Scan VS print

Yes, the title of this post looks confusing, because of course scanning is an input process and printing is an output process. Ad it’s even more confusing, as the print needs to be scanned as well… But first things first.

My last development of ISO 3200 Film was quite successful and I was quite surprised by the results. The negatives didn’t look as good as HP5 or TMAX but I thought those could be actually ‘thick’ enough to be enlarged onto paper.

I used this Film (Ilford Delta Professional 3200) for a nightshooting in the Westend of Munich. I had no tripod with me. When I scanned the negatives, there was grain, grain, grain. And grain. But as said, the density looked good so I decided to enlarge some shots to make a comparison between a purely scanned negative and an enlarged, and then scanned 8×10 photo.

I was surprised, not to say shocked about the results. So let’s have look at them:

I think you guessed it, the left picture is the scanned negative and on the right you can see how the paper seems to eat the grain away. The printed version is of course darker and has less dynamic range but looks more appealing to me. You might think I have not properly focussed or I have a bead Lens, but let’s look at the next set:

Again, left scanned, right print. You can clearly see the fine structures of the St. Pauls Church and that the scanned negatives looks really bad and has a lot of burned highlights.

I am really surprised how apparent the film grain can be sen in the scanned negative.

Here I like both versions, but you can clearly see that the levels are not right in the scanned negative.

Here the scan shows an advantage, as more details can be seen. Which is not really an advantage in this graphic shot. :-)

I use a Plustek 7200i scanner for my negatives, scan in 3600dpi at full color and do auto levels in Adobe Photoshop CS4. I then import the tif files into Adobe Lightroom and do final adjustments.

The prints where enlarged on Grade 3 8×10 paper and developed in Rollei RPR. No adjustments where made to the scanned prints.

Conclusion: Even in the age of digital, a handmade print may look more appealing to the eye.

If you have similar experiences to share, feel free to contact me.