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

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TheFlyingCamera

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You're unlikely to see a major difference between a Nikkor or Schneider or Rodenstock non-APO lens and an APO lens unless you are making BIG prints. Then the APO lenses shine because they will keep all the color wavelengths focused at the same plane - a 5x7 or 8x10 print is much less likely to show that difference in focus than a 20x24 print is. If you are not getting the color you want then I'd look at

A: your film and your paper processing (is your chemistry fresh and the pH balance correct, your process times are consistent, your processing technique consistent, etc), and
B: the film and paper you are using are fresh and properly stored until processed.

Also, is the paper and the film you are using a good match for each other? This is less of a choice now than it used to be, but back in the day, Kodak sold RA4 paper in three grades - portra, supra, and ultra, and then there was Fuji Crystal Archive and Agfa color paper too, and Cibachrome/Ilfochrome for color transparency. These days there's Fuji Crystal Archive, Kodak Endura and Kodak Royal, and that's about it.
 

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


Tonality is usually a reference to black & white printing. Do you mean colour rendition?
 

MattKing

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I think all the good ones use RA4.

As posted above, that is probably a European phenomena. The really good labs over here tend to be smaller, and tend to use inkjet for everything - other than some that have retained RA4 to provide an option for custom enlargements.
 

pentaxuser

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No, I was wrong; please see above. They're not Frascofoto's prints.

Yes, thanks and no problem. Had I been aware of your post I would not have posted mine but by the time I had written mine and posted it yours was already there This happens frequently if 2 posts are almost simultaneous

pentaxuser
 

RPC

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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.

Here in the states labs that do school pictures and school sports pictures are high volume (sometimes thousands of prints per day), and use high volume RA-4 printers, at least the one I retired from a few years ago did. Inkjet printers were used for a few products but were just too slow to be used for our main output.
 
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Frascofoto

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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:

Thank you. This is very helpful to see and the sort of comparison I was looking for.
 
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Frascofoto

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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

Thank you, I think I'd like to move away from imitation. These were just two examples of work I thought of quickly that possess the quality I'm trying to describe. Apologies, it's hard to illustrate what I mean if other's cannot see noticeable difference or if I can't articulate exactly what I mean by tonality/color rendition.

By the looks of things, I think I will have to troubleshoot with an experienced professional printer to see if there's anything I can do to improve the output.

Here's a few examples of my prints. I'm happy with how they look but there's still something missing, for me at least.
Landscapes Compressed--7.jpg
Landscapes Compressed--5.jpg
Landscapes Compressed--9.jpg
 
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Frascofoto

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You're unlikely to see a major difference between a Nikkor or Schneider or Rodenstock non-APO lens and an APO lens unless you are making BIG prints. Then the APO lenses shine because they will keep all the color wavelengths focused at the same plane - a 5x7 or 8x10 print is much less likely to show that difference in focus than a 20x24 print is. If you are not getting the color you want then I'd look at

A: your film and your paper processing (is your chemistry fresh and the pH balance correct, your process times are consistent, your processing technique consistent, etc), and
B: the film and paper you are using are fresh and properly stored until processed.

Also, is the paper and the film you are using a good match for each other? This is less of a choice now than it used to be, but back in the day, Kodak sold RA4 paper in three grades - portra, supra, and ultra, and then there was Fuji Crystal Archive and Agfa color paper too, and Cibachrome/Ilfochrome for color transparency. These days there's Fuji Crystal Archive, Kodak Endura and Kodak Royal, and that's about it.

Thanks! My chemistry, paper and film all seem good. Color isn't the main thing I'm focused on really, perhaps more to do with the tonal curve.

I'm using Fuji DPII Glossy with Portra 400 most of the time.

By the sounds of it, the difference in print is not coming from the lens. In which case, I'm down to figuring out if it's - Light Source/Bulb, Negative Holder (AN Glass or not), or something else.
 
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Frascofoto

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


Tonality is usually a reference to black & white printing. Do you mean colour rendition?

I think by tonality I'm referring to the difference in tones, the graduation from light to dark. Which would still be applicable in colour printing would it not?
 

koraks

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I think by tonality I'm referring to the difference in tones, the graduation from light to dark. Which would still be applicable in colour printing would it not?

Yes, it would. But evidently it's a bit more complicated in color, because you're essentially talking about three separate light-to-dark gradations at the same time.

If this is indeed the quality you're trying to optimize, you might try to manipulate a digital scan of a print of yours in Photoshop (or Gimp or whatever) and apply different correction curves to get the kind of result you're looking for. Once you've figured out what kind of curve shape that is, you could see how you might reproduce that in the darkroom. Curve manipulation is of course a bit more involved in the darkroom than it is in the digital domain, but there are still several possibilities.
 

brbo

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Thanks! My chemistry, paper and film all seem good. Color isn't the main thing I'm focused on really, perhaps more to do with the tonal curve.

I'm using Fuji DPII Glossy with Portra 400 most of the time.

You haven't really given any clues as to what would you like to change in your prints apart from that "something is missing". That description is very hard to work with.

Fuji DPII is a paper optimised for digital prints and has high contrast and saturation. Since your examples are quite contrasty and saturated I suspect you are looking for something less punchy and more refined? Have you tried the plain old Fuji Crystal Archive II paper?

I can get prints that I'm happy with most of the time on most papers. But some shots will look better on one paper and others on a different paper. Since I began RA-4 printing I also found out that I have to think differently at film exposure time since this will have a big effect on printing, especially if dodging/burning will be hard for that particular frame and/or creating masks is something beyond your reach. Maybe give a bit more exposure to film to lower the contrast?

Ektar 100 on Kodak Endura Premier paper:


Portra 800 on Endura Premier:


Ektar 100 on Fuji Maxima:



Both Kodak Endura Premier and Fuji Maxima are high contrast/saturation papers but maybe not quite as high as DPII? Fuji CAII will definitely be less, though.
 

Paul Howell

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As posted above, that is probably a European phenomena. The really good labs over here tend to be smaller, and tend to use inkjet for everything - other than some that have retained RA4 to provide an option for custom enlargements.

Here in the Phoenix metro area all three color labs use R4 and print up to 8X10 on a Frontier, unless it is a custom order then it is printed with an inkjet, larger than 8X10 are printed with an inkjet as well.
 
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Frascofoto

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You haven't really given any clues as to what would you like to change in your prints apart from that "something is missing". That description is very hard to work with.

Fuji DPII is a paper optimised for digital prints and has high contrast and saturation. Since your examples are quite contrasty and saturated I suspect you are looking for something less punchy and more refined? Have you tried the plain old Fuji Crystal Archive II paper?

I can get prints that I'm happy with most of the time on most papers. But some shots will look better on one paper and others on a different paper. Since I began RA-4 printing I also found out that I have to think differently at film exposure time since this will have a big effect on printing, especially if dodging/burning will be hard for that particular frame and/or creating masks is something beyond your reach. Maybe give a bit more exposure to film to lower the contrast?

Ektar 100 on Kodak Endura Premier paper:


Portra 800 on Endura Premier:


Ektar 100 on Fuji Maxima:



Both Kodak Endura Premier and Fuji Maxima are high contrast/saturation papers but maybe not quite as high as DPII? Fuji CAII will definitely be less, though.

This is very helpful again thank you! I printed on CAII a long time ago and found it to be very bland personally. Maybe if I could source some Endura premier I could see if that gets the desired aesthetic. When you mention lengthening the exposure time, have you found a longer exposure time on the enlargement lowers contrast significantly?

May I ask what Enlarger, negative holder and lens you would have used for the images above too? They look lovely.
 

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When you mention lengthening the exposure time, have you found a longer exposure time on the enlargement lowers contrast significantly?

I was talking about film exposure time (in camera) not paper exposure time.

May I ask what Enlarger, negative holder and lens you would have used for the images above too? They look lovely.

I use two enlargers (Philips PCS150 (additive condenser type) and LPL C7700 (subtractive diffuser type)).

I prefer Philips. But I can get exactly the same results from LPL.

My ANR glass for Philips is quite coarse and I can sometimes get an ANR glass pattern and slight fall-off in the corners of the prints from my XPan negatives so I use it with regular glass on top of the negative and a spacer made from thicker paper between film and top glass to avoid Newton rings.

I mostly use Schneider Componon-S 80/4 lens, but on Philips and with XPan negatives I use Componon-S 105/5.6. I guess a longer lens is needed for XPan negatives on a condenser enlarger as I can use 80mm lens on a LPL diffuser enlarger with no problems in the corners at all.
 

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You haven't really given any clues as to what would you like to change in your prints apart from that "something is missing". That description is very hard to work with.

Well to be fair the OP did give us some of his pics that still had something missing I had a look at them and could find nothing missing so I'll drop out of the discussion now as I am not in a position to be helpful in the quest for whatever is missing

I wish the OP and others who feel they can still help, every success

pentaxuser
 

MattKing

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One thing I noticed about the prints that have been shared here is that the OP seems to prefer prints with marginally less contrast, and slightly more open shadows.
So perhaps the solution is either a more diffused light source in the enlarger or, strangely enough, a lower quality enlarging lens. Plus perhaps some flare in the light path.
 

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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.

Pentax made them.

Going for an APO lens won't do a great deal except empty your pockets and reduce colour fringing on the edges of objects in the frame. I use a 50mm Rodagon APO for 35mm colour printing and that is very good with virtual elimination of fringing.
For 120 enlarging I have an older 80mm Rodagon (non APO) and the difference is quite marked but usually the filtration is identical
 
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Lachlan Young

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It tends to get forgotten that you don't get a huge amount of latitude with colour neg films if you want to get them to print with good (as-designed) colour balance - as opposed to the gross-overexposure-and-rescue-them-with-the-Fuji-Frontier's-software method that gets hyped around the web.
 

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I keep quite a few different enlarging lenses on hand, as well as several commercial grade enlargers. Specific lens choice DOES matter. It is one way I can easily fine-tune contrast and color saturation. The premium lenses like Apo Rodagon N's or the even higher end Apo Nikkors graphics repro lenses (not to be confused with ordinary El Nikkor enlarging lenses) do yield higher contrast, superior sharpness and micro-tonality, and the best hue rendition. But that's not always an advantage. Sometimes I want to tame things a little, so also keep on hand regular Rodagons and El Nikkors, and maybe still an old Componon S somewhere. But we're talking about subtleties in the print here, not anything readily obvious to the general public. But all kinds of little qualitative tweaks when printing can cumulatively add up to a distinct impression.

And yes, sometimes just too high of an MTF in a lens can pick up even the tiniest variation in carrier glass, even when using a diffuse light source, or even obnoxious Newton rings when AN glass is employed for both the top and bottom of the carrier. That's one reason I never opted for the Rolls Royce of enlarging lenses, the very expensive Apo El Nikkor line; just too over the top to be practical.

Significant changes in color response are best done via changing the specific film in use, or specific RA4 paper, or by learning supplementary contrast masking (both lower and higher contrast varieties). Unfortunately, Fuji's allegedly richest RC color paper, Maxima, is hard to get in this country. But with patience, I did finally get a fresh roll this past Spring of their most premium product, Fujiflex Supergloss, which is not a paper at all, but coated on heavy polyester stock. It's in a league of it's own, but certainly not suitable for every negative.
 
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Frascofoto

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I keep quite a few different enlarging lenses on hand, as well as several commercial grade enlargers. Specific lens choice DOES matter. It is one way I can easily fine-tune contrast and color saturation. The premium lenses like Apo Rodagon N's or the even higher end Apo Nikkors graphics repro lenses (not to be confused with ordinary El Nikkor enlarging lenses) do yield higher contrast, superior sharpness and micro-tonality, and the best hue rendition. But that's not always an advantage. Sometimes I want to tame things a little, so also keep on hand regular Rodagons and El Nikkors, and maybe still an old Componon S somewhere. But we're talking about subtleties in the print here, not anything readily obvious to the general public. But all kinds of little qualitative tweaks when printing can cumulatively add up to a distinct impression.

And yes, sometimes just too high of an MTF in a lens can pick up even the tiniest variation in carrier glass, even when using a diffuse light source, or even obnoxious Newton rings when AN glass is employed for both the top and bottom of the carrier. That's one reason I never opted for the Rolls Royce of enlarging lenses, the very expensive Apo El Nikkor line; just too over the top to be practical.

Significant changes in color response are best done via changing the specific film in use, or specific RA4 paper, or by learning supplementary contrast masking (both lower and higher contrast varieties). Unfortunately, Fuji's allegedly richest RC color paper, Maxima, is hard to get in this country. But with patience, I did finally get a fresh roll this past Spring of their most premium product, Fujiflex Supergloss, which is not a paper at all, but coated on heavy polyester stock. It's in a league of it's own, but certainly not suitable for every negative.

Thanks Drew! I think like you mention, the subtle difference I'm searching for could just be caused by a culmination of slight variations- whether that's enlarger lens/paper/negative/film stock and/or my printing techniques (I've been colour printing self taught for just over a year so I'm hardly an expert).
 
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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.

For your format switching to a Rodenstock lens won't hurt, but it is not necessarily the answer.Lack of contrast may be due to a dirty lens. Try to clean it carefully on both sides and see if that makes a difference.
 

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I have a Componon-S 100mm f/5.6 and a Rodagon 105mm f/5.6 for MF and there is a very subtle hue variation with the same filtering package, being the Rodagon a bit cooler than Componon (if a recall correctly). You need to have both prints one next to the other to see the difference. On the other hand, I don't see any noticiable contrast or saturation difference.
 

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You'd a bit of noticeable contrast increase with an Apo Rodagon N 105; but those are expensive.
 
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