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  1. #1

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    Printing Kodak Portra?

    I've only recently began playing with the new Kodak PortraVC in 160 and 400 speed versions and am noticing blown highlights some prints when I expose as I always have for color neg - +1/3.

    When I shoot neg, I use my Walgreen's one hour to develop and print for proof and then take/send any negs for enlargement to a "pro" lab so my questions are two:

    Are the blown highlights a result of limitations in the scanning in the Fuji one hour processor?

    Can the operator of a Fuji minilab go back to an individual negative and "print down" to render highlights - I know the analogue one hour operators could do this?

    Posting this knowing I risk being told it's more appropriate for the Hybrid Forum but this forum has more action and more expertise - particularly in the area of film exposure latitude.

  2. #2

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    Blown highlights on a scan you have no control over is not a valid guide for negative density. What does the negative look like? Does it look overly dense in the highlights?

  3. #3
    David A. Goldfarb's Avatar
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    Instead of machine proofs from Walgreens, you could ask your pro lab for a real contact sheet, so you can see where your exposures really are, without having them adjusted frame by frame, as they might be by a minilab processor.
    flickr--http://www.flickr.com/photos/davidagoldfarb/
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  4. #4

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    Granted optical contact sheets would be better but I'm two hours drive (one way) - or a two week turnaround from a "real lab."

    Phototone, that's what I'm trying to determine, I'm primarily a B&W printer and the negs look good to my eye- but its color so my judgment may not be valid.

    I was hoping to hear about other's experiences with the mini labs as I try to figure out if its my problem or the lab operator.

  5. #5
    Photo Engineer's Avatar
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    The latitude of the Portra films is so wide that I have gotten good prints from ISO 50 - 400 with the 160 film. I usually expose 160 at 100 and 400 at 320 just to give that extra richness to the negative. I've posted examples here and on PN of this.

    You should have no problem.

    The biggest problem in my experience is that Fuji paper is not designed to work well with all color films, but when I worked on color papers and films at Kodak, we attempted to make sure that the Kodak papers worked well with all films.

    So, it might be a scanning problem, a process problem or a printing problem or a paper problem. IDK, as it is too hard to tell without looking at the negatives.

    We used to judge color negatives by looking at them with an R/G/B filter set on a light table. After years of that, I can now pretty much judge a color negative by eye. Basically, under any of the individual filters, the tone should look pretty much like B&W with a blue, green or red cast. They will also appear slightly darker.

    PE

  6. #6

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    thanks for the input

    PE, Thanks for the reply. Sounds like its more likely a lab/operator problem.
    Think I'll take one of the problem negs around to the other two local mini-labs and see what kind of results I get then send a fresh roll into San Antonio to the real lab for process and contact.

  7. #7

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    The predominant color paper used by popular minilabs is a Fuji product. Therefore you are more than likely to get prints on Fuji paper. I don't know if the scanning station can compensate for the differences when printing Kodak film onto Fuji paper, but I suspect it can, if the operator knows how to adjust the settings. The large part of a minilabs film business is printing from disposable cameras. These have simple, plastic lenses that benefit from a contrasty punchy print. The operator may just leave the scanning station set for this, which would product too much "punch" from negatives shot with a "real" camera, creating the "blown" highlight look you describe.

  8. #8
    Photo Engineer's Avatar
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    Fuji films use dyes with a different response to light, and their papers are centered on their dyes.

    Kodak papers have broader sensitization to accept images from multiple dye sets, therefore Kodak papers will respond to most films in the same way as to Kodak films, but Fuji papers will respond with different contrasts and can even introduce crossover if the same image is made on a variety of films.

    In particular, the Fuji red sensitization is shorter in wavelength and narrower in band width to center it on the Fuji film cyan dye. This is one of the items that I recall.

    PE

  9. #9

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    Quote Originally Posted by Photo Engineer View Post
    Fuji films use dyes with a different response to light, and their papers are centered on their dyes.
    I'm sure this is relevant for printing in an analog way; however, much of the discussion in this thread has been on flaws in prints from a minilab. Since most minilabs (at least in my experience) are now digital, I don't know if this would be relevant at all. I'd expect that the spectral response of the scanner would be important in determining what gets into the digital files, and then the match of the output lasers to the paper would be important in determining what gets onto the paper. I can't say I know much about either of these factors, or whether there are important film-to-scanner or laser-to-paper differences akin to the film-to-paper matching you describe.

  10. #10
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    Of course, but if the slope is not set correctly, the digital printer would interpret the film curves incorrectly. This would have the effect of appearing to shift the light emission of the laser or diode (not really but essentially similar) to match the wrong dye.

    This is done in the setup and requires that each film for each type of printer match a slope adjustment. For current Kodak papers, AFAIK, there is only one adjustment to make and you can print all films. At least I have done it that way. For Fuji, there should be a set for every film.

    This can be seen if you make a wedge spectrogram of Fuji CA II paper and Kodak Endura paper. They don't look similar, nor do the film dye curves when run through a spectrophotometer.

    Kodak uses a broad sensitization that compensates regardless of printing method or dye set.

    PE

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