Reprints of heirloom C41 negatives
I've come into a family treasure. Well, a family treasure for a photographer and wet darkroom freak like me. I've been given a box of miscellaneous negatives from at least the 1960's of family, including my father as a young man. A lot of the negatives are 4x4 and some other odd sizes, perhaps 126.
Now, I am not set up to do RA4 printing, nor do I particularly want to. I may end up changing my mind about that. I'm looking at doing some prints from these negatives though, and I'm weighing my options. I'm going to town myself on the older black and white ones though!
1) Scan the negatives and put them into a digital work flow. Pro - Need to buy a decent scanner that I can also use to scan my 6x6 and 4x5 slides. Con - Need to buy a decent scanner and do what I hate, digitally post processing photos.
2) Find some service that can deal with the odd by current standards size, probably wacky colour from an archaic film that has in no way been in archival storage.
Anyone else wound up with something like this, or know of someone to whom I could send a couple negatives to see how they come out?
Originally Posted by insertwittynamehere
What I had done in the past when these situations arise was to use Panalure and print them myself in B&W.
Perhaps Ilford or someone will come up with a substitute some day. If you do have a b&w darkroom, try printing them on some graded paper. You might good results.
If you have quite a few of these negatives then setting up to print and process RA-4 makes sense in my opinion. If you choose to go digital, there are lots of headaches there. Ones that you will find difficult to control, not the least finding a suitable quality scanner. You should be able to get fairly close printing RA-4, but you might find there are some for which the color balance can no longer be corrected. In any case once you get into the project you can expect to be a fairly good color printer. What is the condition of the negatives? If you have a lot of dust, dirt, and fading evident then RA-4 likely isn't going to be suitable.
If you have only a few negatives--say fewer than 25 to 50--then finding a service bureau willing to provide raw scans might be your best option. Expect prices for quality digital scans of LF films to be somewhat high, maybe ten bucks a scan or more. Given the fact that you may have difficulty finding anyone competent and willing to take the time to produce quality RA-4 prints, and depending on your sensitivity to cost and how you value your time, a service bureau might be your best bet.
By denying the facts, any paradox can be sustained--Galileo
You can always re-wash the negatives to deal with dust, dirt and oil etc.
Whatever you end up doing, I think you should get some archival flat scans from a dedicated scanner so that they may have another level of preservation.
In Sydney you can rent an Imacon/Hasselblad X5 I think it was (or a 939) for $60/hour, given the speed of which you can go through film on those things, it's very very good value for money. If you have a lot of film, it may be worth a road trip even over the border if there is a similar place over there.
The object here is to preserve the family photos, not an exercise in digital resistance, imho you need a new set of 'originals' for an extra layer of abstracted preservation. You can still get RA-4 prints from scans, which is how the overwhelming majority of RA-4 is done. It is also time to look at the archival quality of an RA-4 print vs archival ink prints designed for galleries (from a pro-lab or high end printer), ie; the important part is he family photos.
I'm also gearing up for color printing. It makes sense if you already have a darkroom. Certainly a lot cheaper than trying to get a good scan and more fun too. Also no 3rd party will handle your negatives which is a big plus when talking about heirlooms.
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Someday is the key word. Years ago I did some colour negatives on Kodak Polycontrast. I was less than enthused about the results. I'm planning on trying it again though.
Originally Posted by ic-racer
Some are relatively clean, some are not. Some are scratched to hell, some are not. Typical for snapshots I'd say.
Originally Posted by mts
One of my problems with analog photography in general is where I live. The closest major metropolitan areas, Halifax NS and Boston MA, are both about seven hours drive from me. I live on the Maine/NB border, but I share a border with the great north woods! Access to esoteric equipment is impossible. Materials is less so, what with the Internet and shipping thankfully. Thanks for the thought though, something to research and a possible excuse for a weekend road trip!
Originally Posted by Athiril
If I could find someone who A) knows what a 127 negative is and B) has the capacity to commercially print it, well, those would be rare. I do, however, understand and agree with your point.
Originally Posted by Wade D
Thanks for the suggestions so far guys!
Color printing is easy, room temperature pretty much the same as doing B&W aside from using a really dim #13 safelight. If you can do B&W you can do color if you have a dichroic head on your enlarger or color filterpacks. Kodak Ektacolor RA RT 10L developer and blix kits are available and cheap considering the volume you get. RA-4 paper is becoming difficult to get but Fuji Crystal Archive is still available new in cut sheets of various sizes or you can buy expired Kodak Endura or new rolls of Kodak to cut under the same #13 safelight.
Printing or scanning old color negatives will be challenging. Depending on how they were processed and stored as you say they may be faded and/or have color shifts. Getting negative carriers for enlargers or scanners with weird film sizes can be challenging but carriers are usually around if you look. Should be fun!
If you get started soon, room temperature RA-4 (at 100F) won't be a problem. If you wait until January then you will need a heater in the darkroom to get even close to 68F. Considering your responses and location, I would start setting up for RA-4 printing right away.
By denying the facts, any paradox can be sustained--Galileo
They're more likely C-22 negatives. I'd expect there to be dye fading, which would be very hard to correct with filters, there will be crossover problems. (Each dye has faded a different amount.) I think this is a case where digital will provide better results. You don't need a super high-resolution scanner, 127 ans 126 Instamatic cameras weren't generally very sharp optically.
A pro lab that uses something better than a Noritsu or Fuji minilab scanner shouldn't be fazed by them at all. It won't be cheap. For instance, Dorian Color Lab in Arlington MA uses an Imacon Flextight scanner, scanning odd negative sizes with it is no challenge.
Blue Moon in Oregon can optically print them for you. I believe they are set up for 4x4 (127) and Instamatic 126.