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Help - How to Print 6X6 Color Negatives?
Old 10-26-2018   #1
Aaron Hellman
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Help - How to Print 6X6 Color Negatives?

I am fairly experienced processing and printing 35mm and 120 BW films in my home darkroom, but I have very little experience with color films.

I am now thinking about trying a few rolls of medium format color film (Portra 400?). I gather I would send the film to a lab to be developed and scanned. What I don't understand, though, is how I could make a print from the color negative. Do I send the negative to a printer/lab to be printed? Do I use the scan of the negative? I am not interested in ink jet printing at home. I would like a high quality print.

I appreciate everyone's help.
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Old 10-26-2018   #2
chipgreenberg
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I've had good luck with these guys: https://www.aspencreekphoto.com
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Old 10-26-2018   #3
ptpdprinter
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If you are shooting color negative film, you should send the negative to someone to have chromogenic prints made. You could send the scans and have a chromogenic prints made, but because of the intervening scan, the quality will be poorer. You could also send the scans to someone to have an inkjet prints made, but the aesthetic will be different. If you are going to scan and inkjet print, you might consider just shooting digitally to begin with.
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Old 10-26-2018   #4
flagellum
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I personally prefer scanning and inkjet printing. A print off a good inkjet is really nice, and it's cheaper than c-types/you don't have to send your negatives out in the mail, which to me conjures up nightmares of them getting lost. Try a lab inkjet print from a digital scan before going straight to c-types.

I think you can also get digital c-types made? It isn't an optical print (still printing from a scan) but that'll have a different look to it if you're looking for something processed in chemicals.
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Old 10-26-2018   #5
FujiLove
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Give RA4 colour printing a go. It's not difficult to do at home. The chemicals last for ages and the paper is a lot cheaper than B&W. I prefer Fuji's Crystal Archive. I use a heated Nova slot processing tank which makes it simple and gives repeatable results - they also take up very little bench space. The chemicals last for weeks in Nova tanks, so they are all ready to go whenever you want to print.
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Old 10-26-2018   #6
rulnacco
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You *could* get a color head for your enlarger (if you don't already have one for contrast control in B&W), and one of the RA-4 kits that's still available, and some wonderful Fuji Crystal Archive or Kodak Supra Endura paper (they still make that, right?) and then go to photo.net and search up all the threads where Ron Mowrey (who used to be a chemical engineer for Kodak) and Dan Schwartz discussed color printing at home.

I did all that way back, and successfully and happily printed color medium format in my home darkroom--and the results were very nice. And it actually wasn't that hard at all, once I got the hang of it.

However, that is rather time and labor intensive, and does involve a fairly steep learning curve--and if you don't do a lot of printing, keeping the chemicals fresh is a bit of a bother. So I'm thinking that's *not* the way you want to go.

So, yeah, I'd either send the film (before or after developing) to a lab with a quality reputation for printing and let them do it. Very few of them will actually do it darkroom style nowadays, so they're going to scan your negative and then print it by whichever method you direct. That being the case, and given the variables involved in interpreting color negative film, I'd think that probably asking for high-resolution scans to TIFF (possibly even drum scanning, depending on how large you want to print and how much the image means to you) from your film, which you could then edit and color correct to your satisfaction and send back for printing, would be the way to go.

Many places will do all that for you--but they'll charge you at professional rates for doing so. So personally, I'd think that getting high-quality high-resolution scans done and returned to you for *you* to do the spotting, sharpening, color-correction, etc., would be the way to go. Once you do that, and especially if you've calibrated your monitor to work with the lab's output devices, you should be able to get prints that look exactly the way *you* want them to.

You could also buy an Epson flatbed scanner and one of the betterscanning.com film holders and do your own scanning and editing, and then send *that* to the lab for printing. You won't get super high resolution scans that way, but it'll certainly be good for up to 12x12 inches and possibly a bit more. I used to do that (before I had to sell my scanner to move back to the US) and got highly satisfactory results from it.

Portra is indeed lovely, lovely film. Once you find a method of getting it digitized and printed that suits you, you'll be very happy indeed I'd think with what you get out of it and good quality medium format kit. Best of luck!
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Thank you!
Old 10-26-2018   #7
Aaron Hellman
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Thank you!

All excellent and helpful suggestions here. Very much appreciated.
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Old 10-26-2018   #8
FujiLove
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Quote:
Originally Posted by rulnacco View Post
Portra is indeed lovely, lovely film. Once you find a method of getting it digitized and printed that suits you, you'll be very happy indeed I'd think with what you get out of it and good quality medium format kit. Best of luck!



Agreed - I love Portra 400 wet printed on Crystal Archive, or scanned and run though my Epson inkjet. A superb, versatile colour film that can tackle most (any?) subject.
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