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Ilford 500 Multigrade head with Ilford Multigrade Warmtone paper

Ian Martin , Mar 04, 2008; 12:40 a.m.


How accurate are the grades on the control unit of the Ilford 500H head when printing on Ilford multigrade warm tone fiber base paper (glossy?) I know Ilford was not making this paper back when they were building these heads, I'd like to know how accurate the contrast settings are when using this newer paper. Thanks!


Ross Chambers , Mar 04, 2008; 01:11 a.m.

Dear Ian,

In my case and practice the development of the negs in Pyrocat HD adds even more to the desirability of using the Ilford 500 controller as a split-grade unit, for which it is particularly suitable, and I've used that technique for D76 developed negs too.

This helps me with each paper's characteristics.

I use Ilford RC matt, and FB glossy and semi-matt standard tone and warmtone.

This may not be the answer that you are seeking (not uncommon on this forum!) but I hope it helps.

Regards - Ross

Arthur Plumpton , Mar 04, 2008; 08:31 a.m.

Perhaps irrelevant to your question, but if you are not in possession of the very fine Ilford unit, you might give a look at the Heiland Splitgrade controller and light head, which is programmed for several papers, including MG warmtone RC and FB papers, and as far as I know still receives periodic upgrades by mr. Heiland for new papers. Not everyone's cup of tea and fairly pricey, but I have found that it takes into account very well different papers (and basic film types) when indicating initial contrast and exposure conditions. I printed the same neg yesterday on Agfa FB Classic (alas, discontinued) and MG IV RC and the results were quite similar (as a first go) with both papers.

Sorry if I have wandered off topic in regard to your interests. You may have to do some trials with say MG FB and MG WT with different contrast negatives to better adapt the Ilford head.

L G , Mar 04, 2008; 09:38 a.m.

The head works very well with Multigrade Warmtone FB. It's been a while since I used the standard controller for the head, but I remember the settings worked very well. I currently use an RH Designs controller with the Ilford 500 head. In my testing for this controller I found the MGWT was very similar to the MGIV in contrast range and controller settings. The MGWT has a .2 higher DMax. MGWT is my current favorite paper for most images that need impact.

Conrad Hoffman , Mar 06, 2008; 12:13 a.m.

Don't have that head, but do like the paper. IMO, you should get a transmission step tablet and do your own test. Not just to learn about the head, but you'll learn some things about tonal distribution that are valuable. You don't need a densitometer for this, just the step tablet. Good resources are Ctein's Post Exposure and Anchell's The Variable Contrast Printing Manual.

Rafal Lukawiecki , Mar 06, 2008; 06:54 a.m.

I use this head and the Ilford MGWT. I used both the original controller (500CPM) for quite a while and the RH Designs Analyser 500 - as of this week, as it is my new treat. I found the grades I was hitting with 500CPM covered the range but the spacing between the higher grades seemed a little uneven - perhaps it was just a subjective feeling, as I certainly could print everything I wanted. The RH Designs device (which is made specially for this head) brings out the full range of grades I would expect. I also like how it can quickly recalculate the exposure when I change from MGIVFB to WT or RC.

If you are thinking of getting the 500H for this paper (or others) just go for it - it is easily one of the best systems you can get and a total pleasure to use. Make sure you check the state of the dichroic and heat filters - there are places to get replacements if you need to (Odyssey Sales in UK is one). Enjoy.

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