I am new to hybrid processes and I have the following basic questions for the purpose of enlargement printing (as opposed to contact printing) that I am wondering about:
What's the difference between an imagesetter and an inkjet negative? pros & cons?
Do any of you commonly use digital negs for enlargement printing? if so, when do you choose to use a digital negative? Is the digital negative particularly suited to a specific type of photography?
How does an enlargement off a digital negative compare to that of a traditional film negative?
Can digital negatives be used for the purpose of masking? Is there some articles & references that you can recommend?
Thank you for your input as the subject is getting me curious.
So, first of all you might be better off discussing this at hybridphoto, though now there is a group here for discussion of such issues, so I'll tentatively step up to the plate...
If you have an LVT made, you will get a *much* higher resolution neg to work with, high enough res for modest enlargement, with very good tonality. Plus it'll also be on actual film, as opposed to transparency stock. The LVT can also be treated as a normal neg, i.e. washed etc. Also the transmission spectrum of the base neg will be quite different from what you get with transparency materials like pictorico.
I stopped using digital negs some time ago when I discovered that I could inkjet the "neg" directly onto the photo paper directly... thus avoiding the transparency stock and its transmission and granularity issues altogether. In my process, you inkjet the "neg" down on the photo paper, expose it, wash it, and voila. I haven't optimized the process yet but frankly I was never satisfied with my results from digital negs. The transparency stock is granular (to hold the ink) and sometimes it works with the image, sometimes it doesn't. I do not think that it is a satisfactory general solution for all b&w printing, frankly. Rather, it is a tool that works well for some kinds of images and processes.
I'll just add that my results from LVT are very satisfying and easy to get, so that's my benchmark. But it is pricey.
Masking with a digital neg can be done but I think it invites the following complications: the granularity that I mentioned, plus the transparency stock has its own transmission spectrum which may or may not be acceptable for your process and light source.
I don't know of anyone using digital negatives for enlargement with inkjet originals.