Biggest, best Mono prints?- Scan ULF then lightjet??

Discussion in 'B&W: Film, Paper, Chemistry' started by Tom Stanworth, Jun 9, 2004.

  1. Tom Stanworth

    Tom Stanworth Member

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    Hi,

    I am considering the best way to go about very large (30 x40 inch plus) monochrome prints of the highest quality. While I will stay with traditional for smaller more intimate original prints (for homes rather than corporate premesis), I am wondering how to go about the big stuff. Wet methods cause me too much headache (I can do no larger than 20x24 without severe problems) and am interested in the possibility of scanning ULF and printing via lightjet once the dodging/burning etc have been sorted by computer. I am aware that B&W is not easy to scan and does not hold quality at great enlargement in the way that colour does (that tonality thing again) - so what if the neg was ULF? Would an expensive drum scan be the only option? From what I have seen, most labs cannot scan over 10x8 and in any case scan 10x8 negs/trannies to a lower res than 5x4 so you end up with identical file sizes - defeating the object. My objective is all the detail in a giant print that I can possibly attain. I saw Sandy King mention somewhere about huge prints from scanned ULF on an A3 flatbed? What quality can be obtained here? 7x17 looks handy as he states that it can be done in one pass on an A3 scanner....but from what I can see there are no affordable home flatbeds at A3 that come close to an A4 Epson 4870 for example. A 7x17 inch neg at 1200dpi (typical for an A3 flatbed?) barely beats a 5x4 at 4800 dpi it would appear!? Does this mean we are back to drum scans?

    Sorry for the rambling...head overheating. Question in short: How do I get the largest, best quality monochrome prints without using wet methods?
     
  2. glbeas

    glbeas Member

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    A member that goes by the moniker inthedark has a business dealing with making very large prints by chemical means. She can quite likely do what you need done.
     
  3. bmac

    bmac Member

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    Tom,

    I've got some B/W lightjets that were from scanned 35mm Tmax 100 that look pretty darn good up to 16x20. I would imagine that a ULF neg would make a really really nice large print, but it may be overkill. The viewing distance for such huge prints is pretty far. I don't know if the average viewer (photographer or not) would be able to see the difference between a print that big that originated form a 8x10 or 12x20 negative to tell you the truth.

    If I were starting out with this in mind, I would go 8x10, drum scan, then lightjet. And make sure that the 8x10 has the best optics I could afford.

    Brian
     
  4. David A. Goldfarb

    David A. Goldfarb Moderator Staff Member Moderator

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    I don't really think of 30x40" as extremely large. It's a big print, but not out of the range of what many people typically do for exhibition from negs anywhere from medium format to 8x10". If you're going to send it out to a lab anyway for a LightJet or other digital output, why not just use a lab to make conventional prints? You can always ask for proofs and work out the dodging/burning from the proofs or print a master print to your own specifications in smaller format and ask the lab to match it in a larger size.

    If you want to go with digital output, look into the services offered by West Coast Imaging. They've replaced LightJet with Chromira printing for color, which produces cleaner colors than LightJet on Fuji Crystal Archive (I've ordered prints from the same scan on both), and they also offer Ultrachrome and Piezography prints. I suspect Piezography is your best bet for digital B&W.
     
  5. jd callow

    jd callow Moderator Staff Member Moderator

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    What I know via my experience is
    The tango drum scanner is the best I know of for bw negs but is limited (to my knowledge and I could be wrong) to 8x10.


    The next best thing for large negs is the top of the line CreoScitex Eversmart Pro II (or what ever they call the top of the line) it is a 13x18" flat bed scanner with a true res (meaning the optical res) of I think about 5k per inch. I use the older 'Pro non II' 2.5k per inch version and it is the best flatbed I have ever used and the only way I know of to get good to great scans from film 11x14 or larger. It is also the only Flatbed worth its salt when it comes to scanning film. The microteks with dual lamps are also good but the film scanning is not through glass and they don't go bigger than 8x10.

    I'm not sure either the company or the scanner is still made but there are lots of them out their.

    Like a drum scanner they work best when the film is oiled to the glass.

    Getting a good chromogenic print is another thing. I have used a laser based lightjet for small prints and film and it is by far and away the best film recorder I have ever used (Including LVT's and Solitaires) but know nothing about the purely for paper ones. The one I used was intended for film and was capable of exposing 11x14 paper at its lowest res. It did produce perfect B&W Tmax negs.

    I have heard from those I trust that the Chromira's produce the best digital B&W output, but I haven't seen the output. The problem with LJ, Lambdas, etc.. is that they use an RGB light source and getting neutral greys is an issue. I assume or believe that there is chromogenic RA4 materials and I know you can get graded RC B&W paper and machine print them.

    I don't know if that helps, but there you are.
     
  6. jd callow

    jd callow Moderator Staff Member Moderator

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    For inkjets the Epson 9600 or a Colorspan with a dedicated black inkset ( 1 black and 5 greys) would be a good choice.

    On the otherhand
    I think the best way to go would be to find a prolab that has the equipment and the skill to make the enlargement the old fashoined way on FB paper using one of your smaller prints as a 'go by.'
     
  7. Donald Miller

    Donald Miller Member

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  8. Aggie

    Aggie Member

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    A girl over at school made her own ULF jobo style tank out of aluminum stove piping. She has a home made roller base that she agitates the thing on. It long and some sort of wheels on it. She routinely does 30x40 prints in color. I don't know if this gives you an idea about making a easier home made set up. I haven't seen her in months.
     
  9. Sean

    Sean Admin Staff Member Admin

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    Cool.. on his site he states "The heart of the lab is the enlarger I built which has a 2000/4000w pulsed xenon light source". This sounds like the light source on my large pulse xenon enlarger. I might have to contact once I get it up and running :smile:

    -also that neg carrier on his page looks exactly like the two that came with my enlarger, I wonder if he hacked up and rebuilt one of the enlargers I have..
     
  10. Graeme Hird

    Graeme Hird Member

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    30x40" prints are no problem from a scanned 5x4 inch neg.

    The lab I use to print my work can digitally print on chromagenic B&W paper for any size you might imagine (1.2 metres on one side, 40 metres on the other - that's the length of the roll). That lab is Pixel Perfect - www.pixelperfect.com.au.

    Graeme
     
  11. Tom Duffy

    Tom Duffy Member

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    David,
    Out of curiosity, every time these discussions come up, West Coast Imaging is always suggested. Is there no place in NYC that will do an equally careful job of scanning?
    Tom
     
  12. jd callow

    jd callow Moderator Staff Member Moderator

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    Although I'm not David and can't speak for NY, I know of at least three places in the Detroit area that can do a very good job of scanning and output. I also suspect that there are more than that here and far more in the larger markets. WCI suffers from extremely good word of (internet) mouth.
     
  13. Johnny V

    Johnny V Member

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    As mentioned - a drumscanned 4x5 film to 30x40" is a piece of cake. I have a 24x20" print hanging on the wall right now - I can just see the grain if I put my nose to the print. The film was a 6x7 Velvia and printed on an Epson 7500. The new Epson 7600 print would probalby be even better.
     
  14. Johnny V

    Johnny V Member

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    Also at a scan resolution of 4000 a 4x5 scan would give you a 900+Meg file. At a print resolution of 360 you have a 44x55" print. At a print resolution of 480 you have 33x41" print. Enough for a nice print on an Epson.
     
  15. Deckled Edge

    Deckled Edge Member

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    Here's the ANALOG answer. You can get darned good prints from wallpaper troughs and a shelf over the sink to hold one mammoth tray to wash oversized prints. 8x10 negatives enlarge extremely well if have a good negative. Edward Weston would sit up in his grave and loan me money if he saw how I do it in my darkroom, but the point is I do do it in my darkroom, and the results up to 32x40" are sharp and professional.

    Now, with regards to mounting....
     
  16. David A. Goldfarb

    David A. Goldfarb Moderator Staff Member Moderator

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    Yes, there are places in New York City that do this stuff, but they are paying for NYC overhead and charging for it. WCI has also been at it longer than most of the New York labs, the level of customer service is very high, and their prices are reasonable for the degree of quality they provide. If I wanted to do the scans more locally, I'd probably use NancyScans, but they are upstate, so I'd still have to ship the work out, plus I'd have to pay in-state sales tax.

    New York is a strange place. Since Professional Camera Repair closed, I also ship out most of my repair work. Nippon Camera Service has a good reputation locally, but they don't particularly specialize in the equipment that I use. There is a tendency to think that because it is such a large city, you can get anything you want here, but it's not always true.
     
  17. Sean

    Sean Admin Staff Member Admin

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    The traditional guy seems to be charging $69 a print. If going digital I would imagine the drum scan and print would cost far more than that? Atleast in New Zealand it's ludicris to get a drumscan and lightjet done..
     
  18. jd callow

    jd callow Moderator Staff Member Moderator

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    The print price alone would be almost twice that for a lambda, lightjet or equivelent. Scan prices seem to be all over the board but would be at least twice that for a drum scan. The nice thing about a scan is you get to keep the file (often an extra $10-20.00 for the cd). The down side of scans are the minimal spotting and quality of the CC done by some labs. This I suspect is one of the strengths of places like WCI. Photographers know the importance, and time needed to spot and cc -- I think the average joe is oblivious.