Biggest, best Mono prints?- Scan ULF then lightjet??
I am considering the best way to go about very large (30 x40 inch plus) monochrome prints of the highest quality. While I will stay with traditional for smaller more intimate original prints (for homes rather than corporate premesis), I am wondering how to go about the big stuff. Wet methods cause me too much headache (I can do no larger than 20x24 without severe problems) and am interested in the possibility of scanning ULF and printing via lightjet once the dodging/burning etc have been sorted by computer. I am aware that B&W is not easy to scan and does not hold quality at great enlargement in the way that colour does (that tonality thing again) - so what if the neg was ULF? Would an expensive drum scan be the only option? From what I have seen, most labs cannot scan over 10x8 and in any case scan 10x8 negs/trannies to a lower res than 5x4 so you end up with identical file sizes - defeating the object. My objective is all the detail in a giant print that I can possibly attain. I saw Sandy King mention somewhere about huge prints from scanned ULF on an A3 flatbed? What quality can be obtained here? 7x17 looks handy as he states that it can be done in one pass on an A3 scanner....but from what I can see there are no affordable home flatbeds at A3 that come close to an A4 Epson 4870 for example. A 7x17 inch neg at 1200dpi (typical for an A3 flatbed?) barely beats a 5x4 at 4800 dpi it would appear!? Does this mean we are back to drum scans?
Sorry for the rambling...head overheating. Question in short: How do I get the largest, best quality monochrome prints without using wet methods?
A member that goes by the moniker inthedark has a business dealing with making very large prints by chemical means. She can quite likely do what you need done.
I've got some B/W lightjets that were from scanned 35mm Tmax 100 that look pretty darn good up to 16x20. I would imagine that a ULF neg would make a really really nice large print, but it may be overkill. The viewing distance for such huge prints is pretty far. I don't know if the average viewer (photographer or not) would be able to see the difference between a print that big that originated form a 8x10 or 12x20 negative to tell you the truth.
If I were starting out with this in mind, I would go 8x10, drum scan, then lightjet. And make sure that the 8x10 has the best optics I could afford.
I don't really think of 30x40" as extremely large. It's a big print, but not out of the range of what many people typically do for exhibition from negs anywhere from medium format to 8x10". If you're going to send it out to a lab anyway for a LightJet or other digital output, why not just use a lab to make conventional prints? You can always ask for proofs and work out the dodging/burning from the proofs or print a master print to your own specifications in smaller format and ask the lab to match it in a larger size.
If you want to go with digital output, look into the services offered by West Coast Imaging. They've replaced LightJet with Chromira printing for color, which produces cleaner colors than LightJet on Fuji Crystal Archive (I've ordered prints from the same scan on both), and they also offer Ultrachrome and Piezography prints. I suspect Piezography is your best bet for digital B&W.
What I know via my experience is
The tango drum scanner is the best I know of for bw negs but is limited (to my knowledge and I could be wrong) to 8x10.
The next best thing for large negs is the top of the line CreoScitex Eversmart Pro II (or what ever they call the top of the line) it is a 13x18" flat bed scanner with a true res (meaning the optical res) of I think about 5k per inch. I use the older 'Pro non II' 2.5k per inch version and it is the best flatbed I have ever used and the only way I know of to get good to great scans from film 11x14 or larger. It is also the only Flatbed worth its salt when it comes to scanning film. The microteks with dual lamps are also good but the film scanning is not through glass and they don't go bigger than 8x10.
I'm not sure either the company or the scanner is still made but there are lots of them out their.
Like a drum scanner they work best when the film is oiled to the glass.
Getting a good chromogenic print is another thing. I have used a laser based lightjet for small prints and film and it is by far and away the best film recorder I have ever used (Including LVT's and Solitaires) but know nothing about the purely for paper ones. The one I used was intended for film and was capable of exposing 11x14 paper at its lowest res. It did produce perfect B&W Tmax negs.
I have heard from those I trust that the Chromira's produce the best digital B&W output, but I haven't seen the output. The problem with LJ, Lambdas, etc.. is that they use an RGB light source and getting neutral greys is an issue. I assume or believe that there is chromogenic RA4 materials and I know you can get graded RC B&W paper and machine print them.
I don't know if that helps, but there you are.
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For inkjets the Epson 9600 or a Colorspan with a dedicated black inkset ( 1 black and 5 greys) would be a good choice.
On the otherhand
I think the best way to go would be to find a prolab that has the equipment and the skill to make the enlargement the old fashoined way on FB paper using one of your smaller prints as a 'go by.'
A girl over at school made her own ULF jobo style tank out of aluminum stove piping. She has a home made roller base that she agitates the thing on. It long and some sort of wheels on it. She routinely does 30x40 prints in color. I don't know if this gives you an idea about making a easier home made set up. I haven't seen her in months.
Cool.. on his site he states "The heart of the lab is the enlarger I built which has a 2000/4000w pulsed xenon light source". This sounds like the light source on my large pulse xenon enlarger. I might have to contact once I get it up and running
Originally Posted by Donald Miller
-also that neg carrier on his page looks exactly like the two that came with my enlarger, I wonder if he hacked up and rebuilt one of the enlargers I have..
30x40" prints are no problem from a scanned 5x4 inch neg.
The lab I use to print my work can digitally print on chromagenic B&W paper for any size you might imagine (1.2 metres on one side, 40 metres on the other - that's the length of the roll). That lab is Pixel Perfect - www.pixelperfect.com.au.