Good Film Scanner a replacement for poor jobs by photo labs?

Discussion in 'Scanners' started by Indiana Jones, Jul 30, 2003.

  1. Hi

    Having been frustrated with the lack of control I have over my 35mm negative
    prints (completely at the whims of the kid wal-mart photo lab hired), I am
    looking for alternative solutions. (for example, I just got back prints i
    shot of my son in gorgeous sunset lighting on kodak royal gold film, only to
    have the lab overexpose the prints, washing out the color and blowing the
    highlights). Being in a small town, and in canada (no mailaway labs here) I
    dont really have the option of using a "pro" photo lab (and nor could i
    probably afford it either).

    Having considered shooting slide film, I am ultimately failed by the lack of
    ease of getting prints made from slide, and the expense of prosumer grade
    slide films.

    I have a decent amount of experience using Photoshop, and love the curves,
    levels, and ability to dodge and burn etc.

    Considering that many photo labs have prints made from digital files (for
    digital camera users), I wondered if a decent (500-750CDN budget) negative
    scanner would be my ultimate solution. I could have my 35mm negative film
    processed only, and then scan and color correct my own files, having them
    printed by the photo lab.

    One of the biggest possible failures to my idea (as i see it) would be if
    the photo lab will take my digital files, and then arbitrarily adjust the
    levels again before printing. If thats the case, I dont want to bother. What
    i want is the ability to control my exposures, and to do corrections, not
    leaving it to the whim of the photo lab. Can i get them to print it the way
    i have it look on my monitor (or even close)?

    The issue also made me wonder what serious digital SLR users do... are all
    of your prints at the whim of the photo lab?

    I have a Pentax Z-1 , and while I intend on getting the *ist-D in a few
    years when its affordable, I am looking for more immediate solution to gain
    more control over my prints withouth using slide film, or investing quite
    yet in a digital slr.

    What are your suggestions or experiences?

    Thanks for taking the time to reply.

    Indiana Jones, Jul 30, 2003
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  2. Indiana Jones

    StillMan Guest

    I have done it this way for several years now. It works very well, except
    for the additional time it takes to do all of that scanning.

    You should be able to have the printing done with no adjustments made by lab
    personnel, just inform them that is how you want it done. If the lab has a
    Fuji Aladdin hooked to their Frontier, it should print automatically without
    adjustments from lab people.

    I have printed many film scans this way, as well as many digital camera
    files. The prints are wonderful as long as you are supplying good photos,
    and the machine is properly maintained.
    StillMan, Jul 30, 2003
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  3. Indiana Jones

    Mxsmanic Guest

    That's how I do it, and it works great.
    Tell them not to correct when they print. Most labs can at least
    understand that much.
    I shoot film, have a lab develop just the film (no prints), scan the
    film, then take my digital files back to the lab for the prints. The
    results I get on paper are practically identical to what I see on the
    screen. You need a lab using digital equipment (like a Fuji Frontier)
    to get this kind of result, though.
    Mxsmanic, Jul 31, 2003
  4. Indiana Jones

    Mxsmanic Guest

    What is a Fuji Aladdin?
    Mxsmanic, Jul 31, 2003
  5. Indiana Jones

    Jim Guest

    With the lower cost of film and even lower cost of inkjet printers
    this is an afforadable way to go. But, unless you're only scanning
    and printing the few 'keepers' it can very quickly tunr into a time
    black hole. Between preping the film/slides, scanning, PS tweaking,
    saving and printing it can approch a half an hour per print.


    * Check-out my web site at: *
    * landscape and travel photographs, featuring gorgeous sunsets *
    Jim, Jul 31, 2003
  6. Indiana Jones

    StillMan Guest

    It is a touchscreen computer with a CD drive, several different card
    readers, and simple image editing for self-service access to the Frontier.

    StillMan, Jul 31, 2003
  7. <snip>

    I believe that most prints from negatives are scanned and printed from those
    files. Can you do this better than those guys? Yep, probably with one
    hand tied behind your back.... <grin> All you need is your film developed
    and returned to you for further processing; an index sheet is handy. I pay
    $3US per roll of all sizes.
    Me too!! BHPhoto's got 135-36 Kodak Elite Chrome 100 for $2.65US. For me,
    that's barely affordable at the rate I burn film, and nothing from Fuji
    comes anywhere close. I pay well under $2US and buy in lots, as I suspect
    many here do. Is the difference in the quality of prints between those
    made from negs and those made from slides worth the extra expense? Not as
    far as I'm concerned.
    Why have them printed elsewhere. Printers are relatively inexpensive up to
    8x10 and even the top of the line (Epson 2200) is $700US. You've got the
    computer and software, do the printing yourself.
    You need full control of the process from the point where developed film is
    returned to you. Hence: scanner and printer. End of pain and suffering
    at the hands of ignorant gum-chewing teeny-bopper operators.
    I suspect almost all serious digital users have their own printers. (Guess
    I've gotten the printer message across here.... LOL!!!!!)
    Wait on the digital body. It won't be that long before the bottleneck with
    sensor array affordability is broken, and what one pays Canon $8KUS for at
    present, will be much more widely and inexpensively available.

    What connects the scanner and printer is the resolution of the print.
    General agreement is that 300dpi on a good photoprinter will yield a print
    almost indistinguishable from an optical print. For the 35mm negative, a
    scan of 2400dpi (8 x 300) will yield enough information for an 8X10. For a
    13 x 19 print, you'll need 3900dpi, available from a scanner that produces
    4000dpi. Figure your prices from there. You'll find that the price point
    for size is 8x10. You should be able to get both a dedicated film scanner
    for 35mm and a decent photo printer for somewhere near your stated price
    range. Larger than that gets several times more expensive.

    Caveat: do not get a flatbed scanner if all you are using is 35mm. That
    piece of glass that supports the film holders is between the film and
    sensors, and it is most definitely *not* optical glass. I've heard
    estimates of 1500 to 2000 dpi effective resolution as all one can expect
    from the flatbed scanner. I've got one. I also shoot 4x5, which is served
    quite nicely by 1200dpi scans.

    Short story? Keep your camera and think seriously about how large you want
    to print. Put your money there for the moment. Is your gear good enough
    to produce acceptable 11x14? Do you consistently want to print that large?
    Your decision probably hinges on this issue. I imagine it is common to
    choose the 8x10 limitation, and then upgrade at some point down the line.
    Larger prints, however, imply larger formats, at least for affordable
    equipment, which suggests that 8x10 might be appropriate. You decide.

    In any case, having both scanner and printer liberates you from the whim of
    the gum-chewing teeny-bopper who cares only about quitting time and
    paycheck. For me, even though my lab has really good people, doing it my
    own way is important. How about you?

    Good luck!

    Bill Tallman
    William D. Tallman, Jul 31, 2003
  8. Indiana Jones

    Alan Browne Guest

    "pro" lab photo processing is done mainly on mini-labs these days and
    hardly more expensive than a local store (with the exception of places
    like Wal Mart).
    "prosumer"? It's either consumer or pro. And anyone can buy pro stock.
    Scanners handle most negatives well, occasionally you spend a lot of
    time trying to get the curves right. Frustrating as hell.

    You could consider also slides and a scanner. In this case, however,
    get a scanner with a pretty good Dmax (14 or 16 bit). Slides scan very
    well, except the dark portions are tough even with the best scanners.
    With the slide on your light table you will know precisely what the
    original captured image is...
    Yes. Just instruct them. Also find out what their printer dpi is so
    that you can match your photoshop work precisely to their printer.
    Yes and no. If I give no instructions, they do as they please. But
    (where I go) the photo lab is run by a pro-photog and she trains her
    techs (2 currently) one of whom is in photography as her college major.

    When shooting tests I tell them "0 correction" and I get 0 corrected prints.
    Good idea. Some have leapt at digital (and done very well) and some are
    waiting for another few years of evolution. Whatever you do, the future
    will always have more bang/$.
    Stop worrying.

    Alan Browne, Jul 31, 2003
  9. A quick and dirty scan that is more a reminder of what is on the
    frame can be done in (on avarage) 5 minutes.

    Work that is good enough to show to others takes longer. But in some sense
    that is good, because it forces you to show just a couple of great pictures
    instead of the entire set.

    Philip Homburg
    Philip Homburg, Aug 1, 2003
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