It Doesn't Suck
This weekend I got back into inkjet printing black and whites after giving up in frustration a couple years ago due to problems with my two Epson printers either clogging or not recognizing MIS ink cartridges. I went strictly wet process since then but I'm shooting a lot more now, and a lot more 35 (used to do digital color and MF black and white) and needed to get back into scanning to at least see what I've shot in positive form.
This time around I used an HP Photosmart 8450, which HP smartly makes a "gray" cartridge for specifically for black and white photo printing. (Hello Epson! Time to wake up on this one... I thought this was your niche.) They have a good reputation for making worthy black and white prints. On the software side, I always used Vuescan for the scanner and for developing and printing I thought I might try Adobe Lightroom, since it reads Vuescan DNG files (which aren't really raw files but more like tiff files, I've learned). My scanner is my tried and true Epson Perfection 3170.
The first issue is - holy shimoley, Lightroom is a RAM hog. I'll need to max out my laptop's RAM capabilities to get this to run without hanging. Nice refreshing interface, though. Very non-Adobe. No 50 thousand floating palettes, which I always hated. I wish another SW maker made this app. It has a lot of very useful feature but some obvious intentional omissions, such as the a "heal" tool or clone tool. Adobe, you see, doesn't want you to say their $200 Lightroom product is too good and not buy PS. And they were successful. You'll still need PS to do some routine stuff, but what LR does it does well.
Even though Vuescan rendered the DNG file as a positive, LR read is as a negative. So, figured someone who can write LR preset code would have this solved by now, and I was right. Quick Google search, back in business.
The 3200 resolution DNG that came out of my scanner was a wopping 80 meg. Yikes! Alway a bear working with these large files but I perservered and shot them off to my printer.
This is the first time I used Ilford Galerie Smooth Pearl Paper. Another reason I gave up on the Epsons was I couldn't find a good semi-matte inkjet paper at the time that worked well with the Epsons, so I was forced to use yecchy glossy paper. This paper is worth its weight in gold.
Long post - I know, but bottom line is I printed out a verrrrry nice 8X8 print using this SW, HW, paper combo from a 6x6 negative. I was able to do things with the histogram in LR that I could never have done with wet process. That said, I shot Tri-X but my final print looked more like HP 5. I think you lose whatever the film you used "signature" in the digitizing process, which is definitely a shame. My flatbed scanner performed like a champ. I know everyone says "get a dedicated film scanner" and I might, but the ones that do MF are still up there, so for now it's a flatbed. And you know what? I've been pleasantly surprised with mine. YMMV.
Wet process prints are still king when you nail them. No doubt about that. But, like I said in the title, this budget print solution - Ilford Pearl inkjet paper, HP 8450 printer with gray cart, Epson flatbed scanner, and LR and Vuescan SW certainly didn't suck.
Nope, not at all.
Last edited by NickTrop : 05-20-2007 at 17:07.