View Full Version : What a dilema. Please advise
So, as you allknow, I have my Leica and TX-1 both which are 35mm format. For printing I have two options. Buy a really nice 6x7 Durst enlarger for $1000.00 and print my own B&W and possibly color one day or get a really nice scanner and inkjet printer. Without caring which one would cost more, what would you do? What would give better results? I need to know soon.
I enjoy a wet darkroom for B&W, but color is a royal pain. Maybe because I just have minimal experience doing color in the darkroom...
But consider the nasty chemicals you have to handle, breath, and safely dispose of. Use of (hot) water through the mixing faucets for temperature control baths, washing, preparing chemicals from concentrates or powder. Much more concern these days about the environment and water usage...
The wet darkroom also takes up a good deal of space in the house. While I have enjoyed it, technology has come to offer attractive alternatives. Even having the darkroom there and ready to go, I've chosen to get a Minolta film scanner and upgraded my Photoshop. I figure I can prevail upon my wife to use her Epson 2200, but so far I've taken edited digital files to the local photo lab for printing.
Control of contrast, burning/dodging, color balance, "exposure" are all so much easier digitally, where additonally you can save and repeat different versions.
Not to mention sharing the results easily online! Just my opinion: Go digital darkroom!
doug has the experience, but if I were in your shoes, I'd go for the darkroom. You can always scan negs and print from your computer, but the wet darkroom gives you a lot more control over everything: you can do burning and dodging directly on the negative.
OK, the score is tied. We need help!
If you are going to do a lot of enlargements beyound 8x10, digital is going to be more difficult, or at least more expensive. More difficult because you can't do the printing at home, and must travel somewhere during somebody else's hours. You can't run into their shop at midnight when the bug bites you to do a print. What you can do with digital is scan your negative, PS it to your satisfaction, and have it ready to take to a pro shop for printing larger than 8x10. You then don't have to worry about keeping the chemicals fresh or use them just because they will go stale if you don't. Gee, maybe not so expensive after all
If you have used a darkroom, you already know how much fun and how much frustration there is to that. Especially b/w is fun to do. Color is too, but takes more experience (read that expense) I think.
I would guess you need to consider what your shooting and printing habits are, or are likely to be with either option. Then do a cost analysis. Don't be too sure you will do a lot of large prints just because you can. Even so, letting someone else do it does have advantages in time, expense and effort. It gets back to volume.
There has been some discussion on this in the Popular Photography and Imaging (PP&I) forums in the last six months or so. You might wish to do a search over there, or ask the question again. I think there are some there who have actual experience with doing the math to make the dicision. If it looks even, then you only have to consider which is esthetically more attractive to you.
BTW, what Durst are you looking at for $1000? Are you looking at 4x5 or 8x10 negatives? Or, am I just that far out of the loop on what a 35mm Durst should cost
Edit: The more I think about this, the more I realize that a lot will have to do with your printing desires. Darkroom and digital both have advantages and disadvantages. Even doing 8x10 or less at home you have to figure the cost of inks, getting up to speed on PS, and the time on the computer versus equipment and chemicals for the darkroom, as well as time in the darkroom. I am inclined to think digital, even for the larger prints might be cheaper, if not as satisfying.
Well, get thee to PP&I and ask those who have wrestled with this professionally, that is, those who are in the business, and had to decide based on profit.
(The more I look at this post, the more I think I have just muddied the water)
"BTW, what Durst are you looking at for $1000? Are you looking at 4x5 or 8x10 negatives? Or, am I just that far out of the loop on what a 35mm Durst should cost."
The same question occurs to me ... there are great Durst enlargers on eBay at far lower prices ... some at give away prices as many people are dumping their enlargers.
thanks for the feed back. I have a minolta dimage II scanner and a epson 1280 which I still have not mastered. The printer works nice but needs regular head cleaning in order to get a nice print. I have not figured out what outputs resolutioin translates to what size print when I scan a negative so I am at a loss there for now. So with that in mind, I decided to buy the enlarger which is a Durst M70 with the pro color kit. Its pricy but very good quality. It will handle up to a 6 x 7 as far as film goes.
Maybe someone could one day post a message on the basics of scanning and translating all of those dpi to something I understand.
Well, Jorge, I've heard it suggested that for a fine photo print, you should have about 300 ppi. For an 8x10 print, then, the file should be 2400 x 3000 pixels or more. I get 2048x2512 scans from 6x7 from the local processor, and 2048x2798 from 645 negs.
When I get my Minolta scanner hooked up, one of the first questions I'll try to answer with testing is whether I get better results scanning to the pixel count I want or scanning to a larger size, editing, then saving to that same smaller resolution.
I suspect there's as much learning invloved in the digital workflow as the wet.
That sounds like a nice Durst, Jorge; as best I could remember, the older medium format Dursts were very good but limited to 6x6. One reason I chose Beseler instead. 1966!
This dpi business. For printing, 300 dpi is a high quality target when you are talking about the pixels in the digital image. You can probably get away with 180 dpi without noticing much difference if any. So if you have an image that is 2400 x 3000 pixels you should be able to print it really well up to 8 x 10" and acceptably up to 12 x 16" or so. Even bigger if you stand well back!
Remember that your ink-jet printer will interpolate and use its maximum resolution which likely will be 600 dpi or more if set to quality photo printing. That's why you won't see any jaggies when the source image is only 180 dpi.
Hope this helps, John
It's such a personal decision, I'd hesitate to sway you in either direction. I used to do darkroom. Now I scan. I don't miss the darkroom but I think darkroom prints still edge out all but the best digital prints. But the gap has closed and printers like the Epson 2200, and a few others, can do fine B&W printing.
For a good understanding of scanning, one of the best places on the Net is:
Soneday I will have the time for darkrooms again. Until then ir is in boxes, and use BJ's and I scan pictures in.
If you go the Darkroom route, enlarger lenses are cheap on EBay. What was a $500 El-Nikkor is now closer to $100 or less.
You'll love the Durst. I hope you're getting condensers with it, not just the diffusion version. Durst negative carriers are magnificent, though finicky. Durst condensers are far better than Omega / Beseler and you can see that in prints. I've used them all...Durst is the most cranky but also the best optically. I still have a 609 gathering dust somewhere....6X9, Fuji optics, unbeatable (especially when set up with a point light source). Now I use an Epson 3200 scanner with those negs and I'm happy as a clam.
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