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Thread: How is Large Digital C-prints made?

  1. #1
    norly's Avatar
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    How is Large Digital C-prints made?

    Hi.
    Just out of curiosity. How do you make a large Digital C-print.

    I would guess you need a rail mounted enlarger that can project digitally (perhaps laser or Leds) to a wall mounted paper. Then in to a classic automatic paper developer machine or?

    If so, can anyone point me towards any names or models thats being used? I know about the auto labs like Polielettronica LaserLab and Durst Lambda and so on. Also the DE VERE 504DS Digital Enlarger is a interesting concept, but it can only do table top sizes.


    C-print Definition: C-print is a photo lab print produced on light-sensitive color paper then processed in wet chemistry. Digital C-print is the same but with a paper projection using a digital original.

    thanks
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  2. #2
    ic-racer's Avatar
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    Re: How is Large Digital C-prints made?

    These are, I believe, outdated now. Though, I think Bob Carine has one: Durst Lambda printer....a pretty amazing device, having its own 'darkroom' enclosure.
    Click image for larger version. 

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  3. #3
    bob carnie's Avatar
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    Re: How is Large Digital C-prints made?

    I still use this machine for silver prints and negs.... Cprints are slowly moving out out of the mainstream, I doubt any commercial labs are using enlargers other than home hobbyists.. The Chromira is one device, The Lambda is another that can produce Cprints .

  4. #4

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    Re: How is Large Digital C-prints made?

    Dodge Chrome in DC/Silver Spring and Taylor Photo in NJ both produce C Prints using Chromira machines (last that I looked). They may have changed during pandemic.

    Durst Lambda prints were for me the best output from high res scans of 4x5 chromes. I used both of the above companies for Chromira prints and found I liked them less than Durst, but more than inkjet/pigment prints. Having said that, there is purportedly more detail/color differentiations with the newest inkjet technology, or at least that is the hype. For color I’m not sure how one confirms that but LF stalwarts such as Charles Cramer and Joseph Holmes are inkjet converts, at least from what I’ve read.

  5. #5
    norly's Avatar
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    Re: How is Large Digital C-prints made?

    Well inkjet is of course much easier, but not relevant to the question.

    I had the impression that you could use the same paper developer machine as in analog, and only find a special type of enlarger, or similar. like the DE VERE 504DS Digital Enlarger, but more powerful.

    So normally the labs has a machine that does both the exposure and printing/devolping of the paper?
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    4x5 and 6x6 stuff

  6. #6

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    Re: How is Large Digital C-prints made?

    Labs use something like the devices mentioned, so chromira, lambda or Oce LightJet or any other rgb laser scanning unit. No enlargers. Processing is likely only inline/integrated with the exposure unit in pro labs.
    The paper used can also be used in the home darkroom with a normal color enlarger, nothing "digital" is needed. I use "digital" paper all the time.

  7. #7
    Drew Wiley
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    Re: How is Large Digital C-prints made?

    There are several brands of large laser printing devices in use. They have to be fully integrated with drum scanners, big automated roll paper cutters, and equally size RA4 processors and dryers, of course. An expensive investment, and fussy to maintain an keep consistent on a day-to-day basis, but otherwise realistic for high-production environments. But for the rest of us, enlargers with a colorhead work just as fine, probably even better once one gets truly skilled at it. Handling big rolls of RA4 paper in the dark by hand is one of trickier parts.

    "C-print" is just old terminology for a chromogenic RC paper color print in distinction from direct-positive dye-destruction chromolytic Cibachrome prints of the era, or the much more complicated dye printing process certain big labs still offered. Now it's easier to just call them RA4 prints, since that is the chemical process almost universally involved, and since these themselves are offered not only in RC paper version, but also in transparency and high-gloss polyester base as well.

  8. #8
    Andrej Gregov
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    Re: How is Large Digital C-prints made?

    You certainly don't need a lightjet to make mural c-priints. Any standard 4x5 to 8x10 enlarger with a color head should be able to make murals. You just need a drop table and focusing extension. That said, exposing c-paper in a darkroom is not easy. Without things like a vacuum easel and/or a space where you don't have to get on your knees to layout roll paper in the dark, making making exhibition quality analog c-prints can be tough. It's just too easy to ding the paper at some point between exposure and feeding into a processor. I've done C murals myself and it was a painful process.

    Contact LA has a rental darkroom where you can make mural c-prints using their 8x10 enlargers. You expose the paper in a dedicated darkroom, rollup the paper to put it into a transport box and feed it into the same processor they use for making digital c-prints for clients. I know David Benjamin Sherry makes 40x50 enlarger made C-print murals there. For myself, I do enlarger based c-printing in my home darkroom with Saudners 4x5/color head using either a Fujimoto tabletop processor (up to 11x14) or Jobo CPP3 for up to 20x24. My enlarger is mounted to the wall with a drop table and could in theory print 30x40. So, a wall projection style enlarger or digital setup is not a requirement. To Bob's point, I know of no serious photographers (who still shoot color films) in my hometown that can print c-prints locally. I stumbled into a solution for myself but I believe it's rare to see most anyone printing color work in an analog darkroom these days. For the most part, one must head off to a few labs that still offer a digital c service. A friend just completed a 30x40 digital c-print with the help of Laumont in NYC and her results were stunning. Side note of interest for color printers here, the Laumont printer mentioned that he thought the highest quality c-paper today is a new paper from Fuji - Maxima. Good sign if manufacturers are still coming out with new c-paper. While inkjet prints can certainly be great today, I still prefer a well made c-print any day.

  9. #9
    Drew Wiley
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    Re: How is Large Digital C-prints made?

    Most C paper today tends to lie very flat on its own. It's not like hydroscopic fiber-based paper. I'm equipped to efficiently make up to 30X40 inch prints on both my 8x10 vertical color enlargers. I dismantled my horizontal one long ago because it took up too much floor space; and I have high ceilings appropriate for relatively big vertical enlargements instead. It isn't difficult, and just takes some experience to learn how to evaluate and adjust results. A precisely made master negative taken of a MacBeth Color Checker Chart with the light or camera filter precisely matched to 5500K really helps. You work with that for any specific batch of paper until you arrive at the best possible CC balance in the print itself replicating the original chart, especially with respect to a truly neutral gray scale. Getting on first base like that takes a hour or two, but saves time and fuss overall.

  10. #10
    norly's Avatar
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    Re: How is Large Digital C-prints made?

    Quote Originally Posted by agregov View Post
    You certainly don't need a lightjet to make mural c-priints. Any standard 4x5 to 8x10 enlarger with a color head should be able to make murals. You just need a drop table and focusing extension. That said, exposing c-paper in a darkroom is not easy. Without things like a vacuum easel and/or a space where you don't have to get on your knees to layout roll paper in the dark, making making exhibition quality analog c-prints can be tough. It's just too easy to ding the paper at some point between exposure and feeding into a processor. I've done C murals myself and it was a painful process.
    I remembered the lab I had at school. We had a rail mounted enlarger and a roll-paper cutting machine. Worked fine with a metal wall and strong magnets. I also had the opportunity to work with a studio that had (according to themselves) the largest vacuum wall in Europe. That was quite cool.

    Anyway, the question is how to get a digital fil projected on the paper and still getting a good result. That is to me the tricky bit.

    Naturally a full automated all inclusive Prolab machine would work. I just figure, that when for example they do prints for museums and archives it would more of a manual process. Imitating the classical darkroom.

    Sidenote: Ive got a tabletop ra-4 developer in the attic. But it limited to sheet and ≈15" (If I remember correctly). Se image below. Quite nice little machine anyway

    Click image for larger version. 

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