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KODAK polycontrast filters VS. ILFORD multigrade filters

Giorgio Bianchi , Apr 24, 2003; 10:37 p.m.

Hi Everybody, It's first time for me in using multigrade Papers, and I decided to go ILFORD, having used Ilford papers with good results. I bought the ILFORD multigrade IV (I didnĀ“t found the Cooltone, wich seems COOL to me ;). I have two multigrade filters set: one is Oriental (seagull) wich goes from 0 to 5 grades in half-steps. They seem (at first look) very close to Ilford multigrade filters (wich I have one set, but found discoloured from 4 grade to above). The other one is a Kodak Polycontrast, wich goes from 1 to 4 grades in half- steps. AT first look it seems that grade 1 in the Kodak is grade 00 in Ilford, and grade 4 in kodak is HARDER than grade 5 in Oriental. Have any of you experiment with Kodak Polycontrast Filter and Ilford Multigrade Paper? Wich is the correspondence with grades in the kodak filters and the REAL contrast grade obtained with ilford papers?

If any of you knows where I can find the table (if any) of ISO RANGE for the combination Ilford papers/ kodak polycontrast filters, I will appreciate the info.

About the continental filters, they seem very close to Ilford filters, is this right? unfortunately, they are borrewed, not mine.

PS: OK, I haven't done any test yet, I know this is the first thing I should do. But since different contrast is achieved by different colors of filters, I can see Kodak filters won't work as expected.

Thanks for your responses.



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Al Kaplan - Miami, FL , Apr 24, 2003; 11:15 p.m.

You really can't judge them by the color that they look to your eye. I don't think that anybody makes a lower contrast filter than Ilford 00. They all pretty much work with all the different paper brands. You really have to try them out to see what they'll do with your paper choice and your enlarger. I'm still using my set of DuPont (Yup, they used to make paper! Chemicals and film too a long time ago.) Varilour filters that I bought in 1968. They seem just fine with Kodak, Ilford, and used to work OK on Ansco VeeCee. I'm printing with an Omega B-22XL with a 50/2.8 El Nikkor and an 80/5.6 Schneider Componon.

John Cook , Apr 25, 2003; 06:05 a.m.

Hey, Al, thanks for that post! I thought all the guys who used Varilour were in Heaven by now.

I did some of my best work with that paper, back in the days when my car payment exceeded my pharmacy bill.

Did you ever work with Ansco's B&W rollfilm called "Dandy Pan"?



Louie Powell , Apr 25, 2003; 06:59 a.m.

Georgio -

Reinforcing the earlier responses, the Ilford and Kodak series of polycontrast printing filters are not directly comparable.

My experience with graded papers was that there was not a lot of consistency between a grade X paper of one variety and the same grade from another manufacturer. It has also been my experience, the there is even less consistency between graded papers, and variable contrast papers with filters. The only very cldar observation is that while you can get a broad range of contrasts with filters, the range that WAS available with graded papers was eben broader, at least in the days when Agfa produced its very high contrast material.

I don't worry much about the specific numerical designation of contrast grade. I have one set of filters (I am currently using Kodak filters, below the lens, on my Omega DII), and my film processing is calibrated to give negatives that generally work well on filters in the range of 1/5 - 3. Then I look at individual images, and adjust the filtration to produce the contrast that yields the visual/emotional result that I want.

Conrad Hoffman , Apr 25, 2003; 07:56 a.m.

For more information than you probably need or want to know, get a copy of Anchell's Variable Contrast Printing Manual. That goes over filter differences, past history, how the paper actually works, etc. Probably the most interesting is the set of charts in the back showing the contrast grade and spacing for various papers and filter sets. There is more difference between different papers than one might think. Though the book is interesting, you can learn far more by simply picking a filter set (I use the Ilfords) and printing!

Robert Davis , Apr 25, 2003; 08:02 a.m.

Forte is nice enough to give a chart showing how thier papers react to Ilford filters. I guess if somebody really wanted to they could compare that with the chart on using a colour head to get numbers. For example it looks like a #1 filter is close to 38 magenta. It would only be a start.

Mark Farnsworth , Apr 25, 2003; 12:15 p.m.

2 points that were already mentioned by others:

1. You can't tell just by looking at the filters as to the effect. Ilford has changed the appearance of their own filters over the years even though the respond the same. The color depends partly on the material it is made of. But filters of slightly different color can have the identical effect on the wavelength of light that passes through the filter.

2. There are 2 different VC filter standards: The Kodak Standard (for use with Kodak papers) and the one used by everyone else (created by Ilford, I believe). These two standards are not significantly different, but they are not the same.

Joe VanCleave , Apr 25, 2003; 03:29 p.m.

Discolored filters from grade 4 to 6? With the Ilford filters, its normal for grades 4 through 6 to look dramatically more purple than the lower numbered filters. As stated above, don't just assume by looking at the filters. You gotta test them. I'd go with the Ilford filters as a starting point, given you're using Ilford paper. At the very least you're more sure of linearity between contrast grades.

Giorgio Bianchi , Apr 25, 2003; 10:51 p.m.

Ok, I would use the Ilford filters for use with Ilford paper, there are three kits in here (I use the University darkroom for printing), but as I said, they are almost unuseful, grade 4 to 5 are nearly transparent, not deep purple as others I've seen. Some others have clear spots in them, and i presume they are loosing color too. This discoloration may be caused by hanging the filters with hands full of chemicals? Shure I've done tests with this discolored Ilford filters. Grade 5 gave me a print with contrast near grade 3, and by no ways the exposure time was the double, it was identical. That's why I sought for other filters.

Thanks for your answers. Yes I think the best way to manage this is doing tests and comparing results. I just wanted some little help to have a guide ;)

Mark Farnsworth , Apr 26, 2003; 06:53 a.m.

If you can't convince them to get new filters, maybe you should buy your own. A complete set costs less than $25 for the 3x3 size.

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