In-minilab cropping?

Discussion in 'Darkroom Developing and Printing' started by steven.sawyer, Mar 6, 2004.

  1. I shoot parties with a couple of rangefinders. I like rangefinders
    because of their fast accurate focus and high speed flash sync. But
    I've found that my composition suffers from parallax. I was wondering
    if there was a minilab machine out there where you could crop the image
    before the print is made. This would correct 90% of my problems, which
    are mostly silly objects and halves of people's faces making their way
    into the frame. I've never worked in a minilab but I have a hunch that
    this feature is resident on some of the machines out there. Enlarger
    cropping fifty 4"x6" prints is not an option. I only go to 8"x10" on
    about 1% of my prints anyway.
    Thanks in advance for any info.
    steven.sawyer, Mar 6, 2004
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  2. That will depend on how tolerent they are,
    though some maybe better as a result of the economy & the need for $
    most I suspect will:

    1) Play dumb
    2) Say its not pssible.

    Some labs have video analyzation on their processor lines
    which enable this to be done. My wedding lab does, but they cater
    to a specific type of printing "weddings".
    Gregory W Blank, Mar 6, 2004
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  3. steven.sawyer

    Len Bryan Guest

    Many modern minilabs can do this with ease. In particular, a minilab that prints
    digital images almost certainly can do it from nearly any type of input. Some
    may choose not to offer the service as it can slow the production down
    considerably. I would ask to find out about it. Your message indicated to me
    that you are talking about negatives as input. In this case if you are using a
    lab that does use a digital machine, you could request a CD first, make all your
    crops yourself, burn a second CD and ask them to print from that.

    Now, if you use a minilab that is optical rather than digital, the cropping
    options are dependent on a number of things. Some minilabs actually have
    cropping masks and video monitors that show the image even though the print is
    made optically. If you get to know your photofinisher, they can tell you how
    their system works and give you an idea how they can deal with your images.
    Again, some places will do it, and others will not.

    Len Bryan
    Len Bryan, Mar 7, 2004
  4. steven.sawyer

    Mike King Guest

    It's a frustrating situation but think about it from the lab manager's point
    of view. Essentially you are asking for custom cropping at mini-lab prices.
    Are you planning on standing in the middle of the production area, looking
    over the shoulder of the operator while they bring each image up on their
    monitor and then have them wait for your input on the cropping of each
    individual image? Taking down a machine, probably their only printer,
    capable of printing (for the sake of argument) 40 rolls of film per hour at
    a net profit per roll to the lab of (for the sake of argument) $2.00 per
    roll (that's only $80.00 per hour and I suspect most labs net more than
    that!). To print a couple of lousy rolls shot with crappy (from the point
    of view of the lab!) cropping and make the lab only $4.00 net per hour
    instead of $80 per hour.

    My response (were I still running a mini-lab) would be, yes sir! Mr.
    Customer, glad to oblige, AND BRING LOTS OF MONEY!

    Steven, you said, "Enlarger cropping fifty 4"x6" prints is not an option."

    Is that because enlarger cropping is slow and expensive? It's also slow and
    expensive to manually input cropping for individual prints on a printer (one
    of the reasons that reprints cost more than run of production prints with
    original orders).

    And be ready to explain to all the other customers shooting SLR's with
    decent viewfinders why their orders are late. I had a guy with $10,000
    worth of Leicaflex gear try that with our lab once, we finally had to ask
    him to leave, he wanted to color correct each print as it came out of the
    machine and have us do it over 3-6 times for 25 cents per shot--note that's
    25 cents for the ones he'd take not 25 cents for each print we made on his
    quest to the perfect print. He started shooting color slide film (at my
    suggestion) and was surprised to learn that the color that's there (in
    Mother Nature's paintbox) is rarely as the shooter remembers it at the time
    he made the images.

    The most you should expect from a mini-lab is in-focus prints with decent
    color balance and exposure, consistent from print to print (within a series
    shot with the same light), neatly trimmed, professionally packaged and
    delivered when promised. Anything more is a bonus. Mini-lab managers are
    usually good photographers (some of the best I've known were NOT), mini-lab
    owners rarely are good shooters and the operators are people that will work
    for what the owner will pay (in my area 7.00 per hour--that's less than

    Note that:

    1-high speed flash synch is rarely needed when shooting in darker confines
    such as parties
    2-many inexpensive RF's with between the lens shutters have viewfinders with
    parallax correction
    3-shooting flash with slower shutter speeds will get you more ambient fill
    light and atmosphere

    (My Nikon 8008s SLR's will synch at 1/250 but I rarely shoot faster than
    1/30 when shooting low light events, I find "dragging the shutter" gives me
    more ambient light for fill and more "ambiance", my flash duration for close
    up is about 1/10,000th of a second no matter what shutter speed I select on
    camera, I use the TTL flash mode with my flash, composition is very accurate
    and the electronic rangefinder aid is pretty accurate. Note that I do not
    use autofocus but I do use the electronic focus aid at times, I will also
    preset focus many times before swinging the camera up to my eye and just
    shoot--faster is better for candids.)

    If you can't adjust your technique or change your equipment you'll probably
    have to change you expectations of what you can get from a mini-lab. Len's
    suggestion is a good one: Better that you crop your scanned negatives at
    home and burn a new CD, take it to Walmart (etc.) and get digital reprints.
    Mike King, Mar 7, 2004
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