Suggestions for “better” enlargements

Jason LB

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I’m hoping to get some advice on getting enlargements ( 36”x36” and up) that have better resolution, and color from my 120 color and also black/white negatives. I’ve been using National photo, and supplying them with high resolution scans, but I’m dissatisfied with the 36x36 prints from them- they lack the same strong color and sharpness I really want. This color and clarity is alive on the negatives, and I’m aware that the bigger you go, you can lose some of the quality on the way.
I’m considering using a guy who has a drum scanner for the negs, but would that help produce a better, brighter digital print? He charges I think $40 for a drum scan of a single negative, so I’m hoping for suggestions from the community. Any suggestions? Using different process? I cannot find an actual darkroom to do it the old fashioned way with an enlarger, so how can I do it?
 

smoke665

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So many fail to recognize that once you convert a film negative to a digital scan, you lose all the advantage of film's micro tonal gradations and become subject to the limitations of the resolution of the digital file. The higher the resolution the better the quality. For a 36"x 36" print a minimum resolution 180ppi (6480x6480) or 42mb file would be required. Bump it to 300ppi and your looking at a 117mb file (10800x10800). Most standard lab scans are way under this, a few of the enhanced scan options would get you there.

The other thing is that when comparing an image on screen vs a print, you're viewing a back lighted image vs reflected light. It will look different, it will be more subdued.

I use Nations, they're a great company. One thing I'd suggest is downloading their product ICC profiles, then soft proofing your file in LR to that profile
 
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Rickbb

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Get as high a resolution scan as you can get/afford, if that's a drum scan then so be it.

When printing that large the scanned file needs to show the grain of the film, that's as good as you can get when scanning a neg/slide. That way you have everything in the digital file that is on the analog neg.

When I use my old flat bed scanner I use the max, (1,200 dpi), makes huge files, but sometime it's still not good enough for what I want. And the biggest size I print is 13"x19".

Whoever you use, talk to a tech there first, make sure they understand what issues you're having and what you expect in advance. Don't just send it off expecting exceptional work when they will just use the default printing settings. No matter what scan you send in, the default print settings are for fast speed and low ink use. That's how they make their profit you know, keeping their costs low. Let them know you want max printer resolution and color saturation, you may/will have to pay extra for it but it will get you closer to what you want.
 

Ysarex

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I’m hoping to get some advice on getting enlargements ( 36”x36” and up) that have better resolution, and color from my 120 color and also black/white negatives. I’ve been using National photo, and supplying them with high resolution scans,
What specifically is this scan? What scanner? What resolution?
but I’m dissatisfied with the 36x36 prints from them- they lack the same strong color and sharpness I really want. This color and clarity is alive on the negatives, and I’m aware that the bigger you go, you can lose some of the quality on the way.
I’m considering using a guy who has a drum scanner for the negs, but would that help produce a better, brighter digital print? He charges I think $40 for a drum scan of a single negative, so I’m hoping for suggestions from the community. Any suggestions? Using different process?
Get a digital camera. I spent decades shooting 120 film in the best cameras available. My Zikon Z7 is hands down better. Why? It's the scanner. You're problem will remain the weak link in the chain and that weak link is the scan. You're now facing a $40.00 per negative cost for a good scan. What will you do when that becomes unavailable? Those scanners are already being held together with duct tape and bailing wire. The manufacturers that produced them are all gone. Current market in high-end scanners = zip. Each time another of the existing ones breaks down and can't be duct-tapped back together that's one less scanner available.

A new Fuji GFX 100S is $6000.00. My calculator tells me that's less than 150 scans + film cost for you.
I cannot find an actual darkroom to do it the old fashioned way with an enlarger, so how can I do it?
 

webestang64

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Just an FYI....My lab would do a high res scan for $10 (4000 res 16-bit tiff). I've printed 40x60's with this scan (35mm) and they look fantastic.
 

mrca

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My nikon d850 provides 46 mp scans using a zeiss 100 mm makro planar lens that is so sharp it will make your eyes bleed. Tomorrow morning I will have 3 hour turnaroundon several rolls, not 3 WEEKS. Not only is there no charge for push/pull, I scan into LR so if not sure, I can bracket scans. Or scan portions and stitch a huge file. I have a large format printer but rarely print huge. I shoot a 67, 6x6 or 645 neg so have huge tonal transitions compared to 35 mm digital or film. I use a sous vide for color temp control that produces the most perfectly cooked steaks I have ever had.
 

vintagesnaps

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Maybe it'd be better to let a lab print directly from the negative. Don't know if they do wet prints or just inkjet prints from scans.

Depends on if you used a nice sharp lens in good light etc. when you took the photograph how large it can go.

Or send it to the store where Scotty works in St. Louis. I've used Dwayne's in Kansas.
 

smoke665

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I use a sous vide for color temp control that produces the most perfectly cooked steaks I have ever had.

They didn't have these back in my days in the darkroom. I could've used one of these and a wine cooler on those late nights. LOL Then again, maybe it's good I didn't have them.
 

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