Options for printing from transparencies?

Discussion in 'Color: Film, Paper, and Chemistry' started by thefizz, Aug 6, 2006.

  1. thefizz

    thefizz Subscriber

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    I wish to have some medium format transparencies printed but I am a little unsure of the options available to me. Ilfochrome has been described to me as the only conventional material left for printing transparencies. Are there other options ?

    What is Fuji Chrystal Archive printing ?

    Thanks,
    Peter
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Aug 6, 2006
  2. David Henderson

    David Henderson Member

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    "Are there other options ?"

    Yes, a few. Mostly they involve scanning the transparency and printing on any of a number of digital printers. These vary from inkjets ( either home or lab -based) to laser- type printers such as the LightJet; Chromira; or Lambda that use conventional photographic papers to produce a print that looks much like a wet print. Lots of labs offer these "hybrid" services now - some are very good at it and can make prints that many people consider exceed the quality of wet prints from transparencies in terms of detail, sharpness and repeatability, especially if large prints are required. A look at West Coast Imaging's web-site ( www.westcoastimaging.com ) will show you what a high-end lab has on offer.

    Much more cheaply the Fuji Frontier and comparable mini-labs offer a mechanised scan and print onto photographic paper print process for small and medium-sized that is very cheap.

    As ever though the quality of the output is going to depend at least as much on who does it as on the method selected. Not all Frontier labs are equal, and not everyone with a LightJet and a drum scanner makes great prints. In general terms a lab offering LightJet type services is able ( for a price) to carry out adjustments to your file which affect the way your prints will look; whereas a minilab based service like a Frontier want to take your transparency or digital file and make a print from it with no custom alteration. Its getting close to the old "hand print" and "machine print" nomenclature.

    It is still possible I believe to produce prints from slides by having an interneg made and then a C-print. Personally I haven't had great results from this process and it is not a route I follow, but a minority of labs still offer it.

    Crystal Archive is a family of papers made by Fuji for type C colour printing. It is not a style of printing and indeed various forms of Crystal Archive are used both in wet prints from colour negs, and in the above-mentioned LightJets, Chromiras etc. It is available in gloss, matte, and supergloss.
     
  3. naturephoto1

    naturephoto1 Subscriber

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    Peter,

    Fuji Crystal Archive Photo Paper is a type C paper. In order to print on this paper from transparencies, the transparencies are prepared as a digital negative and printed to this paper through the computer that operates the digital printer. Machines that are standardly used to print transparencies to Fuji Crystal Archive Photo include the Chromira, Durst Lambda, and the LightJet. These machines print using lasers or leds for their light sources which are red, blue, and green.

    Rich
     
  4. Lopaka

    Lopaka Member

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    Ilfochrome is the only direct optical printing material left for printing positive transparencies. The other options involve a scanning step. A high-quality digital (there's that word again) image can be printed on light-jet technology by a lab on RA4 color print material (Fuji Crystal Archive is RA4). There are few labs left that print on Ilfochrome. Our own Bob Carnie is one. Check out his website:

    http://www.elevatordigital.ca/

    Bob
     
  5. isaacc7

    isaacc7 Member

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    Good round up but just one quibble... The prints made by a lightjet, etc ARE wet prints. They use the same paper and chemicals so the resulting print is exactly the same (from a materials standpoint) as any made in a "traditional" way, if you can call processes made in the 70's traditional...


    Isaac
     
  6. isaacc7

    isaacc7 Member

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    I do believe that there are some labs that use Ilfochrome materials with their light jet printers.

    Isaac
     
  7. Bob Carnie

    Bob Carnie Subscriber

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    As mentioned above, we print traditionally and digitally onto all materials as well as Ilfochrome Classic *ciba* and Harmon Technology digital fibre base stock.
    In fact I am printing fibres today using the lambda digital device which is red green and blue laser method and my traditional sinks for processing. Tommorow I will be using the enlargers and traditional sinks.
    very exciting times.
     
  8. roteague

    roteague Member

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    I'm only aware of one lab, near Flagstaff, that does optically printed Ilfochrome. I'm sure there are more, but I'm not aware of them. Most of my work these days is Fuji Crystal Archive, although Bob Carnie has printed a couple of my images on Ilfochrome (I want to do more of these, but I am holding off until I move).
     
  9. gordrob

    gordrob Subscriber

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    There are also those out there that are still doing dye transfer printing using the traditional processing methods that print from transparencies, color negs or in camera B&W seperation negs. Some I believe still do some printing on a commercial basis.

    Regards
    Gord
     
  10. pentaxuser

    pentaxuser Subscriber

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    A question which I hope isn't hijacking the originator's thread. Is another option to use a slide copier. Either a simple one attached to the camera or an illumitrans slide copier except that instead of loading it with another slide film for copying, you load it with colour neg?

    Of course this begs the question of why copy onto colour negs for RA4 prints when you could cut out the "middle-man" and simply use colour neg film.

    However if you only wanted the occasional print and otherwise projected slides then if this would work, would it be an option with reasonable quality?

    pentaxuser
     
  11. gordrob

    gordrob Subscriber

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    Going the negative film method you require a special internegative film. Kodak made a film just for this purpose, as well as Fuji, in 35mm and sheet film sizes. Once the transparency is copied to the internegative film it is then printed on your RA4 paper.

    Gord
     
  12. naturephoto1

    naturephoto1 Subscriber

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    Hi Pentax User,

    Several things to consider going that route. Number one if you are using something like a Bowens Illumitron or a Beseler Slide Duplicator you have to get the color balance correct with either filters or filtration. Depending on the film that you use you may have to work on the contrast as to either preflash as with the Beseler or use the Illumitron with both flash units. It would certainly require testing whatever you did.

    Also, you will be adding another lens into the mix with all of its abberations for the copy and then still another lens and its set of abberations when you finally print conventionally to Fuji Crystal Archive Photo Paper.

    If however, you scan the transparency particularly with either a drum or high end flat bed scanner you can make a large digital file that will not suffer from the affects of 2 more sets of lenses. Additionally, in Photoshop or like software, you will find that you will have much greater control in dodging and burning, adjustment of contrast, sharpness, spotting, color adjustment, etc. In addition, when you print with one of the mentioned machines you will not suffer the problems of a cone of light being projected and loss of light toward the corners and sharpness can also be better maintained out to the edges. Finally, generally you will be able to print larger maintaining sharpness than you normally could through conventional printing.

    Rich
     
  13. pentaxuser

    pentaxuser Subscriber

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    Thanks. Am I right in assuming that all of your caveats about old style slide copying would apply even if it was copying onto another slide film and then printing optically? Wasn't slide copying what the pros used to do to retain a good copy of a slide. They used to either send the original or the copy to their potential customers so as to be sure of retaining a slide which matched in quality.

    Does scanning and digitally printing using photshop win this much hands down? You present an overwhelming case for it. Unfortunately this means that those who take transparencies had better digitally print their transparencies so as I understand it couldn't then post them in the galleries.

    Pity as we're an Analogue site.

    pentaxuser.
     
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  15. HerrBremerhaven

    HerrBremerhaven Member

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    Hello pentaxuser,

    I use to get Edupes made to send out duplicate images, though it is rare currently when a business asks for that. More common now is a CD-R of images from a shoot, but that applies only when my images are going to be used for commercial printing and publishing. There is also a slight issue now with sending out Edupes in ensuring the client returns the images; otherwise you need to make sure they don't use the images beyond the rights you granted them to publish them, or make sure they don't try to resell your Edupes for their profit. You could have the same issues with a CD-R of images, but signing the files controls most issues of future usage. Whether or not you use Edupes is up to you, though if a client wants transparencies they are better off with Edupes than you sending originals and hoping they return them intact.

    Anyway, back to getting prints from your transparencies. Something I am surprised not mentioned is the DayLab Polaroid system. There is a larger DayLab that can handle Polaroid 8x10 film and most smaller medium format transparencies. The quality of the resulting 8x10 images can be very nice. best of all, no computer is needed.

    Ciao!

    Gordon Moat
     
  16. naturephoto1

    naturephoto1 Subscriber

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    Hi Pentaxuser,

    As far the question regarding slide copying, basically the purpose of the slide copy was to make a dupe. Yes you would still have to do much the same and both Kodak and Fuji used to have special duping film. I do not know what film is still available. I have never seen a slide dupe as sharp as the original. Yes they would either send the original or a dupe as for Stock sales and that is still true at least in part I guess today. It is/was understood that a slide dupe was a very good approximation of the original for color, contrast, composition, and sharpness.

    To post in the galleries from transparencies you do not need the print. Just the scan of the transparency. In fact, most of the images that I have posted in my gallery are in fact very small copies of the digital files that are used to make my prints; these files will only give a smathering of what a really good large Chromira or such print looks like.

    We have used hand prints as guide prints in the past for making my digital files and prints. From my experience over the last 11 1/2 years with Bill Nordstrom (Founder of EverColor and now Laser Light Photographics), and others may disagree, all of my images that have been digitally printed whether they were the old EverColor 4 color (CMYk) way or through either Chromira or LightJet machines have been better rendered and produced and much sharper than the same images hand printed. To bring home the point of sharpness, we have found that the digitally output image is sharper than the conventional print even if it is printed 1 to 2 (or more) sizes larger than the conventionally printed photograph.

    Rich
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Aug 6, 2006
  17. Bob Carnie

    Bob Carnie Subscriber

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    Considering image sharpness

    A print directly from the original transparancey will always be sharper than that print from any and I mean any type of scan to digital print.

    The benifits of scanning and using PS for colour is in other areas of dodge, burn, colour correct and contrast correction which if used properly can convince the eye that the image is sharper.

    A scan, or interneg is always a second generation and will not be as sharp.
     
  18. thefizz

    thefizz Subscriber

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    Thank you all for your detailed replies. I have a better understanding of the various methods available now.

    Peter
     
  19. naturephoto1

    naturephoto1 Subscriber

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    Bob,

    I am not going to argue with you as to a conventionally printed images being sharper. Then the perceived sharper digitally printed images 1 or 2 sizes larger than the conventional printed images must be due largely to the contrast. With the digitally printed images we have seen more even lighting and less light fall off and greater perceived sharpness toward the edges of the image.

    Also, do not forget there are issues with a second set of optics and their abberations and the cone of light issues with conventional printing.

    Rich
     
  20. Bob Carnie

    Bob Carnie Subscriber

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    If one uses glass carriers and the enlarger is precision laser aligned with apo enlarging lenses with bulb, negative, lens and easel all in line, there is absolutely better image sharpness from an optical print from original negative than a scanned version from the same negative.
    The same could be said of any interneg made vs printing from the original.

    Problem with most commercial labs and unfortunately with a majority of printers who work I have seen , the above conditions are not met and the optical prints do indeed suffer at the edges as you suggest.

    Percieved sharpness can be manipulated with Photo Shop but upon close inspection it is not all what it seems.
    I do both methods at our shop and have come to this conclusion time and time again.

    When I look at any photographic show I look at the four corners of the print for sharp film grain. If I see this then I will most likely enjoy the show.
     
  21. naturephoto1

    naturephoto1 Subscriber

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    Hi Bob,

    I am not trying to have a fight with you by any means. I have a question. In the past I have heard that the Chromira and the LightJet images appeared to be sharper than the Lambda. Have you noticed this to be true or was this and old wives tale? Also, did you ever have a chance to ever see the original EverColor Pigment and Fuji Super Gloss (generation before Crystal Archive) printed through their 4 color printing method with 4 perfectly registered negatives (CMYK)?

    Rich
     
  22. HerrBremerhaven

    HerrBremerhaven Member

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    Good afternoon Bob Carnie,

    Could you elaborate a bit more on the above statement? Just on the surface of that, it seems you would be more interested in the technical aspects of the images than the content, but that might be me reading your statement incorrectly. Thanks in advance for the explanation.

    Ciao!

    Gordon Moat
    A G Studio
     
  23. Bob Carnie

    Bob Carnie Subscriber

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    Gordon

    The statement refers to a technical issue that seems to fail a lot of photographers printing shows.
    If they are not producing edge to edge sharpness in their exhibition prints I am immediately questioning why the prints are not sharp.* usually lousy printing skills*
    Even if the original image is out of focus at the edges with camera work I still will expect to see sharp out of focus grain.
    If I don't see edge to edge sharpness then print excellence is suffering and I will not enjoy the show.
    Simple as that , every element in an exhibition is critical and print sharpness to me is critical. Do not mistake this with the image being out of focus. If that is in the photographers vision I do not question this.
     
  24. isaacc7

    isaacc7 Member

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    Not to drag this too far off topic but I once worked in a slide duping lab. Yup, that's all we did, dupe and enlarge transparencies. The owner had custom duping rigs made up. It consisted of a modified Mitchell motion picture camera with pin registration, an optical bench, and a conventional color enlarging head was used for illumination. We would use a color analyzer to insure accurate color adjustments. The whole thing was bolted directly into the foundation of the building in order to minimize possible vibrations. The lenses were special Nikkor duplicating lenses. I think they were originally designed to be used in motion picture optical printing machines. There was no helical, movable iris, or anything else that we're used to seeing in a regular lens. They cost something absurd like $1100 back in '73! He also used a Goertz Imperial Magnar for doing the 70mm dupes. The lenses were optimized for particular reproduction ratios 1:! in the case of the Nikors... Anyway, we would do test shots, he would time them and make color adjustments and then we would make the dupes in quantities. There were more than a few instances that I had to open up the mounts to figure out which one was the original and which one was the dupe, even when using a loupe! They're still in business (Repro Images in Vienna, Virginia) but they mostly do high end scanning these days. If you ever want some stunning dupes, or 70mm copies of your slides, I recommend them highly!

    Isaac
     
  25. HerrBremerhaven

    HerrBremerhaven Member

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    Hello Bob,

    It is a bit confusing due to the use of some extremely low grain films, like Ilford Pan F 50 (B/W) or Fuji Astia 100F (colour transparency). Print images from these films at small enlargements, and the grain just is not there to be seen without a loupe. I usually find more texture in the paper than grain from the film.

    If something were out of alignment in the printing process, then one or two corners might look different. However, in a case with defocused or monochromatic edges, and extremely low grain films, do you still find it easy to apply your test, or is there some other method you use? An example:

    http://www.allgstudio.com/gallery/automotive/MercTwo540_01.jpg

    Which is from Ilford Pan F 50. I had a great deal of trouble focusing the enlarger at all on grain, though focusing on edges of detail worked okay. I eventually had an 8" by 12" print made for my by someone I considered far better than I at producing B/W fibre prints, and the grain still was not evident to an unaided eye.

    I have a few giant 24" by 36" B/W enlargements from 35mm TriX, and those would pass your grain test easily in the corners. Under glass one of those is really tough to see the grain, since the upper half of that image is black night sky, devoid of detail. I might imagine a high contrast image with corners as the white of the paper would also not show grain.

    Normally I would look at the in-focus areas of a print to investigate the technical quality of an image, and often that detail might not be at the edges. I readily admit to not being a great printer, so I use well respected labs or talented B/W printers like Gene Nocon for my images. My colour fine art images come from transparency films, usually extremely small grain, and I am just not picking up on what you describe . . . . maybe on some images I can find what I think is grain on two or three corners, but any images with lighter areas of colour (especially 10" by 15" prints from 35mm Fuji Astia 100F) show nothing more than what was in the original scene.

    However, if I place a loupe over the corners of those same images, then I can see grain amongst the texture of the paper. I have young eyes, and wear light power contact lenses, but I cannot pick up what you are describing without a loupe. It does not seem like you could take a loupe to many exhibits and actually get that close to someone else's images without attracting some bad attention to yourself.

    Your long experience in business is probably partially responsible for your abilities, or what you investigate in the images of others. Where understanding your methods better could help would be to figure out how you are doing this. Since I rely on others doing my printing, this might help me evaluate my final prints . . . or maybe all my prints just suck? Thanks in advance.

    Ciao!

    Gordon Moat
    A G Studio
     
  26. Bob Carnie

    Bob Carnie Subscriber

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    Re Issaac7 post

    I too agree with his assesment of Repro Images ability to scan. I just finished a show that consisted of 40 Tango scans from 6x7 transparancies done by repro images , that in my opinion were the best high resolution scans we here have printed from.
    In fact we recommend them for high end drum scans to all our clients.

    We did a magnification strip test print from original to 30x40 size as well from the tango scan.
    The optical strip test was sharper , but we went with the tango scans for final print to maximize , contrast and colour correction and colour dodge and burn that just was not practical optically without many days of complicated contrast increase and decrease masks as well as colour dodge and burn masks let alone keeping the original and subsequent exposures clean from dust to make 30x40 ilfochromes.
    In colour work I find the custom abilities are opened up by using a high resolution scan, but I do not find this to be the case with black and white fibre printing. By using split printing techniques it would be difficult if not impossible for a mac operator to keep up to an experienced printer.