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  1. #21
    TheFlyingCamera's Avatar
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    I'm a little confused by what you mean when you state "hybrid". There are a number of ways to get from a to b with color printing. Some labs use the scan-to-inkjet to produce a print, and some are using a "digital enlarger" that scans the negative and makes an optical enlargement onto RA4 paper. Scan-to-print will have greater loss of detail than the digital-optical enlargement, but the benefit is the papers are arguably more stable and you have a wider range of paper choices with scan-to-print. Places that do digital-optical enlargement will talk about "lightjet" or "Chromira" prints (I may be wrong on the Chromira name, so if someone knows better, please correct me). If you want traditional wet-darkroom print quality, these are the preferred way to go. As mentioned before, the old-fashioned way of purely optical/wet-darkroom printing is pretty much dead from a commercial standpoint. If you want a commercial lab to print it for you, check and see what system of printing they use for making color prints.

  2. #22

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    I doubt that very many outfits use actual digital enlargers. They were something of a bellyflop. Digital
    printing onto photo paper (versus inkjet) either involves colored lasers or some kind of programmed contact platen. There are still some full-service labs around which offer true optical printing via enlarger
    too, since the processing step itself is virtually the same. But advanced printing controls get rather
    expensive labor-wise in direct optical printing, and there is a smaller labor pool with the requisite skills. Still, there are folks who prefer the look of optical and are willing to pay for it. If you learn to do
    it yourself, direct enlargment is in fact quite economical material-wise. Time is another issue.

  3. #23
    Poisson Du Jour's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by DREW WILEY View Post
    Making RA4 prints from color negs is easy. Doing it well is another subject, just like anything else.
    Chromes can be done in darkroom via interneg, but that is an advanced skill which even pro labs rarely
    did well, simply because they couldn't afford the labor to do it right. But the actual output medium of
    scan to laser is essentially the same in terms of paper options, so you can still do it all with an enlarger
    and basic darkroom drums or feed processors. And you can get a more seamless result in terms of detail
    and tone transitions. This is not the appropriate forum for digital versus optical, but they are parallel
    paths to equally high-quality results under ideal circumstances. 6x9 film is particularly challenging because it's small and flimsy, and requires more spotting than sheet film, scratches more easily than
    35mm etc. It's easier to retouch via scanning and Photoshop. But where sheet film is involved, I'd far
    rather have true optical enlargements, if optimum quality is your concern. I realize there are some supply and service issues in Australia, but you should be able to acquire basic RA4 supplies there.
    Portra sheet film can be used for excellent interneg work, though it helps to have color masking skills.


    Masking at a pro lab is a requisite for using Ilfochrome Classic; there is very rarely a tranny, especially that can get away without masking.Unfortunately the mask also interferes with sharpness.

    The printers are (were) Master Accredited (here in Australia). The problem with Ilfo' is the limited wiggle-room with contrast in the two media types. Images can lose from 2 to 3.5 stops through the process; I nailed a lot on Velvia, but a lot more were "at the margin" needing extensive masking and testing, and neither of the two media versions were ever 100% satisfactory. So, pro labs can afford to do it, but the cost will ultiimately be absorbed by the customer, which is why it was so very expensive. It was never "seamless" in terms of detail or tonal transitiions, but rather abrubt and jarring; there was room for a lot of improvement of the media, and why it never was improved has puzzled users for a long time.

    4x5 sheet film comes up absolutely beautifully in the hybrid sphere — it really does, just beautifully; I love it, but I will not move on to 4x5 because I am concerned by Fuji's potential plans to trim off yet more lines form the reversal film stable, possibly later this year.
    .::Gary Rowan Higgins

    A comfort zone is a wonderful place. But nothing ever grows there.
    —Anon.






  4. #24

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    One of the great boons of scanning, processing, and printing is the ability to correct contrast and color very easily. Scanning thousands of prints and source negatives from my father and grandfather, both published and professional photographers was very enlightening in this matter. With a few second's work, I could attain a full brightness range. Awesome.

    And it's not like optical printing doesn't have it's own issues like lens aberrations, etc.

    I would think the skills of the operator in either system is more important that which system one uses. But each to their own.

  5. #25

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    One of the great boons of scanning, processing, and printing is the ability to correct contrast and color very easily. Scanning thousands of prints and source negatives from my father and grandfather, both published and professional photographers was very enlightening in this matter. With a few second's work, I could attain a full brightness range. Awesome.

    And it's not like optical printing doesn't have it's own issues like lens aberrations, etc.

    I would think the skills of the operator in either system is more important that which system one uses. But each to their own.

  6. #26

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    Poisson - masks do not interfere with sharpness. Quite to the contrary. I even use masks when making
    up precision dupes and internegs to print from. Without exaggeration, I think I can legitimately refer to
    myself as one of the world's best Ciba printers, but so what - it's now an obsolete process. But the same masking skills can be adapted to other color media, including RA4 papers, albeit with a steep new
    learning curve. And Paul - what in heaven's name makes you think any decent enlarging system has
    "lens abberations"? Scanners involve optical components too. And contrast & hue issues can also be
    addressed by masking (and have been for decades). If many people prefer to do this kind of work via
    scan & PS these days, that's fine with me; but this specifically being an analog forum, I'll advance the
    argument that it can still be done in at least as high a quality level using solely darkroom means ...
    and it's a helluva lot more fun!

  7. #27

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    Quote Originally Posted by DREW WILEY View Post
    Poisson - masks do not interfere with sharpness. Quite to the contrary. I even use masks when making
    up precision dupes and internegs to print from. Without exaggeration, I think I can legitimately refer to
    myself as one of the world's best Ciba printers, but so what - it's now an obsolete process. But the same masking skills can be adapted to other color media, including RA4 papers, albeit with a steep new
    learning curve. And Paul - what in heaven's name makes you think any decent enlarging system has
    "lens abberations"?
    Scanners involve optical components too. And contrast & hue issues can also be
    addressed by masking (and have been for decades). If many people prefer to do this kind of work via
    scan & PS these days, that's fine with me; but this specifically being an analog forum, I'll advance the
    argument that it can still be done in at least as high a quality level using solely darkroom means ...
    and it's a helluva lot more fun!
    As to my comment on aberrations, I stand corrected. For whatever reason I was thinking - or, more accurately, wasn't thinking - my mind wandered over to today's flat bed scanners. LED light sources, lots of sensors across the bar, no lens needed.

    I can admire anyone who wants to spend untold hours in the darkroom doing thing "purely." But, I have neither the time nor inclination. OK, nor the skills.

    When I started using scanners with all the controls and I found that I could do in seconds would might be hours in a wet darkroom, with a stock of paper grades - no such luxury in color - it was, and is, Nirvana. My philosophy, which some people here can't tolerate, is "Perfection is the enemy of good enough." The bottom line is, "What will the viewer react to?" I think that matters of having a full brightness range will usually trump almost any other visual/psychological criteria.

  8. #28

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    Considering that I can have an 8x12 color photograph printed from a digital file for $2. I wonder if an optically printed photo of the same size could justify the disparity in price.

    This summer I intend to find out. I will take a 35mm negative and a 6x4.5 120 negative and have each printed both ways. I want to see what the difference really is.
    - Bill Lynch

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