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Printing advice please


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#1 Studio58

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Posted 24 November 2011 - 00:35

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Back in the day..... back in the days when I had a darkroom and printed negs mainly from my Hasselblad but some 35 I had it pretty well under control.
So now it is 13 years since I made a print or processed a roll of film and I am about to venture into the world of film once more. I have searched the forum and though there is much information available I find it more confusing than helpful as there is so much polarised opinion.
Essentially though, I am considering an Epson V750. Can someone enlighten me as to workflow for such an operation. Perhaps reading material..... what quality results can I expect... etc.
Thank you in advance,
Paul

#2 250swb

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Posted 24 November 2011 - 09:34

There is much written on the Post Processing section of LUF about the V700 and V750 (the same scanner in the important areas).

I would say there are two distinct stages in workflow to get the best results from a scan. The first is to get your scan, but not to aim for a finished image especially as even the best scanner software available is no match for Photoshop (or Lightroom). It can at first be disheartening if they don't pop out fully formed images, but a soft low contrast scan without any sharpening applied will guarantee all the information possible is on the file. You then go to stage two and import it into Photoshop for final processing where tone adjustments and sharpening can be applied with finesse and control. The good thing about this method, apart from using the strengths of Photoshop, is that it is far easier making a lower contrast scan than struggling to fine tune the scanner and Silverfast, or Vuescan, or Epson Scan to gain that extra little bit of tone and dynamic range.

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#3 NB23

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Posted 24 November 2011 - 15:45

Printing is like riding a bike; once you learn it you never forget it. How you could have forgotten something as simple as that?

#4 Peter H

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Posted 24 November 2011 - 16:26

Printing is like riding a bike; once you learn it you never forget it. ...........


I wish that were true.

But it isn't.

#5 NB23

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Posted 24 November 2011 - 16:33

Yes it is.

#6 Peter H

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Posted 24 November 2011 - 16:39

Yes it is.


It may be true for you, but not for everyone.

I forgot a lot and had to learn it again.

#7 pico

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Posted 24 November 2011 - 17:52

Printing is like riding a bike; once you learn it you never forget it. How you could have forgotten something as simple as that?


He is making the jump to digital, not resuming wet printing.
.
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#8 philipus

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Posted 24 November 2011 - 18:07

Back in the day..... back in the days when I had a darkroom and printed negs mainly from my Hasselblad but some 35 I had it pretty well under control.
So now it is 13 years since I made a print or processed a roll of film and I am about to venture into the world of film once more. I have searched the forum and though there is much information available I find it more confusing than helpful as there is so much polarised opinion.
Essentially though, I am considering an Epson V750. Can someone enlighten me as to workflow for such an operation. Perhaps reading material..... what quality results can I expect... etc.
Thank you in advance,
Paul


I should say at the outset that I'm no printing expert so I can't really advice on that. I have scanned quite a bit though so perhaps the below can assist.

Steve has some very good pointers in his reply re workflow. In particular the soft uncontrasty scan to keep as much info as possible in the file. I have found this to be key in arriving, eventually, at a good-quality image.

Scantips is a useful starting point (there may well be others, too). If you want specific info re scanning particular films, well then fora like this one are great. Flickr is a sometimes overlooked forum for scanning tips in my experience.

I'm using Vuescan which I like a lot (I've never used Silverfast so can't advise on that). I did use Nikon Scan for a few years but it didn't work so well when I switched to Mac (crashed etc) though the quality of the scans were very similar to Vuescan. If you're not using Vuescan then ignore some of the following. This 3rd-party Vuescan manual complements the instructions on the Vuescan website. Here's a forum thread that helped me as well which may assist also you. Then there's this page which is also useful. Another page is this one which recommends RAW scans. However, after advice from forum members here, I'm using tiff rather than the RAW/DNG option in Vuescan, because the latter is much too oversaturated, see this thread.

Btw, I'm not sure how much the V750 is but you should also consider other options, for instance Mikrotex F1 or M1 which I wrote about in this thread (which also has other links).

I forgot to say that calibration of the equipment is really key, so that should be a starting point. This will improve the print quality a lot. I'm not great at that so can't really advise on it. For scanner calibration, this is a good site though.

cheers and good luck
Philip
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#9 NB23

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Posted 24 November 2011 - 19:19

He is making the jump to digital, not resuming wet printing.
.



Crap! That'll teach me! Sorry to the OP and Peter.

Digital photography and all the programs can be a huge pita indeed!
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#10 thomasw_

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Posted 24 November 2011 - 19:35

OP -- By all means get a v700 or another machine you like for posting images to the web: any half decent scanner is sufficient for this purpose. That is how I use my v700 -- this, and sometimes for fixing an old damaged negative or to do a preview aka 'contact sheet'.

YMMV but for me scanning is incredibly dull, a highly avoidable activity, whereas wet printing is fulfilling and calls at the heart of my creativity. There is a lot of subtly and joy to learning and mastering aspects of the hands-on process. In contrast, the only subtly of scanning for me is in the computing -- which might get a programmer's juices flowing, but computing just makes me yawn.

My advice would be to do what you seem to suggest you already know how to do: wet print. Your printing quality will be much higher than from digitized files. So, to my mind, why would you want to accept lower print quality at a higher set up cost (darkroom gear is cheap)?
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#11 andybarton

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Posted 24 November 2011 - 19:38

Not everyone has the time, space or inclination to wet print today, even if they have wet printed in the past.

I fall into that category.

Advising someone to wet print when they ask for advice on how to print via scanning, isn't all that helpful, IMO.
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#12 CalArts 99

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Posted 24 November 2011 - 23:25

There are clearly limitations to scanning with a CCD scanner (noise and artifacts) and printing with ink (ink dots and dithering patterns.) And sure, its not the same as analog production in a wet darkroom. But for setting up a relatively inexpensive digital workflow to make acceptable prints there's nothing wrong with it, and it really shouldn't be compared to a wet darkroom since they both produce different products.

We have become acclimated to viewing scanned film (and digitally captured images) and with ink dots as prints. Just as our eyes/brain accepted LCD TVs over the previous CRTs. CRTs may be 'better' but it's more about that they are simply a different experience.

Scanning and printing your own work can be equally enjoyable. And you can develop and improve skills just like you once did in the darkroom. It's still a nice hobby and making something (no matter what it is) is very satisfying; it's part of human nature.

And one can always get a drum scan produced (a wet mounted piece of film on a PMT scanner will be a superior result over a consumer CCD device.) And then print back onto analog photo-chemical paper via Oce's Lightjet printer. Then you have the best of both worlds: captured on film; then a high quality digitized file; then "darkroom work" using Photoshop; then back onto a piece of light sensitive paper using photo chemicals. All the wet process quality will absolutely be there.

You have the choice to work at home outside of a darkroom (and running water) for decent prints and then make exhibition prints if needed using a good atelier for high quality drum scans and Lightjets.

But If you are really more interested in the process rather than the final product (i.e., the print, which in the end is only what matters to the viewer), then you should just do what satisfies you, either being on the computer or being in the darkroom.

I'm a happy camper in the hybrid world of digital and analog. :D

Studio58: there is more info on scanning film available on the internet then there is now on the wet process. Start doing a search and you won't be lacking for advice. And just like in the past, there are some dogmatic individuals with their 'own advice' but we know there are several ways to skin a cat. Here's one of many out there: Scanning film

Have fun!
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#13 andybarton

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Posted 24 November 2011 - 23:33

I stopped reading that link when he / she said that Silverfast has "an exquisite interface".

Edited by andybarton, 24 November 2011 - 23:43.

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#14 CalArts 99

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Posted 24 November 2011 - 23:41

I stopped reading that link when he it she said that Silverfast has "an exquisite interface".


LOL. I agree. It's a bizarre GUI. It even has little airplane icons (pre-flight your files, ha-ha) since the developer is a pilot. :rolleyes:

Although once you follow his 'illogical logic' it's a pretty good and robust piece of software esp for color management. What I personally don't like is the licensing policy.

If you want a truly unintuitive scanning program, try the commercial drum scanning software from these folks: Aztek Premier Drum Scanner

A fantastic piece of hardware but mind numbing piece of software that takes a looooog time to get comfortable with.....

#15 menos I M6

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Posted 25 November 2011 - 06:35

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):

full frame:
Eingefügtes Bild
by teknopunk.com, on Flickr

crop EPSON flatbed:
Eingefügtes Bild
EPSON Scan - crop by teknopunk.com, on Flickr

crop Nikon D3 rig:
Eingefügtes Bild
Nikon D3 - 60 AF-D Micro-Nikkor - crop by teknopunk.com, on Flickr
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#16 philipus

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Posted 25 November 2011 - 11:01

I advise against flatbeds for scanning. They don't autofocus and the glass bed gets in the way and introduces softening, distortion etc.

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):


Interesting comparison. But have you not not applied more sharpening to the D3 file? The specular highlights and the "grain" on the image on Flickr look quite sharpened (to me). Or is it just that compared with the better resolution of the D3 file, the flatbed result looks extremely dull?

Did you do a similar comparison using a dedicated slide scanner, like the Coolscan series? I would be surprised if such a scan wouldn't be at least a little bit sharper than the flatbed result.

I get very sharp results with my Coolscan V (though I should add that since reading your post in this thread, I've been very tempted to set up my 5DmkII as a scanning rig using the new 100/2 macro).
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#17 menos I M6

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Posted 25 November 2011 - 11:44

The files for this comparison were:

- TIFF file from EPSONScan software, scanned without any processing, sharpening, etc…
- JPG file from camera without processing, image settings in camera all to normal

I have developed the EPSON file, as good as possible, including sharpening.

I have applied the same development settings from the EPSON file to the Nikon JPG in Lightroom.
This was just an experiment, to find out, how the DSLR file would look like, compared to the flatbed scan. I was not prepared for such a dramatic difference!

Unfortunately, I do not have a good dedicated negative scanner, like the Nikon Coolscan at hand, but saw extensive comparison tests between the EPSON 750 and Coolscan 9000 on the web, showing, that the Coolscan 9000 has a slight edge in detail and sharpness in the test.

My conclusions after having tried for the better part of a year, to squeeze as much detail out of a flatbed, as possible, is similar to yours - it is just a flawed process, one can work with as a compromise solution.

For best possible quality, there are far better solutions, including the DSLR solution.
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#18 thomasw_

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Posted 25 November 2011 - 14:24

Advising someone to wet print when they ask for advice on how to print via scanning, isn't all that helpful, IMO.


I did give my tid bit on how I view scanners for the sake of posting to the web. I fail to see why advising someone to do wet printing --- i.e., what gives the highest print quality and costs the least and involves little to no learning curve for him --- is not helpful? I thought perhaps he had not considered it as an option. Therefore I think my advice was very much on topic and well intentioned. I consider your remark on my post ill-judged.
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#19 tobey bilek

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Posted 25 November 2011 - 15:31

My son is going to get a NEX7, but is currently using an M3 and Leicaflex. His debate is whether to get a Nikon dslr.

In pursuit of this this we are experimenting with Velvia 50 and Ektar 100. We have done some work with Portra 160VC old and current version.

Flat bed scanners do not work as well as dedicated film scanners. I am using an Epson and Minolta 5400 Elite original. The current V750 used with wet scanning tools is far and away better than dry scanning with the same machine. This is the only way up to 11x14 prints if you choose flat bed.

Dry scanning on a flat bed is 5x7 or 8x10 upper limit because resolution is limited regardless of claims.

Drum scans are the only way to go for bigger prints or perhaps a Hasselblad flextight virtual drum scanner. If you can afford either, just buy a digi camera

All the advice given is generally true about starting with unsharpened flat scans. Finish in photoshop.

A good grain reduction program is necessary. Grain surgery is best 4 film. I like Nik Define 2 and use it conjunction with Photoshop CS5 for digi or film. Do noise reduction before sharpening including first stage capture sharpening.

The better the scanner, the more film grain you see. Wet scanning reduces grain & noise and film defects considerably.

All this is one royal pain in my opinion, but workable. Buy, borrow or rent a digi cam and avoid the hassle. I use film for fun, but you need to want to work hard.

dslr are extremely good today and will out perform film by a mile unless you get to medium format or bigger.

I dislike vue scan and Silverfast. Silverfast is complicated with too many icons. Vue scan gave me horrid results with color negs, crossed curves meaning highlight and shadows had different color balance. The people who claim it works have poor examples to show.

And printing is like the two wheeled conveyance. If you were good, you can recognize an superior print. Once that is fixed in your mind, you will still remember how to get there.

And you will still need those skills to to work hybred or digital.

All digi files require a final sharpening at final size , second of at least two stages of sharpening. And a s curve needs to be applied to the straight line digi file. Scanned film is straight line. DSLR is also flat.

Cool trick, multiple frames at different exposure, scan and combine in photoshop and you get a HDR just like digital and it need not look like the cartoon HDR that many use.

You can also do panoramics just like the guys with digi.

#20 Studio58

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Posted 25 November 2011 - 16:43

thanks for all that Tobey. Regarding digital cameras, I have been shooting digital for 10 years at a professional level. I have owned amongst others, the 1DSMK1,2,3 and currently still own a 1DMK3 and M8,M9 Leicas. I am interested in taking a different approach which is why I have chosen to go down the film path.


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