Archived posting to the Leica Users Group, 2003/06/24

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Subject: Re: [Leica] Archival digiital printing
From: Mark Rabiner <>
Date: Tue, 24 Jun 2003 00:07:37 -0700
References: <> <002001c339e4$6c58ee00$>

> I realize that the guy/gal behind the camera still has the greatest impact,
> but hey, I'm sure Mozart would be amazed at the tonal range of a brand new
> Steinway Concert Grand if he were ever brought back into the 21st C! And I
> also realize that for some, the print as an object is not the real product,
> and is secondary to the subject matter. Each to his own.
As I'm going digital getting a Nikon D100 this week and Nikon has many
other digital cameras on the market which it's lenses fit on - I'd not
call Nikon a film system. I'd call it a film & digital system - quickly
becoming a digital & film system. 
Quickly becoming a digital and "Oh film! What a novel retro idea!"
system. The newest digital camera which fits their modern lenses is the
D100 and this is selling like hotcakes and for me has defined the
beginning of digital age. 
In other words: I'm buying one. 
6 megabytes. The real reason? I can afford the $500 it will be worth in
a year and a half. I can afford the thousand dollar loss I mean.  
Last year it would have been a three thousand dollar loss. Couldn't hack
The year before an 18 thousand dollar loss. Couldn't hack that either. 
(Years and amounts have been rounded off for purposes of clarification)  
I think this is how most of the camera buying public feels as computers
and cameras come to seem to overlap. At least as items to acquire and
retain value.

Anyway i used to say who needs a digital camera i bring my film into one
or two places in downtown Portland and they run it and make huge scans
of each image. Then they put it on a CD and charge me 15 bucks total.
Can't beat that! Except it takes two days. That's one day longer than
people are prepared to wait to see their images nowadays.

I'd now give out the joys of digital camera shooting but I've not done
that yet. Give me a week. By the way I also have to get a complete set
of Nikon glass for this endeavor. So far i got the 60 macro Friday which
will be a 90 in my D100..,.   but is a 60 in my new N80 which has all
the features of a D100 which as all the features of an F5. But I'm sure
there is some trickle down loss effect!  Anyway this N80 has a built in
pop up flash and cost less than 400 smackeroos. It has 3D Matrix
metering!!!!???? Unfortunately, no one can be told what the Matrix is.
You have to see it for yourself.  
Leica M metering bounced off what looks like a white painted circle on
the cloth shutter. 

"There is no spoon."

Anyway the Nikon thing represents a level of technology I'm not used to
if you don't count my G4 computer. ...not with cameras. It's been 3 days
and i have no idea how to work this camera i put film in it a few hours
ago so that's a big step. 

A pop up flash used to be the last thing I'd want anywhere near me. Now
it's the thing closest to my heart. 
We should all have a pop up flash mounted on our forheads. or at least
attached to our glasses.

A great many great photographers were not print makers. They shot
slides. What ever prints got made from them were not a big deal. But
they did get better looking as the technology moved along. Until the
last ten years that is when everyones hawking prints which is good. Now
less and less "chrome" films gets shot as color neg film is several
times faster and having more latitude. Also scanning better. Aye there's
the rub!

I'm no stranger to Selenium toning to perfection #3 graded paper prints
run in Selenium soft (no hydroquinone) All I can say is that a 11x14
print made this way and put behind a cut mat and glass in a frame and
put side by side next to a print that was done on an Epson 2200 or 1200
with MIS quadtone inks may be impossible to determine which is which or
which is better. They could easily look almost identical. The inkjet
print could easily edge out the silver based print. Next time the silver
based print wins. It's a tossed salad.

I think if you did you're own press run (I've known designers and
illustrators to do such a thing) and put together your own duotone or
tritone or quadtone thing with appropriate paper and spot colors you'd
not be so burned out on the whole thing. And lets not forget the inkjet
thing is not a halftone thing.

I don't understand "what solutions there are for archival digital
prints.(?)" Are archival digital prints a problem? I think they are for
you and that maybe be what your post is all about it's just your
approach.  It's not a problem for the grade school kids who by the
hundreds of thousands are cranking out first rate inkjet prints becoming
involved in photography like they never would have before. And they top
galleries hanging the stuff up. (Maybe not the ones the grade school
kids made.)

It is great to create the best image on the best film there with the
best glass there is but to scan that neg means you're introducing
another lens to the workflow and it ain't a Leica lens either. It's an
added generation which is never appreciated in most any photographic
workflow, "Workflow" is not a word i use willingly, In the scanner is
another lens which is going to be less than perfect and might be dirty
or have a UV filter on it or put in crooked. It might be made of resin
or acrylic.  And you've got to take the time to scan it or have it
scanned and that doesn't compete well with photographers shooting
digital looking over their afternoons take at the back of their camera
and then firing it off the telephone lens or putting it into there
laptop to see it and that bigger screen and tweak it the print it
minutes possible away from having shot it.

"Is that your monitor?" 
"No its the box top the end of the box the film came in - see Tri X"

As to Mozart and Steinway these are big interests of mine coincidently...
Ansel Adams (said to the effect that each print was a performance from
the negative which is the score. I've been at it long enough to
experience that directly.
The first time I'd print my promisingly iconish negative it might have
been on (for me) #5 Brovira and selenium toned a healthy amount at 11x14
run in Selenium soft. 

But this time round years later I'm doing a show which will be 16x20's
and I'm using two consecutive exposures from my Ilford 4500 VC variable
contrast cold light head. One from each light, blue and green. (And if
it's 35mm it's printed with a 63mm 2.8 Nikkor lens) on Ilford multigrade
paper which is a paper which is second to none of all the papers I've
used since 1965. I compared it directly against Gallerie (same neg same
day) and the multigrade came out looking better. Also the Gallerie was
shiny to the extent that is was a pain. By the way "Gallerie" is the big
marketing name for ilford right now. It is the name of thier new premiom
inkjet paper! I'd call that slightly ironic!

Welcome to the real world.

Mark Rabiner
Portland, Oregon USA
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Replies: Reply from "Jim McIntyre" <> (Re: [Leica] Archival digiital printing)
In reply to: Message from "Frank Filippone" <> (RE: [Leica] Film is Archival)
Message from "Jim McIntyre" <> ([Leica] Archival digiital printing)