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Wednesday, December 7

Ilford MGIV - FB Warmtone v RC Deluxe

Some photographers who have only ever used Ilford's "normal" resin-coated paper are often left wondering just how warm the significantly more expensive warmtone fibre-based paper actually is. What I've done here is to scan a couple of prints made using each paper to show as accurately as I can what the difference is.

The photograph on the left was printed onto MG IV RC Deluxe and its neighbour on FB Warmtone. The developer in each case was partially-exhausted Multigrade as I was trying to coax maximum warmth out of the fibre-based paper and used developer helps in that regard.

Please bear in mind when looking at these examples that it is VERY difficult matching print tones on a computer monitor. However, at least on my screen, the images above are a good representation of the real life prints. RC Deluxe is said by Ilford to have a cool to neutral tone. I'd say the RC print I produced is neutral to very slightly warm but it's a subtle effect. The fibre-based print, on the other hand, has a marked warmth to it partly down to the image tone and partly because of the warm white paper base.

There seems to be an automatic assumption amongst some photographers that Ilford's fibre-based paper must be superior to the everyday resin-coated variety and the warmtone version even more so. For some photographs and for some photographers that's no doubt true - but not for everyone.

Leaving aside the not inconsiderable cost differential between MG IV RC Deluxe and FB Warmtone, I'd have to say that I prefer the look of the RC print to the FB Warmtone. I'd still rather have the unglazed glossy finish of the fibre-based paper, though, and that's why I tend to stick with Ilford's normal-toned FB product.

But if you intend putting your prints behind glass, then I don't think there's anything to be gained using fibre-based as opposed to resin-coated paper. Put the money saved towards more film.


Matt said...

Very interesting article. I am taking my first steps in wet printing and so far I've only used Ilford's resin coated papers. I might want to try my hand with fiber based papers in the future (I'm worried they dry wrinkled) but it's really good to know I'm not wasting my time with resin coated papers.


FB don't really go wrinkly - it's more sort of "wavy" around the edges. It's nothing too bad and easily sorted if you're mounting the prints. They usually can be flattened quite successfully by placing some heavy books on top for a few days but it's hard to get them as flat as RC paper.

I'f you're getting on fine with RC paper, I'd stick with it for a while yet. Once you feel confident enough about your ability to produce a good print on a consistent basis, then you can turn to FB papers to see if the special look is worth the extra processing hassles to you.

Peter Elgar said...

I've been given some Ilford Warm Tone paper and used it with some Kodak D72 formula I had mixed up but it didn't seem very 'warm' so now next time I will mix up some 'Warm Tone' developer such as Ilford ID78


D72 tends to produce neutral to cold tones, Peter, so I'm not surprised you didn't see much warmth there. ID78 should do the trick, though.

Mike Pinter said...


I'm taking a course in film photography and we're in the second year now. Last year we used Ilford's Cooltone Multigrade RC paper and this year we've been using cooltone FB and a few sheets of warmtone. To add to the fun, we have been using Eukobrom, Centabrom and Variospeed. You will be blown away at the different results you can achieve with all of those.
There are photos that I took last year with ISO 400 film that were a waste of RC paper and Eukobrom due to graininess that with FB paper and the right tone brought out with a couple minutes of one liquid and one minute of the other are delightfully worth the double time it takes to process each image. It is really worth it for you to check 'em out and experiment!