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

  1. #11
    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
    Hi Bruce, thanks for the detailed explanation, your answer is what I had feared.
    It's not all that bad. A continuous tone imagesetter negative seems to cost about the same as drum scanning a similar negative. Maybe less; I'm comparing back and forth between NA and Europe.

    A European company called TheWetPrint.com seems to offer what you want. Scroll down the webpage to the final illustration. Page though that to see the image structure various methods can deliver. This will at least show you the difference between QTR and Piezography. Not at the image level, but at far greater magnification so you can see how the image is created. This might help you decide which system to use should you decide to go the contact printing route.

    This page also shows you what a continuous tone imagesetter negative looks like and what it can do. This will almost certainly do what you want -- I would be very surprised if this product couldn't handle a 4x enlargement with relative ease. The only problem is, you can't do it in your room, and it's more expensive than an inkjet print so you'll only want to do this with images you really like.

    But the bottom line is, you can make enlarged silver prints this way.

    You might want to run this past Bob Carnie -- he has been a LFP.info regular who has a wealth of experience and knowledge in all kinds of alternate processes like this. If Bob doesn't know, he can probably point you in the right direction at least.

    Ah, yes, another alternative might be an LVT film recorder output. PrePress Express will sell you an 8x10 on Ilford FP4+. This too should be take low to medium level enlargement well.

    Bruce Watson

  2. #12
    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 interneg View Post
    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).
    Yes, this! We were typing at the same time, but you said it better than I did.

    Bruce Watson

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

    Quote Originally Posted by Bruce Watson View Post
    I would be very surprised if this product couldn't handle a 4x enlargement with relative ease.
    It won't. The halftone screened image is equivalent to a few hundred PPI, but has to be made up of a few thousand DPI to achieve that. Stick a 4x magnifier on a halftone neg & you'll see the whole story.

    Quote Originally Posted by Bruce Watson View Post
    LVT film recorder output. PrePress Express will sell you an 8x10 on Ilford FP4+. This too should be take low to medium level enlargement well.
    2000ppi ought to do at least 4x with ease, 4000 probably twice that.

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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
    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.
    You might try this service:

    https://digitalsilverimaging.com/dsi...silver-prints/

    The proprietor, Eric Luden, used to work for Ilford/Harman Technology.

  5. #15
    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 interneg View Post
    It won't. The halftone screened image is equivalent to a few hundred PPI, but has to be made up of a few thousand DPI to achieve that.
    I agree that halftone won't cut it, even at the highest level. That's just not what halftone is for. OTOH, some imagesetters can do continuous tone as well has halftone. I'm talking about the continuous tone stuff. But the more I think about it, the more I think that what the OP really needs is output from an LVT film recorder.

    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?

    I have made nice 10x10 prints from 3000x3000, 300dpi digital files ganged 12-up for 8x10 and sent to Cox Black & White Lab for an LVT on Tri-X 320. There was a bit of a learning curve, since they don't provide a profile for the LVT. Essentially they gained in contrast, the shadows started to block up and the highlights lost detail. I made initial test files including a grey scale for 4x5 output to get started. Once I got a handle on correcting for that, it worked out well. I actually prefer the prints from the LVT to high-end inkjet output.

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

    Quote Originally Posted by Oren Grad View Post
    You might try this service:

    https://digitalsilverimaging.com/dsi...silver-prints/

    The proprietor, Eric Luden, used to work for Ilford/Harman Technology.
    Yes, that looks interesting, I used a service like that years ago for an exhibit Ebony camera had at the Fuji Salon Gallery in Tokyo. Fuji wanted all film to be theirs and prints to be on Fuji Crystal Archive. If I am recalling that correctly, it was some type of a laser process and the paper was some type of RC.

    For this project, I donít mind sending out files to have negatives made, via the LVT method as many of you have recommended. I would like the ability to make the fiber prints as needed once I have the negatives.

    Thank you all for the suggestions, now I need to find a US based company still doing this work. I see a couple from doing an internet search, such as Albumen Works in Massachusetts, they still have a website,but Iím not sure if they are still in business. I sent them an email inquiry and Iíll wait for a response.

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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
    Yes, that looks interesting, I used a service like that years ago for an exhibit Ebony camera had at the Fuji Salon Gallery in Tokyo. Fuji wanted all film to be theirs and prints to be on Fuji Crystal Archive. If I am recalling that correctly, it was some type of a laser process and the paper was some type of RC.
    FWIW, Digital Silver Imaging "prints" on both RC and FB - your choice. You can even order toning if you want.

  9. #19
    Drew Wiley
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    Re: Is it possible/practical to make digital negative for use in an enlarger?

    Jim Browning still uses an 8x10 film laser recorder, but of his own design. It's how he generates separation negatives for his dye transfer printing. For personal work he scans color transparencies, but in-camera digital files could also be used. Possible? Absolutely. Practical? Depends on how much you're willing to pay. It was once a standard "Service Bureau" procedure, but expensive. I don't know how many commercial labs might still offer that option. It's an awfully convoluted way to get from point A to point B.

    The prices by the service Oren linked aren't all that bad compared to the old days. But how are you going to factor localized contrast controls like we do with contrast filters and actual pan film? That kind of customization might cost extra. Dunno. Contact them.

    Actual digital enlargers have also been marketed. Very expensive to purchase, especially for the relatively so-so results. Kinda like the difference between a digital Power Point projector sales seminar versus a real slide show, I guess.
    Last edited by Drew Wiley; 23-Apr-2022 at 18:33.

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

    Quote Originally Posted by Wheathins View Post
    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
    I've been contact printing silver gelatin with digital negatives and they are actually very good. You see some inkjet "grain" only very close up- kind of indistinguishable from anything but perhaps an 8x10 in-camera contact print. The key is to use the newer versions of Quadtone RIP that actually support the High DPI modes, and also a high dpi printer of course. Even better is to use the beta Piezography Driver which uses Gutenprint under the hood which as far better resolution and dithering algorithms than the kind of outdated QTR at this point.

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