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Thread: Traditional B&W prints from digital input

  1. #1
    Moderator Ralph Barker's Avatar
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    Traditional B&W prints from digital input

    Last year, Ilford Photo (Harman Technologies, the management group that bought the Ilford B&W product lines) announced two traditional silver-based enlarging papers (RC and fiber-base) that are optimized for printing digital files, and designed for exposure in tri-color laser systems like the Lambda printers. These papers, obviously, are aimed at the large printing shops that cater to the digital market (or both digital and traditional), as the Lambda machines cost about a half a $mil.

    Yesterday, Bob Carnie, a member here and one of the owner/operators of Elevator, a digital and traditional printing lab in Toronto, dropped by my place on his way to the Silver Conference in the L.A. area. He brought with him a sampling of prints that he'll exhibit at the Silver Conference. These included a number of traditional enlargements from film, mostly on fiber-based Ilford Warm Tone paper, and a dozen or so prints on the new Ilford B&W fiber paper for digital exposure.

    The prints on the new Ilford digital paper were very impressive - as good as those on regular Ilford paper. And, because it's real silver paper processed in the usual archival manner, these prints would likely satisfy any gallery or museum requirements for conventional fiber-base prints.

    Naturally, the size/resolution of the digital file (either direct digital capture or film scan) affects the image quality and optimal print size, but (IMHO) the Ilford prints are lovely.

    The Ilford data sheet for the fiber-base paper can be found at: http://www.ilfordphoto.com/Webfiles/...0142744587.pdf

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    Re: Traditional B&W prints from digital input

    Ralph, the phrase dosn't work! "Traditional B & W prints" is one phrase and "digital input" is another. Traditional B & W prints from digital input don't, and never will, exist. It's either digital or traditional, there is no tradition of digital printing.
    Best wishes,
    Pete.

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    Re: Traditional B&W prints from digital input

    Quote Originally Posted by Pete Watkins View Post
    Ralph, the phrase dosn't work! "Traditional B & W prints" is one phrase and "digital input" is another. Traditional B & W prints from digital input don't, and never will, exist. It's either digital or traditional, there is no tradition of digital printing.
    Best wishes,
    Pete.
    I would like to respectfully disagree with that. The print itself is made in traditional manner, therefore is a traditional print. The source image may not have been a traditional negative, but then how many images of the past were made by laying objects onto paper, contact printing non-silver images or other alternative methods. What is it about digital that raises so many hackles? As someone else stated in another thread...it's just another tool. But in my book, a fiber silver halide print, developed and fixed in the old fashioned manner (even if there is a $.5M toy in the middle) is still a traditional print.
    Michael W. Graves
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    tim atherton's Avatar
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    Re: Traditional B&W prints from digital input

    Quote Originally Posted by Pete Watkins View Post
    Ralph, the phrase doesnt work! "Traditional B & W prints" is one phrase and "digital input" is another. Traditional B & W prints from digital input don't, and never will, exist. It's either digital or traditional, there is no tradition of digital printing.
    Best wishes,
    Pete.
    aww - c'mon - stop trolling. If you're not interested in it, don't read it and don't bother posting, rather than trying to de-rail a discussion that might actually be of genuine interest to many
    You'd be amazed how small the demand is for pictures of trees... - Fred Astaire to Audrey Hepburn

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    Dave Karp
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    Re: Traditional B&W prints from digital input

    Quote Originally Posted by Pete Watkins View Post
    Ralph, the phrase dosn't work! "Traditional B & W prints" is one phrase and "digital input" is another. Traditional B & W prints from digital input don't, and never will, exist. It's either digital or traditional, there is no tradition of digital printing.
    Best wishes,
    Pete.
    I agree, completely off point. Its a traditional silver paper designed to be exposed by a different light source.

    Ralph, did he discuss the print washing process? Will prints from machines be washed enough to remove the fixer. Perhaps the prints will have to be re-washed and dried to be considered archival.

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    Whatever David A. Goldfarb's Avatar
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    Re: Traditional B&W prints from digital input

    I also saw some prints from the DeVere digital enlarger at PMA, which now has a larger LCD than the original one (currently 17 Mpix), color (Ilfochromes I think) and B&W up to about 16x20", and they looked pretty good, and an attraction of that system is that you're not tied to one kind of paper. They're also a lot cheaper than a Lambda, though still quite expensive.

    I just looked up the lab that DeVere said has two of these machines--Precision Photos in New York (www.precisionphotos.com)--and it turns out they're a headshot lab, which means the main thing they are doing with these is producing 8x10" headshots with the performer's name in caption and possibly a one-page resume on the back in batches of 100 prints.

    I also asked the Chromira folks if it was possible to do Ilfochrome on a Chromira, and they said the light source wasn't powerful enough, but I think they said it could do B&W on silver gelatin paper.

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    tim atherton's Avatar
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    Re: Traditional B&W prints from digital input

    I think I remember Bob saying they do the standard old fashioned (archival?) "hand-wash" after it's out of the printer - same as they had been doing with the Agfa B&W papers they had previously used?
    You'd be amazed how small the demand is for pictures of trees... - Fred Astaire to Audrey Hepburn

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    Re: Traditional B&W prints from digital input

    Quote Originally Posted by Ralph Barker View Post
    Yesterday, Bob Carnie, a member here and one of the owner/operators of Elevator, a digital and traditional printing lab in Toronto, dropped by my place on his way to the Silver Conference in the L.A. area. He brought with him a sampling of prints that he'll exhibit at the Silver Conference.
    Did you talk to him about price? It's been a while since I looked, but I remember prints using this new paper being frightfully expensive. It's like 3x the price of an RA-4 print off the same Lightjet or similar system. Over 4x the cost of a same size inkjet print.

    I'm sure it's good. I'm just not sure it's that good. I hope it is; I hope people adopt it and the volume drives the price down to something more reasonable. As it is, all I can do is sit on the sidelines and watch.

    Bruce Watson

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    Moderator Ralph Barker's Avatar
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    Re: Traditional B&W prints from digital input

    Quote Originally Posted by Bruce Watson View Post
    Did you talk to him about price? . . .
    The short answer is no, I didn't.

    The longer version is that I assume pricing information is available on the elevatordigital.ca site. My guess would be that the process probably isn't appropriate for casual individual prints, but may be a viable option for exhibitions or multiple large prints from digital sources (original digital capture or film scans) where traditional archival prints are required. Obviously, the economics involved is a matter of individual choice.

    I simply wanted to mention that I had seen prints from the process, and was duly impressed with the exhibition-level quality.

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    Re: Traditional B&W prints from digital input

    I saw the prints at Elevator before they left for Pasadena. Bob had a really nice 1 day viewing and popular vote. Lots of good work.

    However, IMO, some of the prints didn't look so great to me. Some still had the tell tale signs I see in the shadows of digital output prints. The very subtle areas in the darkest shadows that have kept me away from digital output of my B&W work.

    It is very possible that it is not the output itself however, but the file scan and prep of the digital file that yielded what I saw. In addition, these prints I refer to may not be prints made at Elevator.

    Maybe Bob could comment on the ratio of traditional vs digital print output at the Elevator showing.

    Of course, I am very picky and most folks would never see what I look for in a print.

    I lost my darkroom this year when I sold my house, so I would love an alternative to traditional B&W printing. Rental darkrooms seem to be a dying breed.

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