Paper and Chemicals for beginners : LUSENET : B&W Photo - Printing & Finishing : One Thread

Ok I have my enlarger and several other items on the way and now im thinking of what kind of paper and chemicals would be best for a beginner. Whats best to use, Dry or Liquid? The paper im thinking of getting is either Kodak Polycontrast RC or the Polymax RC, Im thinking on the cheap side untill I become more adept in the Darkroom. What would be a good simple chemical to use for my print process for either of these 2 papers? Also, in one of the Kodak Darkroom Books there is a (Kodak Projection Print Scale) Is this a usefull item Or should I just use somthing to mask the paper during a test print.>

Also I opted for a Besler 23cll blue enlarger that was given to me but it looks to be in fine condition. anything to look for or do to this enlarger to help, Ive heard its a decent enlarger to start with. Thanks again.

-- Mark (, December 02, 2001


Response to Papper and Chemicals for beginers

Stop bath and rapid fixer are generally only available in liquid form. Kodak Dektol has been a standard in powder paper developers; Kodak Polymax developer is about the same in liquid form. The choice is up to you. If you mind mixing solutions from powder, get the liquid (and pay a little more for the convenience).

Kodak Polymax RC is a very good paper with lots of contrast range. In my experience it's much better than Polycontrast.

The Beseler 23C series is legendary. The most important thing is probably to make sure it's in alignment (that the negative and lens stages are parallel to the baseboard).


-- Brian Hinther (, December 02, 2001.

Response to Papper and Chemicals for beginers

Brian's answer above is very good. The only that I would add is that you should disassemble and clean the enlarger. Pay particular attention to cleaning the condensors and the enlarging lens.

-- Ed Farmer (, December 03, 2001.

Response to Papper and Chemicals for beginers

The easiest stuff is liquid. This will get you printing right away... just mix up the dilution and amounts you need and away you go. In my own opinion, save your money (instead of the projection scale). Just do a test strip with a heavy piece of cardboard, the paper package or whatever is around that is opaque... Set your timer at 5 seconds, do an overall exposure and then cover the sheet and hit the timer again, move the cover a little, hit the timer ect. As for the developers, there are alot on the market. Sprint has a complete line (of print and negative developers)that are pretty good and don't smell that bad. One paper developer that I REALLY like is LPD made by Ethol. With this paper developer, through dilution changes, you can go from cold tones to warm tones. As for the enlarger, it should service you for years!!! Keep the condensers clean and dust free and you will have alot less spotting ect. Whatever you do, as far as developers/papers, stick with one and get to know it's capabilities fully before venturing. Hope this helps a little. Cheers

-- Scott Walton (, December 03, 2001.

Response to Papper and Chemicals for beginers

I will have to second Scott's comment. Stick with the same film, chemicals, paper, developer etc. Don't start playing around with every new recommendation that the magazine come out with. Learn want your tools will do for you. I recommend to my students that they do not change anything for a year. Most of them start with TriX, Hp5 plus or Delta 400 (New) The faster films are more forgiving. We use HC110 solution B for development. Kodak stop and Ilford Rapid fix 1- 4, perma wash and photo flow. Printing chemicals LPD, stop bath and Ilford Rapid Fix. My intermediate and advance students move on to a varity of combinatins depending on subject matter, including moving on to fiber based papers, starting with VC and then to graded paper. One of the great boons to amatur darkrooms is liquid chemicals. Mixing from power can be tiresome if you don't have a magnetic stirred

-- Ann C lancy (, December 03, 2001.


The print scale is nifty to start (when you have no clue) but I doubt if you'll use it once you have your negs (and therefore enlarger times) consistant. I have one and it hasn't been used for a long time because the graduations are to large when you know your prints will be within seconds of 'usual' times. One thing I do find useful for test strips is the Paterson test strip gismo. It holds a 1/4 8x10 sheet (4x5 - I cut up 8x10's to suit) and has flaps you lower after each exposure. I'll do a 10sec exposure for the 1st segment, then 1 or 2 sec exposures for the other 5 (I think) segments. Just makes life easier than using cardboard, but cardboard does work (I use this method if I want to make a larger eg 8x10 test strip)

-- Nigel Smith (, December 03, 2001.

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