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Thread: Is it possible/practical to make digital negative for use in an enlarger?

  1. #1

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    Is it possible/practical to make digital negative for use in an enlarger?

    I hope you all donít mind me starting this new thread, I know the subject has been touched on but I thought maybe time for a refresh.
    I have read a lot about making digital negatives, as with QuadToneRIP, etc. Most of that seems to be for alt process or contact prints.

    I would like to be able to make a negative from a digital file, as an example, from my digital or converted camera and make silver gelatin enlarged prints on my 8x10 enlarger.

    Is there a good method for this or is it still not possible with todays technology.? I would like to do this in my own studio with an Epson 3880 printer.

    Is Piezography or the QuadToneRIP method the best way to go, or do you know of other methods.

    Thanks in advance,
    John

  2. #2

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    Re: Is it possible/practical to make digital negative for use in an enlarger?

    I started researching all of this stuff around a year ago so I’m far from an expert, but it seems to me when it comes to enlarging digital negatives, we’re not quite there with the equipment one can reasonably have at home (even if you implement Piezography etc.). Of course this may depend on personal standards/expectations, magnification factor etc.

    Quote Originally Posted by John Brady View Post
    I hope you all don’t mind me starting this new thread, I know the subject has been touched on but I thought maybe time for a refresh.
    I have read a lot about making digital negatives, as with QuadToneRIP, etc. Most of that seems to be for alt process or contact prints.

    I would like to be able to make a negative from a digital file, as an example, from my digital or converted camera and make silver gelatin enlarged prints on my 8x10 enlarger.

    Is there a good method for this or is it still not possible with todays technology.? I would like to do this in my own studio with an Epson 3880 printer.

    Is Piezography or the QuadToneRIP method the best way to go, or do you know of other methods.

    Thanks in advance,
    John

  3. #3

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    Re: Is it possible/practical to make digital negative for use in an enlarger?

    I've messed around with digital negatives, they don't enlarge well at all. They honestly barely hold up when contact printed. Inkjet just doesn't have the resolution.

    Sent from my Pixel 4 XL using Tapatalk

  4. #4

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    Re: Is it possible/practical to make digital negative for use in an enlarger?

    Give us more details. Creating negatives from a ? format digital to print ? sized prints on an 8x10 enlarger?

    What's the goal?

    Making prints an a BIGGER enlarger does not makes them BETTER.

  5. #5
    Resident Heretic Bruce Watson's Avatar
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    Re: Is it possible/practical to make digital negative for use in an enlarger?

    Quote Originally Posted by John Brady View Post
    I have read a lot about making digital negatives, as with QuadToneRIP, etc. Most of that seems to be for alt process or contact prints.
    Yup.

    Quote Originally Posted by John Brady View Post
    I would like to be able to make a negative from a digital file, as an example, from my digital or converted camera and make silver gelatin enlarged prints on my 8x10 enlarger.
    Not really possible from an inkjet printer. Wrong tool for the job. The problem is, it's not really possible to print inkjet dots small enough to print at photographic negative resolutions. Say, in the neighborhood of 4000 ppi. When you print at 360 dpi, there's nothing there to enlarge. Said another way, when you enlarge the 360 ppi negative, you just make the inkjet dots bigger, big enough to see with the naked eye if you enlarge very much.

    And if you could inkjet print at 4000 dpi, it would take hours of printing to make your new negative.

    OTOH, there's always an imagesettter, like an Agfa Avantra 44, or Accuset, or something. These things can give you film output (you'll have to send them a negative image file if you want an negative film output) at up to around 3600 ppi. It should be enough for mild enlargement. You'd have to try it and see if it will do what you want.

    There are places online that do this kind of work. One I found is FilmOutput.com. There are undoubtedly others. I've never used this kind of service so I have no idea what level of quality anyone provides. I'm just listing it here to give you a starting point if you choose to investigate. You could call them and pick their brains, see what they think, or where they might send you. What can it hurt?

    Quote Originally Posted by John Brady View Post
    Is there a good method for this or is it still not possible with todays technology.? I would like to do this in my own studio with an Epson 3880 printer.
    Not going to happen with an inkjet printer. And you probably don't want to splash out for your very own image setter. Although really -- who doesn't need an imagesetter in the basement?

    So, it comes down to a choice. You can inkjet print a contact printing negative the size of your final print. Or perhaps you'll use a service to print you a film negative you can enlarge, at least somewhat. I don't see any other viable options. If someone else does, hopefully they will append what they know to this thread and enlighten us all. I for one could certainly use some more enlightening. Just sayin'.

    Bruce Watson

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    Pieter's Avatar
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    Re: Is it possible/practical to make digital negative for use in an enlarger?

    Inkjet printers don't have the resolution to accommodate much enlargement. You really need to make (more likely have made by a lab) an LVT film negative from you digital file(s).

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    Re: Is it possible/practical to make digital negative for use in an enlarger?

    The long-running project by Salgado, called 'Genesis', started being shot on film (mostly 120) and ended up with digital. For the digital images an imagesetter sheet-film-sized interneg was made for enlarging, and for the film images in some cases a digital file was scanned. The two approaches were used to enable the widest distribution of the exhibition, both as physical prints and as digital files for regional / local printing.

    The version I saw had both silver prints and digitally-made prints (for images of more than three metres or so, whole walls of the expo rooms, for example) and the effect was not too disjointed visually. However, remember that there was basically a bottomless budget to get this right for the project, so the same approach is unlikely to be such a success using a $99 inkjet printer from a discount store.

    Edit: Seems that might have been a film-recorder then (from other posters). I do recall that there was an electronic-looking, box-shaped machine in the background of a video-clip at the French company producing the internegs, and it was that machine which produced the negs. They looked about 4x5", but could have been a little bit larger.
    Last edited by MartinP; 23-Apr-2022 at 13:21.

  8. #8

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    Re: Is it possible/practical to make digital negative for use in an enlarger?

    Quote Originally Posted by xkaes View Post
    Give us more details. Creating negatives from a ? format digital to print ? sized prints on an 8x10 enlarger?

    What's the goal?

    Making prints an a BIGGER enlarger does not makes them BETTER.
    In this instance, the 8x10 negatives would be sourced from a sony a7rIV, 60mp. If I wanted just a large print, I could do that on a large digital printer.
    I much prefer Silver Gelatin to inkjet for black and white. I make silver gelatin prints to 20x24 from 8x10 film negatives currently. With the lack of 8x10 IR film, my hope was to do some of this work with the sony and still get Silver Prints.

  9. #9

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    Re: Is it possible/practical to make digital negative for use in an enlarger?

    Hi Bruce, thanks for the detailed explanation, your answer is what I had feared.

    Quote Originally Posted by Bruce Watson View Post
    Yup.



    Not really possible from an inkjet printer. Wrong tool for the job. The problem is, it's not really possible to print inkjet dots small enough to print at photographic negative resolutions. Say, in the neighborhood of 4000 ppi. When you print at 360 dpi, there's nothing there to enlarge. Said another way, when you enlarge the 360 ppi negative, you just make the inkjet dots bigger, big enough to see with the naked eye if you enlarge very much.

    And if you could inkjet print at 4000 dpi, it would take hours of printing to make your new negative.

    OTOH, there's always an imagesettter, like an Agfa Avantra 44, or Accuset, or something. These things can give you film output (you'll have to send them a negative image file if you want an negative film output) at up to around 3600 ppi. It should be enough for mild enlargement. You'd have to try it and see if it will do what you want.

    There are places online that do this kind of work. One I found is FilmOutput.com. There are undoubtedly others. I've never used this kind of service so I have no idea what level of quality anyone provides. I'm just listing it here to give you a starting point if you choose to investigate. You could call them and pick their brains, see what they think, or where they might send you. What can it hurt?



    Not going to happen with an inkjet printer. And you probably don't want to splash out for your very own image setter. Although really -- who doesn't need an imagesetter in the basement?

    So, it comes down to a choice. You can inkjet print a contact printing negative the size of your final print. Or perhaps you'll use a service to print you a film negative you can enlarge, at least somewhat. I don't see any other viable options. If someone else does, hopefully they will append what they know to this thread and enlighten us all. I for one could certainly use some more enlightening. Just sayin'.

  10. #10

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    Re: Is it possible/practical to make digital negative for use in an enlarger?

    You don't want a litho film imagesetter output for your specific purpose (unless you are contact printing the result - and can get a fine enough dot/ stochastic dot) - in essence they are not (for practical purposes here - not getting into the fun, games and headaches of soft/ hard dot) that dissimilar to inkjet on to inkjet transparency film, what you want an LVT film recorder (or similar). LVT's unfortunately all need ageing computers to run them. While an imagesetter can deliver several thousand dots per inch, the screen patterns they use will usually output something in the 200-300lpi range or stochastic micron equivalent (on average - some might be willing to go a bit higher) - thus about 400-600ppi equivalent - LVT's usually output at 2000ppi-4000ppi range - thus you can do the maths for subsequent optical enlargement from that. They date from an era when you'd drum scan your original, do the digital retouch work etc, LVT output, then darkroom print your final prints (i.e. they pre-date the Lambda and those type of machines).

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