hybrid or traditional most cost effective?

Discussion in 'Darkroom Equipment' started by LarryP, Jul 28, 2011.

  1. LarryP

    LarryP Member

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    Since I'm just coming back to photography I have no equipment yet for doing my film at home. If I go with a wet darkroom it will be a bathroom/darkroom due to space. I can see printing up to 11x14 maybe the rare 16 x 20 I would be processing 35mm and some 120 6x6. From the pricees I'm seeing it looks like traditional wet prints are more cost effective along with maybe more control of end results. Am I missing something?
    BTW due to my very tight budget things will have to be bought over a period of time.
     
  2. jovo

    jovo Membership Council Council

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    A scanner that will produce files that allow prints comparable to wet darkroom work isn't cheap. Neither are printer inks or a photo printer of decent quality that will make 11x14 or larger prints. I think you'll find a wet darkroom more cost effective, and the results can be extraordinary. Enlargers, lenses, trays etc. can all be purchased used, and there are lots to choose from even here on APUG. Good luck!
     
  3. Ian Grant

    Ian Grant Subscriber

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    There's not a lot in it, inkjet papers are not much cheaper than traditional silver based papers and inks are expensive, and the scanners/printers have a shorter life span than darkroom equipment yet cost more. Scanners & printers go obsolete as drivers don't get upgrade ad-infinitum to match newer versions of operating systems and cartridges get dropped.

    I've an excellent 8 year old printer still on it's first toner cartridge and there's no Win 7 driver, and had an A3 Epson Photo printer for which Epson stopped cartrifges 2 or 3 years ago.

    So never think hybrid will be cheaper in the long term.

    Ian
     
  4. Worker 11811

    Worker 11811 Member

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    There's a lot of subjective judgement in this question.

    I think we need to think about the reasons why one would choose to use one method over another before getting a full answer.

    What is your purpose in producing pictures? Internet? Fine art? Commercial?
    The things you are going to do with your pictures are as important as how you make them.

    If you don't have a darkroom where you can make traditional prints, you don't have a place to install one or if you can't get access to a community darkroom or a friend's darkroom your startup costs are going to be higher. The cost of buying equipment, film, paper and chemistry isn't your only cost. There is cost in preparing the room, setting it up and putting it all together the way you want it.

    As John says, there is a cost in setting up a digital workflow, as well. Although, the cost of digital equipment might be higher, the decision on what your goal is will be a factor in deciding what to spend money on.

    If you just say that you want to produce good pictures and show them to people, give them to friends or sell them I think John's advice is right but, if you are trying to make a business out of photography, hybrid might be more cost effective if you can get a return on your investment.

    Sometimes, "why" you do something is as important as "what" you do.
     
  5. ic-racer

    ic-racer Member

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    Exactly!
     
  6. MattKing

    MattKing Subscriber

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    One of the factors that makes darkroom printing so reasonable is that:
    a) good quality equipment is well made and made to last; and
    b) there is a lot of it available on the used equipment market at reasonable cost.

    If one is required to buy that equipment new, the costs for equipment rival the costs for printing using digital means.
     
  7. Sirius Glass

    Sirius Glass Subscriber

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    I started going the hybrid route, but I soon discovered that the cost of constantly buying ink cartridges was getting expensive, on the order of $50US to $60US for every ten 8x10s I printed. I saw a very clean Chromega D5-XL with lenses for $300US, ... , converted a bedroom to a dry darkroom and switched my master bathroom into a convertable bathroom/wet darkroom. I am much happier with the cost effectiveness, controlability, and quality of the traditional wet prints than I would be with very high quality digital set up that on of my former Kodak employee friend has.

    YMMV

    Steve
     
  8. Roger Cole

    Roger Cole Member

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    +1.

    Cheaper is only cheaper if it does what you want.
     
  9. Klainmeister

    Klainmeister Member

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    I do mostly hybrid (at the moment....I had a darkroom for many a year) because I was handed a nice inkjet printer and a scanner. I can tell you right now that even with the principal investment taken care of, the cost of materials is more expensive than any printing I even did in the darkroom. I feel the quality of color images is better than when I tried RA4, but the BW is not there yet, and frankly, I miss the experience of the darkroom--whether or not it's a better print in the end.

    Ya ya, so anyways, I feel the hybrid workflow is more expensive...here's my breakdown:

    Scanner: $500
    Computer with calibrated monitor: $1500
    Printer: $900

    and that's before I bought my first box of 25 sheets of paper ($70) and a set of inks ($120).

    Yikes!
     
  10. Diapositivo

    Diapositivo Subscriber

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    If you go hybrid, you can skip doing the ink-jet printing yourself. Just invest in a good film scanner, work on your files, then bring the best images you want to print to a laboratory with a Durst Lambda or similar machine. That will make a continuous-tone colour print on photographic colour paper. That's normal RA-4 colour paper, impressed with coloured light and developed chemically.

    I'm not saying that's better or worse than enlarging, or ink-jet printing, I'm just saying it's an hybrid alternative if you don't want to print "everything" (which you wouldn't anyway seeing the cost of ink).

    You could use a flatbed scanner for your film, and use it for "internet interaction". For 35mm you will not get serious results, for MF you will get something acceptable. As an example, you'll post your images to APUG gallery, but forget sending a flatbed scan to a publisher for the hypothetical APUG book. You'll need a 4000 ppi tabletop scanner for that, or even better a professional drum scan.

    If you want to scan 35mm at home and have good quality you'll need, for good results, a dedicated "film scanner", flatbed scanners don't pass muster for 35mm (YMMV). A dedicated film scanner will yield a scan at 4000 ppi and that will generate quite decent a file for any printing purpose.

    If you print at 400 ppi (a maniacal quality that is required only for high-end photo books) that means you can print this 24x36 mm as 24x36 cm, if I do the mathematics right. A print at 300 ppi, very high quality, should give you a 32x48 cm without any interpolation.

    More than this is attainable if you interpolate before printing.

    You can also bring your frame (slide or negative) to the laboratory with the Durst Lambda. A good scanner at home will allow you to have a good digital rendering of your photographs without having recourse to external scanning.

    Or you could use MF and only do contact printing. For those images that you want enlarged more, or professionally scanned, you go to a laboratory. A wet scan with a drum scanner costs around €4,00 per scan, but you'll be able to find bulk deals, or have the scan included in the price of the print.

    Just some ideas.
     
  11. pbromaghin

    pbromaghin Subscriber

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    I recently went through this and came to the same conclusion as the OP. I started doing hybrid in 1998, probably before the word was used in this context. In 2005 I bought a new computer, printer and scanner for probably $2500. Early last year, in order to take full control of the process I decided I had to go either all digital or all analog. Partly because that equipment was already becoming obsolete, I priced out a complete replacement including purchase of a full-frame digital vs medium format camera. It came out to $4k-8k for digital compared to less than $1k for analog. At the volume I shoot, that will buy film and chemicals for the rest of my life.
     
  12. CGW

    CGW Member

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    "At the volume I shoot, that will buy film and chemicals for the rest of my life."

    That assumes today's range of film, chemistry and paper will be available in the not-so-distant future--much less 5-10 years down the line. Look at what's been lost in just the last 5 years.
     
  13. Sirius Glass

    Sirius Glass Subscriber

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    I will go with "At the volume I shoot, that will buy film and chemicals for the rest of my life." simply because a 60 MegaPixel Hasselblad back which does not even cover the focal plane costs $50,000US. Do you have any idea how much film I could buy, send out for custom processing and printing before I get anywhere near $50,000US? If I did buy that digital back, I would have to buy a much bigger and faster computer, a system of raid drives, expensive software including Photo$hop, a high end printer to make appropriate quality prints, and megadollars in ink cartridges.

    As far as
    , how about looking at what has been gained in the last five years in new and better emulsions.
     
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  15. BradS

    BradS Member

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    Hi LarryP,
    Welcome to the Analog Photo Users Group (APUG).
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Jul 28, 2011
  16. jnanian

    jnanian Advertiser Advertiser

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    hi larry

    in the end it depends what you want and are most efficient at doing ...
    if you are a good darkroom person and can make halfway decent prints
    then darkroom work is the way to go (unless you NEED a lab to make them)
    if you are more comfortable doing the other way, and have a decent lab
    that can crank out light jet prints, than that way is the way to go ...
    i wouldn't waste your time with the ink, way too expensive and wasteful.

    in the end it really depends on what you want, what YOU are most comfortable making or having made, and what you can afford ...

    plenty of people ... some, even here on apug, use a lab make prints for them.
    owners of two of the best labs around are active members here on apug.

    good luck ( and welcome ! )

    john
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Jul 28, 2011
  17. CGW

    CGW Member

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    Please, not ANOTHER digital-vs-analog pissing contest.

    My only point is that the status quo won't stand. A handful of new films, yes; but also a big cull of E6 emulsions, b&w papers, C-41 materials, lost pro labs(decimation of reasonably good cheap 35mm dev/print services, too), scarce E6 processing and higher prices/reduced availability for what's left.
     
  18. Diapositivo

    Diapositivo Subscriber

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    "At the volume I shoot, that will buy film and chemicals for the rest of my life."

    Considering that with digital one has to spend all the money first, it can be said that, with that money, one can buy 40 years of film and chemistry supply, a dedicated freezer, and be tranquil for the rest of his life :smile:
     
  19. 2F/2F

    2F/2F Member

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    Aside from cost, there are also intangibles. Do you like working in a darkroom or working on a computer? Personally, I despise the latter, but the former is at least tolerable most of the time, and often quite fun!

    Either way, you have to process film, which is that part that I find to be the biggest pain in the neck.

    The way I view it, it works better for me to just shoot digital most of the time that I want a digital output.
     
  20. segedi

    segedi Member

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    I do hybrid (dev at home for B&W) and scan and then send files away to print. My feeling is that it is more expensive than traditional, but I never got very good at traditional printing and my desire for doing it isn't very great. So I pay more for working the way that I feel most comfortable. I do wish I had more time and energy to devote to traditional printing though as I find the results very appealing!
     
  21. pbromaghin

    pbromaghin Subscriber

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    No, it assumes that *a* range of film, chemistry and paper will be available. At my age, 5-10 years really is a not-so-distant future.
     
  22. Sirius Glass

    Sirius Glass Subscriber

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    How is my experience a pissing contest?

    The status quo constantly evolves. Decisions this year may change over time. That goes for either path. Your statement had that "We'll all be killed!" flavor.

    Steve
     
  23. Aristophanes

    Aristophanes Member

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    For 35mm colour the most cost-effective for me is both processing and scanning at a mail-in lab. The I dry print the copies I want as part of the order. I bracket a fair #of shots on 135.

    B&W 135 is done at a friend's for processing and the occasional wet print. Seems proper and very cost effective.

    120 is all colour for me and I scan on my V500 with excellent results, but have all my prints done by a local lab. The scanner was $125 and the spider $135. Software and Mac amortized elsewhere and through my digital shooting.

    Cost and ROI depends a lot on volume, format, quality, and time/effort. The V500 cannot do 135 efficiently, but is awesome at 120. Nothing beats the wet print B&W and I am grateful to have a local assisting there for that experience. There is a lot to be said for the lab and print route alongside the wet darkroom and the hybrid option. The one cost that will chew up $$$ is a high-end Epson printer and ink. You need to print a lot to get an effective ROI there.
     
  24. LarryP

    LarryP Member

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    Thanks for all the quick replies. Looks like I'll go the traditional route.:smile: To clarify a couple things I didn't mention , I'd be doing it for personal use ,friends and family. For net posts lab scans seem to make sense to me.And to be honest since I had planned on developing the negs myself and contact printing them ala Weston style if that makes sense traditional enlarging appeals to the neanderthal. in me.
     
  25. Worker 11811

    Worker 11811 Member

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    I know you are joking... but...

    I drive a car with a manual transmission.
    I am a career movie projectionist and cinema technician who specializes in film.
    My wife bakes from scratch and either she or I cook our own meals on the stove in the kitchen nearly every night of the week.
    I am a sleight of hand magician who does not use props or smoke and mirrors to create illusions.
    I still love computers, digital video and nearly everything that runs on electricity.

    I love photography but I specialize in using film. That doesn't make me a neanderthal. Instead, I'm a traditionalist. :cool:
     
  26. BetterSense

    BetterSense Member

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    The premise of the question is flawed. It occurs to me that

    1. The two things are not the same things, so comparing them is apples and oranges
    2. Something is only cheaper than another thing if both things do what you want


    I suggest you first decide which thing you want to do. Do you want to create real photographs or computer-generated ink drawings? Only if you consider the two things equivalent--and many do--can you compare their costs directly.