easier negative proofing

Discussion in 'Enlarging' started by BetterSense, Jun 14, 2014.

  1. BetterSense

    BetterSense Member

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    My shooting ratio is horrible, especially for 35mm which also is the hardest to proof. I get tired of squinting at dozens of tiny negatives to find the one to print. I have a light box and a loupe, but the loupe is squinty and the lightbox is never comfortable to hunch over. It would be great if I had a thing I could feed a strip of 35mm into and view the images enlarged. And that device is not a scanner because scanning takes WAY too long just to decide if the roll needs tossed. An optical device like a projector or movie film editor might do the trick but I don't know where to come up with something like that. Any ideas are appreciated. There has to be a better way than hunching over a light box.
     
  2. MattKing

    MattKing Subscriber

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    An enlarger with a Negatrans is really good for this.
     
  3. BetterSense

    BetterSense Member

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    I never thought about using my enlarger. Typically I don't proof in the darkroom. I was thinking of making something with a film gate, a macro lens, and a web cam, so I could look at the roll on a computer monitor.
     
  4. Barry S

    Barry S Subscriber

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    The device you're describing exists. I bought one from a National Geographic printer that bought a bunch of Nat Geo analog darkroom gear when they went digital. It was made by Macbeth and is designed for quickly proofing 35mm film by projecting the frame onto a screen shaded by a deep hood. I no longer shoot 35mm, so I'm open to selling it.
     
  5. Bill Burk

    Bill Burk Subscriber

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    Look for Tamron Fotovix, or Fujix Photo-Video Imager... These things have about what you describe, output is an inverted (negative to positive) video signal which can be viewed on any video device...

    But honestly these gadgets ONLY get in the way of what you should be doing, putting hopeful negatives in the enlarger and giving them a try because you are taking "time" away from the darkroom, and the impression of whether or not a particular negative will make a good print is fleeting.
     
  6. Bill Burk

    Bill Burk Subscriber

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    This sounds cool...
     
  7. BetterSense

    BetterSense Member

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    I'm finding that the opposite is true. The more time I spend proofing the better off my output is. Wasting darkroom time on inferior negatives is a problem. Often I will have an entire roll of a single portrait session. Which of the similar expressions is the one worth spending an hour printing? It's not economical to answer that question by spending 36 hours printing. Although I am sure that pro photographers with large budgets and assistants did just that.
     
  8. snapguy

    snapguy Member

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    recall

    As I recall, somebody was always trying to invent the perfect solution for this problem. We had our own idea and would put as many 35mm negs as would fit into a 4x5 negative carrier and blow the whole bunch up to 8x10. (I believe it was nine negs.)I have watched many an editor at the Olympics or World Series or NBA championship games eschew proof sheets and just eyeball the negs with a loupe, notch the neg he wanted printed and got on to the next batch. Quick and dirty, as we say in the news business.
     
  9. Bill Burk

    Bill Burk Subscriber

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    I wouldn't want you to "print" all the shots of a session for proofing. When I do print, I am pretty sure it's a good negative. I was thinking that picking negatives on a light box with a loupe is probably still the best.

    I'm not always happy with the time that I spent on electronic proofing. Especially the video proofer, the poor quality can't even reveal if a shot is sharp. At least with a loupe, you can tell the sharp shots. With scans, I get to spend time with the image before I commit to print, and this leads me to some weird emotions (feels like cheating) that I don't like. My shot of Ava getting her caricature is an example where I scanned first, loved the scan and then printed. Of course I KNEW it would make a good print, but I would rather have been surprised when I turned on the lights.
     
  10. Bill Burk

    Bill Burk Subscriber

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    I believe Reinhold, who occasionally advertises here, makes a carrier that holds 9 35mm frames in a 4x5 opening.
     
  11. Patrick Robert James

    Patrick Robert James Subscriber

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    A loupe is the fastest and easiest way. Just get a good one. If you don't want to bend over your lightbox, you can use a window. Alternatively, you could get a really small lightbox. I have one that I can hold in my hand.
     
  12. piu58

    piu58 Member

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    I make contact sheets of all my negatives. If you make sure that the negative and the paper are in direct contact (a thick glass panel helps) the contct prints are as sharp as the negatives.

    I inspect them with an old 50 mm lens, looking through it form the film side. This gives a good impression of the enlarged image. For MF I use a 80 mm lens in a similar way.
     
  13. MartinP

    MartinP Member

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    A contact-print of the whole roll fits on a sheet of 8x10". Use a standardised exposure and filtration for the contact-print so you can relate what you see, to what is actually in the neg. The glare from a lightbox becomes tiring quite quickly, and three hands would be useful, but with a paper contact-print you can more easily examine your results and discuss them with the average human who has never read a neg over a lightbox in their lives.

    In prehistoric times, when I worked in a lab with 8x10" enlargers, it was not uncommon to put the negs into the carrier and print the whole thing to 16x20". That worked fine too, for proofing, and gave our customers something "impressive" and "special" to wave under the noses of their own clients.
     
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  15. Mainecoonmaniac

    Mainecoonmaniac Subscriber

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    I have the save problem. This sounds like sacrilege. When I had to proof 20 rolls from South East Asia, I shot my negs in pages on a light table with my dslr, inversed the image in Photoshop, then sent it off to Shutterfly to have them printed 11x14.

    I'm thinking about just looking at them on a tablet or computer monitor, but I'm too old school and I like my proofs sheets printed.

    I've got an old Paterson proofer. The foam rotted on it and I want to use the glass part to make a holder that will hold 36exp on 8x10 area. I have an Epson V700 that will scan 8x10 negs. Stuffing the negs with curly film on those Paterson proofers suck though.

    I remember when I assisted, a hundreds of rolls and made proof sheets. Those are days are long gone now.
     
  16. cliveh

    cliveh Subscriber

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    Have you thought about mounting your lightbox on the wall at head height. Mine is, and just to the left of my Durst enlarger, so I don't even have to walk between the two. Also, instead of a loupe, try a good quality hand held magnifying glass, of the type used by Sherlock Holmes.
     
  17. Mainecoonmaniac

    Mainecoonmaniac Subscriber

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  18. BetterSense

    BetterSense Member

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    Making contact prints is too costly and slow. I actually transitioned from making contacts to the lightbox to save work. I still had to use a loupe to look at the contact prints so making the contact was just one more step with little benefit. I can judge negatives fine; the issue is more how to reduce the work of looking through dozens or hundred of them.

    The idea of taking a picture of the whole roll on a lightbox and viewing on the computer is an interesting one.
     
  19. Bill Burk

    Bill Burk Subscriber

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    A fluorescent lightbox will give weird light-effects when photographed (the orange-blue flicker). So an incandescent bulb would be better behind glass. I've tried using the condenser head of the Omega DII as a backlight lightsource to photograph 4x5 negatives but the light was uneven and didn't really cover the whole frame...
     
  20. piu58

    piu58 Member

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    > Making contact prints is too costly

    Too costy? One sheet of paper is to costy for a whole film? If you make some prints from it you need 10 sheets or so. Every print made or at least tried without success is more expansive.
     
  21. Bill Burk

    Bill Burk Subscriber

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    piu58,

    Literally, you are right. I think you make a good point that it may be irrational to complain that contact prints are too expensive.
     
  22. eddie

    eddie Subscriber

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    Not if your proofing is calibrated. All of my contacts are made at the same enlarging height/f stop/ time.
    I do them at the beginning of my printing sessions, before I start printing from previously proofed negatives.
    For viewing them (as well as negatives on the lightbox), I have 8x10 black cardboard cut, in the center, with the various film sizes I use. I find this makes it easier to isolate frames/sheets (and diminish extra light, in the case of the lightbox).
     
  23. markbarendt

    markbarendt Subscriber

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  24. ic-racer

    ic-racer Member

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    You just need a better loupe.
     
  25. Mainecoonmaniac

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    I'm thinking of using my iPad to view proofs with this. I can have a virtual grease pencil using a stylus. I would have to digitize my negs first. I use Evernote and it's a great app.

    http://evernote.com/skitch/
     
  26. BetterSense

    BetterSense Member

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    There is no point for me in making contact prints, because I still have to look at the contact print with a loupe afterward. How has that saved any work versus just looking at the negatives? I find looking at negatives easier and more informative that looking at contact prints anyway.

    For the Nth time; I do not have trouble interpreting negatives. I'm not looking for techniques or solutions to make interpreting individual negatives easier. I know a good negative when I see one. I never say "oh, that's a good negative" and then find out it's not good when I print it. That's never my problem. My problem is the 50-roll backlog of film that I need to proof right now.

    I'm looking for techniques to speed the process of sifting through a large number of negatives, to find perhaps 1 negative in 100 that is worth printing. A loupe and a lightbox is my current technique, but my problem with doing this on a lightbox is simply the strain of hunching over a light box looking at so many tiny negatives through a loupe. A method that would allow me to sit up straight and use both eyes is what I need. Some of the video-scanner devices presented in this thread, and the idea of using a DSLR to snap a picture of a whole roll, or possibly use a tablet as a loupe, all seem like ideas worth pursuing.

    If I could scan a whole strip of 35mm in 5 seconds and view the images on a computer screen, that would be an improvement, but scanners are WAY too slow for this to be useful. If there was a device I could run the strip of film through and project a larger image I could view with both eyes then that might be an improvement. I thought about buying a 35mm filmstrip projector and just feed my rolls through it for proofing, but they won't project a whole 24x36mm frame, and still cameras all have different frame spacings.