Do You Scan & Print or Darkroom Print

I'm a hybrid shooter and scan using a DSLR for 35mm and MF and an Epson V800 for 5x4 and 5x7. I used to print in a darkroom in the past on fibre based paper which for me gave the ultimate quality in B&W. There is a darkroom nearby that I could hire to do 5x4 printing that I would like to try soon. I may even try some contact prints on 5x7 that I could do from home.
I just made my first enlargement of a portion of a 6x6 negative developed with Ilford DD-X 1:4 Masdev timings. Printed on RC Multigrade Deluxe Pearl using Muligrade 1:9 and then scanned to my Insta account.

So a bit of both I guess.


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I am quite interested to hear whether you scan and inkjet pint your final work or are you strictly darkroom through and through
Darkroom for me Ian. I don't have a negative scanner either.
I can only enlarge film formats from 35mm to 6x7 rollfilm, so large Format can only be by contact print.
Maybe one day I will own a suitable film scanner.
I scan and print digitally, and work in the analog darkroom. IMO, they each have advantages and disadvantages. I have a few very lovely B&W inkjet prints hanging on the walls of my home that, IMO, could not have been made better in the wet darkroom. Conversely, I have many 8x10 contact prints that would rival any inkjet print. One thing I will say about silver printing that I haven't seen in 16 years of producing digital inkjet prints is that if the silver print is produced by a skilled craftsmen, it will display a feeling of light (like it's emanating from the paper) that ink just cannot reproduce. I say this after nearly 40 years of wet darkroom printing experience and 16 years of inket printing where, in the past, I was part of a small group of photographers who experimented with mixing our own inks! In the past, I have used printing software that allowed one to control each printhead and how ink was laid down on the paper through custom curves. I guess I'm saying I know a little bit about B&W inkjet printing and feel confident in making comparisons between inkjet and darkroom prints.

Thanks for the great discussion!
My parent's official 1939 marriage photograph still glows.
Film camera, scan and print digitally these days. Not sure I ever made a decent enough darkroom print to warrant spending all the money I have on Ilford paper.
My parent's official 1939 marriage photograph still glows.

My grandparent 1910 wedding photographs still glow, of course they were LF images, the main photo was shot with a 12x10, the images of my grandmother and two sisters who were the bridesmaids, were sot with a 10x8 camera. The quality is stunning.

Scan and print for me so far.

I use an Epson V700 for all formats. I've recently exposed my first 5x7 negatives. I've got the means to contact print them but not sure which is the best paper. I've seen adverts for silver chloride paper, less sensitive than normal printing paper, more exposure control? I'm unsure whether I should use this in preference to the more common papers.

As for printing ,I use a Mitsubishi K60 dye-sub printer. I bought it to replace an Epson A4 photo printer which was horrifically expensive to run. The reason was that I decided to print as many of my scanned slides and negatives as I needed to create a set of photo albums, rather than relying just on digital storage.

The printer only allows me to print up to 8x6 inches but the glossy black and white reproductions, in particular, are excellent, and neutral, without colour casts.

In addition to my own pictures I also buy vintage black and white negatives and the printer is perfect for them. Mostly they are medium format and obviously never intended to be other than contact printed. I can verify this by the fact that many sets of negatives come with their prints, indeed it is the same for my family photographs. 6x6 and 6x9 and the other more obscure formats, like postcard, were commonly not enlarged.

As an aside, it's a shame that we can't get hold of the large roll film, 5x4?

With a bit(!) of spotting and minor adjustments, the old negatives come alive as long as you don't blow them up much. I usually print, depending on the negative and crop proportions, to a paper size of 6x4, 6x6 or 6x8 inches, same for my own pictures.
When I was contact printing, I found that ordinary (variable-contrast) paper worked perfectly well. Dodging and burning are obviously more difficult, but not impossible. Edward Weston did it and left instruction sheets for his son Cole to continue the tradition.
If you need more time, you need a dimmer light. Weston could hang his special printing light bulb at different heights. I don’t know what was special about it - perhaps just for consistency.
I was using a sub-5x4 enlarger as a light source, so stopping down was easier, as was using contrast filters. I didn’t attempt split-grade printing, but someone on the forum may be braver and cleverer.
I’m very curious about what you do with the prints from other people’s negatives.
I do both darkroom and scanning, but my passion is darkroom. I used to do my own colour prints when I shot weddings still in the same room now doing just b/w now, I scan my colour film now and print very few these days.
I tend to leave my darkroom printing to autum and through to spring as my room is at the front of my house and facing south so it gets the full sun, it just gets to hot to work for any length of time in there.
I used to do all the film processing in there as well but I now use my garage since I retired and made the space in there and just leave it all setup so its just quick and easy to process my films. I also like IR and play around with this format now as well.