Question about commercial lab b/w enlargement

Discussion in 'B&W: Film, Paper, Chemistry' started by wolfee, Dec 15, 2007.

  1. wolfee

    wolfee Member

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    I've been fooling around with cameras for 40 years, but don't have a clue about developing or printing. So, please forgive this question if it is kind of dumb.

    If a lab only charges $5.50 to make an 8x12 enlargement from a 35mm neg, can I assume that they have digitized the negative and then do an inkjet print? Nobody would be able to sell an enlargement that big if it was done on real b/w photo paper, would they? The lab is Dwaynes Photo.
     
  2. GeoffHill

    GeoffHill Member

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    Probably digitised and then printed on colour paper for that price. Unlikely to be an inkjet
     
  3. jim appleyard

    jim appleyard Member

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    It may also be on the Portra b/w paper. This was a paper that you could print a "b/w" image on and run it thru color chemistry. I believe Kodak axed this paper along with the rest of the line +- 2 years ago. Dwaynes may still have some of it left, tho'. Call and ask?
     
  4. wolfee

    wolfee Member

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    Thanks. I would call and ask, they have excellent customer service, but are not exactly forthcoming about revealing how they do stuff.
     
  5. Changeling1

    Changeling1 Member

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    What part of "not exactly forthcoming" equals excellent customer service? How much further will Dwaynes Photo lower the bar? :confused:
     
  6. dpurdy

    dpurdy Member

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    Almost nobody left out there doing optical printing, and if they do it is probably on color paper. In my area anyway it is really really really hard to get good quality B&W printing and processing at any commercial lab. Usually the contrast is off or the color is strange or both.
     
  7. srs5694

    srs5694 Member

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    In the past, commercial photofinishers made both color and B&W enlargements optically for fairly low prices. I recall reading descriptions, ~20 years ago, about "advanced" scanning technology that was used to determine exposure, color balance (for color film), etc. No doubt this technology would seem primitive by today's standards, but it did enable photofinishers to make optical enlargements without a lot of guesswork. These certainly weren't custom hand-made prints, but they were good enough to satisfy the average consumer.

    I don't know how many labs use similar techniques today, but my guess would be that it's pretty rare. As others have said, scanning and printing digitally is common. The digital printing can be done on conventional (RA-4 or even B&W) paper or using some other technology. If you want a particular type of print, ask the lab if they can provide it. If they can't even provide an answer, move on to another lab. You might also consider taking up enlarging yourself. In today's market, you can pick up a used enlarger and other necessary equipment (trays, safelight, etc.) quite inexpensively. You can even set this up on a portable cart in a bathroom if you have no other suitable space. This is overkill if you just want one or two prints a year, but if you want to get the most out of conventional B&W photography, doing your own prints provides you with the sort of control you can't get via a commercial lab.
     
  8. Konical

    Konical Subscriber

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    Good Afternoon,

    Recently, I went to St. Louis Photocolor (an excellent lab I've used for years) and asked to have some Cibachromes made. I was informed that Ciba's weren't available and I'd have to go with a different process (Crystal Archive, I think it was). I needed the prints (family photos) to use as Christmas gifts, and I knew the lab would do as good a job as possible. I am somewhat disappointed. The glossy prints aren't bad, but they lack the snap and sparkle of Cibas. The original 6 x 7 Provia transparencies are very vibrant and rich in color; those qualities did not translate well into the prints, which, by comparison, seem slightly dull. I'm sure they'll look fine to my non-photographer relatives, but I certainly wish I'd been able to get Cibachromes. I know that it's hard to match the color quality of transparencies with any print, but the drop-off in this case is a bit more than I expected.

    Konical