View Full Version : Scan and process then print v's print from negative

31-Dec-2014, 12:32
New to LG photography and I am wondering if there is a loss of quality if negatives are scanned (assuming a high quality scanner) and then printed (assuming a high quality printer). Any thoughts would be welcome...

31-Dec-2014, 14:10
I assume all peoples' experience will not be the same, but for me, I "scan" with a camera, and I am surprised that film's extra tonality and a film-like tonal curve comes through to the final print. Not on the web, though---that's the great equalizer. On the wall, however, I can easily pick out the LF stuff. My personal goal now is to up things from my 12Mp Nikon D300 to something better than that.

Michael Rosenberg
31-Dec-2014, 15:15
There are a lot of qualifications to answering your question. For a well skilled person who knows how to get the most out of their scanner, software, RIP or printer settings, and has a good printer, there is no loss of information. As to quality, well - that is an opinion, and depends on the viewer.

I have an Epson V750 and an Imacon 860, and I can get as good a scan or better with the former as the latter.


Fred L
31-Dec-2014, 16:06

31-Dec-2014, 16:20
My guess is that this thread will eventually get shut down as a religious discussion.

31-Dec-2014, 16:33
Yes, a BIG can of worms :-) Basically, people who do analog prints will say it's the best thing since sliced bread and the people who post process digitally will say that's the best thing.

Then you have people who scan and post process and then print analog from that, and say THAT is the best of both worlds.

Note this: there are people selling expensive prints from any of the above processes. So just do whatever looks good to you and whatever is more convenient for you.

31-Dec-2014, 17:04
I think whatever you can make work. At this point I don't have the capability to scan my large format work without printing it analog first. Of course, if you contact print it isn't too difficult to do. I am happy enough with it I have never found it important to buy a bigger scanner. :)

31-Dec-2014, 17:27
So just do whatever looks good to you and whatever is more convenient for you.

That's the ticket, to my mind. You are the final arbiter.


31-Dec-2014, 18:12
I just purchased a v850 and I'll be printing on a Epson 4900...

Will Frostmill
31-Dec-2014, 20:28
I can offer nothing but encouragement. Out of curiosity, what's your final print size?

Sirius Glass
31-Dec-2014, 20:36
I make contact prints and then enlarge. I have neither the time nor need of a scanner. Who want to screw with a crappy stink-jet printer. Remember it is not a photograph unless you can hold a print.

Michael Wesik
1-Jan-2015, 08:47
This definitely ventures into the realm of ideology. IMHO, for black and white images a digital or mechanically produced picture doesn't compare one that's hand printed. But that's just me. And colour is a different story.

1-Jan-2015, 09:01
I've seen some very good ink jet prints and some really crappy silver prints (and lots of the opposites). Whichever method you choose, you need to put in the effort to do it well. Neither is going to be perfect right out of the box.

1-Jan-2015, 11:14
Mods can we move this to the appropriate sub forum? Thanks!

Sirius Glass
1-Jan-2015, 12:50
I will use a scanner to post a photograph on a photography internet forum so that I can pose a question, make a point, or sell an item. Other than that not so much.

2-Jan-2015, 10:21
Depends but I have printed to 15x20.

22-Jan-2015, 16:33
Excellent prints can be made with either method. I think it's a lot more work to get a good quality scan when compared to traditional prints. Once you have your processes dialed in I think it's a lot cheaper to make multiple copies of a print as well. This is especially true with color prints (RA-4 paper is relatively inexpensive except for the endura metallic). I've made a couple 36x40" prints from an 8x10 negative and have been amazed the amount of detail.

Will Frostmill
22-Jan-2015, 17:22
I've thought about this some more. Poor enlarger technique can make for pretty poor resolution prints that otherwise have really nice tonality, good dogding & burning, etc. Poor scanner technique is usually easier to spot as you do it, and easier to catch poor resolution, but you can blow the tonal range and not really realize it until after you've spent a bunch of time in photoshop.

For me, there are two considerations: I absolutely cannot do color with an enlarger. Too many variables, too hard to re-interpret colors, too dirty. Some people can.
The other consideration is this: I can make additional prints at the touch of a button with a digital workflow. If I was satisfied with a single, or a handful of large prints from film, I guess that would be okay. But I'd rather make as many prints as I like, whenever I want, without having to re-do a bunch of darkroom work.

22-Jan-2015, 20:50
Jeez....the lack of understanding is these questions/post is mind boggling: Silver to pixels is not, repeat is not a one-to-one mapping. If your output is digital, then by all means then start with a digital file. Conversely if your output is silver, then start with a silver file.


Kirk Gittings
23-Jan-2015, 13:00
New to LG photography and I am wondering if there is a loss of quality if negatives are scanned (assuming a high quality scanner) and then printed (assuming a high quality printer). Any thoughts would be welcome...

I guess it depends on your enlargement size somewhat. But let me share with you an example from a recent show. One of the great traditional printers in the SW is William Clift. He had a recent solo museum show in Phoenix and Santa Fe of the Shiprock/Mt. St. Michele work-a very large and beautiful show-one of the most memorable I have ever seen. He let it be known before the show that some of the prints were inkjet from scanned film-something he had never shown before. He didn't say how many or which ones. So there was much speculation among the many very experienced and talented traditional LF photographers that saw the show-among the best in the country. I heard many speculative claims-everything from they were all inkjets to none were (and he was just messing with peoples heads) and everything in between. I visited the show many times with friends and colleagues including once with my class where Clift showed up and gave my students a private talk on the work. There was only one print I was pretty sure was an inkjet. After the show came down he let it be known that there were 3 or 4 (I can't remember exactly). Anyway the point is that experts could not tell the difference with certainty. That is the state of the comparison. Now understand that Clift is a super picky and would spare no expense to get the best results.

Jim Noel
23-Jan-2015, 13:38
new to lg photography and i am wondering if there is a loss of quality if negatives are scanned (assuming a high quality scanner) and then printed (assuming a high quality printer). Any thoughts would be welcome...


23-Jan-2015, 14:11
New to LG photography and I am wondering if there is a loss of quality if negatives are scanned (assuming a high quality scanner) and then printed (assuming a high quality printer). Any thoughts would be welcome...

it all depends what you like to do.
some people make prints and scan them ( or not )
some make negatives and scan them. ( or make darkroom prints )
some people like using hugely expensive scanners
and equally impressive printers ...
and some use scanners that are not exceptionally expensive
and get a lab to print the results.
i fall in the the latter category i have scanned prints and negatives
with equal success and have printed the results at a lab to equally sizes large and small ...
there was no difference in "quality". the scanner that i have been using is
not very expensive, nor was it when i purchased it ( epson 4870 )
i bought it refurbished from epson between 6 and 10 years ago ( maybe longer? )
and got it mainly because it had the ability to scan 5x7 ( or 6x8 ) film. sometimes
it limps along, makes funny noises, red lights blink has schmultz on the glass, but
in the end i have managed to keep it alive and well and scanning.
(its like the monty python bring out your dead sketch, the scanner likes to tell me "i'm not dead yet" )

i am perfectly happy with the results i get, as i said i can't complain. but i am sure
if i had something scanned and printed by eiger studios or bob carnie printmaking, i would easily
be witness to what my shoestring-budget-scanning-set-up lacks.
in my case, ignorance IS bliss. ( for the time being, at least ) ...


Peter Lewin
24-Jan-2015, 12:40
Actually I think the "best" answer was Kirk Gittings' report about being unable to tell which of the prints at the William Clift show were digital vs. darkroom. I'm only chiming in since some of us have various forms of hybrid workflow. I have a refurbed Epson 4990 scanner which gets used for two purposes. I use it to make digital contact sheets, because usually it isn't worth my going to the darkroom just to make a contact sheet. For example, I just developed 6 4x5 negatives, and they are hanging up to dry. After dinner I will put them in PrintFile negative sheets, put the sheets directly on the scanner glass, and make the two contact sheets. If anything looks particularly interesting, I will re-scan the negative and make a very quick and dirty 8x10 on my all-purpose desk printer (i.e. not a photo-grade printer). That will let me live with the image(s) for a few days and decide whether I really like them. It also lets me post an image to this forum. But if I decide any of the images are "keepers," I will take those into the darkroom to make 11x14 silver prints. Not because they are "better," but I personally am a better darkroom printer than I am a digital printer, simply because I have 50 years of experience with wet prints, and haven't taken the time to become genuinely good at digital.