High End 20 X 30 prints from chromes? Who? Which?

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I'm doing a job that requires 14 20X30 prints from chromes. I had a lot of these done about 3 years ago on type R fuji paper at a cost of about $55 each. When I quoted the current job, I added about 20% to that to be "safe". Well the digital revolution caught up to me. Prices have increased dramatically for high end prints because of the need to digitize the positives. You're paying for a technician to scan and correct but you don't get the file that you're paying them to make! I'm referring to the Cymbolic Sciences Lightjet 5000 digital exposure method of traditional materials. Fuji Chromira/ Crystal archive papers.

This has raised several questions;

1. Pass on some good experiences with who is doing a nice job with making high end quality prints this size from chromes?

2. Who's still doing a nice job the traditional way in the dark at a fair price? include contrast masks?

3. Should I do them myself with Cibachrome materials. I've never done a cibachrome, but as always I'm not afraid to dive in?

Thanks in advance! I'll check back often to answer questions about what I forgot to ask! Jim Galli

correct address is jimgalli@sierra.net

-- Jim Galli (jimgalli@sandia.gov), July 16, 2001


Jim, where are you located? We still have cibachromes made (by a few labs) the old fashioned way....feel free to email me if you want. Offhand, i would say to find a lab to do it for you, printing cibabchromes is really something of a craft all to itself....but, a 20x24 isn't really that big...so finding a lab might not be that tough.

-- DK Thompson (kthompson@moh.dcr.state.nc.us), July 16, 2001.

Holland Photo does decent work. www.hollandphoto.com

-- Scott Walton (f64sw@hotmail.com), July 16, 2001.

Sorry I can't ask your questions about traditional processes, but:

Jim, scanning should incurr a one-time fee. If the place that scans for you is not giving you the file they scanned, then go someplace else! There are many "pro" places that scan LF and give you a CDROM with the scanned file. Once this is out of the way, the cost per print decreases quite a bit, not to mention you now have a copy in digital format that can be used for later re-printing.

-- Edward Kang (ekang@cse.nd.edu), July 16, 2001.

Thanks for that start. I'm in Tonopah, Nevada, right in the middle of the state, about halfway between Las Vegas and Reno. I'm very remote as far as professional services and thus sometimes it makes sense to get on the learning curve and do it myself. I'm also handy with a credit card and the USPS. J

-- Jim Galli (jimgalli@sierra.net), July 16, 2001.

Jim: Check out West Coast Imaging. www.westcoastimaging.com I have used their "commercial" service and gotten excellent results from well exposed chromes. I think if you calculate the discounted price on reprints (20x30 drops to $50 then $35 after 10 prints) you can come in within budget.

-- Glenn C. Kroeger (gkroeger@trinity.edu), July 16, 2001.

for the LF CTs that i submit to the library of congress, i have completely converted over to digital prints. i have found that scanning the CT and making a digital print on crystal archive (FUJI), yeilds a much finer print than you can get from any reversal paper. large prints from these scans are simply superb.

-- jnorman (jnorman@teleport.com), July 16, 2001.

Jim, I could offer up a few labs here in the southeast that make good cibachromes, but if I were you, I'd try to find one as close as possible...but just as J Norman has posted, we've had the same experiences...although the lab we use most for printing CTs now uses a Fuji Pictrography unit....the separation and detail of the prints is incredible, however, the actual material itself probably has the lifespan of decent c-print. Crystal Archive, or the SFA3 papers are pretty highly recommended for LE though. I've found that fewer & fewer labs in our area are still making cibachromes, although there are at least 2 really good ones. FWIW, we still have murals and backlit transp. made on ciba material as well. I don't think any of these labs would fit your budget though, most repro Ilfochrome Classic prints cost around $100 or so for a 24x30. A rapid print will be cheaper, but it's not the same material.

-- DK Thompson (kthompson@moh.dcr.state.nc.us), July 16, 2001.

Crystal Archive-creative name. Now, that the digital file to output gig is down, why can't the manufacturers come up with a paper that is more matte, more like traditional glossy air-dried fiber base paper in texture, feel-or better. This is one thing I like about inkjet printing-the image on a smooth, matte paper like Epson Archival Matte has a superb aesthetic of its own. I've seen small samples of this new color digital output and the paper seems like photofinishing paper to me. What else is ava

-- David Stein (DFStein@aol.com), July 16, 2001.

Thanks to everyone who answered! Cheers to a great group.

Turns out after wasting a whole bunch of time that the original folks that I sent these to have the best price, and I know I can trust their quality.

The print-from-chrome industry changeover is complete. Absolutely no one does these prints the traditional way with an enlarger in the dark.

So while I predicted that the computer would cheapen the intrinsic value of color pictures (which it has) it has also doubled and tripled the cost of getting them made! All-in-all I have a bad taste in my mouth for color projects. Doing cibachromes myself may be worth looking into, but about the time I would get good at it, all the materials will probably be obsolete and non-available because of...........................the computer.

Regards! Jim

-- Jim Galli (jimgalli@sierra.net), July 17, 2001.

Jim, trad. cibas aren't gone yet...there's a large lab right down the road that makes ciba murals...and our mural lab down in Atlanta does the same, and can beat out quotes from lightjet labs . The finished product looks great as well...when you can still order a 4x8 cibatrans or print for less than half the cost of a digital one, it's still attractive.

As far as making them yourself, if you were looking at 8x10s or 11x14s, I'd say try it out, but a 24x30 is going to be a big project in and of itself. Unless you can find a used processor out there someplace now. That Omnipro model Ilford had (it was made by Kreonite for them), would run both b&w and Ciba in the same machine. It was a little longer on the b&w than the reg. models, like 90 sec dry to dry, but it had a "gate" that would bypass some of the ciba steps for b&w...you could alternate sheets of both materials...but, then it's a Kreonite roller transport proc. as well...it may still be in production, I'm not sure, but there are alot of independent repair places for Kreonite equipment, whereas with just Ilford processors, you usually have to deal direct with them (we do)...

I don't think Cibas are dead yet either, there's a similar color microfilm material Ilford makes as well. CA prints are rated better than any other RA4 material, but Cibas are supposed to be the best still for dark storage...of course this is sort of nit picky in a way, when it comes down to actually using the prints.

-- DK Thompson (kthompson@moh.dcr.state.nc.us), July 17, 2001.

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