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Thread: Digital B+W Lab Prints

  1. #1
    Barbusdel
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    Angry Digital B+W Lab Prints

    First of all let me intoduse myself. My name is Derek aka. Del, I'm a happy snapper based in the U.K.

    I'm having a little trouble getting good Digital lab prints done.
    I have tried a couple of labs, the last one Ilfordlab direct who print onto b+w silver gelitine. Well I waited in anticipation for my perfect prints, but when they arrived I was very disapointed. The contrast had diminished and some of the midtones have a kind of brown cast to them.

    Files were pp & converted in Lightroom.

    Any thourghts or comments please.

    Regards Del

  2. #2
    ddk
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    Re: Digital B+W Lab Prints

    Not knowing all the facts about your lab or files, my first thought is if your monitor is calibrated correctly and which color space did you use, since both would affect the final outcome.

  3. #3
    Barbusdel
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    Re: Digital B+W Lab Prints

    Hi David, thanks for the reply. Yes my monitor is calibrated (spyder 2 express). Colour space sRGB.

  4. #4
    Member mrtoml's Avatar
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    Re: Digital B+W Lab Prints

    Printing digital B+W is notoriously difficult especially through 3rd parties. Although I'm surprised that the Ilford had a cast (if they use traditional monochrome paper and chemistry then this sounds like an error unless they used warmtone paper and warm toned developer, but even then it should not just affect the midtones).

    Did they ask for sRGB? It might make more sense to use grayscale.
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    Sr. Administrator Jack's Avatar
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    Re: Digital B+W Lab Prints

    Hi Del and welcome!

    Yes indeed, having a 3rd party generate truly neutral or even properly toned B&W is problematic at best. Your best bet is a custom lab that will proof for you at the outset, and give your THEIR printer profile so you can "soft proof" your finals beforehand.

    If you are sending out a color version of your monochromatic conversion, you might want to send them a true grayscale image, meaning one with all the color data stripped out. Obviously this means no toning on your side, and it may appear slightly cooler or warmer coming from them, but they should be able to get it out as consistently monochromatic at the very least.

    Cheers,
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    Super Duper
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    Re: Digital B+W Lab Prints

    I'm interested to hear if you ever got anywhere with this. I'm not a fan of inkjet prints, not a matter of the quality, just the 'look' on the ink sitting on the surface of the paper rather than the image within the paper as you get with chemical papers. At present I'm printing big B&W stuff on Fuji Pro paper which although pretty neutral, isn't quite there. I'd be very interested in digital prints on real B&W paper, Ilford only seem to do up to 10X15" sizes (no doubt using a smaller frontier) and I've not seen anyone else in the UK offering these services with true B&W paper eventhough there seems to be a pelethora of them in the states with mpix being the biggest (they don't ship abroad, I tried!).

    Let me know if you get anywhere with them.
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  7. #7
    Member mrtoml's Avatar
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    Re: Digital B+W Lab Prints

    Have you tried the fiber based inkjet papers (like Harman FB AL or Innova Fiba)? These papers are much closer to a real darkroom print (still not quite the same though). Just a thought.
    Mark Tomlinson www.marktomlinson.org.uk/photography
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    Super Duper
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    Re: Digital B+W Lab Prints

    Yup, ink's still lying on the surface, also found them rather flat contrastwise.

    Just got an email back from ilford saying that they don't have a lightjet yet (later this year) so cannot offer bigger sizes until then. They can however farm out as long as the size is 50X50" (i.e. make up a print order on the paper then they cut) at 80 which after VAT and P&P is probably going to be 100.

    The price doesn't even bother me that hugely, I can fit eight 10X20" prints or four 15X30" prints and the price works out at a tenner per print for the smaller size which is fine, it's about the same that I've been paying BPDPhotech to date, I don't however want to have to order those kind of quantities every time I have an order for a single print.

    Anyone know of anywhere else in the UK doing it with the bigger sizes?
    Last edited by Ben Rubinstein; 24th July 2009 at 03:10.
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  9. #9
    Barbusdel
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    Re: Digital B+W Lab Prints

    Quote Originally Posted by mrtoml View Post
    Printing digital B+W is notoriously difficult especially through 3rd parties. Although I'm surprised that the Ilford had a cast (if they use traditional monochrome paper and chemistry then this sounds like an error unless they used warmtone paper and warm toned developer, but even then it should not just affect the midtones).

    Did they ask for sRGB? It might make more sense to use grayscale.
    They did ask for greyscale, but also say they can accept sRGB. I use Lightroom for my PP. there is no way as far as I know to convert to greyscale.

  10. #10
    Super Duper
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    Re: Digital B+W Lab Prints

    Question coming back to this subject, I have 2 prints waiting for me from the Ilford Lab back in the UK, I'm back there in a week today so we'll see how they came out.

    I had to send it to them as sRGB, changing to greyscale in PS introduces a large gamma shift, not sure why? Anyone know how to strip the colour information without a gamma shift?

    Ilford say they are on track for December-ish to do large prints. Having run a lab in the past I'd be quite sure that they won't have it running smoothly until January at the very least. I'm finding it hard to find labs in the US that do a straight print from file. Most seem to offer expensive deluxe services which to be honest, if your file is fully prepped for print, are more than overkill. I'd love to use mpix but they won't ship to the UK. Anyone have any suggestions for US labs printing on Ilford true B&W paper in larger sizes, say 20X16 and 20X30 for normal prices?
    I am not a painter, nor an artist. Therefore I can see straight, and that may be my undoing. - Alfred Stieglitz

    Website: http://www.timelessjewishart.com

  11. #11
    Barbusdel
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    Re: Digital B+W Lab Prints

    I see from the Ilford Lab website that they are up and running with the large prints.
    Ithink I will give them another go. Although I was'nt happy last time, thinking about it it is more likly that it my optimising that is in question. Afterall Ilford have been in photogaphy a lot longer than I have.

  12. #12
    Super Duper
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    Re: Digital B+W Lab Prints

    I gave them a test about 2 months back, the quality was horrendous, brightness was all wrong. Went and had the same prints done at my usual lab, BPDPhotec, couldn't be happier, their Fuji pro paper is more than perfectly balanced for B&W in their Kodak LED printer, chemistry is also perfect. Really good results.

    Guy in my local pro shop tells me that he knows the girl who set up ilfords digital B&W system for them, according to him it's a 7 foot tall LF shooting girl who they called in to sort it out for them. He also wasn't impressed with their output. Point is that if they're calling in outsiders then you aren't getting 'Ilford expertise' particularly...
    I am not a painter, nor an artist. Therefore I can see straight, and that may be my undoing. - Alfred Stieglitz

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    Re: Digital B+W Lab Prints

    Hi Ben,
    I see you asked this a long time ago, but maybe you would be interested. I am running a custom photo lab here in Reykjavik, and could conceivably do printing for you, probably at a better price than most other places of comparable quality. I do not use an LED or laser printer like the lightjet. Instead I use an Epson 9900 with Harman and Ilford papers (Harman Glossy Fb Al for example is made in the same factory as multigrade fiber, and uses the same paper base and baryta coating). The 9900 will print up to 44" wide.

    I also print in a wet darkroom using Multigrade IV fiber papers. I did my black and white print training at the International Center of Photography in NYC.

    All that said, if you can get the output you like from your local lab, by all means, keep using them!
    My photos are here: http://www.stuartrichardson.com and more recent work here: http://stuartrichardson.tumblr.com/ Please have a look at my book!
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  14. #14
    Barbusdel
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    Re: Digital B+W Lab Prints

    Well Ben, on reflection perhaps I won't try Ilfor Lab again. The search continues.

  15. #15
    Super Duper
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    Re: Digital B+W Lab Prints

    Hi Stuart,

    Thanks for the offer, I really don't like the look of inkjet prints compared to wet printing and that very much includes the latest baryta stuff. I appreciate the offer though.

    My website has already gone live adverttising my work on Kodak, I'm going to leave it with that for the moment.
    I am not a painter, nor an artist. Therefore I can see straight, and that may be my undoing. - Alfred Stieglitz

    Website: http://www.timelessjewishart.com

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