Durst Lambda prints
I hesitate to ask about this process since it is a hybrid silver/digital technology. Transparencies are high-res scanned to a CD then the Durst Lambda equipment uses a laser device to put the image onto a silver halide color negative paper that is processed in conventional color chemistry. The result is a photographic archive quality print rather than an ink jet print. I had high hopes of a beautiful result, but I was really disappointed in the color rendition compared to my original Fuji Velvia transparency. Has anyone had good or poor results using the Durst Lambda system? I am requesting the color lab to try again because of the very poor result (overly blue and too dark).
As you probably know, I don't think there is a process that can match the look and saturation of a transparency sitting on a color correct light table.
As for the quality of these prints, others, like MR Callow can probably tell you.
Much depends on the person operating the machine, doing the scan, working on the file, and the calibration of everything. I haven't tried Lambda, but I've done LightJet and Chromira and gotten good results.
Try West Coast Imaging. They do really fine work. Have them do the scan and a Chromira print, and if you don't like it, then you'll need to think about another process.
The examples of Durst Lambda prints the representative showed me were so outstanding that I really expected good prints. I think there might be so many steps involved in this process that the technicians are too far removed from the original to know what the print is supposed to look like. I am wondering now if the last person in the chain even saw the original transparency. In the past we had Cibachrome and Kodak direct reversal enlargements made from our 4x5 transparencies with great success everytime.
The lab decided to not charge us rather than to attempt to make better enlargements. Now I am really interested if anyone has had successful results from the Durst Lambda process.
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durst lambda prints
We are in the process of buying a durst lambda and have been using this device for over a year exposing onto cibachrome, crystal archive and fibre base paper. As with all aspects of printing, the quality of the input, ie. the file is paramount to the final print quality. Personally I have seen a few hundred images exposed with this device on the above materials to various sizes and I beleive the quality is worthy of purchasing the unit. As stated , the quality of input is extremely important.
Thanks for the positive comments. The examples the representative showed me were really excellent, but I do not know who made them or where. The CD images look good when viewed on a monitor. The enlargements are too dark and too blue. I attribute the poor quality to the operator rather than to the system itself. I know that great results are possible. That is why I am so frustrated.
Originally Posted by Bob Carnie
Is that fibre based B&W and are you processing the paper by hand?
I have never operated a Lambda, but have seen the output and it was very good and large output was or can be better than traditional.
With the digital output devices I have used, along with the the quality of the source file, calibration is hugely important. On digital machines that output to photosensitive papers or films you generally need a base profile for the material and then you still need to calibrate for that batch.
Having done this you may still need to tweak an individual file (contrast, density, colour or even saturation) to make up for the difference between what the screen shows and what the device can output.
If you think about the work flow, generational issues can become immense.
1) Client gives you a tranie
2) you scan the tranie
3) Using the tranie as a go by, you get colour, density, contrast *as close as possible*
4) from the backlight monitor to the reflective paper you tweak as needed -- but not too much because you are about to go out of business if you don't move on to the next job
Meanwhile, in my world NOTHING looks like a transparency. (period) The closest you will get is to use a backlight material, followed by a flex material and ending with a gloss on Fuji C or Kodak ultra paper.
To gma and mrcallow
When we make prints on the lambda we do a proportional full image test, as well we encourage a inkjet glossy sample print for colour ,contrast ect.
If your print is too dark and blue, it is simply not the Lambda exposing units fault, rather the operator to client relationship. Think of a Lambda as a enlarger and how you would interact with a technician using a enlarger. Nothing is different when I print traditionally or digitally, in both cases I test and usually require a sample reference if I do not know the client well. I would suggest insisting on a better working relationnship with your Lambda operator.
You are correct , the fibre paper is indeed processed by hand as a traditional print would be done,. My darkroom is over 1500sq ft with miles of sink to handle large prints and as well small prints. Both traditional and digital are processed in the same room.Your comments on workflow is correct it is immense and a constant learning curve on the relationship of client and ourselves.
We are producing work from scanned originals(colourneg, transparancys , scala and black and white negative) as well from highend and low end, digital backs and 35mm digital cameras.
Regarding nothing looks like the transparancy. I beg to differ. the original scene is what I would refer to . Any capture whether its film neg or positive, or digital capture, has its failures and that is what we are always trying to correct for , and making the image closer to the original scene, that is in our minds eye. In fact my limited digital experience tells me that if you are capturing digitally with a phase back on a medium format back you will have a better chance of reproducing colour than if you capture on trans , process in local lab, and then print to your desired media.
re : not too much tweaking because you are about to go out of business if you don't move to next.
The beauty of the Lambda system is that you do not print unless the calibration is exacting, there are safe gaurds in place that are not permitting the machine to automatticaly run. A 21 step step wedge is read by the computer before we run. There fore we simutaniously work on a number of client work in different media , and we expect our clients to make the final call on colour density contrast , if they so desire. Nothing is run in panic and what you see today is ran the same tommorow or next day . The inboard densitiometer conrtols when you run. In a pinch the operator can overide the computer and fudge the run any way they want.
As you may guess we are not in a hurry with our clients work and we can have test sent to our clients , and wait for their replys.
This machine is a very precesion enlarger, and you"d freak if you saw the rules of operation, (cost,operation, and service contract) but with that said I still beleive it is a important and critical side of our operation. Worthy of its expense.
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I was able to locate a local lab to make Ilfochrome, the replacement for Ilford's Cibachrome. The 16x20 enlargements retain the saturated color of the Fuji Velvia 4x5 transparencies and have the unique luminescence, almost porcelain appearance, of the discontinued Cibachrome. Ilford's website indicates that the new material is available in three contrast grades. I highly recommend Ilfochrome for special prints from transparencies.