Black and White Paper Guide


AGFA MULTICONTRAST CLASSIC is a variable contrast black-and-white photo paper on fibre base. 


  •  The contrast is varied by colour filters.
  •  If the standard contrast control filters are used, it is possible to vary the contrast simply, without the trouble of converting the exposure times.
  •  The contrast range is similar to that of conven tional fixed-contrast papers. MULTICONTRAST CLASSIC can therefore replace all paper grades from extra soft to extra hard.
  •  The paper can be exposed on any enlarger and processed in dishes like conventional BW fibre base paper.
  •  MULTICONTRAST CLASSIC provides print quality which matches conventional BW fibre base photo papers.
  • The discriminating consumer too can now enjoy the advantages and convenience of a variable contrast black-and-white paper in all fields of pictorial photography.

The range 
  • AGFA MULTICONTRAST CLASSIC MC C 111 FB (glossy, double weight)
  • AGFA MULTICONTRAST CLASSIC MC C 1 FB (glossy, single weight)
  • AGFA MULTICONTRAST CLASSIC MC C 118 FB (fine grain matt, double weight)
AGFA MULTICONTRAST CLASSIC is available as sheets in all the standard formats. up to 50.8 x 61 cm. Wide rolls (127 cm wide) are available for professional enlarging. 
Special formats can be supplied on request. 
Minimal variations in the dimensions/sizes are possible - due to cutting tolerances and expansion effects (to DIN 4506 Part 1 and ISO 1008). 
Information on the Agfa black-and-white photo papers with fixed contrast are given in the Technical Data P-50-P. Information on MULTICONTRAST PREMIUM (variable contrast BW paper on RC/PE base) is summarised in Technical Data P-53-P. 


The original packaging protects the paper from light and brief exposure to humidity and fumes. 
The inside packaging for sheets and rolls consists of lightproof PE bags or PE foils. The outside packaging is an orange cardboard wallet or a box with a tongued lid for sheets, and a corrugated cardboard tongued box for rolls. 
The outside packaging alone does not provide adequate pro tection from light. Use both the inside and outside packaging for storing paper in opened packs. 


Black-and-white photo papers should be kept cool, dry and protected from harmful fumes. Temperatures under 20 C and a relative humidity of 50 % to 60 % ensure that the papers will keep well over a very long period. 
Opened packs should be closed well after use (inside and outside packaging), and if possible not stored in darkrooms or other wet rooms, only in cool and dry areas. 
The natural ageing process of photopapers is considerably retarded by refrigeration or deep freezing. The paper must however be taken out of cold storage some hours before use, and brought up to room temperature. 


In addition to the codes of the various paper types, the paper weight, tinting and surface characteristics are indicated by the following numerical code. 

Coding of base weight 

1 . .  = double weight fibre-base paper (FB) 
3 . .  = polyethylene-coated paper (RC)
The base tint is indicated by the second figure (not given for single-weight types such as MULTICONTRAST CLASSIC 1 and RECORD RAPID 1). 

. 1 . = white paper tint 

Coding of surface 

. . 0  = glossy, natural high gloss (only for RC papers)
 . . 1  = glossy, smooth surface suitable for high-gloss drying (only for fibre-base papers)
. . 2  = semi-matt
. . 8  = fine-grain matt


double weight, white, glossy
 single weight, white, glossy
The labels are colour coded (by bars) as follows: 
Fibre-base paper  = light blue
1 and 111  - mauve
 118  - light brown 
RC paper  - orange
310  - mauve
 312  - yellow
A UPC bar code is printed on the labels (sheets). 

Emulsion number 

A product coding is printed on the label. It consists of the five place ABC code. This is followed by the emulsion number and some code letters serving internal inspection purposes. 
An internal order number starting with an X is printed on the second line. 
The first code line should always be given in enquiries and complaints. The second code line provides helpful information for internal investigations. 

Paper design 

Base  Weight  Thickness
Baryta paper, single weight  185 g/m2  approx. 150 m
 Baryta paper, double weight  283 g/m2  approx. 258 m
Fibre-base papers contain a layer of barium sulphate (baryta) between the base and emulsion. This baryta layer stops the emulsion soaking into the paper surface, and so enhances the detail definition and print blacks. 
The baryta coating is 20 - 45 g/mz depending on surface. 

The light-sensitive layer contains a fine-grain silver chloro bromide emulsion. 

Silver content: approx. 1.5 g/m2 

The two supercoats protect the paper from friction fogging and physical damage. 

Maximum density (blackness) 
Depending on the surface, and assuming correct exposure and development, the following maximum densities at least can be reached: 
MC C 1 / MCC 111  DmaX = 2.30
 MC C 118  DmaX = 1.60
The lower maximum density of MC C 118 is due to the technique used for measuring the matt surface. 

Density curves 
Exposure:  tungsten light 3000 K, time: 10 sec.
 Filters:  contrast control filters 0, 1 , 2, 3, 4, 5 and UV blocking filter
Densitometry:  read with visual filter (V)
The exposure given in tux seconds applies to the combination of paper and filter. 
Spectral sensitivity 

(related to equal-energy spectrum) 
The graph below shows the densities of 0.5 (I), 1 .0 (II) and 1 .5 (III) measured in reflection. the sensitivity is the reciprocal of the exposure (in ml/m2) needed to produce the relevant densities. 

Sensitivity (speed) 

(to ISO Standard 6846) 
MULTICONTRAST CLASSIC has a speed of ISO P 400 when exposed to white light (without filter). The contrast then reached is about equivalent to the contrast with filter "2". 

If contrast control filters are used, the speed is: 

  • for the "0" to "3'h" filters - ISO P 160
  • for the "4" his "5" filters - ISO P 80
Halving the ISO figure corresponds to halving the speed, and doubling it doubles the speed. 

Reciprocity characteristics 

The reciprocity characteristics of AGFA MULTICONTRAST CLASSIC are virtually unrelated to the filtration. The photo graphic speed falls slightly as the exposures lengthen, while the contrast remains nearly constant. 

Latent image characteristics 
AGFA MULTICONTRAST CLASSIC has outstanding latent image features. The speed and contrast remain virtually unchanged, regardless of the filtration, for a period of up to three days. 

Exposure and contrast control 

AGFA MULTICONTRAST CLASSIC can be exposed on all standard enlargers (with or without colour mixing heads), and on enlargers with special modules for variable-contrast papers. As can be seen from the spectral sensitivity curves (see page 4), MULTICONTRAST CLASSIC is sensitized both to the blue and green spectral ranges. The contrast grading is set by selective colour exposure: 

  • Magenta filtration affects only the blue spectral range and produces steep contrast.
  • Yellow filtration affects the green spectral range and produces flat contrast.
The contrast grading can therefore be varied virtually continuously, from extra-hard to extra-soft, depending on the blue and green light content of the exposure. 

The following methods are suitable for varying the contrast: 

1. Standard commercial filter sets for variable-contrast black-and-white papers 

They are available as: 

  •  filter foils for use in the filter drawer of the enlarger (in several formats), or
  •  filter set with adapter for mounting under the enlarger lens, or on the red filter pin of the enlarger.
The "0" to "5" filter designations correspond to the grade numbers of conventional black-and-white photo papers. Each filter set includes extra filters with intermediate values, for fine corrections. 
The right grade is found by producing a series of text ex posures with different filters: 
  •  for contrasty negatives filters "0" to "1 "
  •  for negatives with normal contrast range filters "2" to "3"
  •  for low-contrast negatives filters "4" to "5".
The filters are designed to require the same exposure time, as found by testing, when the "0" to "3'/z" filters are used. This time has to be doubled for the "4", "4'/z" and "5" filters. 
If the exposure time is found with the "4", "4'/z" or "5" filters, the time for a softer grade (i.e. filters "3'/2" to "0") has to be halved. 

Partial filtration 

MULTICONTRAST CLASSIC offers the great advantage that individual areas of negatives which are tricky to enlarge can be exposed with different contrast control filters (e.g. for landscapes the sky areas with the "1" filter, and the rest of the image with "4" filter). Partial re-exposure and shading witti filters will not only balance differences in brightness within one negative, they will also produce partial variations in contrast. 

Exposure without filters 

MULTICONTRAST CLASSIC can also be exposed without filters. In this case the resulting contrast grade is "2", and the speed is more than doubled or the exposure time shortened by more than half ) 

2. Yellow and magenta filters in colour mixing heads 
The manufacturers' filter density ratings are not identical. The exposure time has to be converted or found for each filter. The entire contrast range is not covered by some colour mixing heads. 
3. Vario-contrast modules 
Vario-contrast modules with filters and computer logic are available as add-ons for enlargers, to find the exposure time required in each case. 
4. Colour printing filters (yellow and magenta) 
The contrast of MULTICONTRAST CLASSIC can also be varied with the subtractive printing filters in a printing filter set. The disadvantages of this method are a partial reduction in the contrast range, and the necessity to convert the exposure times. 

Exposing and filtering MULTICONTRAST CLASSIC 

Grade and grade numbers as for graded papers  ES 
Real speed of 
ISO  P  400
Contrast control filters  0  1/2 1 1 1/2 2 2 1/2 3 3 1/2 4 1/2 5
Effective speed of 
ISO  P  160 ISO  P  80
 * Basic grade ("Special') of AGFA MULTICONTRAST CLASSIC which can also be achieved without filtering. The effective speed is then ISO P 400. 


Filtration with colour printing filters or colour mixing heads 

Contrast control filter 0 1/2 1 1 1/2 2 2 1/2 3 3 1/2 4 4 1/2 5
Filtering with Kodak CP or CC filters *  80 Y  55 Y  30 Y  15 Y  -  25 M  40 M  65 M  100 M  150 M  200 M
Filtering with Durst colour mixing head *(test with Durst CLS 501 )  60 Y  45 Y  30 Y  10 Y  20 M  30 M  50 M  70 M  100 M  130 M
* Exposure factors must be individually found by test exposures. (Y= yellow filter, M= magenta filter) 
All the filtrations are guides only. They depend on the combination of the characteristics and state of the filters, the enlarging lamp (age) and the enlarger (plus mixing head). 
Further filter characteristics can be obtained from the equipment manufacturers. 

Print tone 

The print tone is primarily a characteristic of the emulsion. It depends on the size and structure of the processed image silver. Large grains of silver produce a colder print tone, and finer grain structures a warmer tone. The tone of black and white photo papers can be varied within narrow limits by the development and special treatment. 

The print tone of AGFA MULTICONTRAST CLASSIC can be varied within limits. In cold-tone developer (e.g. NEUTOL BL) MULTICONTRAST CLASSIC produces a slightly cold tone, in neutral-tone developers (e.g. MULTICONTRAST DEVELOPER) a neutral tone, and in warm-tone developers (e.g. AGFA NEUTOL LIOUID WA) a more warm-black tone. 

The print tone of black-and-white photo papers can in addition be influenced by the following factors: 

  • When the paper hardens during lengthy storage, the print tone becomes generally slightly colder.
  • I The tone may change as the developer becomes exhausted. The slightest contamination of the developer with thio sulphate makes the tone initially slightly warmer. Worse contamination on the other hand makes the tone colder, and there is also an increased tendency to fogging.
  • If the intermediate wash is insufficient, or the stop bath is very exhausted, the blacks may turn blue.
  • Too long fixing times, variations in concentration and contamination of the fixer affect the original tone.
  • Too short or much too long final washes (several hours) may change the print tone.
  • Drying in the atmosphere or in hot air produce different print tones (hot drying much warmer).
Printing range 

The printing range of a photo paper is defined as the ratio of the exposure times necessary to produce a defined maximum and minimum blackness. Normally this ratio is not given arithmetically, e.g. 4:1, 10:1 or 32:1, but logarithmically, that is for the examples given 0.6, 1.0 and 1.5. These figures simultaneously correspond to the maximum difference in density of a suitable negative. 

The printing range is therefore the greatest permissible ex posure interval in which you can still identify details, both in the shadows and highlights. It provides information on the nega-five contrast - that is the maximum difference in density - that can be rendered on a photo paper, making use of the complete grey scale from white to black. 

Paper with flat contrast has a wide printing range. It can render the great variations in density of a contrasty (hard) negative. Paper with steep contrast has a small printing range, and is therefore suitable for low-contrast (soft) negatives with small variations in density. 

To avoid decimal figures for the printing range, the logarithmic figures to the ISO Standard 6846 are multiplied by 100 and suffixed with an "R" (= range). The printing ranges in the examples given above are therefore standardised at R 60, R 100 and R 150. 

The printing range (ISO range) of MULTICONTRAST CLASSIC is shown in the following table. When exposed to white light (without filters), MULTICONTRAST CLASSIC has an ISO range of R 100. 


Filter 0 1 2 3 4 5
 ISO range  R 140 R 120   R 100  R 85  R 70  R 55
 These figures are averages in used state. The actual figures include a small production tolerance, and may vary from the rated figures depending on ageing, storage and processing. 


Toning processes convert the black image to a different colour. They deposit coloured metal compounds on the silver grain. Toned photos keep particularly well (archive proofing), because these silver complex compounds are less liable to break down due to environmental pollution. Toning is the best print silver stabilisation method. 

nly prints which are correctly exposed, developed as specified, fixed in as fresh fixer as possible and well washed are suitable for toning. In principle, any black and white papers can be toned. However, warm-toned papers are most suitable. 

There are two toning methods, direct and indirect. Direct toning converts the silver image to a different silver compound in one operation. Indirect toning involves bleaching first. A second solution creates a new image, consisting of a silver compound with a different colour. 

The simplest method is toning with AGFA VIRADON. It has the advantage over other toning solutions that the contrast of the prints is unaffected. In some cases the original print should be slightly overexposed (darker). 

Direct toning 
VIRADON 1 + 50  
(1 part VIRADON + 50 parts water) 
 1 - 10 min 
on intensity needed)
 Stop bath* (10 % sodium sulphite solution) 
 * only necessary to prevent post-toning in the wash. 
 1 min
Final wash (see the following table)
Indirect toning 
Bleaching (in 44 BL bleach* 1 + 3) 
(1 part 44 BL concentrate + 3 parts water) 
* Process AP 44 (bleach for colour reversal film processing)
 2 - 5 min 
 or Bleach (AGFA 501 formula) 
500 ml 10 % potassium hexacyano-ferrate solution  
100 ml 10 % potassium bromide solution 
400 ml water 
 5 min 
Wash (running)  5 min 
VIRADON 1 + 50 
(possibly stop bath as for direct toning)
 3 min 
Final wash (see the following table)
Process temperature 20 C 
If the only consideration is a long archive life (image silver stability), the direct toning method should be used, since this changes the print tone less (towards reddish-brown). Indirect toning produces much warmer print tones (yellow-brown). 

Print silver stabilizer 

AGFA SISTAN protects prints from changes of the image silver caused by environmental pollution. This first becomes apparent as reddish to yellowish-brown discolouration of the highlights, and may eventually destroy the complete print, due to the image silver being changed into colloidal silver. The sources of pollution are mainly industrial and car fumes, fumes from heating oil, ozone, synthetic paints, compressed boarding, non-acid-free cardboard, glues and adhesive tapes, freshly cut PVC, brittle rubber and all substances giving off peroxide. 
The properly processed prints are placed after the final wash for one minute in a solution of 25 ml SISTAN + 975 ml water, and then dried. Up to 2 m2 of paper can be treated in 1 litre of SISTAN solution. 
For further information on print silver stabilisation see "Toning". 

Darkroom safelights 
Since AGFA MULTICONTRAST CLASSIC is an orthochro matically sensitized black-and-white photo paper (sensitive to blue and green light), special care must be taken in chasing the right darkroom safelights. The following filter screens or lights can be recommended as direct lighting for the working area: 

  •  Light with AGFA / METEOR darkroom filter "G 7" and 15 watt tungsten lamp, minimum distance 1 m, max. period of action 3 minutes.
  •  Light with KODAK filter "0C" and 15 watt tungsten lamp, minimum distance 1 m, max. period of action 4 minutes.
  • Light with ILFORD filter "902" and 15 watt tungsten lamp, minimum distance 1.2 m, max. period of action 2 minutes.
  •  OSRAM "Duke 50" with red filter, minimum distance 1 m, max. period of action 4 minutes.
  •  KINDERMANN "Dukalux Electronic", minimum distance 1 m, max. period of action 4 minutes.
  • ILFORD SL 1 lamp, minimum distance 1.2 m, max. period of action 2 minutes.
Other lights can also be used, but a test should always be made before use as a precaution. Since the contrast is affected before any fogging occurs (a shift to "soft"), the test should be carried out as follows: 
  • Two prints are exposed with the same exposure time of a negative with medium contrast or of a stepped grey wedge. One print is processed immediately, and the second after it has been exposed to the safelight for the recommended time. If both prints have the same contrast, the safelight is suitable.
  •  If the second print if softer, this must be remedied by dimming the light, increasing the distance from the working area, indirect lighting, shortening the period of action, or using a different filter.

MULTICONTRAST CLASSIC is processed in exactly the same way as other photo papers on a baryta base, e.g. AGFA RECORD-RAPID. 

Processing in trays 

Processing sequence Process solution     Process times 
20 C              25 C
Standard dilution 1 + 4 
Economy dilution 1 + 6
 90+- 10 s 
110+- 10 s
 70+- 10 s  
  90+- 10 s
Standard dilution 1 + 7 
Economy dilution 1 + 11
 90+- 10 s 
 120+- 10 s
 60+- 10 s  
 90+- 10 s 
NEUTOL NE, WA, BL  90+- 10 s  60+- 10 s
Stop bath  2 % acetic acid  30 s 
Soda intermediate bath *
60+- 20 s 
120+- 30 s 
Wash running water, over 12 C 
 running water, under 12 C
 20 - 30 min  
 30 - 40 min
                                                * See : Soda intermediate bath 

Choose exposure times which produce prints with optimum density in the given developing time. Slightly longer developing times (up to a maximum of 3 minutes) are not as a rule critical. The specified fixing times should if possible not be exceeded. 
The ADAPTOL, AGETOL LIOUID and METINOL developers and the ACIDOFIX and AGEFIX fixers can also be used, bearing in mind their special features. Other standard black-and-white paper developers and fixers are also suitable. (For further details refer to the Technical Data P-56-C.) 

Stop bath 

A 2 % acetic acid stop bath is recommended for MULTICONTRAST CLASSIC and is mixed as follows: 

  • 1 part acetic acid (98 %) + 50 parts water or
  • 1 part acetic acid (60 %) + 30 parts water or
  • 1 part acetic acid (30 %) + 15 parts water
Instead of acetic acid a 4 % sodium disulphite stop bath may also be used. 
The stop bath stops development. This prevents post-develop ment and the formation of yellow fog. It also neutralises the alkaline parts of the developer in the photographic layer, and so prolongs the fixer's life. 

It is imperative to include a stop bath when hardener-fixer is used. 

The fixers recommended are: 

  •  MULTICONTRAST FIXER (liquid fixer concentrate)
  • AGEFIX (fixer concentrate)
  • ACIDOFIX (acid fixer salt, in powder form).
The fixing times listed in the tables depend on the paper type used (emulsion, silver coating), temperature agitation and condition of the fixer solution in use. The shorter fixing times apply to fresh fixers, the longer times to used solutions without replenishment. Excessively long fixing produces bleached highlights and prolongs the final washing time of fibre-base papers. 
Properfixing ensures that the prints are durable. Consequently fixer solution in use should be regularly checked for com position, since rises in silver content, dilution, and variations in acidity (pH) impair the solution's action. 

Soda intermediate bath 

A soda bath (1 % sodium carbonate solution) should be included for fibre-base paper, between fixer and final wash (time: 3 minutes). This ensures that the fixer is washed off the paper surface faster and more thoroughly. This not only cuts down the final washing time by about 30 %, and in particular it increases the prints' durability. 

If a hardener-fixer is used, the soda intermediate bath is not recommended. 

Thorough final washing determines the life of prints. Depending on the temperature, agitation, wash water in- and output, the following washing times are necessary: 

  •  without soda intermediate bath 20 - 40 minutes,
  •  with soda intermediate bath 15 - 30 minutes.

MULTICONTRAST CLASSIC 1 and 111 are suitable for high gloss drying in drums and glazing presses due to their hardened coating. Drying in heated drying presses with the emulsion side facing the cloth is possible, to prevent a high-gloss surface. Auch MULTICONTRAST CLASSIC 118 kann auf diese Weise getrocknet warden. If you use this drying method 

  •  the drying press temperature should not exceed 70 C,
  •  the drying cloth must not be too tightly stretched,
  • the drying cloth must be permeable to water vapour, i.e. not clogged with gelatine residues. (If the cloth is very dirty, it should be cleaned with an enzyme, e.g. Biolase from Hoechst AG, Frankfurt, or Papain from Ernst Merck Co., Darmstadt).
Drying in the atmosphere lends MULTICONTRAST CLASSIC 1 and 111 a silky natural gloss. Depending on the age of the paper and variations in the processing and drying conditions, there may be slight variations in gloss. 

Print finishing 

Fibre-base papers can be written on, stamped and retouched without problems. MULTICONTRAST CLASSIC is highly suitable for all retouching methods (e.g. spotting, scraping and spraying) and mounting methods. 

Liquid glues
Bicoll G 6  Bretschneider, D-57684 Unnau
Efbecol-Pla 12   Branding, D-31275 Lehrte
Planatol AD 94/5 B  Planatol-Werke, D-83022 Rosenheim
 Cold adhesive foils 
Gudy products  Neschen, D-31675 Buckeburg
 Lomacoll  Lohmann GmbH, D-56567 Neuwied
 Permaprint  Morgan Adhesives, D-50735 Koln
 Artmount  Korn-Sallmetall, D-42766 Haan
 Certoplast  Hilsdorf, D-55411 Bingen 
Hot adhesive foils
Hot adhesive tissue 204  Hilsdorf, D-55411 Bingen 
Ademco D 5  Dry-Mounting GmbH, D-59929 Brilon
 Colormount  Seal, D-71638 Kornwestheim 


Artzone Index We express our gratitude to * Agfa Gevaert Hellas for giving to us the permission to present the above material. 

Concept and Design by Elias Eliadis
Copyright 1998 Black & White Art Zone. All Rights Reserved. 
First published date 15 July 1998 


Paperzone Index
* Agfa-Gevaert S.A.  
16 St. Gonata str. P.O.Box 42017 Peristeri GR- 121 10 ,   
Tel: +301 5763200 Fax: +301 5744900