In Colour printing, does the enlarger lens effect the tonality of the print?

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Frascofoto

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I'm currently limited to a Durst 80mm lens on a De Vere 504 for printing 6x7 negatives and can't help but feel that there's a gap to the desired look of the print, whether it's detail/contrast/tone/colour - how much is a different lens going to improve this? Or is it my lousy, amateurish technique?

I'm looking at potentially changing to a 105mm Rodenstock lens if so.
 

Paul Howell

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The Drust 80mm is 6 element in 4 groups design, I forgot who made it, one of the better German lens makers. I doubt that it is your enlarger lens, saying that you can improve color prints if you are willing to pay to upgrade to am APO design.

 

Sharktooth

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Are you referring to black and white printing, or color printing?

Black and white printing is a skill, and there are many variables, such as contrast grade, dodging/burning, paper surface, paper choice, developer choices, and toning. These all affect the elements you describe. A lens will have very little impact compared to these other factors, as long as it's stopped down to a medium aperture. The lens isn't the problem here, unless it's obviously defective.
 
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Frascofoto

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The Drust 80mm is 6 element in 4 groups design, I forgot who made it, one of the better German lens makers. I doubt that it is your enlarger lens, saying that you can improve color prints if you are willing to pay to upgrade to am APO design.


If the difference is significant then I would be. I'm just finding that my prints aren't hitting the spot tonally and I'm trying to troubleshoot why. Are there any other factors that might come into play? Perhaps using a glass carrier instead of directly onto the negative? Washing inbetween dev and blix?
 
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Frascofoto

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Are you referring to black and white printing, or color printing?

Black and white printing is a skill, and there are many variables, such as contrast grade, dodging/burning, paper surface, paper choice, developer choices, and toning. These all affect the elements you describe. A lens will have very little impact compared to these other factors, as long as it's stopped down to a medium aperture. The lens isn't the problem here, unless it's obviously defective.

Thank you, I'm talking about Colour printing. Would you know what factors might effect the tone of a print with colour?
 

Nicholas Lindan

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Make sure the lens is clean, they seem to fog pretty easily in a darkroom setting. With no negative, and the enlarger on, peer up through the lens. Looking up using a mirror can make things easier.

Aside from fogging or dirt, changing from one high quality lens to another will have little to no effect on print quality.
 

Sharktooth

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Thank you, I'm talking about Colour printing. Would you know what factors might effect the tone of a print with colour?

The RA4 process is an industrial process for mass produced color prints, and has very little room for variability. You can't really control contrast, since there are no variable contrast color papers available. You can change the overall color balance by changing filtration, and you can still burn and dodge, Traditional color printing via this "wet" process has never been easy, and has always been expensive to do at home. There are many things that can go wrong, but the lens is the least likely problem.

These days, color film is usually scanned for digital inkjet printing. Even if you go to a commercial lab now, the prints will be inkjet digital prints, not the RA4 process. There are many advantages to this approach, since you can easily manipulate your scanned digital image in software such as Photoshop and others. The software give you the ability to change contrast, color curves, and many many other things, that would be almost impossible to do with traditional "wet" processing.

I would suggest taking one of your negatives to a commercial lab for printing, to see what kind of result you could expect. You can then compare that to what you've been able to get from you own developed images, then decide. It's hard to know if what you have now is a problem, it you have nothing to compare it to.
 

jtk

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Thank you, I'm talking about Colour printing. Would you know what factors might effect the tone of a print with colour?

You have doubts about the way your prints look...to you. It might be a good idea to ask someone with more color printing experience than you have (not a "minilab").
 
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Frascofoto

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The RA4 process is an industrial process for mass produced color prints, and has very little room for variability. You can't really control contrast, since there are no variable contrast color papers available. You can change the overall color balance by changing filtration, and you can still burn and dodge, Traditional color printing via this "wet" process has never been easy, and has always been expensive to do at home. There are many things that can go wrong, but the lens is the least likely problem.

These days, color film is usually scanned for digital inkjet printing. Even if you go to a commercial lab now, the prints will be inkjet digital prints, not the RA4 process. There are many advantages to this approach, since you can easily manipulate your scanned digital image in software such as Photoshop and others. The software give you the ability to change contrast, color curves, and many many other things, that would be almost impossible to do with traditional "wet" processing.

I would suggest taking one of your negatives to a commercial lab for printing, to see what kind of result you could expect. You can then compare that to what you've been able to get from you own developed images, then decide. It's hard to know if what you have now is a problem, it you have nothing to compare it to.

Yeah I've been printing pretty consistently for the last year with some decent results, there's just a certain certain tonality to the image that I seem to be missing and like you say, there's not many ways to control contrast so I'm trying to eliminate each factor to see if I can figure it out.
 

pentaxuser

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Frascofoto, can you shows us some examples of what you consider to be a decent results and others yjay lack what you refer to as tonality

Seeing examples ensures that what you mean is what we see. A verbal description can, unfortunately, mean different things to different people

Thanks

pentaxuser
 
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Frascofoto

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Frascofoto, can you shows us some examples of what you consider to be a decent results and others yjay lack what you refer to as tonality

Seeing examples ensures that what you mean is what we see. A verbal description can, unfortunately, mean different things to different people

Thanks

pentaxuser

Good point! Photographers such as


1667928543553.png


1667928491678.png
 

MattKing

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Even if you go to a commercial lab now, the prints will be inkjet digital prints, not the RA4 process.

There are still a few labs who do RA4 prints from digital files, but that is now relatively rare.
And there are some custom printing services out there that print RA4 using enlargers, but they are expensive.
Tonality is more likely to be related to the light source than the lens, but even then any differences would be subtle.
 
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Frascofoto

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There are still a few labs who do RA4 prints from digital files, but that is now relatively rare.
And there are some custom printing services out there that print RA4 using enlargers, but they are expensive.
Tonality is more likely to be related to the light source than the lens, but even then any differences would be subtle.

Yeah sorry, I'd prefer if we steered away from custom printing services as I won't be doing that and more towards factors that effect the tonality of an image when printed in the darkroom using enlargers, as that's what I'm doing. You mention light source, could it be the bulb?
 
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Frascofoto

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You have doubts about the way your prints look...to you. It might be a good idea to ask someone with more color printing experience than you have (not a "minilab").

I was hoping somebody on here might be that someone :smile:
 

MattKing

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You mention light source, could it be the bulb?

The entire light path. The lens, of course, is part of that, but your lens is a high quality lens, so unless it is damaged, changing it shouldn't make a real difference.
Of course, if you go to a longer lens, that can change the geometry of the light path, so if there is something wrong there it may change the appearance.
 

MattKing

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I was hoping somebody on here might be that someone :smile:

You need someone who is actually looking at your prints. With really obvious problems, a scan of your prints shown here might result in clues, but it is less than ideal.
 

koraks

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There are still a few labs who do RA4 prints from digital files, but that is now relatively rare.

Are you sure, Matt? AFAIK the (vast) majority of the color print volume is still done on RA4. I.e. digital file to wet paper using high-throughput RGB laser imagers.

@Frascofoto
What is it in your prints you're not happy with? I can see two examples; they're perhaps somewhat soft. I'd check proper focus and any severe fouling of lens elements. To be honest I think the major factor in the lack of critical sharpness is actually in the negatives, looking at e.g. #2, which shows shallow depth of field and critical focus being on a couple of leaves and not much else. I think you missed the focus on the girl's face as well.
 

MattKing

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Are you sure, Matt? AFAIK the (vast) majority of the color print volume is still done on RA4. I.e. digital file to wet paper using high-throughput RGB laser imagers.

This is much more common in Europe than in North America. We really don't have many large volume printing labs on this side of the ponds.
 
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Frascofoto

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Are you sure, Matt? AFAIK the (vast) majority of the color print volume is still done on RA4. I.e. digital file to wet paper using high-throughput RGB laser imagers.

@Frascofoto
What is it in your prints you're not happy with? I can see two examples; they're perhaps somewhat soft. I'd check proper focus and any severe fouling of lens elements. To be honest I think the major factor in the lack of critical sharpness is actually in the negatives, looking at e.g. #2, which shows shallow depth of field and critical focus being on a couple of leaves and not much else. I think you missed the focus on the girl's face as well.

Those aren't my photos haha, they are by Ben Parks a very talented and established photographer.... those are the examples of what I'd like to achieve.
 

Paul Howell

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Other factor is what film are you using. Extar and Kodak Gold are puncher, while Porta is softer designed for skin tones. I also agree that the problem might be camera tech. Depth of field, quality of lens, cameras shake, and negative size all matter. As you using an 80mm lens I assume that you are shooting MF, so lens quaility is not likey to be an issue. Do you use a tripod, cable release or remote, shoot with mirror up is SLR and shoot at F11 to 22?
 

koraks

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Those aren't my photos haha, they are by Ben Parks a very talented and established photographer.... those are the examples of what I'd like to achieve.

Alright, sorry, that wasn't clear to me :smile:

Can you post examples (scans/photos) of your prints and pinpoint what it is you're not happy with?

This is much more common in Europe than in North America. We really don't have many large volume printing labs on this side of the ponds.
That's possible. And it's also a situation that's evolving - I'm not sure if RA4 will be as prevalent in a few years as it is now. But that's another discussion (we've actually had!)
 

pentaxuser

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OK Frascofoto so do I take it that you want to imitate the colours and style of these 2 photographers whose prints you linked to ? Some of these are high contrast with what some might see as garish colours but others are for want of a better phrase "normal looking"?

If I have got this right then can you now give us your OK and not-so OK prints so we can see where these differ
from these 2 photographers' work

I am assuming these are not your prints but I may be wrong as koraks seems to think they are yours?

Incidentally if these are the prints of these 2 photographers do you know if these were film shots and how they were produced?

Thanks


pentaxuser
 

brbo

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When I was gathering stuff for my darkroom I somehow ended up with 5 different enlarger lenses (Meopta Meogon 50/2.8, Rodenstock Apo-Rogadon-N 50/2.8, Nikon El-Nikkor 50/2.8 N, Minolta Rokkor 80/5.6 and Schneider Componon-S 80/4).

I tested them at a few sizes that I was likely to use. I found zero differences that I would care for between them.

I only kept small size prints that I could scan.

I thought the base line would be the Rodenstock Apo-Rodagon-N 50/2.8 (seller sold it to me in error, we both thought the item was a regular Rodagon 50/2.8, at the end I was very happy and the seller didn't care).

Here are the side-by-side scans of the prints from 50mm lenses (Apo-Rodagon is the lower print in both cases):

El-Nikkor:


Meogon:
 

Ernst-Jan

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There are still a few labs who do RA4 prints from digital files, but that is now relatively rare.
And there are some custom printing services out there that print RA4 using enlargers, but they are expensive.
Tonality is more likely to be related to the light source than the lens, but even then any differences would be subtle.

I think all the good ones use RA4. At least, the best lab in the Netherlands is using RA4. I had printed a digital picture there, on Fuji Maxima paper. Wonderful colours.
 
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