Ilford N.50 plates

I still have a large stock of old Ilford N.50 Thin Film Half Tone plates. There is no indication of date but they must now be over 50 years old.

A long while back I had contacted the tech team at Ilford/Harmon to see if they had any other info. Sadly they hadn’t. They suggested rating at less than ISO10 and stand develop in ID11. Which is what I do anyway.

I have boxes of quarter, half and whole plate, 10×12 and 12×15 inches. I would really like to use these for a project I have in mind. The main issue I have is one of loading the plates. Which side is the emulsion side? Especially when loading in complete darkness. At least with sheet film you have corner notches to give you an idea.

The red discolouration at the edges happened over seconds of being exposed to daylight.

I had to sacrifice a section of the quarter plates to see how they were packed and the order in each section. No great loss as I have several boxes and I need to get it right before moving on to the 12×15 inch plates.

These are packed as four plates, as two pairs. Each pair separated at the shortest end by folded white card. But each pair in contact with each others surface. I would assume not the emulsion surface.

On inspection in daylight there is an opaque white side and the other side coated in some sort of layer? The white side scratches the other does not. The white side is on the outside of each pair, so I’m assuming that this is the emulsion said?? I’d also read somewhere about a possible halation layer. Is this whats meant as “backed” on the packaging?

So next time I try them its white side as emulsion side. The previous ones I’ve shot as ISO1 and have been greatly over exposed. So I’ll go back up to ISO10 and see what happens. Might try to compensate the high contrast these plates are supposed to have during development.

Oh and I also took the opportunity to coat some sheets of paper with Fotospeed LE30 emulsion that had been sitting on the darkroom shelf for a long while. Nothing like an impending exhibition to give you a kick up the backside and get you trying things you’ve had on your to do list for so long.