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Which paper contain the most silver?

Aaron Chan , Oct 10, 2008; 12:38 a.m.

My prof. told us that even her current printing paper, bergger, doesn't even have half of the silver that she used had on the agfa paper.


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Neal Currie , Oct 10, 2008; 01:19 a.m.

That may be true, but as long as the paper has adequate silver to make true black, what is the point of having more?

Lex Jenkins , Oct 10, 2008; 02:41 a.m.

There's a lot of hype, mythology and misinformation in the whole issue of silver content in paper and film. Only the manufacturer or a qualified laboratory would be able to reveal any meaningful information.

Silver content alone does not determine the quality of the final photograph.

Ronald Moravec , Oct 10, 2008; 07:07 a.m.

Bergger has lots of silver and makes beautiful prints. It makes better looking prints than Agfa did during the last decade or two they made black and white paper. Agfa paper made great prints in the 60`s and 70`s. Then it was outsourced to India and there were numerious quality problems plus they had to remove certain emulsion components like Cadnium. Agfa never recovered. The Hunt brothers tried to corner the silver market in the mid 80`s and the price tripled so many companies cut back in the silver. The papers were pure junk from any one, but the situation has long since changed.

Some of the nicest prints I have made in 50 years of darkroom work were on Bergger.

The current issue is a chemical added so the paper need not be aged naturally thus holding down inventory costs. The shelf life is 3 years from date of manufacture and you don`t know how long it sat in the pipe line before you bought it and what the expiration date is. Once you hit that point, you get dull fogged looking prints which might be misinterpreted as lacking silver.

The whole situation is poor and my best advice is buy a years supply not in the summer from a high volumn dealer like B&H in New York.

Frankly your teacher does not know what she is talking about.

Randall Ellis , Oct 10, 2008; 08:13 a.m.

Slavich contains quite a bit, as does the Adox paper. Check the Freestyle catalog - it lists the silver content for a lot of these papers.

- Randy

Randall Ellis , Oct 10, 2008; 08:35 a.m.

And, as Lex stated, I've seen very poor prints made with old papers, and very strong prints made with modern papers. The quality of the print has far more to do with the ability of the printer than it does with the silver content of the paper.

- Randy

Arthur Plumpton , Oct 10, 2008; 10:19 a.m.

Investigate the Dmax value (as tested in the press somewhere, which is better than that proclaimed) and you will have an idea of the concentration of silver halides in the paper. I don't see much evidence for less silver, as Dmax values are as high or higher than papers several decades ago. The increasing cost of papers mirrors in part the increasing price of silver.

Too much Dmax is often witnessed in some modern papers. Be happy with what we have, as the selection available is still quite impressive. Perhaps your teacher is more concerned with the disappearance some other qualities of the Agfa papers. That is more understandable.

Michael Ging , Oct 10, 2008; 09:47 p.m.

Running the risk of sounding like a old Fogy (whoops too late) , I remember a Kodak paper that was called Illustrator's Special ,which had at the time the most silver of any paper. It had great deep blacks. The older Agfa Portriga and Brovira were also beautiful rich papers, when selenium toned made for some of the most beautiful prints I have printed. Modern papers can still give you great blacks, but you must start with a good negative, fresh chemicals and good technique.

Marty Deveney , Oct 11, 2008; 02:39 a.m.

See the article by Dick Dickerson and Sylvia Zawadski in Photo Techniques 2005 Vol. 26, No. 3: “Silver-Rich” Papers. There is no such thing as a 'silver rich' paper. One way you can determine this is by asking how many g/sq m of silver a user thinks is 'silver rich'. When they answer that they don't know, ask how they can tell what the silver content is. Typically people mention dMax, tonality and a range of other factors that have nothing to do with silver content.

It's a little different for films, but for papers this is absolutely a myth.


Lex Jenkins , Oct 11, 2008; 04:01 a.m.

It's even debatable whether it's significant for films, since films also use sensitizing dyes.

Frankly, I suspect a lot of the debate is due to differences in technique. New photographers recognize the differences in quality between their photos and those of master printers. They think that buying a different film, developer or paper will magically change the equation, when it's all about mastery of technique.

It is still primarily about understanding light, exposure and translating the negative into print. Only the most experienced photographer or printer is capable of discerning and utilizing the subtle differences between materials.

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