Comparison

Discussion in 'Talk About Anything Photography Related' started by martin henson, Jan 26, 2018.

  1. martin henson

    martin henson Admin Staff Member Registered User

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    I am sure there will a few here that use the darkroom to make prints and also use the “hybrid” process to scan and output to inkjet.

    What are your thoughts as to the quality of a well edited scan and printed correctly in comparison to the wet print, does the inkjet compare favourably, or, is there a long way to go yet.

    I am only talking about black and white prints/ printing

    Martin
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Jan 26, 2018
  2. Ian Grant

    Ian Grant Active Member Registered User

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    Martin, I've made B&W Digital prints off some of my negatives, they were scanned to make inter-negatives for Platinum printing. Printed on the right paper I was using the Ilford/Harman Warmtone FB inkjet paper and results are virtually indistinguishable. I used QTR with my Epson printer and could get a close match, I really wanted to see what my printer was capable of, it's sat idle for 3 maybe 4 years (Print heads cleaned out first).

    When I did my MA (2001/2) I was the only student fully analogue (except for one project where I was the only person fully digital). Everyone else was Hybrid throughout the two years. The Inkjet prints from the other students both B&W and colour they'd done themselves were good but only the two or maybe three who'd used the best papers were a match for conventional darkroom prints.

    So you make your choice, I just prefer darkroom printing, and with sometimes multiple prints off a negative it's much faster.

    Ian
     
  3. David M

    David M Active Member Registered User

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    We seem to have reached a point where, in capable hands, the two methods are equal, although some people have preferences and claim to distinguish differences.
    Digital printing does seem to offer a wider range of papers than the wet darkroom, and this may be seen as an advantage.
    I've found that the opportunities for rescuing imperfect negatives are greater on the computer. I'm quite good at making imperfect negatives, but others may not be so lucky. It's also possible to make very small adjustments that would be impossible under the enlarger: I can dodge an eyelash. And although it's not part of Martin's question, a digital file can be reprinted identically, years later, or even be printed in different versions by turning off and on a series of adjustment layers.
    I haven't encountered them, but there may be some images that are more suited to one or the other process. Has anyone observed this? I can see that it might be desirable to print historic negatives by historic methods.
    Digital printing, by this account, seems to offer more tools, but the final result must still depend on the talent of the printer.
     
    martin henson and Joanna Carter like this.
  4. Alan9940

    Alan9940 Active Member Registered User

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    I think David M has voiced some good points. IMO, and based on what I've observed in my own work, at lot depends on the skill and knowledge of the printer. If printing through a RIP such as ImagePrint or through QTR using custom made paper profiles on to fine inkjet paper, then digital prints can certainly hold there own against just about any analog generated print. That said, however, if one is very skilled in the darkroom silver prints can be made that just seem to emanate light! Over the years, I've made a few darkroom prints that reveal this characteristic and, personally, I've never seen that from any inkjet print I've made. Perhaps, I'm just not as skilled on the desktop as some others...
     
  5. Joanna Carter

    Joanna Carter Member Registered User

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    Unfortunately, I have been told that the Ilford/Harman Warmtone FB is no longer available. Apparently Hahnemulle have dropped the Harman range.

    I just phoned Fotospeed and they said that their Platinum Gloss Art Fibre 300 comes pretty close, with the added avantage, for me, that is is not a « full » gloss.

    Anyone got experience of it?
     
  6. Sal Santamaura

    Sal Santamaura Member Registered User

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    This is what finally motivated me to 'go digital' last year. With a single exception (ADOX LUPEX contact printing material), I find the surface of today's glossy fiber-based darkroom papers excessively textured and reflective. Matte darkroom papers are not capable of blacks I consider sufficiently deep.

    With that in mind, I broke down and purchased an Epson V850 scanner and P600 printer, then tried almost all high-quality inkjet papers on the market. At the end of numerous cross-comparisons, I've settled on Hahnemühle Photo Rag Ultra Smooth. Without access to a reflection densitometer, I can't say what that Dmax that paper/printer combination is capable of, but it's certainly "black enough" to my eyes.
     
  7. Ian Grant

    Ian Grant Active Member Registered User

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    Last time I went to the successor Focus on Imaging I visited the Hahnemulle stand they weren't evenaware they supplied the paper base for the Harman range. It's a pity the range disappeared.

    Ian
     
  8. Ian-Barber

    Ian-Barber Admin Staff Member Registered User

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  9. Joanna Carter

    Joanna Carter Member Registered User

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  10. Ian Grant

    Ian Grant Active Member Registered User

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    I looked at A3 and A3+ they do stock some.

    Well the Hahnemulle prices listed there are considerably more (for a reasonable equivalent) than the Ilford conventional Silver/Gelatin papers I use, and I use the one of the more expensive - Warmtone FB. I also print quite a few images larger than A3 (A3+) and prefer to print exhibition sets on the same paper, I wouldn't mix conventional with inkjet, I won't mix Warmtone paper prints with other Ilford papers. That's just my personal choice/

    Ian
     
  11. Ian-Barber

    Ian-Barber Admin Staff Member Registered User

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    Now I can't say for certain but when I spoke to Chris the owner of Paper Spectrum, he did tell me that some of their Pinnacle papers comes from the same mill as the Hahnemuhle papers.

    @martin henson is a bit of a stickler for inkjet paper quality and I asked him to try some Pinnacle Velvet Fine Art to compare with Epson Velvet Fine Art. he tested it with the ImagePrint RIP and he was finding it hard to tell the difference.
     
  12. Alan Clark

    Alan Clark Member Registered User

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    It's a pity the Harman Baryta warmtone FB paper has gone. I used it a lot. From now on when I want a print on a paper that looks like Ilforfd warmtone fibre, I shall have to go in the darkroom and do it on the real thing!

    Like Sal I have also enjoyed having the chance to use papers with different surfaces when inkjet printing. I am currently using Brilliant Museum papers, which in my opinion are, well, just brilliant! They come in two surfaces; Satin Matte, and Silver Gloss. Both come in White and Natural base colours. The Matte surface isn't dead matte. It has a bit of life to it and has a slight and interesting texture. And the Gloss surface isn't really glossy. It's a lovely subtle off-gloss, again with a slight texture. All 100% cotton. Brilliant!

    Alan
     
  13. Ian-Barber

    Ian-Barber Admin Staff Member Registered User

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  14. Ian Grant

    Ian Grant Active Member Registered User

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    Changing slightly to why we choose which way we print. I've found that the hybrid/digital route is a lot slower and that's from many years experience, I've been scanning some of my 5x4 negatives since the late 1990's. In the time to make decent high resolution scans from negatives, interpret them, (and that's before making Ikjet prints) I can be far more productive in the darkroom.

    For a variety of reasons, and making digital Inkjet prints is not currently one of them, I'm digitising all my exhibition prints (negs) plus quite a few more at quite a high resolution. That's few hundred prints from just exhibitions so a daunting task. It's very much easier and faster to make Exhibition prints in the darkroom. If cost wasn't an issue I'd just make Glossy RC silver gelatin prints of all the images as they scan perfectly but it's not an option - it would be a complete waste of time and money as the RC prints would be scrapped after scanning.

    Ian
     
  15. martin henson

    martin henson Admin Staff Member Registered User

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    What are you using to scan your negatives and at what resolution Ian
     
  16. Sal Santamaura

    Sal Santamaura Member Registered User

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    As one of Dick Phillips' former customers, I've kept in touch with him. We finally met when our paths crossed after my Grand Canyon trip a couple of years ago, and lately have been exchanging prints. Dick uses a Canon PRO-100, the inks of which are dye-based, as compared to my Epson P600's pigmented inks.

    The most important thing we've learned is how different a print on the exact same paper type looks when made with dye vs. pigment inks. Dick has now settled on Hahnemühle FineArt Baryta Satin, which presents an elegant, subtle sheen if printed using his dye inks. He's also experimented with Canson, Epson, Red River and other papers. When I tried FineArt Baryta Satin in my P600, the image shine was about as high as today's air-dried glossy gelatin silver papers, i.e. that which drove me to digital in the first place. It seems to come down to a matter of print life expectancy. If one wants extended display robustness, pigmented inks are the way to go. In my case, aesthetic preference leads me to a matte paper for pigment inks. Should one be willing to accept the substantially shorter display life of dye inks, FineArt Baryta Satin stands out as an excellent choice. All these comparisons were made using the paper manufacturers' profiles.
     
  17. Alan Clark

    Alan Clark Member Registered User

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    Sal, I have the same printer as you, an Epson P600. So if we compare papers, at least we will be comparing like for like.

    Alan
     
  18. Ian-Barber

    Ian-Barber Admin Staff Member Registered User

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    Alan, do you use the Advance Black and White driver with the P600 and if so, how neutral do you find the results. I use the Epson R3880 and by default, the blacks tend to be a little warm.
     
  19. Stephen Batey

    Stephen Batey Well-Known Member Registered User

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    I've kept out of this as I fail the entrance criteria as I only print digitally now and therefore am not an "and also" - although I used to use a darkroom, and in fact got my first enlarger in 1961. I switched to digital printing simply because my digitally produced prints were far superior to my darkroom ones. As the thread seems to have moved a little from the original intent, I've ventured an off topic opinion :oops: Apologies...
     
  20. Ian Grant

    Ian Grant Active Member Registered User

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    It's an Epson V750 Martin. I'm scanning at 2400DPI, the negatives are going into a records office archive and they've asked for reasonably high resolution scans, in fact there's later 3 file sizes. This way I have control over matching the scans to the prints. The prints are going into a museum collection (they have no archive facilities for the negatives).

    This isn't the primary reason for the scans, that's publication, a digital portfolio and more importantly a revamp of my website. Many of the older images on my website were digitised back in 1994 in the days of low resolution 14"monitors, 1440 and slower modems, needing too much JPEG compression.

    Ian
     

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