A former assistant to Ansel Adams has trialled two new Ilford-branded b&w photo papers, the launches of which signal that traditional darkroom printing is still alive and kicking.

Officially unveiled today, Ilford Multigrade FB Classic succeeds the popular Multigrade IV FB paper that first appeared almost 20 years ago.

The Multigrade FB Classic is billed as an improved version of its predecessor – promising sharper images, ‘better, richer blacks’ and a halving in exposure times.

The Classic was also developed to better respond to traditional toning techniques, according to Harman technology which makes the fibre-based products in Cheshire, UK.

Multigrade FB Cooltone, meanwhile, is designed to deliver a cool image colour with ‘crisp whites and well-separated mid tones’.

Due on sale from mid-December, they will ‘widen the printer’s palette’, said Harman’s director of sales and marketing Steven Brierley.

There are no plans to change the formulation of Ilford Multigrade FB Warmtone paper, according to Brierley who said sales of fibre-based papers have remained ‘stable’ over the past five years.

Alan Ross, a former assistant to famed photographer Ansel Adams has trialled the new Classic and Cooltone papers, telling Brierley afterwards: ‘Both papers have a similar contrast range to the Multigrade IV FB and exhibit a greater clarity or crispness of image.’

The new range – which followed two years of ‘extensive’ research and development – were developed to deliver a complete range of print tones in ‘one product family’, added Harman.

Ilford Multigrade FB Classic will be available in matt and glossy versions, while Cooltone will be out in a gloss finish only.

The papers will cost the same as the current Ilford Multigrade IV FB, said Brierley.

Customers who want to secure final stocks of Multigrade IV FB are urged to contact their dealer and place an order before the end of December.

‘Some residual stocks of this paper are being held, but provided there is sufficient demand a final coating will be made,’ added Harman in a statement.

For details visit www.ilfordphoto.com