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LeicaVirgin1
12-21-2010, 19:50
Dear Sir-

Yet another series of questions for you?

I have a Digital Epson 4880Pro printer & it is gigantic... the results with B&W neg scans from my purist leica 35mm bodies & leitz/leica lenses are superb especially with Velvet Fine Art Photo Paper. However, about a year ago I picked up a Leitz/Leica V35-AF with a 40mm f2.8 Leitz/Leica Focotar Lens... I also have a 50mm Rodenstock f2.8 APO lens for it as well. I invested in this Enlarger set-up to remain "pure" to the Leica Image i.e., consistency from the taking optic to the "wet" printed image. Another Photographer, (forget their name), said it would be superior to my "DRY" Digital Printing. The reason, he explained, was the "layers" of the paper emulsion & would be more full, round i.e., "three dimensional", because of the light passing through the layers of the emulsion onto the photo paper, (ilford). Also,when I use Nikkor Glass with my F's bodies, I have a Nikkor 50mm f2.8 Enlarging Lens to keep that integrity, or that is my hope?

The problem is that I HAVE NOT used the Enlarger because of personal issues since I have had it... i.e., finding a proper room to do "wet" printing etc., the lot.

I have read that most pros, like Jay Maisel, think that digital printing is superior to the old method of "WET" printing with more consistent results & he even does them him-self; when he never did printing before digital came along... He did DYE TRANSFER PRINTS... He states that results from his Epson 9000 series blows even those away!

Also, Mr. Maisel has switched to 100% Digital for his Image Capture... He uses a Nikon D3x with a Nikkor 24-70mm f2.8 ED/IS/IF Lens & he says it blows all his film images out of the water, both B&W, & Colour... & to make it even more complicated he was stated as saying that he used to have 16 F type bodies and the reason is they kept breaking down so he relied on back-ups... Now, he just has 2 Nikon D3x bodies the quality, according to him, has become much, much better.

I have many Leica M's from the M3, M2, M4, & M6 all the way up to the MP
all with Leitz/Leica Glass; as well as many, many Nikon Reflex Film Bodies from the First Nikon F, to a F2, F3-HP, FM3a, N90s & Nikon F100 all complemented with Japanese Nikkor Glass old & new.

In addition, I have not done any "WET" printing for over 25 years. Last time was in High School here in the states.

So, the question is... will I notice a difference using the Leitz/Leica V35AF with the Leitz 40mm F2.8 Focotar, or The Rodenstock 50mm F2.8 APO as compared to my Epson 4880-Pro with basic PS like dodging & burning, etc.?

I have also heard the flip-side of the debate... that no digital print can compare to a properly printed FIBER BASED B&W print from an orginal B&W negative be it 35mm, 6x6, or even 4x5.

I ask you because you wrote the BOOK: "Quality Photography" that I mentioned in my last post/thread. Who would no better then Mr. Hicks... You wrote the book!:bang:

Cheers,

LV1

Roger Hicks
12-22-2010, 03:59
We wet-print only B+W because yes, colour is almost certainly better with ink-jet, except maybe Cibachromes.

In B+W, inkjet and wet prints almost always look different, in my experience, and I've seen far more truly impressive B+W prints than truly impressive inkjets; but if you're already doing well with inkjet, there's a long learning curve ahead with wet.

Anyone who needed 16 F-type bodies because 'they kept breaking down' was clearly doing something wrong, so I'd hesitate to place too much reliance on his arguments. And quite honestly I have my doubts about the 'layers' argument too.

Stick with the Focotar or it won't autofocus...

Cheers,

R.

mfogiel
12-22-2010, 04:43
I seriously doubt that any honest photographer can claim that a digital B&W "blows the film out of water". You do not even need to wet print in order to see it for yourself, you can borrow an M9, and shoot the same scene with the same lens both on digital and film, make some prints and compare. Digital will win in resolution, and some digital cameras will win at ISO 25000, simply because the film does not get there... but try a portrait, or an outside scene with a reasonable tonal range, and the difference will be obvious. Silver wet pinting, provided it is done well, and does not overstrech the enlargment factor, still has some edge over inkjet. BTW, if you want more wet like digital output, try Ilford Gold Fiber Silk, an excellent baryta based paper, that resembles closely wet fiber prints.
In colour, I guess digital has taken over by now, however some still like shooting film for getting a specific look right out of the box.

damien.murphy
12-22-2010, 04:46
was stated as saying that he used to have 16 F type bodies

The F & F's nearly ruined Nikon. Terrible reliability, and just not up to the daily grind from working pro's. Nice enthusiast cameras :p

Joking aside, I'm interested to hear the different sides and experiences in this debate. I do a bit of wet printing (although still very much learning the craft), but darkroom time is not that frequent, and am keeping an open mind with regard to some sort of hybrid workflow that would maintain the wet printing element, but also perhaps incorporate some inkjet printing in some capacity also.

Anywho, just here as a spectator :)

philosomatographer
12-22-2010, 04:55
I ask you because you wrote the BOOK: "Quality Photography" that I mentioned in my last post/thread. Who would no better then Mr. Hicks... You wrote the book!:bang:


I hope I am not imposing on Roger's forum to also voice my opinion and share my experience with this? I have switched to an all-analogue (wet printing) workflow for my work about 2.5 years ago, after an all-digital one.

First of all, in practice, there is no way you will print, from 35mm film, an image that will stand up to a good D3x digital print in terms of resolution and noise/grain. It's just not going to happen. It is possible in theory, but you have to have absolutely incredible technique, shoot very slow B&W film, and have impreccible processing skills in the darkroom.

It took me 2 years to match print "quality" (resolution, grain, pleasing tonal range) that I used to get from a high-end 8MP DSLR. A 24MP D3X? Forget it. Not going to happen soon.

With 35mm film, it's all about the "character". There is something lovely about the flaws of a (usually grainy), 35mm analogue image. Not the quality. The "depth", however, is there - in your negatives - waiting to be coaxed out onto paper through skilled printing. I made about 400 prints before being truly pleased with my abilities to realise my vision. Your results may be different, of course.

I also shoot 6x7cm (medium format, Mamiya) and 4x5in large format. Now you're talking about a different level of quality. But - like with 35mm - you have to work hard for that level of quality.

I feel that my 6x7cm negatives, when printed, stand up well to a 24MP image. I think there is a lot more captured information, but a smooth, sharpened digital image will appear just as good, if not better. Why? Because it's really difficult to make large prints in the darkroom consistently. With a digital print, the theory and the practice is usually separated by a button click, every time. In the darkroom, the most obscure little issues can stalk you: Every now and then, things go "wrong" (lens or enlarger out of alignment, bounced light creating uneven exposure, uneven development, expired chemicals, inconsistent temperatures, , requiring you to spend the 2 hours you planned on printing, to do diagnostics. And analogue diagnostics always cost money (i.e. usage of consumables, making test prints, etc.)

The reward for all of this, of course, are beutifully rich, characterful medium format prints, if you manage to tame the beast.

The Large format B&W print definitively has no current digital peer, unless you resort to stitching, etc.

All of this strays from your initial question (which is actually not film vs digital, but hybrid-workflow vs analogue-workflow): My experience is limited to an upper-end consumer scanner (Epson V750), but I would go for the analogue print every time. I find grain aliasing etc. much too big a problem with scanning B&W film, and I have never ever matched an analogue print with a digital print made from a scanned negative.

So in that rgeard, if you are ready to re-immerse yourself in the darkroom process, you will be delighted from your Leica negatives printed through that wondeful Focotar enlarging lens.

P.S. I myself much prefer the additional contrast punch the EL-Nikkor enlarging lenses give my prints (and when every last grain to the print edge is resolved, the resolution argument between the two is moot), whereas the Focotar is likely to have a more balanced, less contrasty nature.

tlitody
12-22-2010, 05:05
go with whatever makes you happy. If you need someone else to tell you which is better then I'd suggest that for all your kit you will never know unless you try yourself.
Both digital and wet print are capable of fantastic results but they are different. Which do you prefer? No one here can answer that for you. I suspect you bought the enlarger on whim and can't really be bothered to do it because you find digital simple. Thats fine. Stick with it if you are happy. But maybe you are insecure about your results or fearful some one is doing better. Is it really that important? Probably not. My best print ever in my mind was on RC paper and not fibre paper. But most I prefer on Fibre. There is no best way or medium which suits every image. Its like painting. Artists use all sorts of paint types and surfaces to print on. Why do you think one way is superior to another?
Oh and inkjets start to flake once they have been subjected to normal warming and cooling in household environments over prolonged periods. The ink "layers" just start to fall off. These longer term stability problems are just being found out. So there's another layer consideratoin for you. Silver gelatin emulsion on Baryta paper is a proven medium of well over 100 years with prints which have been looked after still looking very good. No one really knows if the same can be said of inkjets, they just haven't been around for long enough . But that may not be important to you. Now what proof are you looking for?

Tim Gray
12-22-2010, 05:23
The one thing to keep in mind about this is that everyone's tastes are different.

One can make excellent B&W prints in the darkroom. And with an inkjet. The ability to make good prints with either technique is limited by your skill, technique, knowledge, not by the process. It might be a hair easier to modify contrast on the computer, but it's really not that hard in the darkroom. Though it is probably is easier to print out 10 copies of your final heavily modified photo on the printer than it is to do so in the darkroom.

As far as B&W darkroom and inkjet printing, price wise it's pretty much a wash. Inkjet might actually be a bit more expensive because the big upfront cost, the printer, is a lot more than the 'big' upfront cost in the darkroom, the enlarger. New enlargers are certainly about the same price, but used ones are a dime a dozen. Paper costs end up being about the same.

Personally, while I think the same is true for color for the most part, let's give the edge to digital printing. While it is true that color darkroom printing requires some different chemicals and paper which are getting harder to source, I've seen some wonderful RA-4 prints that stand up next to inkjets. The big win for digital color printing in my mind is that modifying contrast and color balance, especially locally, is SO much easier than it is in the darkroom.

tlitody
12-22-2010, 05:56
I have read that most pros, like Jay Maisel, think that digital printing is superior to the old method of "WET" printing with more consistent results & he even does them him-self; when he never did printing before digital came along... He did DYE TRANSFER PRINTS... He states that results from his Epson 9000 series blows even those away!


Maybe he was a crap printer. A lot of photographers are and never print their own work.

bigeye
12-22-2010, 11:59
Good comments.

I just enjoy standing on my feet trying to hand craft something tangible after a day in the praying-mantis position at the office. I don't want to see another computer or the endless pixellated tedium of photoshop.

That I can't justify the incredible cost of a D3x, M9 or an H4D, but can match or better their quality with cast off pro film gear is simply a bonus.

- Charlie

aad
12-22-2010, 12:43
Best thread in a long time!

Roger Hicks
12-22-2010, 13:06
I hope I am not imposing on Roger's forum . . . .[/I]

Not in the least. Your reply is better than mine, and you are more than welcome in the forum.

Cheers,

R.

jpberger
12-22-2010, 13:08
"Nikon D3x with a Nikkor 24-70mm f2.8 ED/IS/IF Lens & he says it blows all his film images out of the water"

He said more or less exactly the same thing about his 2.7mpix D1 ten years ago.
http://www.bermangraphics.com/press/jaymaisel.htm

He's a fantastic shooter but I'd take his, and most other hyperbolic statements about gear with a grain of salt. I think all of us like to think that the equipment we use is the best of all possible worlds, unless we are looking for an excuse to buy something new.

Technical quality in an abstract sense, and the particular quality we are looking for in a print may or may not be the same thing.

atlcruiser
12-22-2010, 13:14
I can do much better with wet printing than with digital priniting. No idea why and I am not some sort of wiz in the darkroom. I guess i like the look of my wet prints better than my digital prints; and that is what it all boils down to.

I use a r2880 and have been very happy with it. I uess for me i would rather invest the time in the darkroom touching and making the process happen than with a computer directing the process...if that make sense.

N.delaRua
12-22-2010, 13:29
I have struggled to find a consumer way to obtain digital prints that come anywhere close to my wet prints...

I do not own a scanner or printer and I rely on my local photo store. I would say the prints are inconsistent and no where near the wet prints.

I don't know but after massaging a print through test prints, contrast, dodging, and burning in the dark room and printing on Illford paper my photo has much more of a connection with me than something I massage in photoshop and get out of a printer on crappy paper.

Maybe I have not found the right work flow for digital prints, but I just love the wet prints infinitely more. Then again I am not always focused on "sharpness of prints" and such, but I know the tones in a wet print especially with toning are hard to beat.

shadowfox
12-22-2010, 13:29
I recently came across a very cheap stock of IBM Coated Canvas. These are not paper, it's an actual cotton canvas coated to hold inkjet droplets.

I haven't printed anything digitally for a while, so just for kicks, I printed a couple:
http://farm6.static.flickr.com/5289/5247855291_e25295671b_z.jpg

http://farm6.static.flickr.com/5162/5247855265_5be4ee19de_z.jpg

NOTE: These are digital shots (not scan) of the 8x10 prints. I almost fell on the floor when I looked at the prints for the first time. The canvas texture is so lovely, it's shimmers in the room light. And the base color of the canvas lends itself so readily to the vintage look.

Then I took one of my darkroom prints just to compare:

http://farm5.static.flickr.com/4083/5158793044_391ca62f39_z.jpg

They look nothing alike, yet I like all of them.

The darkroom print does impart a special sentiment because the time and experience it took to produce, and the lesson I learned.

This sort of rewarding experiences is absent when I tweak images in Lightroom or photoshop and hit Print button (not that simple, but you get what I'm saying). But with careful selection of paper and image, you still can get a satisfying print.

So enjoy both, don't become one of those one-sided printers :)

My policy regarding digital vs wet printing is always: You can say whatever you want *after* you experienced both sides, not before. And your opinions would then have real weights.

Btw, I learn to discern B&W prints also from Roger's books.

Haigh
12-23-2010, 01:09
Agood digital b&w print might exist but not the ones I have seen. I love my digital colour prints from my digital cameras but i am about to buy a Gralab 451R timer and really do more of my wet printing. Just my views but you getting great info from others here.

Mcary
12-23-2010, 05:25
I have struggled to find a consumer way to obtain digital prints that come anywhere close to my wet prints...

I do not own a scanner or printer and I rely on my local photo store. I would say the prints are inconsistent and no where near the wet prints.

I don't know but after massaging a print through test prints, contrast, dodging, and burning in the dark room and printing on Illford paper my photo has much more of a connection with me than something I massage in photoshop and get out of a printer on crappy paper.

Maybe I have not found the right work flow for digital prints, but I just love the wet prints infinitely more. Then again I am not always focused on "sharpness of prints" and such, but I know the tones in a wet print especially with toning are hard to beat.

The main issue I see with having digital B&W print done through a commercial lap is that most of them are set-up to print in color. so when you send them an image you've converted and worked on in P&S to get just the way you like it they're really just making a color print of your B&W file.
My suggestion to people who want to send their B&W work out for digital printing is to find a lab that uses the dedicated Durst Theta silver halide printer + Ilford true B&W RC paper and give them a try.
Currently I'm using Adorama as they seem to have the best prices but only offer a limited number of paper sizes. Mpix appears to offer a wide selection of sizes but at a higher price.

MIkhail
12-23-2010, 06:40
The main issue I see with having digital B&W print done through a commercial lap is that most of them are set-up to print in color. so when you send them an image you've converted and worked on in P&S to get just the way you like it they're really just making a color print of your B&W file.
My suggestion to people who want to send their B&W work out for digital printing is to find a lab that uses the dedicated Durst Theta silver halide printer + Ilford true B&W RC paper and give them a try.
Currently I'm using Adorama as they seem to have the best prices but only offer a limited number of paper sizes. Mpix appears to offer a wide selection of sizes but at a higher price.

I second that.
For me color is- scan and digital printing thru Adorama. make sure you adjust your image's color profile correcvtly.
B/W - its a problem, sisnce I stopped wet printing - I find it too much hustles although results are great. So I use Adorama and other places that offer Ilford true B&W paper. Scan negatives, of course.

robert blu
12-23-2010, 12:29
Personally I prefer to speak about wet printing and digital printing, not one against the other. I have seen good wet prints and bad ones as well. I have seen good digital prints and bad ones as well. it depends a lot, beside the hardware you are using (enlarger and lenses, printer and monitor) on your skill. Or on your dedication. When I was young (it was many years ago) I spent many nights in the darkroom and to get a "good" result I had to throw away many prints. Now I print inkjet, but to get a pleasant result I have to throw away many prints, again...How do they say ? Everything is changing but nothing changes...
robert