Silver Rich Film (and Paper) : LUSENET : B&W Photo - Film & Processing : One Thread

Often the term "silver rich" is used to describe a film, frequently when referring to older style emulsions. Do these emulsions contain more silver, and just what is meant by more? An actually higher silver content? Greater surface area exposed to light? More grains?

-- Shel belinkoff (, February 12, 2002


This is just one opinion.

I don't use that phrase but silver content can be measured. Manufacturers also know it. AGFA for example publishes their technical data sheets containing silver content (don't remember about films; they give numbers at least for papers).

One of important characteristics of paper is maximum density. Some people believe more silver means richer black. It's not the case. If you coat your paper using the same emulsion but different thickness, they may be directly related. But manufacturers have so many other things to tweak besides silver content.

About films, many people don't take advantage of really dense area, and many prefer relatively thin negatives. So, it seems reasonable to think D-max is not the most important spec to be improved. (e.g. APX25 has low maximum density yet many people love it.)

If anyone has an argument why silver rich material is preferred (for general or specific situation) regardless of D-max, I am very interested to hear it.

-- Ryuji Suzuki (, February 12, 2002.

In the early days of manufactured products, quality was often directly related to silver content, at least in paper. Today, however, there are many more variables to consider. Almost all paper produced today has less silver than paper produced in the 1950s, yet todays paper will give you a higher D-max.

IMO, silver content is a non-issue.

David Carper ILFORD Technical Service

-- David Carper (, February 15, 2002.

Yes, Dave, I will agree with you on the paper side. The Ilford Warmtone does makes some nice prints. But I wonder on the film side if more silver would bring "something". I hear people talk about the old kodachrome and how the switch in the 70s ruined it for them, etc... Also that the old b&w films with more silver had more latitude...?

-- Russell Brooks (, February 18, 2002.

It is my understanding that the amount of silver is not an indication, either with film or paper, of the emulsion's ability to render an image. TMax films can show detail from deep shadows to brightest highlights. So much that the paper can't print it all and it is not a 'silver rich' formula. Some films have two layers of silver on them, one finer than the other. With film now sharper, faster, finer grained than ever, it is more than just the silver content that determines the image characteristics.

-- Dan Smith (, February 19, 2002.

Older emulsions used to contain more silver, and it used to render richer tones in terms of microcontrast that modern films will never match. They used to have lower resolution and coarser grain tho. This applies to Fortepan, Efke, Fomapan, and Kodak's VP for example. This is on eof the least reasearched areas in photography. Manufacturers tend to keep the silver content to the minimum as it costs more; I think that's the reason.


-- Xosni (, February 20, 2002.

I don't think contributes much to the cost of printing paper or film. Compare the price of photo printing paper with the price of photo quality inkjet paper.

-- Patrick A. Gainer (, March 01, 2002.

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