Interesting comments. I also shoot B&W film, scan the negs and print
on inkjet printers. I started out with a simple C84 (now a C86) and the
MIS quadtone inks. Very simple, inexpensive and does a wonderful
job on matte papers up to 8x10. I tend to print 5x7 on this printer though.
I'm also just starting to experiment with B&W on a 2200 using the regular
Epson UC inks and the inexpensive QuadTone RIP. So far results on
EEM look quite good printed on the warmish side. I don't experiment
with paper much, but use Matte Scrapbook on the C86 (great bargain
for a smooth cotton rag paper up in 8x11 sheets). I'll have to try
UltraSmooth or another paper similar to Matte Scrapbook on the 2200
to make larger prints.
I'm comfortable with moderate grain, from the scanner's point of view,
that is. I've only tried my Coolscan V, but I'm informed that it manages
to magnify (mangle?) grain vs. some other scanners. But with HP5+ in
HC-110 (H) - even at EI 800 with just one inversion every two minutes -
I find can make a print pleasing to my eye. I soup it for thinner, flatter
negs and I find this helps manage the grain (and the Coolscan's tendency
to blow highlights). I have Vuescan, but find the interface frustrating.
I use it for "special case" scans, as it seems to have an uncanny ability
to produce a nice somewhat flat scan from most negatives.
That said, I'm just now embarking on a "slower, finer grain film/scan"
journey, in the interests of producing larger prints where the consequently
magnified grain might not always add to the aesthetic.
FP4+ looks fantastic in Rodinal, but it doesn't make the most of the film's
somewhat finer grain structure. While still a non-solvent developer, Acutol
1:14 seems to produce a smoother (and very sharp) scan from this film
I'm also experimenting with Delta 100, which so far seems to produce
pleasing tones of a more traditional look than TMX. I initially souped
this in Acutol as well with good results, but am about to try HC-110
and a solvent developer, Clayton F76, as well. I guess I have a "thing"
for PQ developers or something :-) I'm eager to see the F76 results
on both FP4+ and Delta 100 - while somewhat obscure, F76 lovers
seem to really like this soup.
I find digital can produce wonderful black and white prints - sometimes.
I find noise shots a big problem (I use a D70), even when the noise
is not very apparent in the color imagine. Some monotone conversion
just seem to accentuate the noise, and while grain can sometimes
add to a picture's aesthetics, I rarely find that grain does. OTOH,
some of my favorite B&W prints have been produced by digital
capture means. Consistently smooth tonality (midtones) is a main
attraction for me as well, although the limited dynamic range can
make some shots difficult compared to B&W film and development
I suppose we are blessed to live in an era of so many options for
producing nice B&W prints.
Tony Sleep wrote:
>>There is nothing like B&W negatives for longevity.
>You think? I'm scanning negs from 20-30 years ago before it's too late.
>Mould is a big issue and a swine to try and fix. These were very well
>processed and washed but ironically that encourages mould. OK, storage in a
>humidity and temp controlled environment, with filtered atmosphere to keep
>the spores away, would produce a different outcome, but acetate film base
>is unstable anyhow. I don't seem to have that problem yet myself, but I
>know of one photographer who has widespread vinegar-rot syndrome on negs of
>similar age to my own.
>So B&W film is in general no better than an inkjet of mediocre longevity,
>or a CD carelessly stored. Shoot on Estar base and invest in a clean room
>to do better.
>I've dispensed with wet printing a couple of years ago, after 30yrs of
>fighting the materials. Cone Piezography produces a very different sort of
>print, but likeable in its own terms and digital workflow has overwhelming
>advantages and control (specially where mouldy negs are concerned). Besides
>all of the bromides I really liked have either been discontinued or
>sanitised to mediocrity for H&S reasons. There is simply nothing around
>that comes close to, say, the original Agfa Record Rapid, stuffed as it was
>with noxious Cobalt and God knows what.
>There are technologies for printing dig on bromide or Ciba for those who
>can't accept inkjet aesthetics, eg http://www.owenboyd.com/index.html
>Personally I love the smooth tonality of dig, even for B&W. I mostly used
>the finer grain films, TMax CN, Delta, XP1/2 anyhow, to escape grain.
>Before those, I used solvent developers, or pushed ISO125 in 2-bath rather
>than put up with the offensive mush.
>Tony Sleep - http://www.halftone.co.uk
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