View Full Version : Some elementary questions

27-Jul-2015, 04:42
I've recently started with 4x5 LF photography.

I have 6x9 enlarging equipment from a pre-digital age, when I was producing 16x20 prints. However, nowadays the costs of wet processing are off putting.
Therefore I'm exploring digital scanning of 4x5 b&w negatives to get a printable (A4 sized) image.

I've a HP 3520s all-in-one printer and I have PS CS2.
I scan the negative either directly by the HP embedded software, or as a PS 'import'.

I get a digital file by scanning a 4x5 negative with the 3520's lid open or closed - dependant upon the density of the negative and the time of day.

The printer/scanner is situation in a corner between two large windows - one north facing the other east facing. The ambient daytime light level is high albeit variable.

The resulting image files are acceptable to allow PS processing/improvement

Question - should I for consistency use some form of overhead artificial lighting (ie a LED torch/light)?
Question - what other suggestions and comments can you (the reader) offer?

Jim Jones
27-Jul-2015, 05:24
Decades ago I tried improvising a light source for scanning negatives on a cheap flatbed scanner. This involved masking all of the scanner glass except for a cut-out for the negative, and mounting opal glass a little above the negative. The results were never nearly as good as scans from an Epson 2450 or the Epson 700 that I've used for several years now. The Epsons were well worth the investment for me. Sometimes the Epson store sells refurbished scanners at reasonable prices.

27-Jul-2015, 09:41
I have to second Jim, if you want consistent, even results that begin to allow the richness of your large format negatives to show, then some sort of dedicated film scanner is essential.

that said, if you want to go at it with the tools you have, I'd suggest an even, consistent, and bright light source--maybe a set of LED light bulbs filtered through some diffusion material? Essentially, you'd want to construct a softbox to hang over the scanner at close proximity.

the other problem you'll likely encounter is the occurrence of newton rings forming from the film and the glass--

Bruce Barlow
27-Jul-2015, 10:02
I suggest learning all you can with what you've got. When you're feeling constricted by something you want to do but can't, figure out what you need to change and change it.

I'd be careful with wet-print cost comparisons. Wait until your printer starts eating cartridges as you make prints.

4x5 contact prints can be delicious, and you can get 4 from an 8x10 piece of paper. Dektol is cost-effective, and good. As you're learning, buy the cheapest RC paper you can find, and get the good stuff when you feel comfortable that you can make good prints.

My first 4x5 was a Wista. I told myself I'd keep it until I needed to do something it couldn't do. That was 1984. My go-to 4x5 these days is...the Wista. I've added 5x7 and 8x10, but that's a little different.

27-Jul-2015, 10:38
I'd be careful with wet-print cost comparisons. Wait until your printer starts eating cartridges as you make prints.

Thank you all - I don't disagree with anything the three of you have said.
I'm very cost aware these days I have three granddaughters who are dear (pun deliberate). Especially as the older is playing pedal harp at a very high level and these harps are US$ 20,000++++each, with replacement strings being around $25 a time and there are 47 strings!!
Also, at this moment, my 4x5 entry is an exploration rather than a serious activity.
Consequently my wet-chemistry comparison is valid in as far as it goes. I'm finding out how I am doing with 4x5 exposure - I haven't printed anything out yet - I'm still at the what if state.
Therefore the ability to 'easily' create digital images and then try to improve them in PS is easier and less expensive than taking test strips and exposing and developing paper images.
I do agree that if and when I want quality prints then I need to get a proper scanner and/or a 4x5 enlarger assuming that the 6x9 will not cover the area of interest on the 5x4 negative.