I don't know if this is a concern you guys. I thinking.. Most of of us do our own Black and White print at home with enlrgers with tack sharp results do to superior enlarer lenses. Is there a place that still does color print using enlargers with superior lenses? "Old School".. The reason I'm concerned is, most of the commercial printing is done with digital printer that scan the images. Is there some loss in scanning of film when it's printed?
You get better results optically printing by hand most negatives vs scanning and printing on a minilab machine. If you go the expensive route and drum scan and then print I think the results are about equal. Digital gains the edge for complex image corrections. I think the results from most optical and digital minilabs are usually poor quality, so the real issue is the care put into making the image.
I print my own color work both optically and with a drum scanner output to inkjet or chromira. It takes much more time to do a good scan, make the corrections, and print than it does to print optically once the processor is setup (not an insignificant amount of time and expense).
And yes, there is some information lost with scanning film, no matter how good the scanner is. There is also some loss with printing through an enlarging lens, no matter how good the lens is.
If it's on the film, everything can be reproduced either way. Just depends on the skill and equip, and final output size in either case. Either way,don't expect something for nothing. I prefer optical printing, and if any information is hypothetically lost due to the optics, it sure ain't anything the naked eye can perceive. In the print itself, I'd give color optical printing a slight edge over Lightjet or Chromira for detail rendition, and distinctly over color inkjet. I think the workflow is easier too, but a lot just depends on personal preferences. Good results don't come easy in either case. A hole in one is pretty rare. Minilabs are the antithesis to quality. You don't get a gourmet meal at a MacDonald's drive-up window!
There's a reason why many of the top labs in the world are no longer offering analogue c-prints and it's not because they lack skill but rather lack suitable papers.
The papers are better than ever. Competent help is a different story.
There is some loss, but not a lot. Modern enlarging lenses (other than the cheap ones) are very well corrected for color and
are capable of making outstanding color prints. Hand made prints will be somewhat sharper than the machine made scan to print items, particularly in the larger sizes. Scanning allows commercial print makers easier and more versatile controls. You may have some trouble duplicating this at the enlarger, although you can usually do it. The scans seem to be about 2800 dots per inch, which is pretty detailed and close to the resolution of most negatives, so the scanning prints are good. But hand made enlargements have a certain something extra.
How about you guys make a 12x18" from some 35mm Ektar or something, send it to me and the neg, and I'll do the same on the lab equipment here.
This place does all optical printing. I have them do all my color prints that are 30" to 36" wide.
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Most remaining pro labs which do optical enlargement are mom n' pop operations susceptible to retirement, undercapitalization, etc. Therefore
it seems they keep digital printing options parallel, and offer both kinds of service. Printing right onto RA4 papers is more cost effective than
either inkjet or adding an intermediate scan step. But you need good negs to begin with. If you need to retool them the traditional manner,
you're faced with a lot of labor and a limited labor pool that has these traditional skills. By contast, people learning digital correction skills are
dime a dozen, though that's only the tip of the iceberg in terms of customer satisfaction. I don't print other peoples shots, just my own, so
don't have that headache. But an intelligently run business has to find a distinct niche. A lot of what custom labs used to do has now been
ceded over to inkjet printing directly in-house by med to large corporations. Still, optical printing can have a distinct look at a relatively
affordable rate. And the services of a true lab might also be necessary for specialized things like large print display mounting, which requires
specials skills and equipment. So there will probably remain a need for them in the foreseeable future. But pro quality work deserves equal
payment, and good lab services have never been cheap. If anyone wants to whine, then simply go back to the days when dye transfer printing was the quality norm, and extrapolate those prices into today's adjusted inflation. Then faint. Or simply learn to color print yourself.
He does great custom work such as burning and dodging.
Originally Posted by Sirius Glass
I had him make several 30"x30" black & white prints on metallic paper for extra punch.