Ilford Multigrade Warmtone FB Glossy (creamy whites)

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Jos Segers

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About this paper the Harman Technology website says:
"ILFORD MULTIGRADE FB WARMTONE is a premium quality, variable contrast black & white photographic paper on a heavyweight, baryta coated, fibre base. It has been designed for ultimate image quality, with warm image tones and a high response to toning techniques and has long been regarded as the discerning printers first choice.
The advanced emulsion design means that MULTIGRADE FB WARMTONE delivers luxuriously rich prints with warm deep blacks and creamy whites. It is also highly responsive to toning, chemical reduction and retouching techniques."

I wonder: what is meant by creamy whites? My work prints with this paper where not what I expected. They looked kind of muddy or flat with too little contrast in midtones and highlights. The blacks are ok. Using a higher filter grade made no difference.

So I decided to try to find out if anything was wrong and made another set of work prints on different brands of papers that I use at the moment. Among them Ilford Galery glossy, Adox Variotone glossy and Fomabrom Variant III glossy. Contrary to Ilford MGWT all these papers showed normal tone reproduction, to me at least.

Additional information. To be certain I tried different developers (Ansco 130 and Amaloco 6008). None of my papers have been exposed to unsafe lighting. I tested this according to Kodak procedure (How safe is my safelight?). In the past I also used Ilford MGWT semi matt to my satisfaction. Whites seemed clean then and the prints did not show any chamois hue in the highlights. I purchased the box almost two years ago via Silverprint UK. It was properly stored by me. Up to now only two sheets are used so 48 sheets are left in the box. Unfortunately I have no new box to compare with. Replacing the box would mean that I have to invest twice as much as two years ago. My negatives are FP4+ developed in pyrogallol based staining developer.

I very much welcome your advice.

Jos.
 
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otto.f

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Right. I found Ilford Warmtone too warm and not what you call brilliant. That’s the idea of a good warmtone paper, you want it warm but still clean and brilliant with good separation of tones. I chose for Bergger CB, which is not too brown either, more what you call espressoblack. I use a neutral developer eco4812.
 

MrclSchprs

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This is a thread I will keep a close eye on as I have the same experience as Jos. I've also tried all sorts of different things but I never got results with deep blacks and clean whites. At least not with Ilford WT MG paper. Youtube has a video of Robin Bell demonstrating his printing skills with this paper and the result is wonderful. See for yourself:



and

 
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Jos Segers

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Thank you both for your interesting experience. I now realize that maybe I should have said that highlights and local contrast seem to be muted? Nevertheless I still believe MG FB Warmtone to be an excellent paper.
 
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It is possible you aren't factoring in an appropriate amount of drydown if your highlights are muddy. Not saying you are but something you should evaluate.

Warmtone papers of the past were often just on a creamy paper base, they weren't really warm tone emulsions. Kentmere comes to mind but I could be wrong. That was all a long time ago. We've lost so many papers.

Papers are different. Don't believe what the manufacturers say about them. Use them and make up your own mind.

I just recently switched from Foma 111 to Ilford Warmtone. The blacks are so much blacker with the Ilford paper. I was flabbergasted when I saw it the first time. I love that deep black so it is a no brainer for me. If you like a different aspect of a paper then you absolutely should use it. There are no rights and wrongs when it comes to choice. That is why there are so many flavors of ice cream...

Beyond that it is hard to give an opinion without any visual examples of what you are talking about.
 

removedacct1

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I've never found that the Ilford Warmtone FB paper lacked D-max blacks comparable to any other premium paper. In fact, if anything, I wish it were a much warmer color than it is.

Its a chlorobromide emulsion, which is where the warm color comes from. Unlike Fomatone Classic, which does use a cream colored paper base, Ilford Warmtone uses a neutral white paper. (Personally I much prefer Fomatone Classic because its very close in look to Agfa Portriga Rapid of yore) I have used Dektol, D-72 and ID-78 developers and they all produce a similar result on the Ilford product.

I have also used (and occasionally still use) the Bergger Warmtome paper, and I find it nearly identical in look and behavior to the Ilford product. Some have said that the Bergger paper is actually produced by Harman and is - with minor tweaks - the same product as Ilford's Warmtone. I once printed the same negative on both papers and in the end, I couldn't tell which was which, so....

A final note: if you find whites aren't clean and highlight separation is lacking, it could be that you haven't accounted for dry down. I found it especially important with the Warmtone papers to factor in dry down when making exposures. I always rinse and dry (with a hair dryer) a final test strip just before making a full print to determine how much dry-down there is going to be, and adjust exposure accordingly. There's no reason to think the Ilford paper won't give excellent whites with clarity and separation if exposed properly. (unless your paper has "aged out" and has fogged due to heat or exposure to airborne pollutants, like sulfide. Don't ever use sulfide sepia toners in the same space that you store film and paper in!)
 

MattKing

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I would do an updated safelight check before I went any further.
Just in case the "new" paper is more sensitive to the safelight you are using.
Kodak Safelight Test link
 
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Jos Segers

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It is possible you aren't factoring in an appropriate amount of drydown if your highlights are muddy. Not saying you are but something you should evaluate.

Maybe muddy is not the best way to explain what I try to describe. The characteristic warm (cream) paper base is probably what I noticed now. Exposures are of course corrected for dry down.
Papers are different. Don't believe what the manufacturers say about them. Use them and make up your own mind.

This is good advice
I just recently switched from Foma 111 to Ilford Warmtone. The blacks are so much blacker with the Ilford paper. I was flabbergasted when I saw it the first time. I love that deep black so it is a no brainer for me. If you like a different aspect of a paper then you absolutely should use it. There are no rights and wrongs when it comes to choice. That is why there are so many flavors of ice cream...

Regarding maximum blackness I found that there is no essential difference between the PRIME papers that I use. Naturally with the exception of (semi) matt.
Beyond that it is hard to give an opinion without any visual examples of what you are talking about.

You are right in this.
 
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Jos Segers

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I would do an updated safelight check before I went any further.
Just in case the "new" paper is more sensitive to the safelight you are using.
Kodak Safelight Test link

It's not an new paper to me. I'm surprised now that I didn't notice how warm the paper base is compared to another prime warmtone paper. Thank you for reminding me to repeat the Kodak safelight test. Although eleborate it is the most stringent I am aware of.
 
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Jos Segers

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I've never found that the Ilford Warmtone FB paper lacked D-max blacks comparable to any other premium paper.

I agree, D-max is very good.
Unlike Fomatone Classic, which does use a cream colored paper base, Ilford Warmtone uses a neutral white paper.

This is not my experience. Furthermore Harman Technology declares that the whites of this paper are creamy. Compared to Adox Variotone for example, another no longer produced prime warmtone paper, an unexposed test strip has a very warm, even yellowish base color
There's no reason to think the Ilford paper won't give excellent whites with clarity and separation if exposed properly. (unless your paper has "aged out" and has fogged due to heat or exposure to airborne pollutants, like sulfide.

I am not assuming that my paper has "aged out". The reason for my assumption is because the paper behaves as it should. Overall contrast, speed and D-max are flawless.
.
 

brian steinberger

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Ilford states in the data sheets that warmtone should keep in excellent condition for up to two years. I have plenty of old warmtone paper older than this. I haven’t used any in quite a while because I prefer the cooler classic which ironically, Ilford states lasts up to three years.
 

otto.f

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I still believe MG FB Warmtone to be an excellent paper.

It’s a nice paper, not outstanding. Your problem is the emulsion on it. I know nicer papers, as paper that is: the surface, the specific manner of sharpness, egg gloss, weight, etc. Rollei also has a very nice baryta paper since recently, the 111. It’s not cool, but not too warm either, perhaps you can get it warmer with WT developer. https://www.macodirect.de/en/paper/...-fb-glossy-12x16-30.5x40.6cm-50-sheets?c=1285
 

cirwin2010

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So I haven't worked with Ilford Warmtone paper before opting for Foma Fomatone Classic instead as it is cheaper. I typically save this paper for lith prints, but will occasionally use it for traditional prints. I have had the same experience as you described where the warmtone paper lacks the punch and sparkle that a "neutral" or "cooltone" paper can provide. Some of this may be due to the Fomatone paper being unable to build as much contrast as other papers for higher filter numbers. But I also think the paper has a bit of a "soft" look to it. This may be suitable for some subjects but not all. However, I have found a few ways to nudge the paper into looking less "muddy" with added contrast and "sparkle."

1. Develop the paper longer. Some papers are fully developed in dektol/liquidol like developers in 90-120 seconds. Dmax may be lacking due to incomplete development and I have found that depending on conditions you may need up to 3 minutes of development time. Longer development will "cool" the paper a bit.

2. Use a cool tone developer like Moersch SE6. In my testing so far I only like this developer with Foma Fomatone Classic. This may sound counter intuitive to use a "cooltone" developer with a "warmtone" paper, but hear me out. It really "cools" the paper and will develop cool, deep blacks. The contrast is also beautiful too. It's not as soft as Fomatone with Liquidol developer and it (to me) looks different than a neutral paper with Liquidol.

AND the tone is quiet interesting. The shadows will be a cool black, but the upper mids and highlights will have a warm, olive like colour. I think much of this colour is from the warm paper base showing through. It gives the images a bit of a split tone appearance without actually toning the silver.

2a. Selenium toner after development in Moersch SE6. The Selenium toner, in my experience, wont shift the colour to a brown or purple like other papers. It deepens the shadows and might neutralize the colour in the highlights a little. I personally think that the untoned prints look better dependent on the subject.



Again, I haven't tried Ilford Warmtone so the above may not apply. It also certainly changes the look of the print away from a more traditional "warmtone" look. But if you feel like experimenting and don't mind the cost, try the Moersch SE6 developer.
 

DREW WILEY

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MGWT FB does have a SLIGHTLY off-white or "creamy" base. Just compare the base tint with Ilford's own Cooltone, which is a more neutral white. Usage of a glycin developer like 130 can also impart a bit of warm glow or tinge to the highlights, depending. The emulsion itself is warm, but highly malleable to toning, including dramatic warm/cold split printing if desired. This is indeed a premium paper with real punch - deep deep DMax if sufficiently developed, all the way up to sparkling brilliant highlights.

The Bergger equivalents, likewise made by Harman, seem to have a bit steeper curve drop off the cliff into the shadows. And their Prestige Neutral Tone can be coaxed either way, either distinctly cold neutral or warm neutral, unlike Ilford's current MG Classic, which is not quite as rich a paper, and never truly achieves a cold tone. Bergger NT resembles more the previous Kentmere Fineprint VC in that respect - another excellent, but now gone, product.

MGWT does have more dry-down shift than most papers, and is, alas, among the most expensive at the moment. Still, it does certain things extremely well which other papers don't, with the exception of similar Bergger WT.

And yes, to achieve cold blacks with MGWT use a fine silver grain compatible ordinarily "warm" developer like 130. Then tone it in gold chloride. I use a rather dilute tweak of classic GP-1 gold toner. It doesn't take much; the emulsion can capture only just so much of the gold chloride itself, so in real-world usage, it's actually quite economical. I often combine this with something equivalent to old Kodak brown toner (sulfide) to get a subtle (not over the top) "split print" effect. Of course, I you prefer to go hog wild with toners, you can;
but it's not to my taste.

Foma papers have a quite different look.
 
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images39

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I use Ilford MG Warmtone RC, so can't speak directly about the FB version. But a couple of comments on the RC version:

--The prints look a bit odd to me until they are selenium toned. The appearance changes noticeably with selenium toning, much to the better (to my eye).

--If you lay an MG Warmtone print next to a MGRC print, there is a noticeable difference in the paper base color. The MG version has a slight off-white (or cream) appearance. Not drastic, but there's a difference there.

Dale
 
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Jos Segers

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MGWT FB does have a SLIGHTLY off-white or "creamy" base. Just compare the base tint with Ilford's own Cooltone, which is a more neutral white. Usage of a glycin developer like 130 can also impart a bit of warm glow or tinge to the highlights, depending. The emulsion itself is warm, but highly malleable to toning, including dramatic warm/cold split printing if desired. This is indeed a premium paper with real punch - deep deep DMax if sufficiently developed, all the way up to sparkling brilliant highlights.

The Bergger equivalents, likewise made by Harman, seem to have a bit steeper curve drop off the cliff into the shadows. And their Prestige Neutral Tone can be coaxed either way, either distinctly cold neutral or warm neutral, unlike Ilford's current MG Classic, which is not quite as rich a paper, and never truly achieves a cold tone. Bergger NT resembles more the previous Kentmere Fineprint VC in that respect - another excellent, but now gone, product.

MGWT does have more dry-down shift than most papers, and is, alas, among the most expensive at the moment. Still, it does certain things extremely well which other papers don't, with the exception of similar Bergger WT.

And yes, to achieve cold blacks with MGWT use a fine silver grain compatible ordinarily "warm" developer like 130. Then tone it in gold chloride. I use a rather dilute tweak of classic GP-1 gold toner. It doesn't take much; the emulsion can capture only just so much of the gold chloride itself, so in real-world usage, it's actually quite economical. I often combine this with something equivalent to old Kodak brown toner (sulfide) to get a subtle (not over the top) "split print" effect. Of course, I you prefer to go hog wild with toners, you can;
but it's not to my taste.

Foma papers have a quite different look.

Thanks for your comprehensive characterisation of the properties of MG/WT/FB/Gloss. My own experiences are actually no different. I too prefer Ansco 130 and cannot say other than that this is an excellent paper.

I want to find out that there is nothing wrong with my batch. I can practically only do that by comparing with another pack. .

I am expecting a new shipment tomorrow. The old shipment is packed in a white(!) box I bought from Silverprint some time ago. Today I contacted Harman Technologies and asked whether it is true that this paper also comes in a white box. They indicated that this is is a recent thing and that the brown packaging will be phased out.
 
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