Paul, I started photography with limitation of not being able, to have a darkroom.
I started, shooting DSLRs, evolved, to shooting film Leica, scanning, printing digitally and added digital Leicas for a convenience factor later on.
I now use both film and digital, which I process through Adobe Lightroom, to prepare for printing with pigment ink printers.
I shoot mainly TriX 400 and Fuji Neopan 400, pushed @ ISO3200 and have the film developed in D-76 in a lab or develop myself in Kodak TMax developer.
I then "scan" my negatives with a self built rig with a Nikon D3 and 60mm repro lens, essentially shooting the negatives on a light table, tethered directly into Lightroom with RAW files.
I do a small preparation of the negative RAW files (curves, sharpening) in Lightroom before exporting them into Photoshop for negative inversion.
The inverted TIFF files then are prepared for printing in Adobe Lightroom (curves, sharpening, local adjustments, etc … basically the things, one would do during wet printing, to enhance the print).
After preparations, I print directly out of Lightroom to a Canon 9500 printer for 13x19 or with an external lab to a EPSON large format printer.
The absolute key to this workflow is the scanning quality, which is generally lower with flatbed scanners or even dedicated negative scanners, lacking focus adjustments.
Best scanning hardware is: EPSON 750 for flatbed scanners, Nikon Coolscan 9000 for dedicated negative scanners, Imacon/ Hasselblad Flextight or drumscanner for best quality.
With an optimized workflow and proper setup, I judge the DSLR process in the same class, as Imacon Flextight scans, which I have compared (my own scans form the Nikon DSLR on rig and Flextight scans form the lab).
The issues with flatbeds is fine detail loss due to glass carriers, uneven film and lack of focus adjustments (the latter having the highest impact on detail loss).
Additionally is the scan with flatbeds and dedicated negative scanners very slow (a 36 exposure film is scanned in about 30 − 45min, needing attention at least ever 6 frames with automated software or feeding, while the same roll of film, cut in 6 frame strips and fed by negative holder needs only 15 min, tethered into Lightroom).
The issues with Flextight and drum scanners is mainly their high cost of initial investment and similarly slow operation.Easiest way for you:
Buy an EPSON 750 + Vuescan (ditch Silverfast, if you have a heart condition, otherwise that softwear drives you insane - the EPSONScan software, that came with my ESPON scanner is not too bad either, but doesn't allow for much customization).
Learn, how to operate it.
Scan, photoshop, print.
Buy a descent printer (EPSON and HP are big names in town, I like the Canon 9500, now further improved with a newer, more expensive model).
Get only the finest paper and enjoy!
Here is a small (old) comparison, what to expect form a flatbed scanner (best possible end result after an hour of scanning and rescanning) and the DSLR rig (one shot only, therefore not the best possible outcome - both crops have exactly the same post processing steps done in Lightroom, which is more favorable to the EPSON scan, not the D3 shot):
, on Flickr
crop EPSON flatbed:EPSON Scan - crop
, on Flickr
crop Nikon D3 rig:Nikon D3 - 60 AF-D Micro-Nikkor - crop
, on Flickr