ray McSavaney uses mostsly Warmtone. Craig Richards uses the cold tone as well.

Me, I stick with the cold tone. I have very few photographs that I like on the warmtone paper.....
 

Peter Schrager

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Forte

Eric-I will gladly send you a print on Forte. Believe me I couldn't get dang out of it until I used a Glycin dev. I said the same thing. Just curious-it's not that EDU stuff - I sent it back to Freestyle because I couldn't get blacks on it.No wonder its so cheap.
 

Mark Layne

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RC Paper

I simply have never seen an RC paper surface finish that I like.

Mark
 
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Eric Rose

Eric Rose

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I just got off the phone with Bruce Barnbaum and he is really concerned. The problem might be the developer I am using so I will get some Dektol and give it another shot. This doesn't explain the difference between the RC and FB given that they have the same emulsions. Bruce just bought 650 sheets of Forte in various sizes and is hoping they didn't have production problems near the end.

We discussed the Ilford product as an alternative but for his style it just doesn't work as it resists bleaching and toning to a large extent. Since I don't do as much of either, it might be a viable alternative for most of my prints.

Forte was a sponsor of his workshops for a number of years, but alas they aren't involved any more. We both don't want to go to Kodak as they keep dropping product. Bruce's 650 sheets should last him he says about 2 years. Once this is depleted, then it's a matter of who's still in production.
 
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