Control Negative Question...
I recently purchased a used minilab setup to use in my photography business and now I'm on the market for a control negative. I've worked on a couple different minilabs before for different companies and they've each had a different way of setting up the machine. One used a control negative that had a shot of a lady holding a grey card. The negative was used to make two different prints by the machine, one being a correct exposure and one being a bit darker. Another company had just a simple shot of a grey card that they would run a print off of every morning and the routine that followed mirrored the other lab- use the densitometer on it, run another print through and so forth until the desired density was set.
My print processor is a Fuji SFA model and it was recommended that I purhcase a control negative from a company called Aperion. Here is the write-up on it:
"Your Fuji SFA machine will run its best if you correctly set the negative density storage with the True Balance 2 SFA printer control negative. This single negative strip is exposed in the sequence the machine requests super-over, over, normal, under. This negative is recommended by Fuji for all SFA machines."
Okay, my question being this. Because I have yet to fire the machine up and go through the setup I don't know what I need... Should I buy this negative or is it something that I can make? What does "super-over" mean? Is it just a strip with four exposures of a grey card on it, the first being two stops over exposed, the second one stop over exposed, a correct exposure and a frame that is one shot underexposed? I'd like to save myseft the $50-60 on a peice of film if possible. That just seems like a lot of money!
Test negatives are made with over, normal and under exposure. In addition, the printer has a set of buttons that control density and color. One bank, those that control density, are intended to compensate for back lighting and etc. These also have labels similar to the above. On the old Kodak machines they were Plus, normal plus, normal, normal minus, and minus. This gave the operator a range of 5 exposures, and using the control negative set the normal in the middle.
I would suggest you purchase this control neg.
basically the machine needs to be set up for normal, under and over negative densities.
this negative when properly balanced in help *analyze for the different negative conditions and compensate colour and density for your print exposures.
The printer I use *Lambda * has a 21 step dye program along with the *Shirley* lady for reference. But when balancing the different papers ect. we only read the step wedge and balance for nuetral grey and equal density steps between white to grey.
Using a grey patch negative after your machine is totally acceptable to see if you are basically in balance day to day, but I stronly recommend you use this control negative you mentioned to balance your machine.
One is necessary. to control the different slopes you will encounter with foreign film.
The other is a quick saftey check for day to day operation.
I hope this helps