Question about Fuji minilab prints

Discussion in 'Fuji' started by David Nebenzahl, Sep 29, 2003.

  1. For years, I've been getting my 35mm color prints processed at "the
    drugstore". The chain I currently use, like most others, uses Fuji equipment.
    They just upgraded their lab equipment, and the results I've been getting are
    even better than before.

    But I wonder just how these processors work. Today, one of the guys who runs
    the lab told me that the printer is "digital". Is this true? Am I getting
    "wet" prints made through projection through the negative, or is the machine
    basically just a big film scanner?

    Obviously, there's a big piece of info missing here, which is the type of
    processor they're using. Sorry, don't know: I do know it's some sort of
    Frontier. I'll try to find out the exact model, if that's helpful.
    David Nebenzahl, Sep 29, 2003
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  2. David Nebenzahl

    Ken Hart Guest

    The simple answer: Imagine an inkjet printer that, instead of spraying
    colored ink on the paper, shoots out colored light onto photo paper, which
    is then wet processed like in the olden days. (so the guy is actually right:
    the "printer" is digital) And yes, the film is scanned.

    The Fuji Frontier is not unique, similar "hybrid" processors are also made
    by Noritsu, Agfa, and others.

    Ken Hart, Sep 29, 2003
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  3. Actually, he said it uses a laser. So let me get this straight: it's
    essentially a big color laser printer, using color negative paper. The scanner
    digitizes the negative image, which gets projected onto paper using the
    lasers. Is this correct?

    Do you know what resolution the film is scanned at, and what resolution the
    prints are made at?

    It's funny; I had suspected something like this was going on, since when I
    look at the prints closely with a magnifier, sometimes I can see what are
    apparently digital artifacts. They're very hard to see, though, and the prints
    look very convincingly "analog".
    David Nebenzahl, Sep 29, 2003
  4. Yes, thats right. But you know, that ther is a big amount of manipulation &
    adjustment on the digital data needed?
    Fuji Frontier 390:
    Scanning with max. 5000 Pixels (looks like the short negative side) -->
    max. 5000*7500 Pixel for 24*35 mm negative.
    On an other site I read :4535x3035 Pixels for 135.

    Printing resolutions ranging from ~ 70-400 dpi - I do not know which
    printer work with witch resolution.
    I have a print (20*30cm) from the early digital printing days, showing the
    lines of the scanning / printing - without magnifier!

    Markus Keinath, Sep 29, 2003
  5. Well, obviously: my description was an intentional oversimplification.

    I imagine the operator's interface is similar in some ways to, say, Adobe
    Photoshop, in that it has controls for adjusting the color, contrast, etc., of
    the image before printing.
    If 5000 pixels on the 36mm edge, resolution = ~3500 dpi;
    if 4535 pixels on this edge, resolution = ~3200 dpi.
    It's obviously a *lot* more than 70 dpi, and I suspect more than 600; where
    did you get these figures? a WAG?
    The artifacts I see nowadays are nowhere near that obvious. There are
    occasionally very subtle patterns, usually occuring in areas of regular
    patterns in the print or sometimes in areas of high detail, which look like
    tesselations or something similar. Hard to describe.
    David Nebenzahl, Sep 29, 2003
  6. David Nebenzahl

    Ken Hart Guest

    Keep in mind that the Fuji Frontier is used in WalMart photo centers, where
    the "operator" last week was stocking shelves in sporting goods, and next
    week will be working the gardening center! While it can have extensive
    software controls for adjusting the look of the finished photo, the operator
    may not have access to those features (which could be a good thing!)

    The Fuji Frontier, and similar "hybrid" minilabs are used in stores where
    the operator has very little training/skill and other stores where the
    operator is a skilled artist (please excuse the use of that word here!). The
    systems and software can be extensively tailored to the needs and abilities
    of the store.

    Ken Hart, Sep 29, 2003
  7. This is all true. I'd just like to add as a data point that my
    "drugstore" (Longs Drugs) not only has brand-new Fuji equipment but also very
    qualified people in-store to operate it. The results are stunning. It's
    possible this is the exception rather than the rule.

    I can't say the same for their one-day service, which is sent to a central lab
    (theirs) for processing: the people in the store tell me that those jobs all
    get printed on the standard settings, with little or no effort on the part of
    the operator to adjust them.
    David Nebenzahl, Sep 29, 2003
  8. After a gruelling 45 minutes of playing phone run-around, I got a call back
    from a Fuji tech who very nicely answered my questions. The minilab processor
    where I have my film done is a Frontier 370, a very common machine.

    * The scanner resolution (of the SP-2000 unit) is 5000 dpi, using a 3-color CCD.

    * The printer resolution is 300 dpi, using 3 colored lasers (blue, green and red).

    I was suprised by the relatively low printe resolution, considering the high
    quality of the prints and the absence of any visible scan lines (except for
    the occasional digital artifacts I mentioned earlier).
    David Nebenzahl, Oct 1, 2003
  9. 3-color CCD.

    Enough to do justice to any negative. Equivalent to 100 lines/mm.
    Entirely ample for a continuous-tone image. 300 dpi = 6 lines per mm. When
    inkjet printers claim, say, 1440 dpi, that's the positioning accuracy; it
    doesn't mean you could actually print two lines 1/720 inch apart and
    distinguish them!
    Michael A. Covington, Oct 2, 2003
  10. And David Nebenzahl answered:
    Oh Sorry, my brains was faster than my fingers: 270-400 dpi. What´s a WAG?
    Im from Germany, my english is bad, so I don`t understand.

    Markus Keinath, Oct 2, 2003
  11. Means "wild-ass guess".

    Read my other recent posting for the *actual* (not speculative) resolution
    figures for these machines.
    David Nebenzahl, Oct 2, 2003
  12. The scanner CCD has 5000 Pixel for each color. With an negativ 24*36 mm the
    resolution is ~ 5290 ppi (pixel per inch).
    With a negative of 56 mm usable width, the resolution should be ~2270 ppi.
    With APS (uha) the resolution is theoreticly ~7600ppi.

    Markus Keinath, Oct 2, 2003
  13. Not only WAG, see below:

    Fuji´s older LASER Printer LP-1000P has 300 dpi.
    Noritsu ( has a system called MLVA that prints with 400
    dpi. And, news for me, HRCRT with 500 dpi. Claimed from noritsu as "with
    the highest resolution in the industry".
    Noritsus LASER has 320 dpi.

    AGFA´s d-lab.2 has 400 dpi.

    270 dpi - were did I get that resolution? All the resolutions I mentioned
    earlier (expect the 500 dpi) I get from my studies (Institute of Media and
    Phototechnology / Univerity of Applied Sciences). I think the 270 dpi are
    mentioned in the course of Photofinishing 1996 Prof. Dr. Magloire.
    Or the AGFA Digiprint (~1990..) used that resolution.

    Markus Keinath, Oct 2, 2003
  14. As does the current LP-2000 used in the Frontier 370 and other processors.
    David Nebenzahl, Oct 2, 2003
  15. I don't think this is correct: the tech I spoke to said that the CCD had a
    resolution of 5000 pixels per inch, *not* 5000 absolute pixels, so the
    resolution figure holds no matter what size negative is being scanned.

    Unless he was wrong about this, which I doubt.
    David Nebenzahl, Oct 2, 2003
  16. He is wrong - or Fuji´s specs are:
    (both in german language, found no english one) Minilab/Frontier390Specs-D.pdf
    (page 4 in the middle "5000 Pixel Highspeed CCD Scanner")

    Markus Keinath, Oct 2, 2003
  17. So it really does have 5000 pixels; I sit corrected.

    But that still leaves the question of what the resolution is; I looked at the
    second document you gave, and saw that there seems to be an option for 120/220
    with these machines; does this mean that the CCD is large enough to cover this
    format (in which case it would have to be at least 6cm long), or does the
    option include a different CCD?

    Clearly, further research is needed. I say we appoint a r.p.d committee to
    look into this.
    David Nebenzahl, Oct 3, 2003
  18. Normal scanners do always have an optics between Film and CCD.

    For 120/220 and APS are special negative masks (and lightboxes), but no
    optics. So I tend to think there is a zoom optics inside. Like in analog
    printers. Or a lens with two changable focal lengths?
    r.p.d ? Where do you find al your abbreviations?

    Markus Keinath, Oct 3, 2003
  19. OK, but how big (long) do you think that CCD is: that's the crucial
    information I'm after here.
    That's this newsgroup,
    David Nebenzahl, Oct 3, 2003
  20. David Nebenzahl

    J Stafford Guest

    Typical scanning CCD technology uses a n array of sensors that can be
    quite wide, but could be as small as a couple millimeters deep - a long,
    thin array of sensors that passes over the object to scan.
    J Stafford, Oct 3, 2003
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