Before I got my Enlarger I wondered if I could print a color negative in black and white. After a little bit of research (google) I found out it was possible. I was very pleased as a lot of my negatives were color and I only had a black and white enlarger. After printing my first print, something just wasn’t right. All my prints seemed super flat so I researched more and found out that a color negative’s orange coloured mask affects the contrast of a print. You still get an image but the contrast is a lot greyer than usual. Even if you increase the contrast using filters, the results are not as strong as when you use black and white negative. The contrast is really affected by the contrast characteristics of your film and the actual contrast of the image it self.
On a more positive note, I have made many decent black and white prints from color negatives. I would say that you have to start at grade 2 and then print at a higher grade if further contrast is needed. Please remember that it is almost impossible to get ultra rich blacks from a color negative when printing it in black and white.
Cross-processed negatives on the other hand print a lot better due to having less of an orange mask and naturally being higher in contrast due to the slide films latitude. Below are some of my prints from cross-processed color negatives and regularly developed color negatives. I think you’ll be surprised at the results. Please bear in mind that each brand of negative film has a different contrast. Also remember that the clearer the whites are in your negative, the richer your blacks will be.
Fuji velvia 100 cross processed (grade 3)