View Full Version : Transitioning to Digital Imaging
We've had a few side discussions on digital in some threads lately, and I've exchanged e-mails with several people on this forum regarding digital imaging. I'm committed now. My beloved Beseler 4x5 enlarger and EL Nikkor lenses belong to someone else. I took the plunge a couple of weeks ago and bought a new computer. I have a scanner and a new Epson 1200 printer on the way. I'd like to begin exchanging experience with other digital printers on this forum.
Tuan has a Digital thread archive on this forum, so I don't think we need a separate forum, but I wold like to trade ideas with other serious photographers. Maybe we could post How-to tips here if we keep the discussions somehow related to large format photography. I'm shooting medium format these days, but just go a 2x3 Crown Graphic off eBay. Is that close enough for this forum? Or will I be banished for using roll film?
Back to the subject. We need to start some threads on digital imaging related to large format shooting. My question today is:
What are your experiences with digital imaging, and what areas do you believe you need the most help with?
The weak link is (and will continue to be) the scanner. Unless you have $5,000 plus (minimum)to spend on the scanner (alone) to get the kind of quality you are probably expecting, you are going to have to have the images scanned by a service bureau..and more than likely have finished output Iris printed by a high end printer such as Nash Editions. Anything else will certainly be fun, and educational..but ultimately a compromise..one way or another...that is unless you are prepared to spend even more, and work with digital capture.
That's a good point on the scanner, so let me explain how I plan to do this. I'm getting a Umax PowerLook III scanner with transparency adapter for proofing my images and getting them on the web. The Epson printer is capable of high-end output, and Luminos has developed a line of archival inks and papers for Epson printers.
After scanning the images on the Umax, I'll clean them up and crop them in PhotoShop, output them on the Epson, and hang them on the wall for a while. The images that still look good a few weeks later will get sent out for scanning on a Tango drum scanner, and output to a LightJet 5000 printer.
The trick here is to get my system set up so what I get out of the Epson printer will match the LightJet as closely as possible. To that end, I bought a color calibrator from ColorVision (http://www.colorpartnership.com/). They sell calibrators for Macintosh, Windows NT, and Silicon Graphics Unix computers. I bought the $400 model on the theory that the software is the key. Using this device, and their software, I can create my own profiles for my home equipment, and use the LightJet profiles my service bureau provides.
Luminos is also working on a set of quad-tone inks for the Epson printers, which should give black-and-white results close to the Iris Giclee process. I'll see how they work when the quad-tone inks start shipping.
Consider the IMACON Scanners..(as long as you have some money to spend) They are a hybrid technology which are supposed to produce drum scanner results without the hassels and huge expense..and they will apparently support all of the software you'll need. too. The Epson 1200 is that good..and your point about the quad tone black inks is right on target. According to Graham Nash..this is one of the secrets of the high end Iris prints
I'm going to have my lab start experimenting with providing me with B&W output in the form of Lambda prints. They were skeptical at first, as this is a color process but when I pointed out that the best B&W offset images were duotones (i.e. like your quadtone ink example) they began to get the idea. This will, of course limit the stock to photo paper...but I want to see what will result with a little tweaking
Some of the most amazing large B&W output I've ever seen were Iris Prints that Nash editions did of Allan Ginsburg photographs for a show at the Tibor De Nagy Gallery in New York several years ago. The really cool thing was that they were not on photo paper..but rather a vellum Archies lithography stock that gave the images an amazing depth that literally drew you right in. I was sure they were silver prints at first. The Epson 1200 can certainly utilize this type of stock as well
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