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Lodima: Replacement Paper for Azo

June, 2012
LODIMA FINE ART™ Silver Chloride Paper


The second run of Lodima silver chloride photographic paper has arrived. Here are the prices:

  Price
2x20-50 test strips $20.00
4x5-100 $59.95
5x7-100 $99.95
8x10-25 $67.95
8x10-100 $199.95
8x10-250 $474.75
9x11-100 $259.95
10x12-100 $299.95
11x14-100 $389.95
8x20-100 $404.95
14x17-100  
16x20-50 $404.95
20x24-50 $599.95


 [ Place an order ]

Comments from Lodima Paper:

"Just a short note to tell you how beautiful your new paper is and I hope to write it up for your azo forum soon. Easily the best BW prints i've ever made. One image shot on Bergger film has astounding range and they all have super blacks. What a time saver to have one paper/developer for all my BW contact printing instead of the usual endless struggling."

"Just a word of thanks for all the time and effort it has taken you over the past few years to bring Lodima paper to market. Well worth the wait.  Is the paper Azo? No, I think it is much nicer. It has a lovely scale, tone and paper surface which I find much more appealing. As someone else has mentioned the weight is between the card stock of double weight and the single weight of the old Azo which at first frightened me but I found fine to work with. I also found that the paper is very close to being speed matched between the grades."

The results are in from the pre-production run.

Lodima Fine Art paper is a success. We think the paper yields prints that are the most beautiful since those made on paper in the late 1930s and early 1940s. Some of the comments that were posted in Internet forums from those who have tried this paper include these:

“As to the print color, it's not as you say "very good"; it's perfect. Absolutely gorgeous. Whatever else you do, don't lose that color. It's just the right whisper of warmth without any lessening of the India ink blacks.”

“This paper is remarkable.”

“Judging strictly on tonight's printing experience, I'd say Lodima is exactly what we all expected from M and P -- a beautiful silver chloride paper that rivals anything else on the market today for contact printing.”

“The paper has marvelous tones...maybe the deepest blacks I have EVER seen in a silver print.”

“Just beautiful, no doubt about it, very, very long scale from black to white with everything in between. It makes me want to reprint some old stuff on it.”

“This past weekend I was finally able to get to the darkroom with the Lodima and thought I'd weigh in. I love it. Frankly, I can't imagine contact printing until the next paper arrives, there is that significant a difference.”

“The paper is stunning and certainly capable of producing tones from the deepest black to translucent high values with the minimum of manipulation.”

“Damn - really spectacular - tones like old Weston & Strand prints - really delicious!”

“The paper is very good, the tones are good, deep blacks, nice mid tones and clean whites, and long scale, for me more and less 40-50% faster than Azo, works perfectly on Amidol, also with water bath. To summarize: I think this paper is the perfect evolution of Azo, for me it's better.”

“I have used a lot of different papers of the last 40 years and find this to be one of the best I have ever used (being their first paper, I can’t figure out why a lot of these other companies can’t get it right.). It took no brains to just open the box and start printing without having to do extensive testing. Tones can’t be beat.”

“Bottom line, I would walk past ANY box of Azo and pick up this paper. If Azo hadn't gone away we wouldn't have a better alternative.”

“I guess it is time to share my experience- this stuff is GREAT!”

Though we had some success with this first run, it presented some unexpected results such as the following:

The pre-production run of the paper turned out to be a grade 3, not a grade 2 as planned. We are now in the process of having a proper grade 2 paper made.

There were two problems with the paper from the pre-production run: It had excessive paper curl and the emulsion sometimes flaked off at the edges of the paper. The curl was due to the paper being made on a small machine (used for test runs only), and the flaking at the edges was due to the paper being cut right up to the edge. Normally, there is a border on the large roll before the paper is cut. Both of these problems, the curl and the flaking, will not occur on the big production run, as it will be run on a much larger coating machine.

Now for the order: To have this paper made we need to place a very large order. If everyone buys one box of grade 2 and one box of grade 3, we won’t make it. A couple of years ago, when we took orders, some placed orders for a fairly large quantity of paper. We need as many of you as possible to place an order for a large quantity of paper. We have been told that our order could be for a lesser amount of paper, but if we place a smaller order the already high price we are paying will go even higher and we will need to raise the prices we need to charge,

We will accept orders by check or by credit card, but if at all possible, we prefer orders by check, as the 3% credit card processing fee will add up to thousands of dollars that we will need to put toward the purchase of the paper. If, however, you are unable to pay by check, we understand.

Our order to the manufacturer cannot be placed until we have your order. We need to have the orders firmly in hand so we know exactly what paper sizes and quantities to order. We will be ordering paper beyond the orders placed up front so that we can have stock on hand, but the sizes and quantities we will stock will be in proportion to your pre-orders. We will not be depositing checks or charging credit cards until we need to pay for the paper.

Overseas orders: shipping costs have become prohibitive. We believe there will be a considerable number of orders from overseas and have arranged to have some of the paper shipped from the EU manufacturer to an EU address. To accommodate the overseas orders, we will fly over and ship the paper from there.

We must pay for the paper by the square meter. For example, we receive no discount for a 500-sheet box as opposed to five 100-sheet boxes as we received for Azo from Kodak. We have, however, decided to offer a modest discount for 250-sheet boxes of 8x10 paper. Because the Lodima paper is double weight, there are no 500-sheet boxes.

All of the paper is double weight, glossy surface.

Shipping costs will be determined by weight of the order. We cannot estimate shipping costs at this time. For those who send checks, we will ask you at the appropriate time to send another for shipping costs. For those paying with a credit card we will charge your card a second time (for only the shipping cost) when we ship the paper to you.

If the dollar has gained significantly against the euro by the time we need to pay for the paper, we will lower the price accordingly. At this time, it appears unlikely that the dollar will fall significantly against the euro by the time we need to pay for the paper, so we do not anticipate having to raise the price.

We will take orders for other sizes. As requests for uncommon sizes come in, we will list them in the shopping cart. If there are sufficient orders for, say, 10x12, or 16x20, we will not need to have a “special order” charge. If you want to place an order for a size not listed, please send us an email.

We have decided not to have 5x7 paper made, as two 5x8s can readily be cut from one 8x10 sheet. If, however, there are enough who order 8x10, but note in the comments box in the shopping cart that they prefer 5x7, we will consider making it in the 5x7 size. The price would be $62.95 for a 100-sheet box.

At first, we will not be offering 25-sheet “starter packs,” but will consider doing so after we have received the paper. We will box it ourselves. The price would be $44.95 for 25 sheets of 8x10.

We received several orders for Grade 2 only or Grade 3 only. We have never met, or even heard of, anyone who makes negatives so consistently that they only need one grade of paper. We recommend that at a minimum you purchase at least one box of each grade. We can imagine nothing more frustrating for a photographer than printing in the darkroom and finding that you do not have the appropriate grade of paper.

October 28th, 2008 Update.
A replacement for Azo. A new silver chloride paper.

LODIMA FINE ART™
SILVER CHLORIDE PHOTOGRAPHIC PAPER
MANUFACTURED and AVAILABLE FOR PURCHASE

It is with great pleasure that we announce to the global photography community that Lodima Fine Art™ silver chloride photographic paper has been manufactured and is now available for purchase.

Shortly after we learned that Kodak was discontinuing the manufacturing of Azo, we realized that our extensive experience with Azo allowed us to be in a unique position to search for a suitable replacement. Although our working schedule was as full as it always is, we carved out considerable blocks of time toward this uncertain objective.

In retrospect, we did not fully appreciate how challenging this process would become given the industry consolidation that was taking place, the unique requirements of a silver chloride emulsion versus that of a silver bromide emulsion, the demise of the U.S. dollar and the appreciation of the Euro, the requirement to formulate a new “modern” silver chloride emulsion from scratch, and the challenges of finding a suitable manufacturing facility that was willing to produce this product to our extremely demanding standards. In the process, more than two years of hard work, a great deal of money, and relentless optimism have brought us to this point where we can introduce Lodima Fine Art™ into the market for everyone to use and enjoy—the goal that many industry professionals had told us would be extremely difficult, if not impossible.

To evaluate Lodima Fine Art™ silver chloride paper we visually compared, very carefully, a print made on it from a negative that was originally printed on Azo in 1994. View Scans. This 8x10 negative of Michael’s was chosen because prints from it exhibit a particularly fine and complete range of tonalities from black to white with many levels of midtones. As we evaluated several of the early silver chloride paper samples made for us, we found a number of undesirable properties including excessive contrast, improper paper speed, and poor print color. After repeated transmissions of our feedback to the photographic paper emulsion chemists, the manufacturer was able to make all of the proper corrections. This happened in many stages over an extended period of time.

Here are the details about Lodima Fine Art™ so that everyone can understand the product specifications, the quality standards from a performance perspective, the initial test run, the timing for pre-sales, when the full production run will be manufactured and available, and the product costs.

We feel that this paper is as good as, if not superior to, the Kodak Azo paper that it has replaced. The print color of Lodima Fine Art™ is excellent; it is slightly warm. The printing speed is only slightly slower than Azo, and most important, the tonal characteristics are excellent. This is a long-scale paper with very rich blacks that have a D-Max even higher than the D-Max of Azo. On the Azo print, the D-Max of the dark part in the area above the figure is 2.08. On the Lodima Fine Art™ test print the D-Max is an astounding 2.26. The midtones of Lodima Fine Art™ have slightly greater contrast than those on Grade 2 Azo, lending a brilliance to prints made with this paper. The developing time for Lodima Fine Art™ is the same as it was for Azo—one minute in our Amidol formula. Last, the paper reacted to Rapid Selenium Toner exactly like Azo.

Accelerated aging tests by the manufacturer were made on Lodima Fine Art™ and the results were excellent. No deterioration of the paper could be found.

A manufacturing test run of Lodima Fine Art™ will be completed in the next few weeks that will produce 290 boxes of 100 sheets of 8x10 Grade 2 double weight glossy surface silver chloride photographic paper.

We expect the production run of the paper to be in early 2009 and we will offer a variety of sizes in both Grade 2 and Grade 3 to accommodate as many photographers as possible.

Sizes of paper: We will have the paper made in the following sizes: 8x10, 11x14, 8x20, 20x24—double weight. Special orders will be possible. At this time we are not sure, however, of the quantity that will be required for a special order, but it will tend to be a large amount. Small quantities of special sizes can also be made, but that would require substantial additional cost per box. If the special order is sufficiently large, there may be no higher per-square-inch cost than for our standard sizes.

Our website will serve as the reference point for further details and questions that customers may have concerning Lodima Fine Art™. 

All information currently on the Azo Forum will remain on the Lodima Fine Art™ Forum. There is such a wealth of information there that we feel strongly it should remain available to everyone. The only change in the Forum is the name, and a new category added specifically for discussion about Lodima Fine Art™ paper.

We are now accepting advance orders for this manufacturing test run of Lodima Fine Art™. Each photographer will be allowed to purchase only one box of this paper from this first run. The reason we are limiting this to one box per order is that we want as many photographers as possible to have access to Lodima Fine Art™ photographic paper so that they can become acquainted with its marvelous printing characteristics in anticipation of the larger full production run. At this time, the manufacturer cannot give an exact date when the full production run will happen, but it is expected to be early in 2009.

We need your passion and support for Lodima Fine Art™ to make this marvelous photographic paper a success. Your support in responding to the test run and printing with Lodima Fine Art™ is the first step in the process. Once you have had the opportunity to use this paper we need your financial commitment to Lodima Fine Art™ so that we can complete the production run and insure that this product continues to find a niche in the current global market. Last, we ask you to spread the word to other photographers both in the U.S. and abroad that could use Lodima Fine Art™. The success of this product is dependent upon all of us who are passionate about having access to a high quality silver chloride printing paper.

We had announced earlier that we would keep the price of Lodima Fine Art™ the same as it was for Kodak Azo. Unfortunately, this has proved to be impossible for a number of reasons. One is the increased cost of materials as commodity prices have risen dramatically in the past few years. Another, and perhaps the most obvious, is that the Euro has risen considerably against the U.S. dollar, making the paper, which is being manufactured in Europe, much more expensive than it would have been were we able to get it several years ago. From here on, if the Euro continues to rise against the U.S. dollar, we will have to adjust our prices upward. Conversely, if the U.S. dollar rises against the Euro, we will adjust our prices downward.

The current price per 100-sheet box is $139.95 plus $12 shipping via UPS or Priority Mail in the United States. Overseas shipping will be higher. Payment is preferred by check (payable to Smith/Chamlee Photography), although we will accept all major credit cards (Visa, MasterCard, Amex, Discover). Orders and payment can be made by phone, by mail, by email, or through e-commerce on our web site store We expect delivery of this paper in October 2008. Credit cards will not be charged and checks will not be deposited until we need to pay for the paper. Place your order now.

We look forward to your participation and thank you for your great patience in this extensive and difficult process.

Michael A. Smith and Paula Chamlee
(Afterword below)

Naming the Paper

We struggled for a long time to find a name for this new silver chloride paper. Michael was pretty much set on naming it “AMAZO,” a name Paula had come up with in jest. At the end, we knew that if we were successful the paper would be amazing, and the name “AMAZO” gave a nod in homage to AZO.

A close friend, however, who is more business oriented than we are (after all, we are photographers before anything else), suggested that since our publishing company, Lodima Press, is known for having the finest reproduction quality of photographs, and since we believed that our new paper would be capable of yielding the finest quality prints, we should call the paper Lodima. (For those who haven’t realized it, “Lodima” is “Amidol” spelled backwards.)

About Lodima Press

Lodima Press is dedicated to publishing photography books of exceptional quality. We make no compromises. In the same way that we care about making the best possible prints, we care about having the best possible reproductions in our books. Michael started Lodima Press in 1981 to print his first book, Landscapes 1975–1979, which was awarded Le Grand Prix du Livre (Best Photography Book of the Year) at the Arles Festival. At the time, the Swiss publication “Print Letter” commented, “For the first time in the eleven years of the festival a deserving book has won the prize.” Eleven years later, on the occasion of Michael’s twenty-five year retrospective exhibition at the International Museum of Photography at George Eastman House, we printed his book A Visual Journey.

These books were printed in the then state-of-the-art 300-line screen duotone. There followed three books by Paula, including Natural Connections, which was printed in tritone using Gardner Lithograph’s Laser Silver-Lit Tones™—a proprietary method using silver ink as the third color. To this date, there have been no other books printed using this extraordinary technology.

In 2000 we discovered Salto, a small company in Belgium known to provide the finest printing anywhere. Salto prints books in 600-line screen quadtone, setting a new standard in the reproduction of photographs. No other printer in the world is capable of printing such a fine screen. And in 2000, because of the extraordinary reproduction quality that Salto provides, we began publishing books by other photographers, as well as subsequent books of our own.

The most elegant book we have published to date is Edward Weston: Life Work, and in addition to other photographers’ books we are now publishing two book series: The Portfolios of Brett Weston and the Lodima Press Portfolio Books, an ongoing series that includes books by Nicholas Nixon, George Tice, Keith Carter, Linda Connor, Marilyn Bridges, Larry Fink, Paul Caponigro, and Robert Adams, among others. There are certainly more beautiful books, as objects, than our Lodima Press books; some publishers produce very elegant and expensive bindings. Instead, we spend our limited resources on getting the highest quality reproductions.

Full information about all of our books can be found at http://www.lodimapress.com. Take a look.

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