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Printing methods direct or scan


Well-Known Member
Most of the good photo labs offer two methods to produce moderately large (11x14 to 16x20) prints. 1. Directly from transparency. 2. Scan the transparency and then make print from scan. I understand that the 2nd method is necessary if you intend to manipulate the image using software (photoshop etc.) before printing. If that is not your intent, is there an advantage to one method over the other as far as print quality is concerned? Thanks for your input.
Mike Blume


Hi Mike,

I think you will be lucky to find a lab who is still doing direct enlarger prints from chromes, because (to the best of my knowledge) nobody produces R-type printing paper anymore. There was a notice to this effect in the main Metro lab in London and on I've seen mention of a similar turn of events with labs in the States.

You can get very good quality prints via the digital route, but depending upon the scan quality you may find that you can see evidence of digitisation in the final print. Most people feel that the benefits (easy application of sharpening, good colour and ability to manipulate the tonality of the print very accurately) outweight the penalties but to get the best possible results you should accept no substitute for a drum scan, especially if are starting off with a low-key image on the chrome. In terms of final output you probably should be looking at Lambda or Iris prints (which are C-type wet prints exposed by a digital "writer" rather than an enlarger).


-= mike =-


Well-Known Member
>Last I heard, Cibachrome (or its successor product) is still available for high quality direct prints from transparencies. Re Iris prints: They are not wet photographic prints, but very high quality ink jet prints that come out of a printer that costs many thousands of dollars. Don't know what a Lambda print is. Fuji Crystal Archive is a wet process photo paper that is exposed by lasers driven by digital computer files. Crystal Archive makes great prints either from digital media or from scanned negatives. I don't know if it can also be exposed directly through a color negative.


Lambda is the use of RGB laser on wet process photo paper. Excellent quality and it prints at 200dpi yielding larger prints from smaller files so professional scanning costs may be considerably lower. A 16" x20" print on a Lambda only requires a 37MB file versus an 83MB file on a 300dpi printer. And a 30"x40" print requires 138MB file versus 309MB at 300dpi. If you're paying for scans based on MB's that can make a big difference! Definitely photo quality.



Hi all,

Seems I had that backwards re Iris and Lambda prints, sorry for the confusion.

-= mike =-