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  1. #1

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    Where are color prints made optically?

    I am trying to figure out what life will be like back in the US when I eventually move back home. I have started shooting film again while living overseas in China. My main interest is in prints, not scans, not anything to do with scanning.

    I have been out of the film picture a good 10 years or so, and have lost touch completely with printing.

    From what I keep reading here, optical printing, straight from the negative is on life support, if not dead. On the other hand, sometimes people refute this claim.

    So I ask, where can I send negatives (medium format sizes) to print optically? Mail order prints are no problem. I just want some examples to see where I can do this, and at what price. Heck, I might even send my negatives there from China, to see some examples.

    Right now my main interest is in color printing, since I fully expect at some point to do my own monochromes. Color is a whole different story.

    Thanks!

  2. #2
    polyglot's Avatar
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    Commercial optical printing is much harder to find than hybrid, simply because it is much more labour-intensive and therefore comparatively very expensive. It's not dead if you ask people who print for themselves.

    There was a thread recently asking for a list of optical-printing labs if you want to do a bit of searching.

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    Sirius Glass's Avatar
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    I use Samys for color film development and prints, but for large prints I use Golden Color http://goldencolor.com/. Both are printing optically, not digitally for my work.
    Warning!! Handling a Hasselblad can be harmful to your financial well being!

    Nothing beats a great piece of glass!

    I leave the digital work for the urologists and proctologists.

  5. #5
    Dave R.'s Avatar
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    Where are color prints made optically?

    I think BlueMoon Camera in Oregon still does optical prints.

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    Thank you very much.

  7. #7

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    Quote Originally Posted by polyglot View Post
    Commercial optical printing is much harder to find than hybrid, simply because it is much more labour-intensive and therefore comparatively very expensive. It's not dead if you ask people who print for themselves.

    There was a thread recently asking for a list of optical-printing labs if you want to do a bit of searching.
    I find this information that you give confusing. Doesnt hybrid printing involve a significant loss of quality due to the scanning process? Or does hybrid printing automatically mean drum scans? I find it amazing that the glorious prints that medium format is capable of has been lost due to this hybrid process.

    There's nothing like a wonderful print off a 6 x 9 negative and so far, i have never seen a scan that can deliver such. With optical printing dead or dying, it seems that a huge benefit to shooting color film is being lost.

  8. #8

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    Quote Originally Posted by RattyMouse View Post
    I find this information that you give confusing. Doesnt hybrid printing involve a significant loss of quality due to the scanning process? Or does hybrid printing automatically mean drum scans? I find it amazing that the glorious prints that medium format is capable of has been lost due to this hybrid process.

    There's nothing like a wonderful print off a 6 x 9 negative and so far, i have never seen a scan that can deliver such. With optical printing dead or dying, it seems that a huge benefit to shooting color film is being lost.
    Hybrid printing can be a blessing and a curse. Yes, your prints might not look as detailed under a loupe, but realistically things like digital ICE eliminating dust and scratches help. Also, food for thought, fuji at one point stated that print quality given morning calibration prints drifted LESS in 6 months on their digital frontiers than their optical SFA's would between opening and lunch hour.

  9. #9
    MattKing's Avatar
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    Are we talking about working on the margins where demands for quality are highest, or are we talking about good quality prints at reasonable expense?

    If we are talking about the latter, good quality scans and experienced and knowledgeable operators mean good quality results.

    It really depends more on the people doing the work then the choice of process if you are talking about cost-effective product.

    Around here, you need to request a moderately expensive custom print to get something printed optically.
    Matt

    “Photography is a complex and fluid medium, and its many factors are not applied in simple sequence. Rather, the process may be likened to the art of the juggler in keeping many balls in the air at one time!”

    Ansel Adams, from the introduction to The Negative - The New Ansel Adams Photography Series / Book 2

  10. #10
    polyglot's Avatar
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    Hybrid is just a different tradeoff. You typically get a little more grain but not much assuming you're using a proper film scanner not some cheap flatbed. My Nikon 8000 has slightly less resolution than my RZ67 but it's good enough to make grain-free 40" canvases from chromes. Hybrid also means you get automatic dust removal (from colour film) and the ability to tweak curves, contrast and saturation to your heart's content. Arguably I get much better colour fidelity from hybrid processing, I do the wet printing because I enjoy it.

    Commercial labs exist to make money. They can do a scan for about $10 of their time and print to 16x20" for about $2. That's much more commercially reasonable than the same $2 of paper and most of an hour for a technician to operate the enlarger. Plus the adjustments are free and previewable. 99% of customers would rather pay $20 to get a scan+print that comes out exactly like the on-screen preview and probably as sharp as their eyes can perceive, than spend $100 to get a print that might be 1% better in resolution with a good chance of not getting the colour they wanted. The former is a commercially viable operation, the latter is not.

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