print with b&w film

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joe7

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what the best choice for making print with b&w film?using b&w enlarger or scanning + print from printer?what is the different between both of the method in terms of grains,quality,etc?i just start shooting b&w,and would like to print my picture,so is enlarger is worth to purchase?i'm total newbie in b&w,so really hope that anybody can guide me in a right way..
 

ozphoto

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Joe, nothing beats printing your own images the analog way.

Of course printing with an enlarger means you need either access to a darkroom (hire, friend, studio, college etc) or enough room for your own.
Sure you can start out by shooting b&w film and then having it printed at a lab or printing out d******, but it doesn't have the same affect as doing it all yourself and watching the image magically appear in the developer; I've been printing for over 20 years, and I still get a kick out of seeing it develop under my safelight.

Check out your local college or see if there is a darkroom for hire and have a ball! You won't regret it, that I can guarantee. :smile:
 

keithwms

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In terms of sharpness and tonality and the sheer pleasure of the process, the ultimate prints are had by plain, good old contact printing. Enlarged negs can be just as good in some limits. You can approach the tonality of those two processes by scanning but IMHO only by very good scanning (i.e. drum) and then by LVT or careful scanning of a digital neg followed by traditional contact printing.

[Aside: You know what ticks me off? When idiots scan a gorgeous neg with some crapola scanner and then say, gee, digital is better than film :rolleyes: Anyway...]

You do not need an enlarger for starters, I would sugegst beginning with contact prints. It's a very inexpensive and simple way to go. All you need is a light bulb and homemade aperture. If you like the results then sure why not pick up an enlarger, they are very inexpensive now.

If you do decide to go the scan route, I would strongly suggest first doing some 100% analogue prints and getting some high end scans done, just so you know what is possible. You need something to set a high bar for you so that you realize the full potential of your negs. if you don't see a fine example then you may never feel motivated to refine your printmaking and that would be a shame. You need to get some really nice prints in your hand and find out what is possible.
 
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JBrunner

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Make inkjets and you'll have what everyone has. Make enlargements and contact prints and you'll have what most people don't. If your work is on par with the medium, the combo of a great image and great analog printing is second to none and becoming increasingly a specialized artistic media. Also, it isn't easy to make great looking ink prints, tends to actually be pretty damn expensive, and in the end, it's still an inkjet. Then you have to call it all kinds of stupid affectations to get around that.



Two roads diverged in a wood, and I --

I took the one less travelled by,

and that has made all the difference

Frost
 
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joe7

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Joe, nothing beats printing your own images the analog way.

Of course printing with an enlarger means you need either access to a darkroom (hire, friend, studio, college etc) or enough room for your own.
Sure you can start out by shooting b&w film and then having it printed at a lab or printing out d******, but it doesn't have the same affect as doing it all yourself and watching the image magically appear in the developer; I've been printing for over 20 years, and I still get a kick out of seeing it develop under my safelight.

Check out your local college or see if there is a darkroom for hire and have a ball! You won't regret it, that I can guarantee. :smile:
actually,i really hope that you'll answer this way,as i'm very interested to setup my first ever darkroom,and getting the enlarger:D...i've just sold my d*****l equipment,and would like to shoots mostly on film,as it give me more satisfaction,like what i used to be before.
i'll read more about darkroom after this...
 
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joe7

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Make inkjets and you'll have what everyone has. Make enlargements and contact prints and you'll have what most people don't. If your work is on par with the medium, the combo of a great image and great analog printing is second to none and becoming increasingly a specialized artistic media. Also, it isn't easy to make great looking ink prints, tends to actually be pretty damn expensive, and in the end, it's still an inkjet. Then you have to call it all kinds of stupid affectations to get around that.



Two roads diverged in a wood, and I --

I took the one less travelled by,

and that has made all the difference

Frost
i choose to be different and be the minority:tongue:,too many people nowadays using inkjet and claims as a profesional suddenly:D,first time i saw an image printed by an analog technique,i know..i should return back to film,and the old ways..
thanks guys for the explaination.
 
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joe7

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In terms of sharpness and tonality and the sheer pleasure of the process, the ultimate prints are had by plain, good old contact printing. Enlarged negs can be just as good in some limits. You can approach the tonality of those two processes by scanning but IMHO only by very good scanning (i.e. drum) and then by LVT or careful printing of a digital neg followed by traditional contact printing.

[Aside: You know what ticks me off? When idiots scan a gorgeous neg with some crapola scanner and then say, gee, digital is better than film :rolleyes: Anyway...]

You do not need an enlarger for starters, I would sugegst beginning with contact prints. It's a very inexpensive and simple way to go. All you need is a light bulb and homemade aperture. If you like the results then sure why not pick up an enlarger, they are very inexpensive now.

If you do decide to go the scan route, I would strongly suggest first doing some 100% analogue prints and getting some high end scans done, just so you know what is possible. You need something to set a high bar for you so that you realize the full potential of your negs. if you don't see a fine example then you may never feel motivated to refine your printmaking and that would be a shame. You need to get some really nice prints in your hand and find out what is possible.
i'll start by making a contact print first as you suggest,and move to enlarger once i've satisfied with the results.
thanks for the suggestion
 

DramaKing

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I have to agree with what everyone else has said, even though I'm scanning everything until my darkroom is complete. You will lose a lot of the details in a good, well-exposed b/w neg. I've also found that manipulating a negative in a traditional darkroom is much better than doing it digitally.

If you want something better than inkjet but don't want to go all the way, try taking your scans to a minilab and have them printed on genuine photographic paper. You can also have your negs printed at a lab, but it can be very costly.
 

Aurum

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I'd echo what others have said. The only advantage of scanning a neg is not having to set up your darkroom and chemicals. I often use it for a quick sort of my negs, then spend the time printing up the ones that properly deserve it, rather than spending time printing out 8/12/16/24/36 shots to find that only one or two are keepers. This way I also have the advantage that I can do a strip here and there without doing blackout

Sure I could just run a contact sheet, but I'd rather assess negs on a larger page than just looking at a small picture via a loupe.
 
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Besides, printing traditionally you get to play with all kinds of cool stuff like acid. Woo Hoo!
 

tropicpine

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I got a dedicated 35mm film scanner for the convience. Shortly afterward I acquired an enlarger. (for less than the cost of the scanner) I have never been able to get what comes out of my scanner & inkjet printer to look nearly as good as what comes out of my enlarger. I use my enlarger on a weekly basis. I can't remember the last time I used my scanner.

As long as I have access to an area sutiable for a darkroom and chemistry I would choose an enlarger every time.
 

clayne

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I got a dedicated 35mm film scanner for the convience. Shortly afterward I acquired an enlarger. (for less than the cost of the scanner) I have never been able to get what comes out of my scanner & inkjet printer to look nearly as good as what comes out of my enlarger. I use my enlarger on a weekly basis. I can't remember the last time I used my scanner.

As long as I have access to an area sutiable for a darkroom and chemistry I would choose an enlarger every time.

Same here. I use a flatbed scanner to scan prints, that's it. Even my neg scanner, which is quite a good scanner (Nikon LS-5000), sits idle - sad and lonely... waiting for me to process a backlog of C-41 (although I'll undoubtedly be experimenting with analog enlargements of that as well).
 

naugastyle

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Just to be contrary...I cannot believe that I can scan a negative in 5 minutes and have exactly what I want while it takes what feels like an hour to get the correct print in the darkroom. The other day I tried printing an old one I'd previously scanned, and while I liked the result, I didn't love it. Then I went back and looked at the scan--and honestly, THAT I loved. Sure, there was a different feel to the print, and it was great to hold it in my hand and know the work that went into it. But the scan was perfect and had taken so little time. The print wasn't, and I don't mean that in the "ohh, it's analog, embrace the lack of predictability and minor imperfections" yada yada sense, I mean it simply wasn't what I wanted and yet I'd worked so long on it.

I've only been back in the darkroom for a month so I've currently been printing everything I possibly can just to get the practice. But in reality, I know I have a lot of photos that I like enough to "share" but don't feel the need to own in print--or at least, in work print form. Perhaps they could be enlarged someday if there were a good reason, or even a sudden decorating whim. Especially don't feel the need to frame every great shot, and I haven't figured out an attractive storage prospect for 5x7s (niche market needing to be filled!!--nice 5x7 photo albums that aren't 3-ring binders). I probably only average 2-3 frames per day in normal life, so I only have a LOT of rolls to process after a trip. And I already know that after the next trip, I will be scanning everything, not making contact sheets, and then choosing perhaps 25-30 to print out while happily posting the other 100 online only.
 

keithwms

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Just to be contrary...I cannot believe that I can scan a negative in 5 minutes and have exactly what I want while it takes what feels like an hour to get the correct print in the darkroom.

Just to be contrary to your contrariness .... let me just point out that if one invests enough time in the darkroom, one becomes much more efficient at getting the desired result :wink: I can get a good contact print in the darkroom in 5 mins for sure. Okay, it takes about 30 sec to mix the chems, and if I like what I see I may fix it to completion and wash it, but still...

I do not deny that it is very easy to scan and hit the 'auto levels' button and get true black and white points. But of course, there is a lot more to analogue printing than merely getting the curve right. The way the tones work with the paper, the toning, lith and alt process, paper texture etc. I do of course agree that a quick scan can give some print ideas.
 

BetterSense

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I used to make contact prints in my apartment bathroom by turning the lights on and off as fast as I could. I would do it multiple times to control exposure. Worked pretty well.

Then I got an enlarger. Making real prints on the enlarger is cheaper, faster, and better than doing it on the computer and I haven't used a computer to do 'photography' since.
 

naugastyle

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Oh, it doesn't ACTUALLY take an hour. It just feels like it :smile:. Thus far nothing has been 5 minutes for me. Maybe 10 minutes at shortest, only a few times, and of course in cases where I've never seen the scan for comparison (since I'm new at this and have been shooting mostly color lately, I've seen most of these negs scanned before). It's hard to believe when I really break down how much time is involved in each step, but I honestly can't believe how long each finished print can take...those 12-second exposures and 90-second development times add up much more than I expected.

But yes, I'm enjoying working out the intricacies of toning and just looooove the feel of paper.

I remember doing the bathroom contact sheets about 10 years ago. Fun times. But I currently live in an apartment with a tiny bathroom that can't even fit the amount of trays required and doesn't have a large enough flat surface for the paper other than the floor, which doesn't get enough light. So glad I found a darkroom to rent.
 

keithwms

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I understand, Nancy :wink: My biggest annoyance is that when I get a print that I really like, then I go into factory mode and make ten quasi-identically... and then realize that my target print wasn't quite as good as it could have been :rolleyes:

Just an aside... I think the main difference between the analogue and digital workflows can be thought of as how many different paths you might take at each step. Very broadly speaking, all paths in the purely digital process converge to one type of final print. Kind of like a funnel. Almost all decisions are made before printing. The analogue process, on the other hand, can go in ten zillion directions, even in the very last phase, after the print is fixed and washed. Also like a funnel, but pointed in the opposite direction, from narrow to wide open! That is the intrinsic difficulty... and merit.. of the analogue process. Likewise hybrid- so many possibilities, so little time! This observation of mine is also my main source of concern about BTZS. But that is another topic altogether :wink:
 
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AmandaTom

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nugastyle--I know just what you mean about being more pleased with the scan than the print. When I first started back in the darkroom about a year ago--after a 30 year hiatus--I could not get my prints to look anywhere near as good as my scans. And the scans were untweaked asided from contrast. I was very diasppointed and at one time considered giving up the darkroom. But things changed with time. I no longer try to match my print to a scan I like, but rather play with the image and the paper. Sometimes they look the same, sometimes one is better. A few negs will just have to wait till I am better at this printing gig. Some prints have taken me several sessions of 2-3 hours each to get how I want, and the print maps look like jigsaw puzzles.

But to answer the OP's question. Inkjet and pigment prints can be pretty nice and for most people indistinguishable from a wet print. They require skill to do well. A really well done wet print also requires skill. For me, the darkroom has a much higher satisfaction index. You also have a lot of options in the darkroom because you can alter the print after you make it by toning. bleaching, redeveloping etc. Of course you can do this and more with an inkjet print, but it is not a cumulative process--any change has to made to the image itself and another print produced. I don't know about anyone else, but I am not always sure where I want to go with a print until I am holding it in my hands.
 

Davesw

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I have a scanner ,it will scan film and it does a nice job with prints too. I use it only when I want to e mail an image , mostly pictures of my kids that were shot on film. Everything I do looks better on gelatin silver prints. It takes time and practice,but it is worth it.
 

clayne

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There are definitely tools that will speed up one's efficiency in the darkroom. At the top of the list is an f-stop timer, an organized method, and choosing not to print everything. I think that the distance you have to travel, the primitive timer you use, the screwing around with filter trays, and other minute tasks slow you down.

Don't know what to say about the apartment situation. It's why I don't live smack dab right in the city in a shoebox - I can do this kind of stuff in the comfort of my own home.

I've given you some methods to try (like split-grade contrast test-sheets) etc. and manual f-stop timing that will definitely speed things up for you and allow you to move on to the next negative without making continual revisions of the same print until it's what you want. Hopefully you'll try them.

I personally enjoy the fact that I have so many frames I could and will print with absolutely no intrinsic rush to "get them out there." If I had some desire to get things seen as quick as possible then perhaps I might be cranking negative strips through the scanner and developing rolls of film in the airport, but what's the point?
 

Marco B

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I always have to laugh a bit when someone from either the A) digital or B) analog camp says "my A/B prints look so much better"... I have seen stunning prints from both media, and personally think that the only thing that is withholding you, as the printer, from making stunning prints, is your determination to truly learn all the skills involved.

That said, metamerization on digital gloss prints can be nuisance that is completely absent in analog prints, and my personal preference, after 10 years IT work (enough computer work for a lifetime!), is simply the wet darkroom...

Get an enlarger and a pack of paper and see if it works for you!, but don't give up after the first tries!
 
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mexico531

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Personally I get very little satisfaction out of "working on prints" on my computer screen. Maybe I'm just not skilled enough at using photoshop, but my prints from scanned negs are not even close to what I can acheive in the darkroom. The thing for me is that I find using the p.c. very tedious and certainly not enjoyable, whereas I love being in the darkroom. I'm sure that the more skilled among us can get much better results from their printer than I ever could, as I just don't feel inclined to learn the p.c. skills required. I'll stick to what I enjoy.
 

naugastyle

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There are definitely tools that will speed up one's efficiency in the darkroom. At the top of the list is an f-stop timer, an organized method, and choosing not to print everything.

Well, as I said, I'm printing everything NOW for the practice. By which I don't mean everything on a roll, but that I'm printing shots that I like but normally wouldn't need to see printed.

Don't know what to say about the apartment situation. It's why I don't live smack dab right in the city in a shoebox - I can do this kind of stuff in the comfort of my own home.

Of course. But I'm already an hour from work (and darkroom). To have a house your size in New York I'd have to live nearly 2 hours away, or in New Jersey (no offense, folks!).

I've given you some methods to try (like split-grade contrast test-sheets) etc. and manual f-stop timing that will definitely speed things up for you and allow you to move on to the next negative without making continual revisions of the same print until it's what you want. Hopefully you'll try them.

I believe I told you I'm already doing the f-stop timing, albeit in my head using my old old analog timer. Things are already going much faster, thanks! But still...it feels fast until I check the clock and am AMAZED how much time has gone by :smile:. Hope to work on the test-sheets this weekend.

I personally enjoy the fact that I have so many frames I could and will print with absolutely no intrinsic rush to "get them out there." If I had some desire to get things seen as quick as possible then perhaps I might be cranking negative strips through the scanner and developing rolls of film in the airport, but what's the point?

But even when you were scanning our attitudes were different about this. I like to develop soonish to when I finish a roll, and don't consider that rushing (I mean, at the end of the trip some of those rolls are 3 weeks old :smile:! ). And you print for yourself, while I like to "get stuff out there" for my friends and family, which is why I feel absolutely no shame with scanning the majority in the future. And of course there's no reason I can't scan stuff I'm not sure about then go back to print at later date.
 
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