Announcement

Collapse
No announcement yet.

4x5 Negs - the heart of a business system

Collapse
X
 
  • Filter
  • Time
  • Show
Clear All
new posts

  • G. Couch
    replied
    Jim - Good point about scanners. You certainly do not need a high end scanner if you mostly just scan small prints. The extra resolution would be overkill and even low end scanners can see all the detail in a print. The only limitation is size. You obviously can't scan a large photo or painting with a small flatbed. Your only option then, is to either purchase a scanner with a larger bed, shoot a negative or use a digital back camera. The question of which option has a lot to do with the type of business, expertise of employees and the nature of the other equipment in the work-flow. Certainly for your business, the 4x5 negs are the best option, given your familiarity with the format, high quality level your customer's demand and the low cost (compared to a "high-end" digital system).

    As far as businesses doing photo restoration and retouching, I doubt there are many out there doing only that. At the lab I worked for restoration was just a small part of a larger business. (that did close to 1 million a year in sales). The high end equipment they had on hand certainly was overkill in some situations but there were times, when for example the local museum needed large images copied, that the equipment was a necessity.

    Glad the fishing is good!

    Leave a comment:


  • Jim Conway
    replied
    No spin zone?

    For anyone who digs into this thread at some future date, I want to add another note I think may further reduce the apparent conflicts in opinions. It's about money! I had my attorney son check D&B for "Photo Retouching and Restoration" firms doing more than 100,000 annually and apparently there are not more than a hand full that have a D&B rating. Also checked on those doing over a million annually (who could actually afford to buy or rent the type of equipment suggested earlier that is needed for HQ digital work) and the only ones that are rated high enough are in the motion picture restoration business. (mostly going film to film not prints to film) Perhaps others here know of others that would be of valid interest to restorers, I for one would like to hear about them.

    On the use of negatives, I found this to be a very simple explanation (excerpt's borrowed from the article) - "The only purpose for film is to be enlarged. Photo prints and print grains were not designed to be enlarged. The negative being the "master" version and the print being a relative poor copy of the master. If you have to start with the customers print as most photo restorers do, the reason for making a negative is to retain the pertinent detail of the original and add whatever "missing detail" that you intend to reestablish into the image to an enlarged version of it. The reason you should deliver that negative directly to your customer is to assure that, if they want additional prints in the future, they don't have to start the process all over again with anything less than a master."

    So, just an opinion, but if you don't like the idea of making real negatives and you don't have a high end scanner you are still capable of doing high quality work with the majority of distressed original prints that I see. In fact, using an expensive scanner at it's optimum performance would be overkill (like making photo murals for traditional art work prints), collecting more garbage than image detail. Scanning film is the miracle you seek, but it's not film that you have! (can anyone post a small section of an image from a distressed old wallet size photo scanned on their 30K machine that proves otherwise?) If I'm right about that, you can substitute "large digital file" for "negative" in the writers statements in the paragraph above with little problem so most of us end up very close to being on the same page after all.

    Jim Conway

    BTW fishing is great - best in decades!

    Leave a comment:


  • Jim Conway
    replied
    That link is a long one and I only got the first part of it in my post.
    I'll try again ...

    http://cgi.ebay.com/ws/eBayISAPI.dll...tem=1359583187

    It will be up for another two days and is worth a look by anyone who had an interst in this thread.

    Jim C

    Leave a comment:


  • thomasgeorge
    replied
    Thanks for the link and info. Tom

    Leave a comment:


  • Jim Conway
    replied
    Try this link on Ebay

    http://cgi.ebay.com/ws/eBayISAPI.dll?

    or do a search for Item # 1359583187 That MP4 will probably go for under $300.00. Then add the cost of a 12 sheet 4x5 tank a few holders and chemistry and you are in for about $45.00 more and no upgrades ever needed in your lifetime! :-)

    I would recommend this as a starting point - and sticking to your digital output for the rest if that is what you are doing now. If you want to add fiber base printing, farm it out until you see if you get enough business to justify another $7K for a complete lab setup (and probably a remodel on a portion of your house).

    About color - no different - I still make 4x5 negs but farm out the processing. I'm also experimenting with color separation with black and white negs and going to the computer for combining the final result - interesting possibilities there!

    I use the 4x5 neg as a leader and only charge $14.95 (low in most places). Prices go up up when the job is complex - and I charge $39.50 for a color neg. Skill level required to make negatives? Not much talent needed once you zero in on your exposures and film types. It's all time and temp developing.

    Jim Conway

    Leave a comment:


  • thomasgeorge
    replied
    Jim, what would you estimate it would cost an individual to get the equipment to begin taking and developing 4x5 copy negatives, cameras, lighting,what type of stand, what type of darkroom equipment and so on, and what is an average charge to the customer on a per negative basis?
    Plus, what about color vs BW...cost differences, developing cost differences and amount of skill required? Thanks, Tom

    Leave a comment:


  • Jim Conway
    replied
    Reading responses is as much fun as fishing!

    This thread went far enough off track that I think it may be appropriate for me to try to clear up a few mistaken ideas created by assumptions along the way.

    Every business has to have a central theme - like "Ford Tough" or it won't succeed. In Timemark, it's "Museum Quality". And, the central "technical point" (or heart) of that theme is the 4x5 negative. Being against something because it's "old fashion" or "for something" because it's old or new has little merit in a workable business theme over any period of time.. You'll have to define your businesses in billboard terms to raise awareness or fall into that 90% that fail in the first two years or even worse, hang on for years on starvation income. Think about it!

    Why do we use negatives and not scanners. We don't! That is an unwarranted assumption made by a few here - we make negatives FIRST. The reason is simple, it's so that I'm not restricted by the size or shape of the original. It opens business opportunities because it allows me to take in a very wide variety of work - 40x60's are as easy to handle here as a sub-wallet size print. If your choice is to use digital printing instead of using a wet lab, negatives offer a very consistent source of data for scanning. I don't think you have to do it, it's just an option you should be aware of if you are in this business..

    My being a Conservator has nothing to do with this either - this is coming from the business side of C&R work. - the simplicity of handling a wide variety of work with the repeatability of the successes is what is important!. The longevity of the negatives that I can hand my client is a bonus! The Mylar base on sheet film that is virtually indestructible by time is "conservator talk" - so is "human readable" and "silver fast toning" and they add to the sales theme, but the question from the customer is always the same - "Do I get to kept it!" Yes Virginia, they do care!

    Everything we do here is NOT "traditional" art. I don't think there is any way that you can beat computer retouching when you are mixing text with an image (such as photos of the old battleships in WWII.) . As I've told some of you from private inquiries, ScanForce in New York is doing most of my digital retouching and any of you that have read my help wanted ad in this forum know what my specs are for out-servicing assignments.

    On when and what negatives? In traditional work, it's neg to work print, the art work on both, then a 2nd gen neg is made for final printing. The system that started in 1840 still works well! If you want top quality, make the work prints larger than the intended final prints. If you are using the computer for retouching, it's negative to scanner, the art work and back to a negative via a film recorder or, as most of you are doing, skip the film recorder and go directly to printing. Big files for neg to negs, smaller for printing, even smaller for screen viewing. Nothing new here, visualize your Grand Dad and his 8 mm movie screen, Ansel Adams and his fine art prints. Would either of them have gotten what they wanted if you switched film sizes on them?

    On digital backs - I would be using the same camera and the same lights, have the same labor cost in the same amount of space. The difference in adding a digital back at a cost of around $30,000 amortized over a 36 Mo. period would be to increase my expenses by about $1,400 a mo. requiring somewhere around a $6,500 a month increase in sales. (excluding cost of buying market share) to break even. With it, I could close one 10x10 darkroom and with the darkroom gone, I would cut my options on the type of prints that I can offer my clients while I'm trying to pay off that loan! They are great and I would love to own one but, in the here and now, they are not a viable option in a small copy business.

    It's too bad we do not have a separate section in this forum for traditional methods. Perhaps it would end the urge to mix apples with digital oranges to look for useful tools in their own place. Many of you would be surprised at the "old" ways, how successful the techniques can be employed with the new electronic aids we have today and how much your own work could be enhanced by knowing a little more about them. Without it perhaps Jennie is right, I may be in the wrong place!

    And finally, the REAL SECRET to my success? I'm next door to a real old fashion bakery (in business since 1932) and the aroma of fresh home baked bread, donuts and apple pies fills the building! Now what does that do for nostalgic instincts? My clients always come in smiling! :-)

    Jim Conway

    Leave a comment:


  • Vikki
    replied
    Jim
    I'm not sure of the details of your past associate, but I guess if I were in your shoes, I'd find someone that was digital media* savy, and teach him your complete traditional process. Once this person learned your process, and the quality requirements, then direct the individual to investigate the digital options available that would meet your standards. If the digital thing isn't feasible at present, you would still have someone who knew your process, and could carry on for you.
    *I say "media" savy as opposed to Photoshop, as I think you need someone who is aware of technology advancements, not just Photoshop.
    Have you thought about local universities (photography departments)? There are many that have mentor/co-op/temp programs, that would let you work with some fresh minds (and ideas), at reasonable prices, without committments.

    Leave a comment:


  • Ron
    replied
    Ed_L

    You’re absolutely right! There is a growing desire to get in touch with and preserve our roots.

    My sad attempt to poke fun at serious professionals was tasteless and inappropriate and I apologize to all the members.

    I just felt that very few members would have the resources to get into $10,000.00 plus systems. I know many of you are dedicated hard working professionals and a higher level of capital investment is required. However, I suspect that most (like me) find buying Photoshop a major investment.
    This is a great site. I love the personal interaction, the wealth of information and interesting challenges. Someday (with practice) maybe I could make this a paying proposition myself, but if it wasn't for digital I'd never get the opportunity.

    Leave a comment:


  • Gerry Monaghan
    replied
    4x5 Negs

    Aren't we in business to offer services and goods?
    Photo Restoration is anything we can do to move an image into the future.
    If that means selling good RC prints and CDs then so be it.
    The more services we offer the more we bill.
    The more products we offer, the more we bill.
    Not every image is worthy of a neg.
    I can't see any room for my mark-up on film output.
    I am offering film output in my pricelist and brochure, but my clients are much more pedestrian.
    Film is an important part of photo preservation.

    Mr. Conway, could you help us understand, are you doing state archive work? Or something of that level where your clients are, to use a word you have used, industrial?
    Gerry

    Leave a comment:


  • Jakaleena
    replied
    Originally posted by G. Couch


    You obviously have very high standards for your work and seem to be very disappointed in the results you have achieved with a $10k investment in digital methods. My only reaction is, what made you think $10k would get you the quality you desire? When the lab I worked for switched over to digital they made an investment of close to $500,000. That included a Light Jet printer, digital back camera, Eversmart Pro scanner, etc...
    The last place I worked that actually installed a digital department where there was none previously spent approximately the same amount on equipment. The scanner alone had a price tag of about $20k (an Imacon Drum Scanner).

    Leave a comment:


  • G. Couch
    replied
    Originally posted by Jim Conway
    Vikki - After numerous interviews, I brought in a "photoshop expert" as an "associate" to set up the digital end of the business with no intent on my part to learn any more than I already know. - I gave him the money to get what was needed (a business transaction not really a gift, the workstation was suppose to pay) and I ended up with what I have......

    ....Everybody is telling me what I need to "change" or how I can do better with more expensive digital equipment. Do "what" better I guess is my question?

    This thread was started because I was requested to give some info on MY use of 4x5 negatives .... not an inquiry for me to learn how to make them some other way.
    I think your explanation of how 4x5 negs are the "heart" of your business is a good one. It sounds like you have a successful business and the traditional approach not only works for you as far as being profitable, but it gives you the quality and high standard your customers expect.

    As Doug and Tom have pointed out, there are advantages and disadvantages to both traditional and digital. One of the disadvantages to digital is cost. In order to get "museum quality" you have to invest a great deal of money in the proper equipment. If your business is large enough, it makes sense, because an all digital workflow is fast, efficient and can be of VERY high quality.

    You obviously have very high standards for your work and seem to be very disappointed in the results you have achieved with a $10k investment in digital methods. My only reaction is, what made you think $10k would get you the quality you desire? When the lab I worked for switched over to digital they made an investment of close to $500,000. That included a Light Jet printer, digital back camera, Eversmart Pro scanner, etc... The quality level of the resulting work often surpassed more traditional methods. Now, most people can not afford an investment like that and have no real need to. I noticed you mentioned you use Epson scanners... I love my Epson but I would not in a million years expect an Epson scanner to give me museum quality results.

    I guess my point is, 4x5 negs work for your business and you have no real need to "go digital". Like Vikki, I sense a certain amount of negativity in a lot of your posts toward digital, probably due to the less than satisfactory results you have been able to attain...but just because you have not had the greatest experience, does not mean digital is not very capable of high quality. It just does not fit your business.

    P.S. Hope you catch lots of fish!

    Leave a comment:


  • Ed_L
    replied
    Sorry Ron, but I think you're out voted on whether or not people are interested in keeping an image alive for generations. I have a couple of pretty old prints (copies) starting from around the mid 1850's of family members. These, of course, are of people I never knew. But having them is priceless to me. I have several of family members who died before I was born, as well as many who I knew at one time in my younger years. Hopefully, when I'm long gone, someone else will treasure them.

    Ed

    Leave a comment:


  • Ed_L
    replied
    Yes I'm still following this interesting thread, and I'm trying to make sense out of all that's been said. I think part of the problem is that we might be talking about different things .... original negatives vs. original prints. As Doug pointed out, the original print won't gain any more information than is already contained in it regardless of how it is duplicated. A negative, on the other hand, could easily show a significant difference when scanned on a run of the mill flatbed, or copied on 4 X 5 film. Another thing that might come into play is that Jim is looking at it as a conservator, while the rest of us are looking at it as restoration artists. I'm not qualified to say whether or not very high end digital techniques/equipment are capable of grabbing as much detail as a 4 X 5 neg, but I do think that if it's not, it won't be long in coming. In my personal opinion, I agree with Jim when he said that the traditional copy methods have been proven over time, and digital is too young to have been time tested as yet. So I think there's room for both to live comfortably side by side. Then there's always the other side ... money. There are a lot of people who can't/won't pay extra for having prints or negs made that will last two or three hundred years. There are also people who can't see the difference between very high (museum) quality and moderate quality, and most people refuse to pay for something they can't see. In their mind, if they can't see it, it just doesn't exist. Everyone who posted on this thread had some important points, and they should not be brushed aside just because it's not the way we do (or want to do) things. This is how we learn.

    Ed

    Leave a comment:


  • Jakaleena
    replied
    Originally posted by Jim Conway
    I don't usually respond to insults but just to clear the record, he reinlisted in the Navy for a 40 grand bonus.
    No insult was intended, Jim... I'm sorry.

    Please accept my apologies.
    Last edited by Jakaleena; 06-01-2002, 02:10 PM.

    Leave a comment:

Related Topics

Collapse

  • christo
    Digital Vs Analog
    by christo
    I have been a traditional 35mm photographer for more than 30 years. I have a large sum of money invested in cameras, lenses and other equipment, so I have not jumped on the digital bandwagon. I did get into converting my analog prints into digital and am very comfortable with PhotoShop. Most of the...
    04-19-2005, 03:45 PM
  • Gerry Monaghan
    Trad. Photo Printing from Digital Slides?
    by Gerry Monaghan
    Has anyone had any experience with getting traditional photo lab prints made from slides created digitally? Do higher resolution files produce better slides or is it all fat after 600 dpi? Then there is the issue of internegs from those slides. My guess is the whole process gets contrasty and muddy....
    04-22-2002, 08:20 AM
  • thomasgeorge
    Film recorders
    by thomasgeorge
    John, do you do any work with film transfer devices? I was wondering how the negatives come out from this process as regards prints or scans made from them. Thanks, Tom
    03-02-2002, 06:47 AM
  • christo
    Transition
    by christo
    I have been a traditional 35mm SR person for more than 30 years, and have a small fortune invested in lenses, lighting, flash units, strobe slaves, light meters, and other associated equipment. I have an Epson 3200 Perfection Photo Scanner, and until recently have been happy with using the existing...
    01-13-2008, 06:46 AM
  • quarte
    Future of picture developing
    by quarte
    Hi there,

    My girlfriend is really into photography and she wants to open a photography shop (developing films, selling cameras, etc).
    But i wonder how many years more we will get films developed? Everybody seems to be going digital ... and sending pics by e-mail is not a difficult...
    11-06-2003, 06:00 PM
Working...
X