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Thread: Who has gone digital and what are your complaints about it if any.

  1. #1

    Who has gone digital and what are your complaints about it if any.

    As I am looking for a new (used) enlarger, I thought before purchase I'd ask the forum members who have moved into the 4x5 digital realm using scanners, what th eir impressions are as related to the positives and negatives. (forgive the pun) Is digital good enough for you? I know that a drum scan is always possible, giv ing far greater resolution, but what of flatbed output for smaller stuff.

  2. #2

    Join Date
    Dec 2001

    Who has gone digital and what are your complaints about it if any.

    I use a flatbed to scan the final prints, but the real thing looks better to me. It is nice for playing with different cropping efforts, and for sharing with more people though. As always, the better the print is, the better the scan will be.

  3. #3

    Join Date
    Dec 1997
    Baraboo, Wisconsin

    Who has gone digital and what are your complaints about it if any.

    I've started scanning 4x5 and 8x10 black and white negatives on a Linoscan 1400 flat bed scanner, manipulating them in Photoshop, and printing with MIS inks in an Epson 1160 printer. I've been very excited about the degree of control that I can achieve over the final prints using this method, much more ability to control the look of the final print than can be achieved in the darkroom even with things like flashing, masking, etc. I also like the fact that I don't need to block out three or four hours as I do when I go in the darkroom, I can sit down at the computer for an hour here and there and work on prints. I've also been very pleased with the tonal range and detail that I can achieve (though I only enlarge to 10x16 maximum and I'm scanning 4x5 and 8x10 negatives so I guess it isn't surprising that the detail is very good. I think the detail is at least as good as I get from enlarging in the darkroom but not yet (for me at least) as good as 8x10 contact prints. And of course "spotting," fixing scratches, "toning," etc. is far easier and more effective when done digitally. However, the prints don't look like "real" photographs, they have a look all their own. I like the look o.k. but I still plan to use my wet darkroom when I have a negative that I really like. One myth I've found is the idea that digital manipulation and printing is quick and easy. Because there is so much you can do, I find that I spend at least as much time making a digital print as I do a traditional print and I've always spent a lot of time - usually several hours, sometimes more- making a final print in the darkroom.
    Brian Ellis
    Before you criticize someone, walk a mile in their shoes. That way when you do criticize them you'll be
    a mile away and you'll have their shoes.

  4. #4

    Who has gone digital and what are your complaints about it if any.

    I am a basket case on this issue.

    I had a darkroom for years. Before that I rented a darkroom in which I could do BW, color negatives, and cibachrome. I developed my own BW and printed in all three.

    Eight years ago my cool home darkroom ended up at what suddenly became The Ex Wife's Place, and is now a playroom with a big sink and light tight windows.

    Two years ago I invested seriously in a digital darkroom. I decided to develop BW in the sink and then scan negatives, manipulate in photoshop, and print on an Epson. I have found that scanning is a craft unto itself, that photoshop manipulation is SO MUCH better than darkroom manipulation...especially with the peskiest of things like dust spotting and very localized contrast control, and I have found that digital prints do indeed have their own look that is cool if you have an open mind.

    Then last night I rented a darkroom and printed two 6x12 color negative landscapes as 9x18 prints. It had been so long since I had made a "real" print, they took my breath away. There is a quality to the prints that epson prints just don't approach. It's as simple as that.

    I now plan to scan and print for casual prints and for emailing photographs, and to optically print photographs for walls.

    This is extremely long winded but as I seem to have already started the journey you are considering, perhaps it's relevant.


  5. #5

    Who has gone digital and what are your complaints about it if any.

    We do digital at work (mostly scanning negs) with an Imacon. Film for me is still the way to go and for my personal work, I'm still and will be for a long time, a film guy! I prefer to get in the darkroom both at work and at home. Digital is used at work because we have to supply the client with digital files for their presentations. The Imacon we have is great for this and is very powerful. I have a Microtek 4 at home and scan my personal stuff (usually 4"x5" @ 300dpi) and it comes out great for my submissions via email. For me, digital does have it's place but I would still recommend the wet darkroom!

  6. #6

    Who has gone digital and what are your complaints about it if any.

    I don't shoot 4x5, but do 6x6, 6x7 and 6x9 B&W. I agree with Scott, don't quit the wet darkroom, but do try digital. I'm doing both and photoshop is loads of fun, particuarly for color and B&W variations. With digital you can print on almost any paper. I enjoy doing both B&W and color on water color paper and rag paper. But for real punch, a well executed fiber B&W print is still where it's at for us non professionals, who do not want to pay big bucks for top of the line B&W digital.

    I was orginally quite taken by digital about a year ago, when I got a 35mm scanner and a 8 1/2 inch printer. But now I seem to be moving back to the darkroom. FWIW.

  7. #7
    Whatever David A. Goldfarb's Avatar
    Join Date
    Mar 2000
    Honolulu, Hawai'i

    Who has gone digital and what are your complaints about it if any.

    The issue for me isn't so much resolution of the scanner as the way the prints look. I've seen some very nice digital B&W prints, and Photoshop offers a great deal of control, but digital prints look different from wet prints. The surface has a different kind of reflectivity, and the pattern of tonal gradation is different. I don't see myself going digital any time soon for B&W, though it is handy for putting images up on the web.

    On the other hand, LightJet output for color is excellent, and since the prints are done on the same material that would be used for conventional color prints, the issues of surface and tonality don't obtain, and the additional control available without time-consuming processes like contrast masking, is a big advantage.

  8. #8

    Join Date
    Dec 1999

    Who has gone digital and what are your complaints about it if any.

    I have printed b/w LF for about 20 years and still do. Last year I began scanning my b/w negs on an Epson 1640 U, the predecessor to the Epson 2450, manipulating them in photoshop 6, and outputting them on an Epson 1160 with Piezography inks. Along the way i took a good correspondence course on digital printing, and have talked with a local commercial photographer who has gone from jobo to digital with a D-1 and an Epson 10000. results: Photoshop makes traditional darkroom manipulation pale by contrast. When I heard John Sexton speak at a Calumet seminar about the procedures he had used to print one of the images from his latiest book, i couldn't help but think--John, with your talent and funds you could do this digitally so much easier!

    results/output. With some images I cannot achieve the same dynamic range digitally as I can in the chemical darkroom. I have yet to match paper and image really well. Scanning: A demon lives inside my scanner, rewarding me with really good scans most of the time, and newton's rings, garbage, and junk some of the time. I think the latter has to do with the Epson not going into a save/rescue/sleep mode. If the scanner has been on (I mean the light) for a lengthy time, and the glass heats up, my scans go south. If I could i would get a dedicated 4x5 scanner, but they are far too expensive at this juncture. So i have learned to scan a few images, work on them, restart the scanner and do some more..

    results--images; Digital output has a distinctive look and feel that I don't think you can get with a chemically created print. Not worse or better--just different. I like it, but I am not ready to sell the enlarger, cameras, etc and go fully digital. In color, however, I think the digital output and the ability to manipulate in a lightroom is superior. The 20x24s made on my friend's epson 10000 are stunning. Even the smaller ones my students are grinding out on Epson 820s are neat as hell.

    When my new LF camera arrives later this month, I will learn its use and immediately shoot both in color and in B/W, soimething i rarely have done before. So far I have found the learning and the cost of the digital darkroom positive experiences, at least for me. Bob

  9. #9

    Who has gone digital and what are your complaints about it if any.

    I'd like to add to the confusion of the traditional/digital "debate".

    After working in photojournalism for 20 years, and having made the switch to digital several years ago, I'd like to point out that it really isn't an either/or situation. I realize that economically it's better to make a decision, but I've approached the whole debate on digital as a method and knowledge that is an ADDITION and not a REPLACEMENT.

    Just as paper selection will determine how a final print "feels"-- along with film choice, development choice, karma..etc--so should the decision to shoot and print traditionally, or inserting a digital step into your scheme. Scanner selection will make a difference in an image. Software selection will partly determine the final look and feel. Injet selection will also alter everything.

    I've found the best way to deal with this is to be more patient than I thought possible and try different methods. I'm going very slow on this, and some of the people who contribute to this list can tell you I've emailed them with some fairly basic, sometimes silly questions.

    I recently had a b&w 4x5 neg drum-scanned and an inkjet proof made. The results were both stunning and expensive. However, that print doesn't have the same look and feel as a tray-developed print. It's just different. I'll have to learn an ADDED previsualization when making pictures from now on. I can't wait to see the the 16x20 inkjet.

    I've also thought about a table top scanner and I'm waiting until the high ends get a little higher. Technology is both wonderful and frustrating, but I think it will all get to a price and quality we can all appreciate in the immediate future.

    "I meant what I said, not what you heard"--Jflavell

  10. #10
    Founder QT Luong's Avatar
    Join Date
    Aug 1997
    San Jose, CA

    Who has gone digital and what are your complaints about it if any.

    As others have pointed it out, there is a significant difference between color and B&W. I am a color photographer. I've been using the lighjet for printing for several years, and apart from the higher cost, I see nothing to regret about the Ilfochromes. With inkjets, the results are more mixed. It's still difficult to make a good archival print on glossy paper (there are all sorts of issues), and on matter paper, the look is quite different.

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