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Can you print from slides?
Old 03-01-2006   #1
Kyle
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Can you print from slides?

OK, probably a dumb question, but I haven't done ANY color printing and I'm planning on taking a color photography class next quarter. Is it possible to make prints using slides with color enlargers or should I just stick with color negative film? I'm mainly asking because I have a couple slides I'd like to print myself when I get the hang of color printing.

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Old 03-01-2006   #2
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Ilfochrome

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Old 03-01-2006   #3
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You can print from slides with the proper "color reversal" print materials (which used to be widely available, but not so much any more.) I used to do it. Technically, the process isn't any different from color negative printing, except that you figure the filtration backwards. (When printing from negatives, if your test print is too magenta -- for example -- you ADD magenta to the filter pack. When printing reversal, if your test print is too magenta, you SUBTRACT magenta from the filter pack.)

However, it isn't easy. The big problem is that slides are inherently contrasty, since they're designed to have correct viewing contrast when projected. That means that when you print them, the contrast of the slide adds with the contrast of the paper, and the combination makes it very difficult to hold detail in both the highlight and shadow areas. Since color negative films are designed to be printed, the negative material is set up with very low contrast, so that printing restores the contrast range to normal.

In the past -- and still in the present, for reversal-printing hardcores -- elaborate workarounds abounded for the contrast problem, many of them involving "unsharp masking" (NOT the Photoshop filter -- actually making slightly unsharp, faint "mask negatives" that you'd sandwich with the transparency during printing to control contrast.) Needless to say, this extra step added complexity to the process, and keeping the sandwich of media clean was a huge headache.

As a result of this, and other problems, I feel that nowadays everyone except the aforementioned hardcores has admitted that you get better prints from slides by scanning them in a film scanner, then having your scans printed by either traditional or digital methods.
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Old 03-01-2006   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jlw
You can print from slides with the proper "color reversal" print materials (which used to be widely available, but not so much any more.) I used to do it. Technically, the process isn't any different from color negative printing, except that you figure the filtration backwards. (When printing from negatives, if your test print is too magenta -- for example -- you ADD magenta to the filter pack. When printing reversal, if your test print is too magenta, you SUBTRACT magenta from the filter pack.)

However, it isn't easy. The big problem is that slides are inherently contrasty, since they're designed to have correct viewing contrast when projected. That means that when you print them, the contrast of the slide adds with the contrast of the paper, and the combination makes it very difficult to hold detail in both the highlight and shadow areas. Since color negative films are designed to be printed, the negative material is set up with very low contrast, so that printing restores the contrast range to normal.

In the past -- and still in the present, for reversal-printing hardcores -- elaborate workarounds abounded for the contrast problem, many of them involving "unsharp masking" (NOT the Photoshop filter -- actually making slightly unsharp, faint "mask negatives" that you'd sandwich with the transparency during printing to control contrast.) Needless to say, this extra step added complexity to the process, and keeping the sandwich of media clean was a huge headache.

As a result of this, and other problems, I feel that nowadays everyone except the aforementioned hardcores has admitted that you get better prints from slides by scanning them in a film scanner, then having your scans printed by either traditional or digital methods.
Thanks for the information, thats interesting stuff. Sounds like I probably won't be printing any of my slides. We'll see, though. If I have the time do it towards the end of the quarter, I might try it out just for kicks.
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Old 03-01-2006   #5
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I hereby announce myself as one of those hardcore -- for Ilfochrome/Cibachrome. The process is easy as long as you have a properly exposed and moderate contrast slide. This process, with Ilfochrome polyester-based paper, produces the most astounding colour prints possible. They are worth the effort. If you have any interest, PM me. I can tell you, I have old books that say how to do it, I can tell you what to look for. I have to say I disagree about making comparable prints from digital scane. I have used very high res scans, the best paper, and pro labs, to see if a digital process could match Ilfochrome/Cibachrome. It doesn't. But this process is onlyl worth it for fine-art colour stuff.

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Old 03-01-2006   #6
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I've been scanning a lot of old color slides on my Nikon 5000D into Nikon RAW files (NEF).

I've also been scanning negs (both B&W and color).

Fact is - with the slides the scanner does not seem to be truly digitizing in RAW format the way it does with a digipic - like I would have expected (i.e. like re-shooting the pic - but this time as a digi).

Still working on this - but be aware that slide scanning to digi may not be as easy as we'd like it to be!

Still scanning.....

Last edited by copake_ham : 03-01-2006 at 20:58.
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Old 03-01-2006   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by copake_ham
I've been scanning a lot of old color slides on my Nikon 5000D into Nikon RAW files (NEF).

I've also been scanning negs (both B&W and color).

Fact is - with the slides the scanner does not seem to be truly digitizing in RAW format the way it does with a digipic - like I would have expected (i.e. like re-shooting the pic - but this time as a digi).

Still working on this - but be aware that slide scanning to digi may not be as easy as we'd like it to be!

Still scanning.....
George,
Do you get the same results if you save the scans as TIF or PSD files?

Kyle,
I printed some Cibachromes 10 years ago. I'd rather scan the slide and print from the scan.

R.J.
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Old 03-01-2006   #8
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Actually, I just got some Cibachrome drums and I can't figure out how the caps are supposed to work. Is it one "innie" and one "outie" per drum? Do I pour chemicals in the "innie" end, with the drum tilted so it doesn't run out the "outie" end?
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Old 03-02-2006   #9
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Cibachrome/Ilfochrome is the way to go.

I remmeber printing a lot from my Fuji slide film in the 80s and 90s, it was wonderful to see how Cibachrome handled the reds and greens!
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Old 03-02-2006   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by copake_ham
Fact is - with the slides the scanner does not seem to be truly digitizing in RAW format the way it does with a digipic - like I would have expected (i.e. like re-shooting the pic - but this time as a digi).
Not sure what you mean by this. As long as you're scanning at the same bit depth and resolution, you should get the same quality regardless of the format you use to store the scan files.

There's nothing special about "raw" format itself (in fact, it's not actually a format -- it's just a file that stores unprocessed CCD data for later manipulation.) Being able to manipulate the data later is convenient when shooting photos with a digicam, since it lets you change the image-processing parameters when you get home -- "shoot first and ask questions later," you might say.

With a scanner, there's no particular advantage to it (unless it's handier for your image-storage workflow) since you can change parameters after prescanning, or even rescan the image if you didn't like your first settings.

So if you're not liking the quality of your results, it has to be something other than file format.

I suspect the issue simply may be that, like any analog storage medium, slides lose some information whenever they're translated from one form to another. That happens when you print a slide, and it also happens when the slide's image goes onto the scanner imager for digitization. You lose some information when going from the original scene to the slide, and then some more when going from the slide to the scanner's imager. That's two steps of loss, compared to only one step when shooting with a digital camera (where the image goes straight from the original scene to the imager.)

Scanned color negatives exhibit less such loss because they contain more information than a slide in the first place -- part of the thing I was talking about earlier, the fact that negatives have lower inherent contrast. The fact that the contrast is lower means tones are less likely to be "clipped" when stored on negative film (which is also why slide film is more critical about correct camera exposure.)

So, even though you still lose some information when scanning a negative, just as you do when scanning a slide, you're still left with MORE information because there was more in the first place.

You still can get satisfying results from a scan of a slide -- just don't expect it to look like an original digital capture of the same scene. You have to do a little "interpreting" when scanning a slide to make sure that the limited information available yields the pictoral effect you want -- just as you do when printing via Ilfochrome or any other process.
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Old 03-02-2006   #11
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Ilfochrome/Cibachrome is truly amazing.
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Old 03-02-2006   #12
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I did a few slide prints but contrast is a problem. I let a pro lab do it digitally now...
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Old 03-02-2006   #13
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It only just dawned on me the other day that in all of the discussions about the problems at Ilford, Ilfochrome (Cibachrome) never seemed to get a mention. I'd be intrigued to find out just what sort of a market there is for it these days - it was very popular for home processing 20 years ago. I remember trying it and I actually found it easier than printing colour negatives. The paper packs had recommended filter settings for all of the common films and they were usually remarkably close to what was needed. The biggest problem I found was the delicate nature of the emulsion when it was wet. One slip as you pulled the paper from the drum and the emulsion came off in big lumps leaving a strange blue print behind!

It was never cheap though and when I found that commercially hand made prints were cheaper than doing it myself, I gave up. For anyone in the UK, I can recommend BPD Photech (http://www.bpdphotech.com/). I don't have any connection with them but they have produced some beautiful hand corrected prints for me on Ilfochrome at remarkably low prices in the past.
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