Darkroom vs. Printer

Discussion in 'The Darkroom' started by jrgoresko, Sep 7, 2006.

  1. jrgoresko

    jrgoresko TPF Noob!

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    Ever since becoming interested in photography, I've done all my printing via darkroom. However, due to space and time constraints living in a bigger city and environmental concerns, I've been considering making the switch to a negative/scanner/printer arrangement. Has anyone else made this conversion or thought of doing so? I have a good friend who is doing all her printing with an Epson printer/scanner setup scanning her medium-format negatives and editing them prior to printing, and I am surprisingly impressed with the quality of the prints she is making. I believe she uses "luster" style photo printing paper and the texture of the paper looks noticeably comparable to the grain quality of a darkroom print. I'd be excited to hear peoples' opinions on this matter or anyone's experiences having made this sort of transition. I've been exceptionally wary about integrating technology too heavily into my artwork, but I feel like this sort of setup wouldn't detract any of the integrity, and I feel that I'd probably get a lot more work done.

    Feedback please!!
     
  2. terri

    terri Administrator Staff Member Supporting Member

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    Only for some limited color work. The Epson is hard to beat for quality. :thumbup:

    For B&W, I'm just not into inkjet prints, regardless of quality. I want silver gelatin and I don't mind the time in the darkroom. In fact, I crave it. :lol:
     
  3. ksmattfish

    ksmattfish Now 100% DC - not as cool as I once was, but still

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    I'm planning on getting a nice Epson printer, and keeping my BW darkroom. I have a friend who gets great results ink jet printing his color work sccanned from medium and large format E6. He used to print his own Ilfochrome prints, and is very happy with the new technology. Recently he printed some large BW and color prints for me. The BW prints didn't look like gelatin silver prints, but they were beautiful all the same. I really like the look of gelatin silver on glossy fiber paper, but I think I can learn to appreciate the ink jet printer too.
     
  4. markc

    markc TPF Noob!

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    Most b&w prints from color inks won't look the best they can. Some of the new printers have an additional grey ink, but having a dedicated greyscale inkset is the way to go.
    http://www.piezography.com/
    If you are worried about durability, this should be interesting: http://www.inkjetmall.com/news/02-16-06.html

    For color, I think the even the older color printers were really good. The new ones out are pretty amazing.

    I've been printing using a dedicated b&w setup for a while now, and I love the results. The older systems had problems with clogging and such, but they've worked a lot of the kinks out now. Behind glass, it's really hard to tell that it's an inkjet print. Even out of the glass, they've thrown a couple of old-time darkroom printers. A lot will depend on the paper you use, though. The good stuff is expensive.
     
  5. ksmattfish

    ksmattfish Now 100% DC - not as cool as I once was, but still

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    And getting third party RIP (Rasterized Image Processor) software seems to help too.
     
  6. terri

    terri Administrator Staff Member Supporting Member

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    Exactly. I have the Epson 2200 and, while I'm extremely satisfied with those pigmented inks and my color inkjets from slides, it just isn't up to snuff with B&W. I fooled with it painstakingly, trying to get good tonal range, before I finally got a darkroom installed. I then tossed all the B&W inkjets and made silver gelatin prints. There was no comparison!

    I think Epson and a few of the others have been very responsive to the complaints about B&W printing, and the quality has gone up fantastically, just in the last year and a half or so. :thumbup:
     
  7. mysteryscribe

    mysteryscribe TPF Noob!

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    Since I don't print my own pictures (other than a now and then contact black and white) I have almost no opinion. (thats a first) However the pro lab I used for years converted to ink jet for enlargements over 8x10.

    My son in law used them for months before he needed some really large prints which he had to pay for. He found a printer who did them wet process. He had the prints made 30x40 inches. He was amazed the quality was better than the 11x14 the pro lab ink jets were doing. He switched to an on line wet process printer for all his prints. I noticed that his wall prints made on the pro lab ink jet didn't look as good as my old prints on the studio walls made wet print.. It was in the eyes for me.

    Like I said I have very little personal experienc with modern ink jet.
     
  8. markc

    markc TPF Noob!

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    Here's an inexpensive one I've heard good things about: http://www.quadtonerip.com/
     
  9. jrgoresko

    jrgoresko TPF Noob!

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    Is all the printing you're referring to B&W, or are you saying that you found wet-process printing to be superior to inkjet for both color and B&W?
     
  10. jrgoresko

    jrgoresko TPF Noob!

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    I posted a similar thread to this in the darkroom forum, and someone responded saying that they found the Epson model RX700 scanner/printer combo to be exceptional:

    http://www.epson.com/cgi-bin/Store/...infoType=Specs&oid=53540921&category=Products

    I've been wary about combo-machines in the past because, from my experience, I've usually found that the integrity of their functions is often compromised. I see that a lot of people are touting Epson in this thread as well, and I was curious what others' experiences are with combo models. If I choose to go the inkjet route, even if only for color work, I plan on doing some large prints and need compatability for 35mm and medium-format at least. Just wondering how to choose the best or a high-quality printer/scanner setup, be it combo or seperate.
     
  11. ksmattfish

    ksmattfish Now 100% DC - not as cool as I once was, but still

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    I think if you want quality prints you probably need to go with a ink jet printer that is targeted towards serious photographers and artists. I wouldn't go with a combo unit.

    With any printing method the print quality depends very much on the skills and experience of the printer. I definately see a lot of mediocre, and even crappy ink jet prints, but I've also seen the results of what a person who really knows what they are doing can accomplish, and it's good stuff. The guy I go to to get my ink jet prints made does a much better job than the local area pro labs. On the other hand, while I don't see as many gelatin silver prints around these days, many of them suffer from mediocre printing skills also.

    I've spent 12 years in the BW darkroom printing. When I get my inkjet printer I'm not going to expect to equal that skill level in just 12 days or 12 months. It's a new tool, and experience takes an investment of practice, learning, and time.
     
  12. markc

    markc TPF Noob!

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    To echo Matt, I think printing is to the same point that digital capture vs. film capture is. It's not about which branch you choose use, but how you use it.

    It's also hard to make a comparison when so much of what is printed out there in b&w is not optimum. Heck, I think a lot of the color work is a lot less than it could be, but then people don't usually spend $70 for a 50 sheet box of 8.5x11 paper. You don't need it, but when it's not common, you aren't likely to see it for a true comparison. When many people think of a good darkroom print, they are comparing to a high-quality fiber print, not the average job.

    And yeah, I'd stay away from the combo units. I'd personally go with a dedicated film scanner over a flatbed and get a high quality photo printer for color work. If you are doing occasional b&w, just get one with a grey in the inkset. If you do about half and half, a second printer might be in order, or you might have to swap inksets back and forth, which wastes ink. If you want to go dedicated b&w, you don't need the latest printers. For a long time, the Epson 1160 was the printer to get, and it was a basic 4-color office printer. It's what I had for quite a while. It had a small inkdrop, so worked great, and you didn't need the extra tones beyond 4. Right now the 1280 works fine for most people.
     

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