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Thread: Resolution loss from transparency to print

  1. #1

    Resolution loss from transparency to print

    I use only a 90SW in wilderness landscapes. The transparency is far sharper than any scan and print I have paid for using Heidleberg, Cannon, etc. Will I do better going back to direct "chrome" prints and is that even possible?
    Regards
    Jim

  2. #2

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    Re: Resolution loss from transparency to print

    Yes. No.
    It's called SHARPENING. Use it wisely.
    Last edited by vinny; 30-Jan-2013 at 16:22.

  3. #3

    Thumbs up Re: Resolution loss from transparency to print

    Quote Originally Posted by vinny View Post
    Yes. No.
    Phooey.
    Better to hear than to go on hoping.

  4. #4
    Drew Wiley
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    Re: Resolution loss from transparency to print

    "Sharpening" in Fauxtoshop terminology partially equates to correction, partially to faking something
    when a degree of sharpness is in fact lost in the overall process. No digital print can really equal a precise direct enlargement, though one can get close if all your stars align and you are using a laser
    printing device rather than inkjet. Cibachrome used to be the sharpness standard, and the only high-end option for direct chrome printing. Now it is almost all gone. So that leaves you either the option of shooting color negs and printing them directly onto RA4 paper, or printing chromes via internegs (which very few labs ever did correctly to begin with), or going the scanning and digital route and finding someone who really knows what they're doing. My own philosophy is, if you want something done right, do it yourself!

  5. #5

    Re: Resolution loss from transparency to print

    Thanks Drew. Funny, when I first tried 4x5 I shot a color neg with each chrome. Somehow got away from it. Think I will go back and see if I am happier. Any recommendations on neg film?
    Jim

  6. #6
    Abuser of God's Sunlight
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    Re: Resolution loss from transparency to print

    I will take an opposing view and say that I have never seen a darkroom enlargement that can equal a print made from a good scan, if we are talking about detail and sharpness. Some of my experience comes from working at a custom lab; most of it comes from my own large format black and white work, which was all darkroom based for fifteen years. I then reprinted most of it digitally years later, first for a book project, and then to continue printing after my papers had been discontinued.

    My enlarger was a Beseler 45 with a custom lens stage that allowed precise alignment, a glass carrier, and a Schneider Apo Componon HM 150 lens, which according to the MTF curves (and to the people at Salt Hill) was the sharpest lens you could get. I had a cold light head (no fan) and kept the thing laser aligned, and focussed with a critical focuser.

    The prints I made at the lab were on a horizontal 8x10 HK enlarger with a glassless carier that pulled the neg flat like a drum skin. It autofocused with a laser onto a vacuum easel. It used Rodenstock's top line lenses.

    None of the prints from these setups comes close to prints I can make from scans from a $500 epson 4880 scanner*. I mean, not remotely close. Anyone in NYC please feel free to come in and I can give you a look. I can also show why this is. The MTF response of enlarging lenses, while relatively impressive, still represents a significant loss in contrast at higher image frequencies. I have the curves on all the lenses in question. Light scattering at the paper surface, and defocus due to paper not being 100% flat are probably also minor culprits.

    Sharpening algorithms are extremely powerful. This means they give you a lot of power to make things look great or to make things look terrible. Learning a good sharpening workflow takes a fair amount of practice and possibly also some studying ... the kind of dedication I would not expect from someone who deliberately spells the name of the software wrong. I have confidence in the abilities of the technology, if only because I can make 18" wide digital prints that equal the sharpness and sense of tactility that I see in my 4x5 contact prints. Not long ago I would have doubted that this was possible.

    Horses for courses when it comes to print materials, but I personally never cared for any color darkroom papers. I find Ciba quite garish and the RA4 papers just looked to me like RC prints with mediocre color. Some of the modern Fuji papers look nice, and actually have some color longevity, but I don't see anything that approaches the look and quality of the best inkjet papers available today. I just think ink has left everything else in the dust. And it's the only technology that is still under active r&d ... it's only going to get better.


    *I wet mount 4x5 negs onto float glass and use shims to place the emulsion at the exact focal plane. There is some debate over how much difference, if any, this makes. I haven't compared enough to comment. I jumped through these hoops because it seemed like a good idea.

  7. #7
    Drew Wiley
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    Re: Resolution loss from transparency to print

    Well, sorry to see that you never learned proper enlargment technique, Paul, but it does make a difference! And "sharpening" is not the same thing as reproducing actual sharpness in the original image. It might be essential to making a convincing digital print if used judiciously, but is still not the same thing. Maybe if you ever actually got onto first base with a color darkroom you would understand
    what second and third base look like too, instead of going around telling people it can't be done. I'm
    happy you've found a suitable niche for your own style, but in terms of objective advice, you're not even on the map when in comes to analog printing technique.

  8. #8
    Corran's Avatar
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    Re: Resolution loss from transparency to print

    I'm with Paul, assuming we are talking about a direct enlargement with no masks for sharpening compared to a properly scanned and processed (sharpened) negative printed digitally. It's obvious.

    Now tonality is a different thing, but if we restrict things to simply detail/resolution I would say digital > enlarging. But I still wet print b&w because of the look/feel of the images over digital printing.
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  9. #9
    Drew Wiley
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    Re: Resolution loss from transparency to print

    Time for some of you to get out and start looking at some quality work. I really don't care who is with
    who. Masks aren't necessarily for sharpening. It's about hue and tone control. An unsharp mask might
    lends an artificial impression to something with less than ideal acutance (I've done that with 120 TMX
    negs, for instance, because they have poor edge effect - and that's essentially what you're doing in
    the namesake technique in PS) - but really ... it is a different subject. If I want to see serious digital prints, I have friends who have multi-million dollar digital labs. They take me seriously for some strange reason.

  10. #10
    Corran's Avatar
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    Re: Resolution loss from transparency to print

    I've seen plenty of quality work from both sides of the coin. A large digital print from a 12mp camera certainly falls apart if you are trying to print bigger than it can handle, but if we are talking about say a 16x20 print of a 4x5 negative in the darkroom compared to the same negative scanned well and digitally printed (not ink), the digital is going to be objectively sharper. A contact print seems to be able to be as sharp from what I've seen.
    Bryan | Blog | YouTube | Instagram
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