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  1. #1

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    How to get optical prints from a lab

    I have received very helpful advice here before and I hope you guys can help me to understand some of the basics of sending color film to a lab. What I am looking for is a purely photochemical, and not digital, process from the camera to the final print.

    I sent a few rolls of 35 mm film to Richard Photo Lab in Hollywood. (I chose them because I believe they have worked with Kodak Portra in the past.) In the box I wrote that I will eventually want quality optical prints, however I first need to see what I have shot and select the best images. But from what I understand from a phone call today, they only do digital scanning and printing. We eventually agreed upon small (less than 5 MB each) scans, and they are going to send the negatives back to me in the mail. Is this a good idea? I am hoping this means the negatives will still be suitable for non-digital priting, and that the scans will enable me to select the best images without putting too much wear and tear on the negatives. I guess I will have to find another lab to do the printing because I am not able to do it myself.

    Do I seem to be missing anything?

    (I tried to post this in another thread but it was closed.)

  2. #2

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    How else will the negs come back to you? Unless you want to pick them up yourself?

  3. #3
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    The negs will be fine for optical printing (the development process is the same, scanning isn't going to hurt them!); the issue is that basically no commercial labs do optical prints anymore because hybrid is so much more time-efficient and tweakable. Their printers are profiled and they know from what's on-screen exactly what will come out on the paper; instead of spending a couple sheets of paper and half an hour doing test exposures and developing them, they just move a slider on-screen for a couple of seconds.

    If you want optical prints, you're going to need to do them yourself. It's not real hard as long as you have a colour enlarger (which people tend to give away lately) and RA4 chemicals and papers are readily and cheaply available in California (which is where I assume you are).

  4. #4
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    If you don't want prints, you can order a "contact sheet"(negatives are placed in contact(while in their sleeve(printfile or other) with the paper under an enlarger).

    Most pro labs don't do this anymore. Pretty sure RPL doesn't, they just scan and burn a cd.

    The ICON here in LA does optical proofsheets. Probably also at least one lab in a major metro area close to you(we're talking LA/NY/London/Syndey big, not 25k people, although I'd be surprised if there was someone in a city that small). The ICON also process all their film on a dip-n-dunk machine, which IMO, is the best way to process outside of hand tanks or a Jobo

    C-41 is a standard process time-wise for Kodak or Fuji(the same 3:15 developing time as the "standard"), the chemicals are the same, just made by different companies(Hunt for Fuji, Champion for Kodak IIRC)

    where are YOU(the OP) located on this planet? It might help narrow down the search for a lab that offers this service if you want it(proof/contact sheets)

    -Dan


  5. #5

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    Finding a lab what is all light printing good luck.
    Thedarkroom.com say they do. Optical printers are getting old. The last old style optical printer I work with was in 2003.

  6. #6

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    I think let do the DIY darkroom approach.

  7. #7

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    hi

    for optical prints
    why don't you contact blue moon
    to see if they can work with you ..
    they are an apug sponsor/advertiser,
    and i have heard great things about them !

    good luck !
    john

  8. #8

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    i was gonna say -- blue moon -- they have an actual darkroom. reviewing negs ahead should be easy -- see if they can email thumbnails, make your selections and see how it goes.

  9. #9

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    Blue Moon Camera and Machine here in Portland print optically. Pretty sure they don't even have a computer in the building. They send out their stuff to get scanned methinks, but I know from experience they print everything optically. Been inside many times, and they just remodeled. AWESOME store.

  10. #10

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    Thank you guys for responding. I am not willing to deal with color film by myself (though someday I might learn how to do black and white).

    What I need to figure out now is what kind of a product I need and then find a lab that will do it. I am willing to pay for quality, and I am biased against anything that involves digital tech. (Don't ask me why; it's a subject for another discussion.) The problem is that even though I know how to shoot a roll of film, I am utterly clueless about what comes after. Due to my ignorance I could hardly talk with Richard Lab on the phone. Even some of the responses in this thread use terms I don't understand.

    The nearest city to me is Los Angeles but it is not very close.

    The Portra film is labelled, "C-41". I understand this refers to a developing process. How long has this process been around? How would a fine art photographer, say, in the 1980s have typically dealt with a roll of Portra or whatever kind of color film they used? Maybe the answer to that question is what I need to look for in a lab.

    Perhaps you guys know of some links or articles I should read.

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