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pridbor

Prints from Film anymore?

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I have started to develop my own film and scan them onto my PC for post processing. I get somewhat grainy results and I don't know if that stems from the film itself or from my scanning.

So I was wondering if one can send in negatives to have prints made the old fashion way not by having somebody else scanning and printing from there, just curious.

Preben

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"...I was wondering if one can send in negatives to have prints made the old fashion way not by having somebody else scanning and printing..."

Yes - there are many labs that still make prints from negatives.  Here are three:

https://www.bayphoto.com/?gclid=EAIaIQobChMIn6fSubWO5gIVUfDACh35TwRaEAMYAyAAEgIj0vD_BwE

https://spartanphotocenter.com/prints-from-color-negatives

https://proimagephoto.com/film-developing

I have not used any of these labs myself, so I can't really vouch for their quality.  They have to be light years ahead of Wal Mart or Walgreens, though. 

 

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Preben no computer and great for photography the old style but still alive 

Best H 

Edited by Doc Henry

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I have tried 3 labs 2 I'd recommend 

They both handled C41 very well with decent scans, they one lab I sent a B&W roll to developed the film just OK but the scans were terrible. I have a B&W roll out to Old School (they are relatively local for me) we'll see. I rescanned the B&W on my Epson and got a decent result.
I just ordered chemistry and will start developing soon, still have my photo tanks from the last time I had a dark room. One trick I learned in college is keeping the B&W chemistry to color film development standards best controls grain. I other words minimum temperature change (+ or -1 degree) with developer, stop, fixer, then + or - 2 degrees for wash, fixer remover, wash. Having a stable water source and a water bath for your chemistry helps.
Scanning is another interesting topic, all sorts of answers, drum scanning is best but there hasn't been a new drum scanner since the early 2000s and I don't know if any of the companies are left. Anyway a new one would be like buying a new Leica. So what do we have, there are a few 35mm scanners on the market, flat bed scanners are all around, in my experience the best ones are designed for doing film. I have an Epson 700 (new would be the Epson 800) that does a very good (not great scans). I use the Epson "Professional" software that comes with it. I tried the automatic levels of the software and always got bad results. The pro level gives you all of the settings needed. The one thing it doesn't do is a 16 bit RAW file, though 16bit TIFF files edit well. The last item is scanner resolution, with the Epson I can see marginal differences in the file up to 3200ppi, though the scanner says it can go to 6400ppi, above 3200 all it does is increase the scanning time with no visible differences in the files (16 bit TIFF). 

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Optical prints are possible to find, but more often or not you need to find a master printer. Unfortunately these days the economics do not favor optical prints, so most labs have abandoned them. At my own lab, I still do them for myself in black and white, but I have not had a customer for them in years. It can make sense for editions or larger shows, but for single prints or a few prints it generally does not make economic sense. Without volume it means that you need to set up the lab specifically to do a given job, and generally most customers do not want to pay the difference in price between digital and film prints, the best of which are extremely hard to tell apart. The clients who do want analog prints more often or not do them themselves, so the market dries up from both ends. Color is even rarer, as most places doing RA4 prints are using big processors anyway...easier to have a entire machine dedicated to digital C prints than to have a separate color enlarger and color processor...more work, more time, fewer profits etc. 

On the positive side, processing film and scanning works very well, while still preserving most of the look and feel of film. Inkjet prints generally have a wide color gamut, much broader paper choice and longer archival life than c prints (digital or analog). 

Regarding your prints, it would probably be best if you posted an example or shared what it was that you were using. 35mm film IS grainy, so unless you are using a very fine grain film, the grain is likely to be noticeable at most print sizes. Furthermore, a lot of scanners have default sharpening that is rather high, accentuating the grain that the film already has. Aside from certain high end applications (particularly with B&W) Scanned film is more or less the standard now for making prints, and it is capable of superb results in the right hands. Processing quality and scan quality are the most important foundations of that, however, so if the scans are not great to start, it is hard to get much more out of them. 

 

(BTW, just so you know where I am coming from, I trained in black and white fine art printing under Brian Young at the International Center of Photography and have run a Hahnemühle Certified Studio for fine art printing since 2009. I mostly work with museums and galleries in Iceland, and work with everything up to 8x10, in B&W, C41 and E6. The economics around all this are different in Iceland, but the trend is pretty universal). 

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Here are 2 examples from my B&W testing with my "new found companion" the M7. I'm in particular focusing on my adult daughter's face as I find it a bit grainy. 

I re-scanned the negatives after I created the post to be sure that I didn't accidentally have some kind of filtering set, so this is directly from the Epson V600 Photo scanner using Epsons Scan tool. I also tried to scan in Color and tiff but didn't see any difference so I stayed with the B&W 16 bit jpg scanned at 3200 to the same size as the negative.

The whole purpose with my question about prints, was to compare the results from the darkroom paper prints against the outcome of prints from my scanned images, to find out how much of the "grain" in the image was a digital noise vs film grain. I assume that that topic has been dealt with in another post maybe? 

BTW the Film was an Ilford XP2 iso 400. I was also wondering how one can tell how grainy a given file is such that one can buy the proper one? Just by experience or is there a table one can look up in? As you can tell I'm new, again, to film but I love it so far!

THANKs to you all for taking the time to respond with those long explanations which I cherish! 

Preben

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You should look at Harmenlab.com This is Ilford's processing service. You can scan your film negatives, and they will make genuine silver gelatin prints. My experience is that the prints are very good. I use them occasionally when I want a print bigger than I can handle in my darkroom. I scan my negative at high resolution, adjust the image using Photoshop Elements and Silver EfexPro, and then send the file to Harmenlab.com. I get the print delivered in about 2 weeks, and so far the prints look identical to what I see on my screen. 

I prefer making my own prints, but if I had no darkroom, prints from Harmenlab.com would be my next choice.

Edited by Michael Hiles

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Thanks Michael and others for your references to labs. To the best of my findings they all scan and print and I was trying to find a place that would make a Darkroom print I.e. like in the old days just to see if I could spot a difference in “grain”.

I have used “Darkroom” in California a number of times to both develop my films and make a few prints too. Always been happy with the results.

I think I will ask the local photo-club if someone there has the equipment to make prints, or otherwise forget about it!

thanks all once more

Preben

P.S. I will look into the different Labs you all listed!

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8 hours ago, pridbor said:

I was also wondering how one can tell how grainy a given file [film?] is such that one can buy the proper one? Just by experience or is there a table one can look up in?

1) as a rough guide, film grain tracks with ISO speed. The higher the ISO rating, the more grain. Literally it is how higher-ISO films achieve their "speed" - the grains are larger and thus the odds of a grain being hit by light and forming visible silver go up with the size of the grains. Think of shooting at a target - a big barn wall as a target will collect more "hits" than a 1-inch bulls-eye.

For film these days, ISO 400 is a "medium-high" ISO, since there exist films with ISOs as low as 20, but only a few with ISOs above 400. ISO 100/125 is considered "medium speed, medium grain." Especially when it comes to small negatives (i.e. 35mm sized).

2) HOWEVER, the technology and general type of a given film will make a difference. So does the processing methodology. So one has to compare apples to apples. Some categories:

- There are classic silver films. These use cubic silver crystals, and the silver metal forms the final grains. Examples are Tri-X, Ilford FP4, Pan F, and HP5. And others.

- There are T-grain silver films. The silver grains are "engineered" to be flat, thus presenting more surface area as a target when exposed, while collapsing to finer grains of silver in the final processed image. They are finer-grain for the same ISO, compared to the old-school cubic-grain films. Examples are Ilford Delta, Kodak TMax, and Fuji ACROS films. However, since there is no such thing as a free lunch in photography, their different technology is less forgiving of exposure or processing errors.

- There are chromogenic films, where the final image is formed by dye-clouds around each silver grain, created during development, and the solid silver metal grains are dissolved and removed in the processing, leaving just the dye. These are usually color films - but Ilford XP2 uses that technology as well. They have softer-edged grain, since the grains are clouds, not microscopic rocks of silver. They tend to have slightly less acutance (sharpness) because of the diffuse, fuzzy cloud edges - but not always a significant amount.

A simulation of metallic silver grain vs. dye-cloud grain:

- But even with one given film, one can vary the grain from roll to roll with development and exposure. There are "fine-grain" developers that include a solvent to take the edge off the grains and make them smaller (at a loss of ISO) - e.g. Kodak Microdol-X or Ilford Perceptol. There are general-use developers with a little solvent, for '"average" grain and speed - e.g. Kodak D-76 or Ilford ID-1. And there are solvent-free developers that reveal larger grain - e.g. Agfa/Adox Rodinal. There are fewer options to vary the processing with chromogenic processes (C41 negs, E6 slides).

And on the whole, pure-silver films tend to become grainier with more exposure, and in the highlights (more density). While chromogenic films (color negs and XP2) tend to show more grain in the shadows, or if underexposed (lower densities). Thus your child's face in shadow is grainy using chromogenic XP2, while the brightly-lit background has less obvious grain.

3) There are standards for "graininess." Some manufacturers publish the "Diffuse RMS granularity" for their films - others don't. At the bottom of page 6 of this Kodak Tri-X Data Sheet, Kodak lists the graininess of Tri-X as "17." Whereas Fuji (page 4) rates the diffuse RMS granularity of ACROS ISO 100 as "7."

https://imaging.kodakalaris.com/sites/prod/files/files/resources/f4017_TriX.pdf

https://www.fujifilmusa.com/shared/bin/NeopanAcros100.pdf

But since each manufacturer does their own testing, and chooses their own subjective words ("fine-grain, very fine-grain," etc.) that can also be apples to oranges.

Back in the 1960s-70s, the print photo magazines would publish relatively objective annual "film comparisons," with the top dozen B&W, color-slide, and color neg films (and there weren't much more than a dozen of each, back then, in the West  - no films from Japan or behind the Iron Curtain being imported). With crops to show grain, all from shots of the exact same scene/lighting. As well as comparisons of particular B&W films in 12 different developers. That took a lot of resources (a couple of paid staff days, plus paying for film and processing). Not as many resources like that today.

Edited by adan

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Just curious Pridbor, you say you are developing yourself, but also that you are shooting XP2. Are you using color developer? XP2, like all films, has a silver based emulsion, but it is not meant to be developed as a B&W negative....it is designed to use the silver emulsion as a coupler for dyes embedded in the film. Basically, it was developed as a way to shoot B&W film and develop it at a regular minilab that often don't process black and white. If you shot and developed XP2 in regular black and white chemicals, it might be responsible for the graininess you see. In general XP2 should be a rather low grain film, despite its ISO. 

Your scans do look grainy to me, though to be honest I have been using almost exclusively 6x7 and larger for seven or eight years, so my grain calibration is probably a bit off...

Edited by Stuart Richardson

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A good solution for chemical prints is of course to have C-prints (Lambda prints) done, i.e. chemical prints from a digital file. There are still laboratories running Durst Lambda printers.

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Although I think the original poster was trying to avoid any digital step in the process - in case scanning was influencing how the picture looked or how the grain was rendered.

Which of course can happen - cf. "grain aliasing"

He wants to see how pure-analog photographs look, compared to ADD or ADA or DDD.

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I think the original poster is on the right track in wanting to compare a wet (darkroom) print with a digital (scanned/inkjet) print of the same negative. I am doing exactly that with some wet prints I made in the late 60's, in a effort to improve my current hybrid process. Unfortunately, I am finding that not all of the negatives that produced wet prints in 1968 that I like today are working very well when scanned and inkjet printed in 2019. The good news is that there are few of my old negatives that produce prints with both processes that I like. I still have my old darkroom notes so I know what materials I used.

If you have any old darkroom prints and associated negatives in your family archives this might be a way to proceed.

Edited by Doug A

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Old poor quality darkroom prints, usually vintage family archive ones, can be improved by scanning and cleaning up. But reprinting in the darkroom from the original negatives is a more satisfying process. Darkroom and digital are different media, a bit like scanning a watercolour painting and comparing a digital copy with the original, a bit of an extreme comparison but you get the idea.

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I apologize for not being clear. The OP is concerned about grainy results with negatives they develop and scan. They asked about having wet (darkroom) prints made from the same negatives to see if the graininess is due to the film or the scanning. I suggested that another way to compare their scanning with wet printing of the same negatives is to  work backwards, starting with existing wet prints and scanning the same negatives. If the grain in the existing prints is sharp when examined with a loupe (mine is) the comparison of the grain should be valid regardless of the quality otherwise of the prints.

FWIW, I agree that wet printing and scanning/inkjet printing are different animals. In my case, my high res scanned and inkjet printed b&w prints blow my old darkroom prints out of the water.

 

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Once more I have to thank you all for your insight and sharing.

Andy I saved your thorough post after reading it twice, and realizing that I will have to come back to it at a later day and not being able to find it again.

Stuart you asked which process I used for development, and no not B&W but C-41. I bough a bunch of different films (companies) B&W as well as Color all using the same process namely the C-41. I didn't want to start out getting a bunch of developers for all kinds of film, if I couldn't even develop a single one with a decent result.

I realize that this may/will change as soon as I feel a bit more comfortable with the development process and buying film with different development requirements.

Which makes me curious as to if you gents have chosen a few types film you like and staying with them and their processes, and not having 10 different developers on hand?

Anyhow I will keep at it and hope for good results, despite my question about the grain in my images I still am happy enough with the results.

Thanks

Preben

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I use Ilford’s XP2 Super exclusively. I have it processed professionally, I then scan the negatives (mainly for cataloging), and I occasionally make silver prints that get dry mounted and perhaps framed. The results are extraordinary IMO. 

I have tried developing XP2 in HC-110 (as per Chrism on this forum), but I am not very happy with the results. I am likely doing something wrong.

I do not keep other films, nor a shelf of different developers. It would add nothing to my ability to make the pictures I want.

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58 minutes ago, pridbor said:

Which makes me curious as to if you gents have chosen a few types film you like and staying with them and their processes, and not having 10 different developers on hand?

When it comes to films and developers, I have been a "serial monogamist." ;) That is, I have tended to stick with one of each for long periods of time - and then switched and used others for another long period of time.

Shooting film in middle-aged Leicas (M4-2, M4-P, M6) between 2001 and 2006, I mostly stayed with Ilford Pan F film and Ilford DD-X developer. I used that ISO 50 film 1) to allow more flexibility and choice of shutter speeds and apertures with those cameras (top shutter speed 1/1000th sec.). An ISO 400 film would mean I'd have had to shoot everything at f/11 and 1/500th-1/1000th in Colorado sunlight.  And 2) for the finest possible grain for scanning, with a "hard-light" Nikon LED Coolscan. The DD-X was just a nice, convenient one-shot developer for which it was easy to find times for Pan F (also being an Ilford product) and provide some compensating development for long, soft tonal range.

2006-2014 - digital only.

Currently (since 2014) I shoot film in medium-format, and for different reasons I use a different film and developer. Grain is less of an issue with 6x6, especially scanned with a "soft-light" Epson flatbed scanner. And the reduced depth of field and slower apertures of MF lenses means I am happier with 400-ISO (especially with a "guess-focus" Hasselblad Super-Wide). My choice is TMax 400 since it has the finest grain of all 400 films, and I have learned its idiosyncracies. And specific to 120 format, Ilford Delta tends to curl up more and is harder to load into the film-holder for scanning.

For extra efficiency with 120 film, which requires a tank twice the volume as for 35mm film, I use Kodak HC-110 developer (dilution 1:31) - it also happens to produce very fine grain the way I use it. Although I experimented last summer with Rodinal, DD-X, and Kodak TMax developers - but decided I still preferred HC-110.

1980-2000 - I mostly shot color slides, with occasional Tri-X or HP5 (for me they were effectively interchangeable - whichever was easiest to find). Processed in HC-110 because it was cheap and easy and did the job.

School years (1970-1980) were about the same as 1980-2000, except reversed proportions: mostly TX/HP5 with a dash of Agfa ISS (100) and Plus-X (125), both now R.I.P, and just a bit of (expensive) color film. XP2 and the T-grain films didn't exist then. Started with some "industrial" developer the school provided (probably Kodak DK-50), then D-76 (the "standard") and then HC-110.

I've tended to stick with one-shot developers ever since (HC-110 or DD-X, and now and then some Rodinal) because they are consistent from roll to roll, and can be "mixed to temperature" on the spot without water baths or such. Mixed-developer storage bottles can get grotty over time, and the one-shot concentrates take up less space. ;)

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I mostly stick to Xtol at 1 to 1. It is a low toxicity, advanced developer, and it is still cheap. It is not too hard to mix from a powder, and the concentrate lasts a long time. I mostly stick to Tmax 400, Fuji Acros and Tmax 100. I tend to stick to 100 ISO for 35mm, just to minimize the grain. If not, then Tmax 400 is a good choice since it is so much lower grain than most 400 speed films. I prefer the delta/t grain look to traditional films. That may make me an outsider, but I really like their tonal scale and sharpness. Pretty much all of them can be developed for 9:15 seconds in a Jobo, at least for how I shoot. I rate them all at box speed, but if I were doing only darkroom printing, I might rate them a third of a stop slower. Film generally scans better a bit underdeveloped, while darkroom prints benefit from a more generous development.

Edited by Stuart Richardson

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