hybrid or traditional most cost effective?
Since I'm just coming back to photography I have no equipment yet for doing my film at home. If I go with a wet darkroom it will be a bathroom/darkroom due to space. I can see printing up to 11x14 maybe the rare 16 x 20 I would be processing 35mm and some 120 6x6. From the pricees I'm seeing it looks like traditional wet prints are more cost effective along with maybe more control of end results. Am I missing something?
BTW due to my very tight budget things will have to be bought over a period of time.
A scanner that will produce files that allow prints comparable to wet darkroom work isn't cheap. Neither are printer inks or a photo printer of decent quality that will make 11x14 or larger prints. I think you'll find a wet darkroom more cost effective, and the results can be extraordinary. Enlargers, lenses, trays etc. can all be purchased used, and there are lots to choose from even here on APUG. Good luck!
There's not a lot in it, inkjet papers are not much cheaper than traditional silver based papers and inks are expensive, and the scanners/printers have a shorter life span than darkroom equipment yet cost more. Scanners & printers go obsolete as drivers don't get upgrade ad-infinitum to match newer versions of operating systems and cartridges get dropped.
I've an excellent 8 year old printer still on it's first toner cartridge and there's no Win 7 driver, and had an A3 Epson Photo printer for which Epson stopped cartrifges 2 or 3 years ago.
So never think hybrid will be cheaper in the long term.
There's a lot of subjective judgement in this question.
I think we need to think about the reasons why one would choose to use one method over another before getting a full answer.
What is your purpose in producing pictures? Internet? Fine art? Commercial?
The things you are going to do with your pictures are as important as how you make them.
If you don't have a darkroom where you can make traditional prints, you don't have a place to install one or if you can't get access to a community darkroom or a friend's darkroom your startup costs are going to be higher. The cost of buying equipment, film, paper and chemistry isn't your only cost. There is cost in preparing the room, setting it up and putting it all together the way you want it.
As John says, there is a cost in setting up a digital workflow, as well. Although, the cost of digital equipment might be higher, the decision on what your goal is will be a factor in deciding what to spend money on.
If you just say that you want to produce good pictures and show them to people, give them to friends or sell them I think John's advice is right but, if you are trying to make a business out of photography, hybrid might be more cost effective if you can get a return on your investment.
Sometimes, "why" you do something is as important as "what" you do.
it looks like traditional wet prints are more cost effective along with maybe more control of end results. Am I missing something?
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One of the factors that makes darkroom printing so reasonable is that:
a) good quality equipment is well made and made to last; and
b) there is a lot of it available on the used equipment market at reasonable cost.
If one is required to buy that equipment new, the costs for equipment rival the costs for printing using digital means.
“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
Originally Posted by Worker 11811
Cheaper is only cheaper if it does what you want.
I do mostly hybrid (at the moment....I had a darkroom for many a year) because I was handed a nice inkjet printer and a scanner. I can tell you right now that even with the principal investment taken care of, the cost of materials is more expensive than any printing I even did in the darkroom. I feel the quality of color images is better than when I tried RA4, but the BW is not there yet, and frankly, I miss the experience of the darkroom--whether or not it's a better print in the end.
Ya ya, so anyways, I feel the hybrid workflow is more expensive...here's my breakdown:
Computer with calibrated monitor: $1500
and that's before I bought my first box of 25 sheets of paper ($70) and a set of inks ($120).
If you go hybrid, you can skip doing the ink-jet printing yourself. Just invest in a good film scanner, work on your files, then bring the best images you want to print to a laboratory with a Durst Lambda or similar machine. That will make a continuous-tone colour print on photographic colour paper. That's normal RA-4 colour paper, impressed with coloured light and developed chemically.
I'm not saying that's better or worse than enlarging, or ink-jet printing, I'm just saying it's an hybrid alternative if you don't want to print "everything" (which you wouldn't anyway seeing the cost of ink).
You could use a flatbed scanner for your film, and use it for "internet interaction". For 35mm you will not get serious results, for MF you will get something acceptable. As an example, you'll post your images to APUG gallery, but forget sending a flatbed scan to a publisher for the hypothetical APUG book. You'll need a 4000 ppi tabletop scanner for that, or even better a professional drum scan.
If you want to scan 35mm at home and have good quality you'll need, for good results, a dedicated "film scanner", flatbed scanners don't pass muster for 35mm (YMMV). A dedicated film scanner will yield a scan at 4000 ppi and that will generate quite decent a file for any printing purpose.
If you print at 400 ppi (a maniacal quality that is required only for high-end photo books) that means you can print this 24x36 mm as 24x36 cm, if I do the mathematics right. A print at 300 ppi, very high quality, should give you a 32x48 cm without any interpolation.
More than this is attainable if you interpolate before printing.
You can also bring your frame (slide or negative) to the laboratory with the Durst Lambda. A good scanner at home will allow you to have a good digital rendering of your photographs without having recourse to external scanning.
Or you could use MF and only do contact printing. For those images that you want enlarged more, or professionally scanned, you go to a laboratory. A wet scan with a drum scanner costs around €4,00 per scan, but you'll be able to find bulk deals, or have the scan included in the price of the print.
Just some ideas.
I recently went through this and came to the same conclusion as the OP. I started doing hybrid in 1998, probably before the word was used in this context. In 2005 I bought a new computer, printer and scanner for probably $2500. Early last year, in order to take full control of the process I decided I had to go either all digital or all analog. Partly because that equipment was already becoming obsolete, I priced out a complete replacement including purchase of a full-frame digital vs medium format camera. It came out to $4k-8k for digital compared to less than $1k for analog. At the volume I shoot, that will buy film and chemicals for the rest of my life.