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northpole
09-18-2010, 11:49
On an audio forum, someone posted the following question which struck a chord and I'd be really interested to hear you opinions - does scanning negatives before printing defeat the objective? Here's the original post:

Last time I used my Nikon FM2 and got the films processed I noticed that after developing the negatives they were then scanned using a computer and then printed. After comparing the photos with older pictures I had taken from a few years ago I noticed that in doing this the quality was much worse so does anyone know who still processes the prints the old fashion (proper!) way?

Please don't answer with “why don’t you just get a digital camera”!

Peter

dfoo
09-18-2010, 12:21
Lots of people, including myself, on this forum do traditional darkroom printing. I find I get a better print in the darkroom than I can when printing a scan of the same neg on my inkjet printer. Some others claim otherwise.

Roger Hicks
09-18-2010, 12:47
Dear Peter,

DIY. Honest! For mono, anyway.

On the other hand, my wife Frances literally wrote the manual for the Colorstar wet analyzer and no longer wet prints colour. She loves mono too much to waste time on colour.

Cheers,

R.

northpole
09-18-2010, 12:52
I suppose the thing is - are there any labs who provide the option of scanned or traditional prints where you could have a negative or negatives printed both ways and objectively judge for yourself the pros and cons of each?

Failing which, are there any traditional non scanning labs available to joe public?

Peter

Roger Hicks
09-18-2010, 12:55
Probably only if Joe Public pays a lot, but basically, the answer is 'dunno'. Sorry.

Cheers,

R.

FrankS
09-20-2010, 13:46
I think there is a trade-off between convenience (scanning and injet printing) and quality (wet printing). For most applications, inkjet printing is good enough, especially when considering the convenience.

I think that scanning and printing can match wet printing in quality, but only with really high end expensive scanner and digital printer.

The good news is that wet printing is not so expensive and difficult to start to do yourself.

atlcruiser
10-01-2010, 07:14
I am sort of torn!

I have a full darkroom in boxes as well as a girlfriend that wants me to set it up in our backroom...she is even OK with running a water line back there!

The photography that I do for money...ie stuff for my non photography business... is about 70% digital and 30% scanned film. I have a decent scanner, Epson r2880 printer, nice computer, lightroom etc... I print 1-3 13 x 19s per week; they look great!

The stuff I do jsut cuz I want to is almost 100% film. I scan and it ends up in lightroom. A very small amount of that is printed for personal use.

I find the workflow is fine but very slow with the scanning but I work that against the ease of lightroom and having foldersto locate stuff.

I am not sure how I will move forward. I can see a dbl hybrid workflow :)

Almost everything will be scanned and into lightroom with some printed direct from the 'puter. Other stuff that i really like will then go to wet priniting.

My fear, and a reasonable one for me, is that once I get back into the darkroom i wont leave!

I have fallen back in love with E6 and C41. I can print C41 but the extra involvement in equipement/time/money will keep me away from that. I see the darkroom as B+W only ..... unless i change my mind :)

Roger Hicks
10-01-2010, 09:04
I am sort of torn!

I have a full darkroom in boxes as well as a girlfriend that wants me to set it up in our backroom...she is even OK with running a water line back there!

The photography that I do for money...ie stuff for my non photography business... is about 70% digital and 30% scanned film. I have a decent scanner, Epson r2880 printer, nice computer, lightroom etc... I print 1-3 13 x 19s per week; they look great!

The stuff I do jsut cuz I want to is almost 100% film. I scan and it ends up in lightroom. A very small amount of that is printed for personal use.

I find the workflow is fine but very slow with the scanning but I work that against the ease of lightroom and having foldersto locate stuff.

I am not sure how I will move forward. I can see a dbl hybrid workflow :)

Almost everything will be scanned and into lightroom with some printed direct from the 'puter. Other stuff that i really like will then go to wet priniting.

My fear, and a reasonable one for me, is that once I get back into the darkroom i wont leave!

I have fallen back in love with E6 and C41. I can print C41 but the extra involvement in equipement/time/money will keep me away from that. I see the darkroom as B+W only ..... unless i change my mind :)

Dear David,

Marry her quick!

A virtuous woman is above rubies (Proverbs 31:10)

A virtuous woman who loves the darkroom is even better.

(I've been married to Frances for 28 years and the darkroom is now 'hers', not 'mine').

Cheers,

R.

ederek
10-01-2010, 11:04
northpole - are you shooting color or B&W?

It is unlikely the lab is performing a high-quality scan, but has rather optimized it for speed/cost and quality, with a quality sacrifice that is visible to you.

It is likely that there is more capability to the scan / digital print workflow than you are seeing from your processor.

You might want to have a single frame of the developed film scanned at high resolution by a friend or professional service. Then, take this high-quality file and send it electronically to the same processor for JUST printing, and see if the results don't come closer to what you were accustomed to seeing originally (that would answer the question of the "potential" of the process vs. what you are being delivered w/ the production compromises).

I'm not going to argue at all with the merits of wet printing. Hope to do some myself some time (a friend is setting up a darkroom right now, and I hope to pop over to do some printing!). I can say that I've taken a B&W 35mm negative, scanned it at high resolution and then printed at 17x22 size on an R3800 and gotten superb results.

You'll still have those negs in the archive for wet printing if/when the time comes...

atlcruiser
10-01-2010, 14:26
Dear David,

Marry her quick!

A virtuous woman is above rubies (Proverbs 31:10)

A virtuous woman who loves the darkroom is even better.

(I've been married to Frances for 28 years and the darkroom is now 'hers', not 'mine').

Cheers,

R.


Dont get me wrong..it is not that she loves the darkroom its that she loves me anywhere else but next to her on the couch and the darkroom will give me cave to hide in :)


marriage is in the cards.....unless i get caught buying another camera

StuartR
10-01-2010, 14:49
Well, I may be qualified to answer this question. I run a custom printing and processing lab. I print both black and white darkroom prints as well as scan negatives and print inkjets. On the darkroom side, I use excellent Schneider APO enlarging lenses and an Ilford Multigrade 500 system. For digital, I use the Hasselblad X5 and an Epson 9900. These are all more or less state of the art options for their respective formats.

As with so many things in life, the answer is "it depends". If you have a good negative and you want to make a reasonable sized print, the traditional darkroom will usually give you a superior image with tones and depth that are very difficult to reproduce digitally.

Using a color managed workflow (even for B&W), and high end papers like Harman Gloss Fb AL (now Harman by Hahnemuhle Gloss Baryta), digital can now get vanishingly close to a good darkroom print...better in some ways, worse in others. They are generally better in sharpness and often even dmax now, but worse in terms of tonal smoothness and depth of image. Digital still can feel like it is on top of the paper, while film feels like it is IN the paper. It feels like that because that is the case!!

Digital will surge ahead if you are printing very large. It is very difficult to make very large darkroom prints (larger than 30x40 inches say) with the same quality that it is possible to do with digital. Getting an enlarger aligned that perfectly, keeping the negative, paper and everything else flat and still for the duration of the exposure, handling the sheets of that size...it is all difficult to do without highly specialized equipment and at least one helper. Even then, you are pushing the limits and will often find that you cannot get the same edge to edge sharpness possible in a digital print of the same size. Of course, digital can present its own problems, but for the ease and precision that a printer like the 9900 and its bigger cousins can churn out huge prints, there are very very few people left doing mural sized darkroom prints. Good scanners can produce a grain sharp image of the film corner to corner which can then be translated into a huge inkjet or digital c-print.

Generally for black and white I would recommend printing wet up to 20x24 inches (50x60cm), and then go for a scan for anything larger. Exceptions would also be if you have a poor or damaged negative -- again the flexibility of digital wins the day in this case -- the power of photoshop can retouch or edit with a precision and authority that it is nearly impossible to replicate in the darkroom.

For color, I would recommend sticking to what each was originally designed for. Slides are amazing, but since it is hard to find anyone doing ilfochrome or dye transfer anymore, it is best to either project them or scan. As wonderful as the colors are in a slide, digital would be my choice for color in most situations since you are going to have to digitize the file anyway these days if you want to print and digital has much higher dynamic range. Scanning a slide works, but it is a heartbreaking experience as you try to cram an incredible range of natural colors with extremely nuanced micro-contrast into a comparatively miniscule "color-space". Slides deserve to be enjoyed on the light box or the wall.
Color negative is great for making color prints with an enlarger, but would not be my choice for digital prints. It has much higher grain and lower color fidelity than digital, and you are introducing a lot of the downsides of film (dust, scratches, expense, extra time) without many of the advantages. So. For color I would say stick mostly with digital unless you intend to be in a color darkroom or leading slide shows.

All this is just general advice. Personally I shoot both film and digital, about 50/50 for each. I shoot everything...black and white, slides and some color neg. Everything from 35mm to 4x5. But for practicality's sake, I would say stick to digital for most color and black and white film for black and white (printing analog if you can, but not discounting digital printing if you know what you are doing and make good equipment choices).

StuartR
10-17-2010, 09:10
Thanks very much clayne! I was a lucky guy to be there at that moment...one of those times you just see something and actually manage to capture it in a way that conveys the feeling of being there.

Ronald M
11-10-2010, 13:44
Epson sent me 4 20 x24 prints from their latest wizbang print. I was unimpressed.

But scanned film images printed on a lazer printer look very nice.

You need to know how to use photoshop to enhance contrast, saturation, make local adjustments and then you have a real winner.