Quote Originally Posted by Noble View Post
Most color prints regardless of the source material (digital, negative) are printed on some type of light jet printer (Fuji Frontier, Noritsu, etc). Basically it is a laser that draws the image on photographic paper. The paper is then processed in the usual analog print manner. For bigger prints that can't be made on a Fuji Frontier a lot of places will use an Epson ink jet. Allegedly inkjets have come a long way in terms of archivability.

Traditional dark room printers are few and far between. I think most people make their decision as to which process to used based more on economics and convenience vs quality (real or perceived). For most printing light jet and ink jet are fine. I would personally only go the traditional route for a special occasion. A good light jet or ink jet print starts with good source material. Then you have to get the negative into a format the printer can understand, ie scanning. You can scan at home with a crappy scanner or have a technician that is rushing through their job do a crappy scan for you on a multithousand dollar machine. Likewise one hour photo places that churned out crappy prints existed in the 1980s. To me the very best from either route will require tons of time and $$$. And poor results can be obtained with either. There are tons of variables.
What scanner technology do these commercial printers use to get the negative in a form that can be printed? Are these drum scanned or something of lesser quality?

The printers you mention sound very high tech, but all that matters not if the source material is subpar (as you mentioned).