View Full Version : Do you use Digital?
Are you, and to what extent if any, are you incorporating digital technology into your large format work?
I use film, but scan transparencies and negatives with an Epson Perfection 2450 for printing. I do develop black and white negatives myself.
David R Munson
All my color work, if I want prints, is scanned and output digitally on my Epson 1280. I'll use digital for anything that needs retouching or that needs to be incorporated in some manner of composite. Other than that I scan things for my site. Outside of things that fall into that second category or things that are for publishing, I still print all my B&W in a darkroom.
As a color photographer, I've been printing using exclusively the Tango drum scanner and the Lightjet for more than five years.
If I were still in business, my clients would force me to do color. If I did color, it would all be digital, including capture. An in-house lab is a nightmare, and there are no decent commercial labs within 50 miles of my studio.
As my work is now limited to personal wall-hangers, I am shooting 100% B&W film and wet printing (as I have always done). Just my personal taste, but a large room full of color prints reminds me a little too much of a travel agency or McDonald's menu board.
Anyway, Iím much too old to spend long hours and big bucks chasing the latest trendy technology. Only to have it obsolete and worthless even before I have mastered the two-thousand-page instruction manual. I'll just continue doing what I know.
Short answer: put down one vote for zero digital. Not even a cheap scanner.
4x5 Tri-X, XTOL 1:3, Jobo CPP2 and Expert 3010 drum.
I do my own drum scans on an Optronix ColorGetter 3 Pro. Photoshop.
Output is from Epson 7600 using selenium Pieozotone inks on Hahnemuhle Photo Rag.
Output from the 7600 is completely linear - no toe, no shoulder. This means that I can carry more shadow detail *and* more highlight detail than I can in a darkroom print. The lack of toe and shoulder, and the wide dynamic range mean that most of my prints can be "straight prints" without any dodging or burning. Since the scanner can read a density range from very small to around 4.0, I can develop each negative the same - no more N+ or N- development required, which is one less thing to think about (and track) in the field.
In summary, I do digital output because it gives me the best prints I can get. Of course, YMMV.
I print color images to Lightjet and archival inkjet from drum scans. I'm now experimenting with some of the newer inkjet kits for B&W as well.
I shoot Provia and scan with a Microtek Artixscan 4000 film scanner. Print on Epson 9600 with Media Street's Royal Renaissance paper. About to switch from Ultrachrome ink to Media Street's Generations inks. I often shoot two versions of an image, exposing for highlights and shadows respectively and then blend to expand the dynamic range that is limited in a transparency.
Waiting for Moore's law to make a 4x5 digital back "affordable" and will switch to all digital workflow. "Affordable" to me means markedly less than a new Imacon scanner. Maybe 3 years???
I am an amateur playing only for my own satisfaction. It so happens that darkroom work, chemical or digital, does not interest me. The commute to my day job takes me through a photo biz neighborhood (SOMA in SF), where I drop off and pick up at my favorite lab. Currently the lab is cheaper and better with wet processing for large format, so I use that. For 120 the Noritzu (Frontier competitor) results satisfy me.
I work at a computer all day long, so the last thing I want to do in my hobby is to personally digitize it. I am indifferent to if/when the lab goes digital.
Doesn't your question beg the follow-up question "What is large format?"
"Doesn't your question beg the follow-up question "What is large format?""
tim - historically, any piece of film larger than 2-1/4 inch was considered "large format." If I take such film, and scan it to a 50mb file size for printing, is that large format? Is a scanned 35mm piece of film, upsized through Photoshop or such, to a 50mb file (if possible) still "small format?" I'm not seeking debate on resolution of scans, etc., just wondering at what point "large format" photography is no longer large when using digital technology.
apart from the fact we must have spent pointless hours on this list discussing whether your first premise is correct...
(historically, any piece of film larger than 2-1/4 inch was considered "large format." )
As for the second point
"If I take such film, and scan it to a 50mb file size for printing, is that large format?"
Of course - why not?
"Is a scanned 35mm piece of film, upsized through Photoshop or such, to a 50mb file (if possible) still "small format?" "
Yes - for the same reason it wouldn't be large format if you stuck it in an enlarger and printed it at 8x10 (nor would it become ULF if you print it 11x14...).
"I'm not seeking debate on resolution of scans, etc., just wondering at what point "large format" photography is no longer large when using digital technology."
Well, you have to in order to make sense of the argument.
Lets take a 35mm transparency - and for an entirely arbiatry figure (because people also argue endlessly about how much imformation you can extract digitally from 35mm film) say the maximum amount of digital information you can get from that piece of film is 50mb. Now take a pice of 4x5 film - again an arbitary figure - and lets say the maximum amount of information you can extract is 1.5gb The 4x5 is digitally still a Larger Format - which in this context seems to be what you are talking about - the amount of information - analog or digital available in the negative/transparency.
Just based on the arbitary figures - getting your 50mb from 35mm is extracting every last bit of information from the neg. Getting 50mb from the 4x5 doesn't even begin to touch what's there. Now, make a 4'x6' print from each digital file (the 50mb and the 1.5mb and you will see which is still LF...)
For his recent show at PS1 Paul Graham made the very large prints from around 850mb (hi bit) scans from his 6x7/9 negatives as I recall. He couldn't have done that 35mm - so yes, it's still LF (though in this case "small" LF...)
Put simpley - the bigger the film, the more information - as it has always been.
If you take it with a large format camera, then it is large format, digital backs notwithstanding. Who cares if it is digital at the time of taking or digitized later. Obviously Large Format has more information ďanalog or digitalĒ. Also donít forget about the movements mainly attributes of Large Format.
But I still don't know what was meant in the original question ("Are you, and to what extent if any, are you incorporating digital technology into your large format work?") as regards to "large format." With film, large format isn't discerned by the amount of silver in the negative (another thread is taking that one on), it's discerned by the size of the piece of film (greater than 2-1/4 inch is my understanding) and is also independant of the output (also my understanding). What, pray tell, is the distinguishing limit for "large format" in digital? XXXmb file size, y.y dmax, zzz dpi? I have scanned many negatives of various sizes, some large per the film metric, but only scanned them at a resolution sufficient to use as icons for database retrieval purposes. I don't consider this large format work. When I print the large format negative (greater than 2-1/4) onto a piece of 16x20 paper, I consider that large format. Is a 800mb scan from any negative printed onto a 4x6 piece of paper at 3.4 dmax and 300 dpi large format because the scanned file is greater than XXXmb? Or does the scanned negative need to be larger than 2-1/4 in order to qualify as large format, but only if I scan it at the maximum possible resolution (and for what scanner are we referring to?)? I think the labels that are attached to the back of mounted prints (we all do that, right?) ought to call out what went into the production of the print and leave esoteric definitions like large format out of the description.
With that I diatribe, I guess I answered Jim B.'s question as to how I use digital technology in my large format work. Oh, I almost forgot, I do put my Canon S200 Digital Elph on top of my 4x5, 5x7 and 8x10 view cameras and make a digital image of the same scene I've captured on large format film for database purposes and a general record. Does that qualify? <smurk>
If one of my images from a 4x5 negative is used by a magazine 2"x2" or if I print it 2x3 as an Xmas card - as I have done - it's still LF.
The "definition" of Large Format is more than just the size of the negative (and has little to do with print size). It is a pretty loose definition, and only something photogoropahers (not viewers) really care about. It includes, among other things, the possibility of camera movments movments.So your 2 1/4 square taken by a Rollei TLR isn't LF. Film sizes under 4x5 are generally only included as LF when the iamge was made with some form of view camera. The term Large Format really applies mire to the camera and the size of the film used. What you do with it after that is up to you!
As to labels on the back of the print - apart from possibly what it's printed on, who cares how it was made. At most, all any label (if you bother to use one)needs is the year the image was made and maybe a signature. Is it the image that's important to you, the photogorpah, or the technical data involved with how it was made?
To my mind, traditional photography carries a strain of vitality throughout the whole process, (which I personally do not feel with digital - although I am a technology addict in general not some ol' fogey).
For example, what didgital process has the emotional equivalent the moment you pull your hot B&W fiber print from the dry mount press?
Digital ink jet prints suck.
"For example, what didgital process has the emotional equivalent the moment you pull your hot B&W fiber print from the dry mount press?
Digital ink jet prints suck."
You don't mean you are still playing around with that old fashioned black and white stuff do you?
Everyone knows colour is more real and also much harder to do. Color is the essence - B&W is just the surface - the line, the form, but not the substance. If you want to do emotion, show us in colour - real emotion!
"Color pigmented prints" (the new description of choice in the Museum/Curatorial world) rock - by far the best thing out there for color.
tim- roger to all. The view camera differential for large format is a bit blurred by the availability of tilt/shift lenses for 35mm as well as the view camera-like attachments for 35mm or digital cameras (as shown in the latest View Camera magazine in one of the ads). I like putting the tech stuff on the back of prints, and apparently so do people interested in my prints. Some get really turned on by the fact that it was captured on "4x5" or larger (and there is not an intentional pun hidden in that last statement!). But, as it turns out, the largest print I have hanging in my house came from an enlarged 35mm positive. I have two 8x10 prints hanging in my office (where I try to make money in order to play with photography) that are from a 2 megapixel Canon elph digital camera. They get more attention than my LF pictures! Ain't that a kick!
Do you use Digital?
Only for digital imaging, never for photography.
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