DR Prints compared to drum scan print-advice pls!!

Discussion in 'B&W: Film, Paper, Chemistry' started by brettgoodhew, Jan 22, 2013.

  1. brettgoodhew

    brettgoodhew Member

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    I finally got my darkroom set up and have started making prints . When I compare my darkroom prints to the prints I have made from the same negative that I have had drum scanned, the darkroom prints come out quite a bit softer. I'm printing from 4x5, so was expecting super sharp 'popping' images. The prints I have made from the scans are super sharp, so I know the problem isn't the negatives. I'm using a Rodenstock Rodagon 135mm, which I believe is a good lens, and I'm printing at f8 to f11. My question is this: Is it to be expected that professionally scanned negs will produces sharper more detailed results than darkroom prints, or am I doing something wrong? Any advice appreciated. Thanks in advance...
     
  2. fotch

    fotch Member

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    Hello and welcome to APUG. I have no knowledge of the scanning although it does not seem that it would be possible for the scans to be sharper. Are the negatives sharp when looking at them with a loop?
     
  3. hgernhardt

    hgernhardt Member

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    From what little I've gathered, most drum scans are done with a wet-mounting process. This enhances sharpness and clarity to a degree not otherwise obtainable. I understand that you can wet-mount negatives on a glass carrier in your enlarger, though the process is a bit messy.

    Also check:
    • the alignment of your negative stage, lensboard, and baseboard.
    • the flatness of your negative in the carrier.
    • the safeness of your safelight
    • the freshness of your paper and chemistry

    Good luck, and have fun! Please, let me know if you do wind up wet-mounting your negs—I've been considering the relative merits of doing the same myself.
     
  4. tim k

    tim k Member

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    Vibrating enlarger head? Need a little bit more contrast?
     
  5. Prof_Pixel

    Prof_Pixel Member

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    Your question is one of those that bridges the APUG and DPUG forums.

    Sharpness is a subjective response and is very much affected by image edge contrast. The drum scan will surely have some sharpening applied (because the scanning process involves some loss of sharpness). This can probably explain the difference between the digital and analog prints. Note that there IS an analog process (USM - unsharp masking) that can achieve the same results, but it's rather involved.
     
  6. MattKing

    MattKing Subscriber

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  7. Bill Burk

    Bill Burk Subscriber

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    Woah posted to wrong thread.

    I can say something relevant though. I had an APUG member come to my darkroom to print one of his Medium Format negs on Silver Gelatin to see if he could meet the sharpness in his hybrid prints.

    I liked the darkroom print better (no surprise there) and saw better resolution in terms of blades of grass that I could count, where he saw softness and held a preference to the printouts.
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Jan 23, 2013
  8. EASmithV

    EASmithV Member

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    It's possible that your enlarger lens is lacking, or that you're stopping it down to the point that you're encountering diffraction.

    Careful about mentioning scanners around here, they'll chase you off with pitchforks.


    *edit*

    read the post more carefully... Rodagon and f11... nevermind.


    How long are you exposure times for printing? Its possible the focus of the enlarger is drifting during printing.
     
  9. Bob Carnie

    Bob Carnie Subscriber

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    I would think you are not using a glass carrier and possible neg popping.
    I do both every day and one would not expect to be sharper or softer with a scanned print.

    excessive sharpening aside you can pretty much mimic darkroom and digital prints .
     
  10. George Collier

    George Collier Member

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    Also be sure that both front and back of the enlarger lens are clean.
    Also, the scan digi side of this can involve a lot of "falsified" sharpness, as others have indicated.
    A hybrid site would be a good place to repost this question.
     
  11. luizjorgemn

    luizjorgemn Member

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    Try making a direct print (contact print) and see if the sharpness is there. Depending on the answer you can exclude some causes of softness


    Sent from my iPad using Tapatalk HD
     
  12. polyglot

    polyglot Member

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    Depends what you mean by soft since we don't have the images in question to look at or some sort of baseline to consider. We can't tell if some shortfall in equipment (e.g. poorly stabilised enlarger can cause blurry prints due to its fan vibrating the head) or technique is causing softness.

    If there's any unsharp-masking (USM) applied to the hybrid process then clearly that will look superior. You can of course make a physical unsharp mask for your wet printing and achieve the same excellent result, but it's a tad laborious.

    Do you see a difference in resolution or acutance?