How do I test if old paper and developer is still good?

Recent Classifieds

Forum statistics

Threads
178,660
Messages
2,457,488
Members
94,599
Latest member
JKFTL
Recent bookmarks
0

Emil

Member
Joined
Jan 31, 2009
Messages
86
Location
Århus, Denma
Shooter
35mm
Hi. I took the plunge yesterday and bought a complete darkroom from a photographer who'd switched. In the deal was 14 100 sheet boxes of Ilford Multigrade IV paper, and a bottle of Ilford Multigrade paper developer. Everything has been put aside in her basement for a few years, so it's all a bit old.

I would like to test the paper and developer to see if it still works, but since I have neither fresh developer nor fresh paper, I don't know where to start.

Does anyone know of a test I can do to test the paper and the developer for freshness?

Thank you all in advance, Emil
 

jgjbowen

Member
Joined
Oct 13, 2003
Messages
879
Location
Richmond, VA
Shooter
Large Format
first get some fresh developer, stop and fix. Next take a sheet of paper and tear it in half. Put 1/2 sheet of paper directly in the FIX. For the other 1/2 process it as you would a contact print (Dev, stop and fix). Compare the two. If both look identical, your paper is not fogged and should be very usable. If the paper is fogged, you will have to either add some additional restrainer (Potassium Bromide or Benzatriazole) to the developer and try again.

There are a couple threads on APUG that discuss old paper. If the paper is severly fogged, you might try Defender D-58 developer. Obtaining the raw chemicals can be a little challenging, but this developer seems to work wonders with very old papers.

Please let us know what you find.

Good luck,
 

mexico531

Member
Joined
Aug 27, 2009
Messages
36
Location
Leeds, Engla
Shooter
Medium Format
As far as the dev is concerned I would say that it's probably not going to be any good. Personally I would buy new developer (it's much cheaper than a box of paper) and give the paper a try. You'll soon be able to tell if it's any good as it will lack speed and contrast if it's expired.
 

Mike Wilde

Member
Joined
Aug 10, 2006
Messages
2,907
Location
Misissauaga
Shooter
Multi Format
Testing means some sacrifices.
The developer should not be too 'brown' visually as a concentrate. It starts out colour wise a bit like weak tea, and moves as it ages to old coffee.

Fix is the next to check. Are there yellowish deposuts on the bottom of the bottle? It does 'sulfate out' with time. It can still work if there has been mild deposits, but why risk it.

The developer is still viable on a gross level if at the specified working dilution, a piece of paper taken out of the box/bag while in the dark, and then exposed to room light/day light (store the openned box properly first!) and then plunked into the tray of developer. It should go to a very deep black in under a minute.

The paper testing is easier if you have a step wedge, or print projection scale. If it is really old it may show a slight greying after proper exposure and development enven where it got no exposure to light. This is fogging. It gets worse with longer developemnt time, so get used to developing to 2' and then move to rinse/stop, then fix.

The paper is multigrade, and I trust you know that this means that different colurs of light while being exposed will result in it either producing a hard or soft image. Details of what it takes to do this are included in a paper flyer found in almost every ilford product they have ever sold. Read it at least once. There is a lot of information in there.

Usually multigrade paper as it ages stops producing as hard of an image as it was once possible of, and it may take more magenta filtered light to get even a normal contrast grade. Using a step wedge it is possible to test by counting the number of steps and then multiplying by the density of each step to figure out what the contrast range produced at a given filter setting is achived at a time. The paper likely will last longer frozen; put the un-openned boxes into a freezer to slow the deteriration down.

I have discussed testing old paper in past posts that I have made. Do a search on my posts to try to hunt them up. I buy and use expired materials all the time. Anyone can make nice images with new materials; getting the look you want out of long expired stuff in my book makes it that much more fun.
 
OP
OP

Emil

Member
Joined
Jan 31, 2009
Messages
86
Location
Århus, Denma
Shooter
35mm
I have tried what you suggested, first I put a completely exposed paper in the dev, came out absolutely black after about 40 sec.

I also tore an unexposed piece of paper in half, developed one half, and fixed them both. they were both completely white, no shading on the developed one.

First test tells me the developer is good, right?
and second test says paper is fine.

Is there any way that I could have gotten these results with bad paper AND developer?

Thanks all

Emil
 

Rich Ullsmith

Member
Joined
Jan 26, 2007
Messages
1,136
Shooter
Medium Format
It sounds like your paper is okay. With that much paper, you might want to think about freezing some of it.

Your developer is active, but that doesn't necessarily make it "good." If you can't get anything else and you are anxious to play around with it, sure. But if you are going to invest any amount of time in working up a print, I would do as these folks say and get some fresh.
 

Denis K

Member
Joined
Jun 24, 2009
Messages
237
Shooter
35mm
Learn a bit about Ilford's date codes and test the oldest paper. If that proves good, you can then contemplate in which order you want to use it (new to old, old to new, new for your best prints, etc.).
 
Photrio.com contains affiliate links to products. We may receive a commission for purchases made through these links.
To read our full affiliate disclosure statement please click Here.

PHOTRIO PARTNERS EQUALLY FUNDING OUR COMMUNITY:



Ilford ADOX Freestyle Photographic Stearman Press Weldon Color Lab
Top Bottom