View Full Version : Drum-scan/Lightjet vs. Enlarger

Dave Anton
5-Feb-2000, 22:45
IN looking at previous threads about LF resolution, the issue of enlarger resolu tion has got me wondering about by-passing that process altogether and going ont o lightjet with a drum scan. I want to enlarge my 8x10 b&w negatives to 40"x60" in size and i was wondering if anyone has made sharpness/resolution comparisons between prints that were done by "Drumscan/LightJet" versus conventional printi ng with an enlarger? Secondly, has anyone scanned Pyro negatives? I would be interested in hearing from anyone's experiances. Thanks in advance.

james norman
6-Feb-2000, 02:05
i think perhaps it may be a little more involved than just resolution when you are talking about the quality of the final result. there is no doubt that the paper base itself is a highly critical element in the feel of the final print. i have not found any commercial inkjet or laser printing media that rivals a good double-weight printing paper. i have done a few books using both halftone printing and laser printing of scans, and for the money, halftones still are superior, and primary prints on silver-based paper are far better still. additionally, i have printed a number of scanned 4x5 negatives at presentation sizes around 34x50" using a top-end HP color plotter (i tend to slightly sepia tone much of my B/W work for publication, so the images are not purely grayscale). while some of these prints are very satisfying, they simply do not compare to similar sized photo enlargements in terms of acceptability to the eye. if you actually have a venue in which to display your 8x10 work at that size, i would suggest that you provide your viewers with the richest possible visual image, and at this time, only the bromide and chloro-bromide fiber-based double-weight paper made for photographic enlargements can deliver that kind of depth and smoothness of gray- scale.

Paul Schilliger
7-Feb-2000, 08:13
As a conventional darkroom user and now a computer user too, I can say that Lamb da or Light Jet prints on Ilfochrome Classic or Fuji Crystal Archive (I am not talking about ink jet pr ints) are at least as good but normally better than conventional enlarger prints. It much depends from the quality of the scan and the digital treatment applied to the image. Both natural "straight from the slid e" and contrast, color, sharpness corrected prints can be obtained. The Laser photographic printers deli ver a 200 or 400 dpi resolution. Both will give a result that the best enlargers would hardly match. It seems that services in the US apply a higher rate for the laser prints. I have the chance of working wi th a lab where prices for both enlarger and laser prints are equal. You only pay for a first scan. I know this technologic advance is a little sad for the traditional darkroom know-how, and I have myself lost sever al years acquiring masking techniques and darkroom equipment that I do not use any more. Perhaps will there be in the future some sort of "authentic hand made" certificate for prints made the traditional way? I know some photographers like Michael Fatali and Christopher Burkett attach some importance to the fact their prints have not been digitally "manipulated".

Darron Spohn
7-Feb-2000, 10:36
Well, the Lightjet 5000 cannot reproduce a print at 40x60 inches, so if you really want that size this is a moot issue. If you can live with smaller prints, the Lightjet still would not be the way to go for black and white.

If you're serious about this point your browser to Inkjet Mall (http://www.inkjetmall.com/store/index.html) and start poking around. Their Giclee process is your way to go.

Brendan Fisher
7-Feb-2000, 20:50
According to the Cymbolic Sciences web site, (http://www.cymbolic.com/) the LightJet 5900 will print upto 49x97" at Res 12 (305 dpi), or 50x50" at 200 or 406 dpi. Your local service may or may not have this top-of-the line model, and the other models are limited to smaller sizes.

I am looking for a place that has a LightJet in the LA area. Any one know a good place that has one?

Greg Lawhon
8-Feb-2000, 00:55

I've been looking into the scanning/Lightjet option lately, and here are some labs in California that have been very helpful, both through their websites and in phone callls (granted, they all are in Northern California rather than LA as you asked, but these and Evercolor in Massachusetts are the only ones I'm familiar with):

1. Laser Light Photographics (Bill Nordstrom): http://www.laserlightprintmaker.com/

2. West Coast Imaging: http://www.westcoastimaging.com/

3. Calypso: http://www.calypsoinc.com/

Note that I understand Bill Nordstrom's claim to fame is that he is a great scanner and artist/technician in cleaning up files and optimizing them for output to the Lightjet printer. I believe he sends the scanned and cleaned-up file out to another shop for printing on the Lightjet. Sorry I can't help you with any in the LA area.

Benjamin Lord
16-Feb-2000, 23:10
Lightjet prints are sharper than the best enlarger prints. They can be TOO sharp in the hands of an unskilled computer operator. For color work, digital control over exposure is addicting. Once you've done it, you won't go back. There is simply more control. Results are exactly repeatable, unlike with an enlarger.

the other advantage is that a high-end drum scan captures a wider latitude than any enlarger c-paper. More highlight detail, more shadow detail.

Muse [x] Imaging in Los Angeles makes firstrate lightjet prints for both commercial and fine art markets. The prints aren't cheap. Call (323) 850-3000 and ask for Dave. Tell him I sent you.