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Thread: Processing B/W Film for Scanning

  1. #1

    Join Date
    May 2002

    Processing B/W Film for Scanning

    I shoot 4x5 b/w, scan my negs on a Polaroid SprintScan 45 Ultra, fine- tune in Photoshop, then print using Piezography on an Epson 7600.

    I have a question regarding the processing of b/w film for the specific purpose of scanning and then digital printing. Perhaps it would be best if I framed my question in the context of a couple of thesis': A) When deciding between developers, generally speaking, fine-grain developers achieve the fine grain at the expense of lower acutance. B) High-acutance developers achieve high acutance at the expense of coarser grain. Are these two statements generally accepted as true?

    And if they are, would the following conclusion be accurate: Given that my images will be sharpened in Photoshop just before printing, thus achieving some acutance in the computer, would it not make sense to go for the finest grain (at the expense of acutance) in my film processing? Is there merit to this conclusion, or am I totally off base?

    For what it's worth, the typical stuff I like to shoot can be seen here:

    Thanks for your thoughts and input.

    P.S.--Cross-posted in the LF forum.

  2. #2
    Resident Heretic Bruce Watson's Avatar
    Join Date
    Sep 2003
    USA, North Carolina

    Processing B/W Film for Scanning

    There's merit in every question. At the very least, they show that you are thinking about the problem!

    I do something similar to what you comtemplate. I drum scan 4x5 Tri-X and print on an Epson 7600 with Piezography inks. I've played with various things trying to figure out if you can optimize for scanning. It turns out, the best negatives for scanning and inkjet printing, are the same ones you'd use for darkroom work.

    As to acutance vs. grain. In 4x5, it just doesn't matter a whole lot. I make prints up to 40x50 inches (I send those out for printing on a 9600), and the prints at that size are tack sharp and nearly grainless (this is Tri-X we're talking about here, but it's still only a 10x enlargement).

    My recomendation to you is to use the film and developer combination that gives you the tonality that you want. The rest will take care of itself.

    Bruce Watson

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