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Thread: Contact vs. Digital print AND scanners for large format...

  1. #1

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    Thumbs up Contact vs. Digital print AND scanners for large format...

    This is a two part question to avoid making two seperate threads to keep things, with hope, more simple...

    1) What is the consensus at present time about "the look" from contact printing a 5X7 or larger piece of film vs. scanning the film and printing it off the inkjet?




    2) I have read probably way too many threads on digital scanners, with too many different views. Of course the Epson V750, Microtek 1800, etc. scanners are said to be either comparable/just as good as a drum scan (especially since these files go into extensive photoshop anyhow) OR they are greatly inferior and more importantly "limited" to final output print size. In other words, the drum scan will allow, say, an 8X10 negative to be enlarged to 40X60, whereas a flatbed would be limited and should not be used to more than 16X20 (usually said about 4X5 scanning, but seemingly applicable to any size film since it is clipping at a certain size so it doesn't matter what size the film is due to the scanner's "limiting threshold". At the same time, I have heard people say the flatbeds can indeed produce massive prints with zero distortion/grain/and perfect clarity, etc. So my question here is, what do people that have had "extensive" experience with the highest end flatbeds such as the V750/Microtek/etc. have to say about what can be achieved with them AND if film size makes any difference (i.e. if there is the threshold factor with respect to the scanner's limitation=no reason to bother with 8X10 other than to keep grain minimized if doing b/w and 4X5).

    Hope this all makes sense and it will spark some interesting conversation about where things are at in this day of age with regards to "the final print".

    Thanks!!!

  2. #2

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    Re: Contact vs. Digital print AND scanners for large format...

    Hi Audioexcels. Im not sure where you heard that the v750 and microtek are even in the range of any drum scan. These scanners are low end compared to most of the the pro flatbed scanners.

    Someone was selling a recent Creo model on ebay for approx 1,500. This is one of the best scanners made.

    I suggest you take a look at the scanner comparisons on the LF page which is excellent. You can purchase a scanner that was $ 15 - 50K new, for approx 10 cents on the dollar. I have a eversmart II pro that is suberb although huge. Spring for one of the pro scanners on the used market. They are significantly better and quite the bargain.

  3. #3

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    Re: Contact vs. Digital print AND scanners for large format...

    I work in both 5X7 and ULF format, and scan and print both on the inkjet and via digital negatives. My answers below are in part opinion based, but they are also fairly informed since they are based on a lot of direct comparison. I have also made direct comparisons of my own work in several processes with consumer type flatbeds, high-end flatbeds, Imacon and drum scanners so my comments are based at least as much in fact as opinion.

    Your question.

    What is the consensus at present time about "the look" from contact printing a 5X7 or larger piece of film vs. scanning the film and printing it off the inkjet?

    Answer. Depends on process and scale of reproduction. In 5X7 a direct contact print from an in-camera negative on silver or carbon, or other smooth surface papers, is superior to a 5X7 print from a digital negative. With pt./pd. and other processes on art type papers, you probably won't see a difference.

    In magnifications of 2X-4X a pt./pd. print (or print from other process on art paper) from a digital negative of a 5X7 original in-camera negative is as good as a print from an in-camera negative of the same size. With carbon and silver on smooth papers a print from an in-camera negative, within the limits noted above, should be better.

    If the issue is one of projection printing of 5X7 negatives or making digital prints (either directly on an inkjet or via digial negatives) the larger you go the more advantage there is to digital printing.

    Your question.

    I have read probably way too many threads on digital scanners, with too many different views. Of course the Epson V750, Microtek 1800, etc. scanners are said to be either comparable/just as good as a drum scan (especially since these files go into extensive photoshop anyhow) OR they are greatly inferior and more importantly "limited" to final output print size. In other words, the drum scan will allow, say, an 8X10 negative to be enlarged to 40X60, whereas a flatbed would be limited and should not be used to more than 16X20 (usually said about 4X5 scanning, but seemingly applicable to any size film since it is clipping at a certain size so it doesn't matter what size the film is due to the scanner's "limiting threshold". At the same time, I have heard people say the flatbeds can indeed produce massive prints with zero distortion/grain/and perfect clarity, etc. So my question here is, what do people that have had "extensive" experience with the highest end flatbeds such as the V750/Microtek/etc. have to say about what can be achieved with them AND if film size makes any difference (i.e. if there is the threshold factor with respect to the scanner's limitation=no reason to bother with 8X10 other than to keep grain minimized if doing b/w and 4X5).

    Hope this all makes sense and it will spark some interesting conversation about where things are at in this day of age with regards to "the final print".

    Answer

    With a 5X7 negative the consummer type flatbeds will give excellent results up to about 3X-4X with negatives or transparencies of normal transmission density. Beyond that size, or if the negative or transparency has a very high transmission Dmax, a high-end flatbed or drum scanner would be recommended.

    Sandy King

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    Re: Contact vs. Digital print AND scanners for large format...

    "Im not sure where you heard that the v750 and microtek are even in the range of any drum scan."

    He may have heard it from me (actually quite a few others here have said the same thing I believe). In my admittedly limited experience having drum scans made (about five or six) I find minimal differences between the scans I make on my 4990 and those drum scans with prints in the 11x14 range. A lot still depends on the operator, not all are created equal. For prints of that size I'd rather have a scan on a 4990 or V700 made by a talented and knowledgeable operator than a drum scan made by an operator of medium abilities (hopefully none are totally incompetent).
    Brian Ellis
    Before you criticize someone, walk a mile in their shoes. That way when you do criticize them you'll be
    a mile away and you'll have their shoes.

  5. #5
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    Re: Contact vs. Digital print AND scanners for large format...

    Brian is correct and so is Sandy. The important distinguishing characteristic is the dyammic range of the original ..... as noted by Sandy.

  6. #6

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    Re: Contact vs. Digital print AND scanners for large format...

    Quote Originally Posted by sanking View Post

    Answer. Depends on process and scale of reproduction. In 5X7 a direct contact print from an in-camera negative on silver or carbon, or other smooth surface papers, is superior to a 5X7 print from a digital negative. With pt./pd. and other processes on art type papers, you probably won't see a difference.

    Sandy King
    Hi Sandy,

    What exactly is PT and PD?

    Regarding DMAX and film size, say we have an 8X10 sheet of film and a flat bed scanner...is there any benefit at all to having a 4X5 or even 5X7 negative in the flatbed or are you saying that due to the DMAX of the larger neg, the scanner simply cannot pull out the information on the neg and is not only limited to 3-4X enlargement size, but also limited to film negative size???

    What I'm trying to get to is where/when/how contact printing should be used, whether it should be used/considered, and the alternative methods of having a contact print. It is the reason I brought up the digital workflow and if it is competitive with the contact print (equal to), regardless of the paper that is used. I know you mentioned that a contact print is equaled when you use alternative papers...again, the reasoning for use of Silver/Carbon papers for contact printing vs. alternative papers raises the question of why it really matters what paper it is on when the final image is what one is after...and if both look equally as good, why the silver based one would be considered better, ever, than an alternative based one.

    Hope I am making sense. Trying to keep things simple without going to far off base.

    Thanks again Sandy and to all else with their contributions. It is very helpful having hands on people involved in helping me determine the direction I would like to take.

  7. #7

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    Re: Contact vs. Digital print AND scanners for large format...

    Pt./Pd. is short for platinum and palladium printing.

    Digital flow from scans of 4X5 and 5X7 in-camera negatives is very productive up to about 3X-4X. If you are working in LF the bottom line is that a consumer type scanner will probably give you as much image quality as you need up to 16X20 size from 4X5 in-camera negatives.

    Sandy








    Quote Originally Posted by audioexcels View Post
    Hi Sandy,

    What exactly is PT and PD?

    Regarding DMAX and film size, say we have an 8X10 sheet of film and a flat bed scanner...is there any benefit at all to having a 4X5 or even 5X7 negative in the flatbed or are you saying that due to the DMAX of the larger neg, the scanner simply cannot pull out the information on the neg and is not only limited to 3-4X enlargement size, but also limited to film negative size???

    What I'm trying to get to is where/when/how contact printing should be used, whether it should be used/considered, and the alternative methods of having a contact print. It is the reason I brought up the digital workflow and if it is competitive with the contact print (equal to), regardless of the paper that is used. I know you mentioned that a contact print is equaled when you use alternative papers...again, the reasoning for use of Silver/Carbon papers for contact printing vs. alternative papers raises the question of why it really matters what paper it is on when the final image is what one is after...and if both look equally as good, why the silver based one would be considered better, ever, than an alternative based one.

    Hope I am making sense. Trying to keep things simple without going to far off base.

    Thanks again Sandy and to all else with their contributions. It is very helpful having hands on people involved in helping me determine the direction I would like to take.

  8. #8
    Abuser of God's Sunlight
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    Re: Contact vs. Digital print AND scanners for large format...

    Quote Originally Posted by sanking View Post
    In 5X7 a direct contact print from an in-camera negative on silver or carbon, or other smooth surface papers, is superior to a 5X7 print from a digital negative. With pt./pd. and other processes on art type papers, you probably won't see a difference.
    I find my contact size digital prints to look a bit better than contact prints on silver paper of the same negatives. i'm saying better in terms of the qualities we normally associate with contact prints: sense of fine detail, edge definition, illusion of tactile qualities. As far as the tonal characteristics and surface, they're somewhat different from each other, and which you like better will be a matter of preference.

    I'm comparing air dried glossy surface fiber based prints to carbon pigment quadtone prints made on a fairly smooth, matte finish art paper.

    As far as scanner differences, the two issues are resolution and dynamic range. The flatbed scanners you mention have more than enough dynamic range for scanning negatives. If you're going to scan transparencies the advantages of drum scanners will show themselves.

    Resolution becomes an issue when you enlarge past a certain point. Exactly what degree of enlargement is neded for a drum scanner to show its superiority is up for debate, but it will depend in part on the quality of the original, the printing method, and the viewing distance. I scan black and white 4x5 negs on a flatbed scanner (wet mounted) and enlarge a maximum of 3X. In this application a drum scanner will have no practical advantages. Most likely if I was enlarging 10X the drum scanner would produce significantly better prints.

  9. #9

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    Re: Contact vs. Digital print AND scanners for large format...

    Hi Sandy,

    One more clarification needed...when you speak of "in camera negative"...what do you mean by this?

    I may have some further questions once this one is answered.

    What I am interpreting is this...Lets assume our final output size is 8X10.

    One person uses an 8X10 camera, the other a 4X5 camera.

    If we take the 4X5 negative, and we tray develop or Jobo develop it...then scan it via flatbed/use CS2 for post-processing/and inkjet it via an alternative paper method, it will look as good as the contact print from the 8X10 camera?

  10. #10

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    Re: Contact vs. Digital print AND scanners for large format...

    Hi,

    So why would people use larger than say an 8X10 camera when a contact print is not as good as one from a digital workflow? In other words, many use the larger cameras specifically to contact print. But granted the digital scan/ps/inkjet is better or as good makes me wonder why people so much for even an 8X10 camera.

    Trying to figure out what I am missing here...

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