Originally Posted by RattyMouse
What constitutes "a wonderful print off a 6 x 9 negative"?
Have you never seen a fine art media, colourimetrically-matched and spotted print from the hybrid method? There is a very, very good chance that you have seen one, but didn't recognise it.
Hybrid, or more correctly, analogue-to-digital printing, involves a only a very slight decrease in quality, too little to be of whinge value for many purposes. A scanner picks up a formidable amount of detail, especially in MF. Drum scans are very common for large prints, chosen for my medium format (6x7) prints up to 100cm wide (by corresponding height). These are framed and exhibited here in my little gallery, alongside those evergreen old stalwarts, the long gone-darkroom-created Ilfochrome Classic prints. Every single print is conservation framed, including the Ilfochromes.
FB mono prints have provided me with a lot of fun in years gone by (I last printed in a darkroom in 2000). I have 14 framed from years and years ago, but not on display. My forté is colour, not B&W.
Now, you'd be hard pressed, if you did not have a lot of knowledge, to separate the hybrid prints from Ilfochromes on the wall. The dark, contrasty, lushly coloured, laboriously printed and exorbitantly expensive (4 prints once cost me more than $2,000) 'chromes will last centuries, hybrids one or two (so? you won't be around in those days, but there's no harm in leaving a lasting image...), but the gap between the two processes in terms of quality and cost-effectiveness is closing continuously. The important thing is both processes look exquisite in skillfully-created print form, framed and exhibited. In truth, visitors comment more favourably on the lush beauty of the medium format hybrid prints with all their inherent smooth tonal range and detail that is missing from the 35mm-based Ilfochrome prints.
You know, lots of people here on APUG have their own darkroom, and small niche businesses run thriving workshops on alternative processes and printing skills. More widely, few businesses can afford to pander an almost non-existent market, or afford to stand still with just one service — they go with the flow, many in their own right truly excelling at what they do. That business is booming and for the participants armed with their beautiful images (negatives or transparencies), it is truly beckoning you to step up and at the very least, give it a try.
ICE ("dust removal") is discouraged because it adds weight to files, can obscure fine detail (or mistake it for a speck) and reduce overall clarity.