There is a movement towards printing systems in which the negative is
scanned, rather than being optically projected onto the printing paper.
Such systems are not new. Almost 20 years ago a Florida firm offered prints
from slides made this way. And Polaroid adopted it for color-print
copying/enlarging in the mid-80s.
These systems offer real advantages. At the very least, they get rid of the
lens. (There are significant quality differences among the lenses used on
various printers.) They also permit a degree of image manipulation
(sharpening, color correction, etc) not practical with a lens-based system.
(This appears to be why Minox switched to digital scanning and printing.)
And, of course, they allow a single machine to handle both conventional and
Realizing these advantages requires at least 2000dpi scanning, and
preferably 4000dpi, plus well-designed image-analysis algorithms.
(Considering what a poor job most analog printers do, even with spot
analysis, I don't expect much out of the digital units.) I don't see how
such printers could even begin to match the speed of an analog printer. Does
anyone have long-term experience they could share with us?
I found the following comments rather odd...
"Furthermore, I don't WANT anyone imposing THEIR electronic "dodging and
burning" to manipulate print density in regions of my prints to create what
they think somehow looks better... If I want dodging and burning, I'LL
specify what it should be by ordering a custom print from a custom lab. I'm
very suspicious this whole thing runs by a computer algorithm that does not
consider what someone might do with high contrast in lighting for specific
So what? If you want to control the image without "interference" from the
processing, you shoot on slide film or Polaroid materials, or print the
negative yourself. No serious photographer expects a machine print to
properly express his vision of the subject. So why are you complaining about
the machine's attempt to "improve" the print?
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