Thoughts on the perfect scan - is it that important?

Started 5 months ago | Discussions thread
Neil-O Regular Member • Posts: 431
Re: Agree for B&W

Olifaunt wrote:

Neil-O wrote:

Sifting through colour negative prints has been a deflating experience. Almost without exception I find the scanned negatives, on reflection, to be a poor representation. It makes no difference whether it's a lab scan or my own, comparing scanned negatives to chromogenic prints is just no contest.

This is true.

The trigger for me to go back to film 3 years ago was one day when I stumbled upon my long-ignored stacks of envelopes of my old wet prints from the 90s.

In those prints I saw lifelike color, tone, and dynamic range that I hadn't seen in my digital images in 15 years. I used a cheap point and shoot and never thought for a second about exposure except for fill-in flash. A good lab did the rest. Back then you discarded pictures because someone's eyes were closed or something, because technically they were all pretty much guaranteed to be fine.

You can get a some of this back in good scans. Never quite exactly, because they will for the most part be sRGB (smaller gamut) and displays are not paper, but still usually pleasing. It is hard to find labs today that will give you scans as good as those prints were in the 90s. And to get good scans at home, you really need a good eye.

Browsing the internet over the last few weeks I notice how many pro landscape photographers have migrated to digital, for example Joe Cornish and Charlie Waite who might not be known worldwide, but to UK amateurs are pretty much household names.  I was astonished to discover both these guys, who for so long have been associated with medium and large format film, are both solidly digital now.  I do wonder if the demise of chromo printing services is one reason for this.  It might not have been the case say five years ago, but with modern digital equipment it is just so much easier now to get a commercially acceptable result.

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