Color Printing?

Discussion in 'Color: Film, Paper, and Chemistry' started by ToddB, Oct 7, 2013.

  1. ToddB

    ToddB Member

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    Hey guys,

    I don't know if this is a concern you guys. I thinking.. Most of of us do our own Black and White print at home with enlrgers with tack sharp results do to superior enlarer lenses. Is there a place that still does color print using enlargers with superior lenses? "Old School".. The reason I'm concerned is, most of the commercial printing is done with digital printer that scan the images. Is there some loss in scanning of film when it's printed?

    Todd
     
  2. L Gebhardt

    L Gebhardt Subscriber

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    You get better results optically printing by hand most negatives vs scanning and printing on a minilab machine. If you go the expensive route and drum scan and then print I think the results are about equal. Digital gains the edge for complex image corrections. I think the results from most optical and digital minilabs are usually poor quality, so the real issue is the care put into making the image.

    I print my own color work both optically and with a drum scanner output to inkjet or chromira. It takes much more time to do a good scan, make the corrections, and print than it does to print optically once the processor is setup (not an insignificant amount of time and expense).

    And yes, there is some information lost with scanning film, no matter how good the scanner is. There is also some loss with printing through an enlarging lens, no matter how good the lens is.
     
  3. DREW WILEY

    DREW WILEY Member

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    If it's on the film, everything can be reproduced either way. Just depends on the skill and equip, and final output size in either case. Either way,don't expect something for nothing. I prefer optical printing, and if any information is hypothetically lost due to the optics, it sure ain't anything the naked eye can perceive. In the print itself, I'd give color optical printing a slight edge over Lightjet or Chromira for detail rendition, and distinctly over color inkjet. I think the workflow is easier too, but a lot just depends on personal preferences. Good results don't come easy in either case. A hole in one is pretty rare. Minilabs are the antithesis to quality. You don't get a gourmet meal at a MacDonald's drive-up window!
     
  4. frotog

    frotog Member

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    There's a reason why many of the top labs in the world are no longer offering analogue c-prints and it's not because they lack skill but rather lack suitable papers.
     
  5. DREW WILEY

    DREW WILEY Member

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    The papers are better than ever. Competent help is a different story.
     
  6. nworth

    nworth Subscriber

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    There is some loss, but not a lot. Modern enlarging lenses (other than the cheap ones) are very well corrected for color and
    are capable of making outstanding color prints. Hand made prints will be somewhat sharper than the machine made scan to print items, particularly in the larger sizes. Scanning allows commercial print makers easier and more versatile controls. You may have some trouble duplicating this at the enlarger, although you can usually do it. The scans seem to be about 2800 dots per inch, which is pretty detailed and close to the resolution of most negatives, so the scanning prints are good. But hand made enlargements have a certain something extra.
     
  7. Athiril

    Athiril Subscriber

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    How about you guys make a 12x18" from some 35mm Ektar or something, send it to me and the neg, and I'll do the same on the lab equipment here.
     
  8. Sirius Glass

    Sirius Glass Subscriber

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    This place does all optical printing. I have them do all my color prints that are 30" to 36" wide.

    Warning: Wear sunglasses when viewing this website! http://www.goldencolor.com/
     
  9. DREW WILEY

    DREW WILEY Member

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    Most remaining pro labs which do optical enlargement are mom n' pop operations susceptible to retirement, undercapitalization, etc. Therefore
    it seems they keep digital printing options parallel, and offer both kinds of service. Printing right onto RA4 papers is more cost effective than
    either inkjet or adding an intermediate scan step. But you need good negs to begin with. If you need to retool them the traditional manner,
    you're faced with a lot of labor and a limited labor pool that has these traditional skills. By contast, people learning digital correction skills are
    dime a dozen, though that's only the tip of the iceberg in terms of customer satisfaction. I don't print other peoples shots, just my own, so
    don't have that headache. But an intelligently run business has to find a distinct niche. A lot of what custom labs used to do has now been
    ceded over to inkjet printing directly in-house by med to large corporations. Still, optical printing can have a distinct look at a relatively
    affordable rate. And the services of a true lab might also be necessary for specialized things like large print display mounting, which requires
    specials skills and equipment. So there will probably remain a need for them in the foreseeable future. But pro quality work deserves equal
    payment, and good lab services have never been cheap. If anyone wants to whine, then simply go back to the days when dye transfer printing was the quality norm, and extrapolate those prices into today's adjusted inflation. Then faint. Or simply learn to color print yourself.
     
  10. Sirius Glass

    Sirius Glass Subscriber

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    He does great custom work such as burning and dodging.

    I had him make several 30"x30" black & white prints on metallic paper for extra punch.
     
  11. frotog

    frotog Member

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    Website says "all prints made with laser light or Frontier". Highly doubt he's using an enlarger when the spectral response for this material is optimized for laser.
     
  12. DREW WILEY

    DREW WILEY Member

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    A common misconception. Modern RA4 papers being "optimized" for digital laser printing does not in any manner make them less suitable for
    direct optical printing. In fact, they've been simultaneously improved in this respect too. The relevant spectral peaks are identical in either
    application. I won't go into the details, but I routinely print these kinds of papers in my own optical darkroom, and the results are superb.
     
  13. Sirius Glass

    Sirius Glass Subscriber

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    Visit the store and you can see the enlargers in use.
     
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  15. polyglot

    polyglot Member

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    Some do actually have issues, for example Crystal Archive seems to suffer from green (highlight) /magenta (shadow) crossover. For digital printing it doesn't matter at all because they supply the paper with calibration data so it always comes out of the lightjet looking good, but you get issues under the enlarger.

    For lack of (Portra) Endura sheets, I've found the Aristacolor paper to be pretty good for optical enlargements. I haven't done side-by-side comparisons, but I've found it a bit easier to print with than FCA. I suspect it is Supra Endura but don't know for sure.
     
  16. frotog

    frotog Member

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    Finally someone who speaks from experience and not just out of their trollish hat! Fuji CA ii has atrocious cross-over and (you forgot to mention) dismal dmax. Fuji PD has better dmax but even worse cross-over. Kodak Premiere is marginally better but still not sufficient for producing a fine print. Kodak edge and royal are hobbled by the same problems as Fuji CA ii, namely that they're both cheap minilab papers. As for the metallic stuff...never mind.

    Polyglot, what you say about Aristacolor intrigues me. I have not used it but I'll definitely try it out per your recommendation. I'd be shocked if it were the same as the old Supra Endura as that emulsion disappeared four years ago. Who do you suspect is manufacturing this paper?

    Their was hope post-supra and post-original fuji CA with the DNP stock a few years back (which was eerily similar to Supra Endura but with a thinner base). But they only had one distributer in the states and it vanished just as quickly as it arrived.

    Mr. WILEY, maybe you haven't heard of them, but do you consider world-class labs, like Duggal, Lamont, LTI, Color Services and modern age, "mom and pop shops"? Do you really think that the many world-renowned photographers who work one on one with their printers at these labs to painstakingly tweak their images and who sell these prints to museums and to the most discerning collectors in the world are actually rubes who can't tell the difference between a good print and a bad one? Actually, never mind... I already know what your response will be.

    As someone who used to get paid very handsomely to work one on one making c-prints for name brand artists I can tell you that since 2010 even the most recalcitrant of analogue snobs have moved to making digital c's as it's the only viable way to get the kind of color fidelity they expect out of the current crop of professional RA papers.
     
  17. polyglot

    polyglot Member

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    Keep in mind I have zero concrete information regarding the source of Aristacolor, other than that I vaguely recall it says "Made in USA" on it. Could be wrong even on that. And I'm not exactly an old hand at the RA4 thing.

    My guess is that they're buying rolls from Kodak (or someone else, who knows?) and cutting it down to sheets. Endura is definitely still available, just not as cut-sheet; you need to buy a few hundred feet on a roll if you want it. That makes total sense of course, considering that 99.99% of the RA4 paper market is roll-fed minilab processors. Aristacolor could be Edge for all I know, since I never tried to buy and use Edge.

    Conversely, all the Endura I've seen from our local digital lab has "Kodak Professional Endura" or something like that printed on the back whereas the Aristacolor that I have has no back-printing.

    Anyway, give the Aristacolor a try if you want to print RA4 optically. It's a tiny bit cheaper than FCA and (IMHO) slightly better for analogue printers; certainly no worse. Could be that FCA has better longevity, but longevity is irrelevant until you can get a good print!

    Edit: I just emailed Freestyle to ask 'em who makes Aristacolor. Not much point speculatin' when we can just ask them. PS their website says "Made in USA"; hopefully that doesn't just mean "cut to sheets in USA" :wink:
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Oct 9, 2013
  18. frotog

    frotog Member

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    Polyglot,

    Endura Premiere is nowhere near the same animal as Supra Endura. It too suffers from egregious crossover and Ultra endura-like saturation and contrast.

    I very much doubt that Freestyle, notorious for their huge mark-ups on kodak products, would be cutting, branding and packaging Endura Premiere, kodak's current professional ra-4 paper, only to sell it for a fraction of the price of what they charge for the fuji paper. My guess is that it's kodak edge, which is only marginally better than the lousy fuji cut-sheet product. How does the thickness of the paper compare to the fuji ca ii?
     
  19. wildbill

    wildbill Member

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    yes, blue moon which is a sponsor here. look up
     
  20. DREW WILEY

    DREW WILEY Member

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    Hogwash. My incidences of crossover with Crystal Archive amounts to 0%. If someone is having this problem, it's not the fault of the paper.
    Do your homework. Even the mfg literature has now been revised to alleviate the misunderstanding about the suitabilty of these products for
    optical printing. I don't need to ask labowner's about it. I am a world-class printmaker. And if I did want to get a second opinion, I almost
    daily talk with people who own multimillion dollar labs doing both optical and digital printing. In fact, one of them is asking me to take over
    their business now that they're nearing retirement - but I'm simply not interested in printing other people's work. I'll bet the alleged crossover
    issues are due to incorrect exposure or color balancing of the color negs in the first place, or scanner issues where that has been introduced
    into the workflow. And frankly, Mr Frotog, I use higher quality light control in my enlargers than any commercial lab in the world. So I understand the distinctions here. You can either take my advice of leave it ... I really don't care. But maybe someone is tuning in who would like to get involved in their own color printing will appreciate some straight information that has been thoroughly tested in ways you don't even know how to articulate! So stop discouraging them with empty rumors and accusations of flaky product quality. Crystal Archive papers
    will make a wonderful marriage with optical enlargers, but not with incompetence or mis-informed preconceptions!
     
  21. DREW WILEY

    DREW WILEY Member

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    I've got three different types of CAII in my lab right now, up to 40-inch wide rolls. All of them are within 5 cc's of green balance of the older
    Super C. Otherwise, they differ only in surface sheen and contrast characteristics. I have no interest in getting in a food fight over this, but
    I thought the idea of APUG was to encourage the use of analog products, not discourage. For some strange reason, I just happen to believe
    that professional Fuji and Kodak engineers actually know what they're doing, and might be a little more dependable than some web rant.
    The quality of these papers are superb and predictable. And yes, if you have a reasonably good colorhead, a simple drum processor, fresh
    ra4 chem, and enough common sense to wear gloves and have good ventilation, you can make excellent prints in a home darkroom. And I would seriously question the competence of any alleged pro printer who can't figure out Crystal Archive. The remaining big pro labs in this
    area use exactly the same paper under their enlargers as in their Lightjets and Chromiras. And yes, I do have a slight edge with my fancy
    custom additive enlargers, but I also still have an old conventional Chromega colorhead that would provide suitable results. In some ways
    color neg printing is even easier in a darkroom than black and white printing, and is generally less expensive. Don't be intimidated by it.
     
  22. frotog

    frotog Member

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    Drew, Drew, Drew. In rolls, CAII is only available up to 12", not 40" as you claim. Furthermore CAII is designed for frontier or noritsu minilab printers - high volume, short high intensity laser light exposures, low price point (read minimal silver) - hence the crappy crossover and the poor dmax when exposed under an enlarger. As someone who has completely disavowed digital printing it comes as no surprise that you would have zero understanding of the changes made to Ra papers ten years back. I started making digital c's with the first wave of durst lambdas and the old papers, optimized for exposure under an enlarger, suffered under laser light. It wasn't long before both kodak and fuji made big changes to their emulsions. I was there printing both traditional and digital during this transition and so experienced these changes first hand under both sources. The current crop of papers are digitally optimized papers - if they look good to you than have at it my friend. But given the wild color casts of your images ( http://www.drewwiley.com/gallery.php ) there's no wonder you haven't experienced crossover yet. How could you when you're nowhere near neutral? Until you show me better results than what I've seen, I've no use for your diatribe. I've ordered a fresh box of the caii for the sake of a test comparing it against kodak vc, kodak premiere, and the old kodak supra. I'll post the results here so readers can have empirical data instead of our noisy debate. Of course I fully anticipate you calling foul because of the necessary evil of using a scanner, monitor, photoshop (or fauxtoshop as you jest :wink:) to get the comparisons up here and so will track down my kodak color separation guide for all the luddites who can't handle calibrating their monitors.

    For your reading pleasure here's a link http://www.fujifilmusa.com/shared/bin/AF3-190U2_PIB_TypeII_Paper.pdf Now it's time for you to stop talking smack and go try to learn a thing or two about color printing.
     
  23. MartinP

    MartinP Member

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    The usual stockist for for Fujifilm materials which I have used here has CA DPII up to 50"x50m as a standard stock item. The Kodak Endura Premier even goes up to 72". The cheapo happy-snap varieties of Crystal Archive are indeed only available in happy-snap sizes though, so perhaps they are what Frotog was referring to.
     
  24. pentaxuser

    pentaxuser Subscriber

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    In the link that frotog gives it mentions "high quality colour prints on analogue and digital printers" I had assumed that this meant the paper was suitable for analogue RA4 printing via an enlarger and standard RA4 chemicals.

    Can anyone say what Fuji's definition is of "analogue printers" in the link given?

    Thanks

    pentaxuser
     
  25. MartinP

    MartinP Member

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    An analogue printing system would be something other than using lasers or LED's -- ie. a halogen colour-head, or an older enprint system of some sort. And, of course, remembering that a lot of dev+print packages (and the light-jet type of pro gear) are printed from a scan of the negative, rather than directly through the negative.
     
  26. pentaxuser

    pentaxuser Subscriber

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    Thanks, so does an enlarger with an optical lens and using a halogen bulb such as I am pretty certain me my Durst M605 enlarger with colour head does, meet the definition of analogue printer?

    pentaxuser