Help w/ internegative vs. Cibachrome : LUSENET : Large format photography : One Thread

Well I finally got a shot that I thought I might want to get enlarged. I couldn't totally decide by looking at the slide (4x5) on the light box under a loupe, so I decided to pay up to get an 11x14 print to better evaluate. I went with an internegative as it was 1/2 the price of a cibachrome. Frankly, I don't even adequately understand the difference between an internegative and a cibachrome, which may be the root of my issue here.

I got the enlargement back today, and was frankly quite bummed out because *nothing*, that is *nothing*, is in focus. It isn't this way under the loupe, at least not as far as I can tell. The slide looks sharp from near to far (it's a shot of a meadow in the Blue Ridge Mountains on Velvia, 4s @ f45, on a Rodenstock Sironar-S 135mm lens and like I said the slide looks sharp).

Now I'm no great shakes at this but I can't understand how *nothing* could be in focus. So, is it the internegative (i.e. are prints from internegatives inherently softer?), did the printer miss it, or are my evaluative skills in serious need of development? I would appreciate any clues you can give me. Thanks in advance.


P.S. - While we're at it, the slide just visually "pops out" so much more than the print. I've historically shot mostly B&W so this is new to me - is this typical of slides and prints from slides? Thanks again.

-- Chris Werner (, November 09, 2001



Well if everything is tack sharp under the loupe then something must have gone wrong in the interneg process. Let it be known however that having an interneg made (ie. taking a picture of your trannie to produce a neg to print from) introduces another set of lenses and film emusion into the mix before you get your print. Generally, internegs do yeild prints with less detail, sharpness and saturation than the original but they should not look out of focus. Cibachrome (direct print from your trannie) prints tend to produce high contrast but saturated results. There is a long standing debate as to which is better.

However, both processes are surpassed by a good digital scan + lightjet or lamda print. The details of the process vary with each machine but essentially your trannie is scanned, then printed using Red Green and Blue LED's onto photographic paper.

Some people prefer ink jet prints from digital files but they are mostly limited to the CMYK colour gamut which is smaller than the RGB system of the lightjet. However, from what I have been able to figure out - someone please correct me if I'm wrong - ink jets may be able to get more dots per square inch than the lightjet process but the overall effect under a loupe may not be as "smooth"

Either way digital has the advantage of being able to control the highlights and shadows of the original and put it all down on paper. Traditional photographic printing processes tend to short change the ability of film to capture a larger contrast range than photographic paper can reproduce. The computer can reduce the contrast range of the original to fit it all on. Sure, the print will have less "pop" or "punch" than the original but it will be all there to see.

If you really want to hang it on your wall, I recommend investigating the digital options in your area.


-- Dominique Labrosse (, November 09, 2001.

Both internegs and Cibachrome are terrible ways to get a print made from a transparency, especially these days. a better direct from transparency printing method would be to find a lab that prints on Fuji Type R Super Gloss or to go the digital route and find a lab that can print on the Kodak LVT material or a Lightjet print.

I just came from a gallery show of landscape work and saw some gorgeous prints made by Richard Reynolds with an Epson 1280 (4x5 Velvia was scanned on a Kodak pro PhotoCD).

-- Ellis Vener Photography (, November 09, 2001.

as the earliest poster wrote: another digital option is Lambda. Terrific way to get from film to big print.

-- Ellis Vener Photography (, November 09, 2001.


Examine the interneg carefully the same way you examine the chrome. It SHOULD be very sharp as well. If it's not, then they screwed up.

Understand, the print is now a third generation instead of a second generation like having a type R because the interneg is the 2nd generation.

It would be better to have a type R done, many times the lab folks sell you an interneg only to make more money.

Often, an interneg is warranted depending on the exposure and contrast of the chrome, etc. Just make the lab explain exactly why an interneg is warranted for a particular chrome. Make it known, if you're going to pay the extra expense of having another generation made, it better be sharp, dust free, smudge free, and properly exposed. I've seen all too often extremely sloppy work in this area.

You don't shoot large format just to have some careless drone take your effort and flush it down the pipes, so to speak.

-- S Ratzlaff (, November 09, 2001.

Chris: I once went to a so-called pro lab to have a print made via interneg and had the same results as you describe. It stunk!!

It turns out they stuck the 'chrome on a light box and took a picture of it with a Nikon with a Micro-Nikor lens. That in itself is not so bad but they hand-held it and it was no-name drugstore film and they charged me 40 bucks for it. Making an interneg is risky unless they do it right, which would be a same-contact neg on proper interneg film - difficult and time consuming to do.

All the comments about digital are spot on. You may want to have a proper 120 dupe made then take it to a lab using the Fuji Frontier system, where they scan it then print it on proper Fuji RA4 paper with all the controls needed to corect casts or contrast, then print it using lasers thru 3 filters, (I think, but the paper is exposed by laser from a digital file.) I have had prints up to 10x 15 in. that are first class, and the print is only about a buck an inch for the lartgest side;i.e. 15 bucks.

Traditional prints from slides have always been a poor compromise unless you went to Dye TRansfer, which was VERY VERY expensive and is now discontued for all intentes and purposes. The slide is viewed by tranmitted light coming through the dyes to your eye. In order to make a recersal print on paper there must be many layers of chemicals between the refective white surface and your eye. This cuts down the transmission by quite a bit and diffuses the finest details. Chromes make (made!)the best source for reproduction because the printers make 3 colour separations then print using 4 or 6 colour presses. Now a digital file from a Nikon D, Canon digital SLR or Fuji Finepix can just about beat that, and with no wet yucky stuff to contend with.

A 6x6 neg on the newest Chrome film and a Frontier print is just about as good as it gets, certainly asgood as a 4x5 ten yers ago.

An LF camera with a 6x7 back on it can make a billboard size image. But as you know a 4x5 B&W contact print on fibre paper or platinum paper is still the ultimate, right. Cheers


-- RICHARD ILOMAKI (, November 09, 2001.

First off, thanks to everyone for their help.

Second, now I'm feeling a bit stupid and even more irritated at the photo shop. I hadn't actually looked at the internegative until this morning. It never occurred to me that these guys would make a 35mm internegative of a 4X5 chrome - no wonder the print is soft! It also explains the mysteriously poor cropping on the print. They did at least use internegative film. I don't know if this is S.O.P. (i.e., using 35mm rather than a larger internegative) but at least this was only a $15 lesson.

Now my problem is that the guys I went to are the only game in town, so if anyone has a recommendation of a good "mail-order" outfit, I would much appreciate it. Thanks again for all the helpful suggestions.


-- Chris Werner (, November 10, 2001.

To clarify, the camera store here (in Richmond, VA) doesn't have the digital capabilities folks have suggested using.


-- Chris Werner (, November 10, 2001.


You need to do a bit of searching. Actually, there are a number of highly competent (sor supposedly so) labs in the Richmond area that do both conventional and digital work. One that I know a bit about (but neithe ues nor can recommend simply because I hve not used them) is Staples Fine Art:

When I was living in teh DC area I had considered trying them but never had the need. In DC proper there are several labs you might consider. Chrome is the lab I used to ues and the National Geographic lab is superb and open to the public via walk in or mail order.

Good luck

-- Ted Harris (, November 10, 2001.


The Kodak and Fujifilm websites have a lot of info on their various products as well as contact numbers for product support, where you can likely get the neames, addresses & numbers of dealers near you.

You may also try Google or some other search engine for pro photofinishing labs.


-- RICHARD ILOMAKI (, November 11, 2001.

If you want to end up with prints, try color negative film. I tried Ilfochrome, and internegs (and my lab made 4x5 internegs with top quality equipment and charged less than $10)and found the interneg route quite satisfactory. Ilfochrome is contrasty, and it's very difficult to find a lab that can make good 16x20's and do it at a reasonable price. My lab suggested I try color negative, and I have been using it ever since, quite happily. Color negative has several advantages over color positive, not least of which is the very much greater latitude. True, it doesn't give you a spectacular look on a light box, but if it's prints you're after, that's unimportant.

-- Dick Deimel (, November 12, 2001.

I have sent my 4x5 chromes out to Holland Photo in TX (and I live in Boston, MA). They do a very nice job in both machine Cibas and custom prints! Go to the site and see all they do. Very good people at the other end of the phone too!!!

-- Scott Walton (, November 13, 2001.

Chris, some great advise above. But one extra thing I want to add to this since you claim this is your first shot at color LF work. A 4x5 or 8x10 chrome on a light box provides an image quality which could never be reproduced on a print! Period. The closest you can come to reproducing those vivid colors and appeal is using a dye based printer or LJ and print on back lit film and display the image on a back lit window or light box. Most peoples first impression from a perfect print from a LF chrome on a light box is...what went wrong? Nothing went wrong, thats as good as it gets for front lit images!

Of course I am oversimplifying a bit, there is better and worse papers, chemistry, workmanship, etc. However, sharpness should not be one of the differences. If a chrome looks good under a 10x loupe, then a 10x enlargement will look good also. So first fix the technical issues, then see if the final prints meet your expectations, don't be surprised if they don't if your benchmark is a chrome laying on a lightbox....

-- Bill Glickman (, November 13, 2001.

I'm not sure you got the best answer and this is something I've messed with for about 8 years now. The technology has changed in those 8 years but I just finished up 14 20X30 prints for a job and the results are stunning. What you want is a shop that has the newest "light-jet 5000" technology, and what that does is they will make a perfect scan of your chrome, then they will actually expose a piece of Fuji Chrystal Archive light sensitive photographic paper (the same as could be used under an enlarger) with the light jet 5000. After that it gets processed the same way it's always been done in wet Chems. You'll be amazed at the results. I've been bitching because all the new stuff drove the prices up about 50% but the results really are better than anything we had before.

I learned about this new process from a local (to me) guy that is kind of famous for his Eastern Sierra stuff. He had a 40X50 inch print that you could get your eyeball about 12 inches away from and it was still incredibly sharp. I asked him if the original was done in 8X10 format, and he agreed that in past years that was the ONLY way to get a print like that but that with Lightjet 5000 he had accomplished the same or better with an excellent Schneider and 4X5.

I've used a shop in Denver CO for all 8 years called "The Slideprinter," and prints from chromes is all they do. They have consistently made me look good by producing super quality work. When the prices went up this last time because of all the new technology (I had been out of the game for about 2 years) I got pissy and had them send my chromes back to me unprinted. Shopped prices for a week, picked up the phone and called them back to ask if I could send the stuff back to them (called eating crow) because they were still the best price available, and the quality has always been great. They're a tiny mom and pop shop but I see they've finally got a web page started. Give them a try

Stick with chromes. You can look at them and what you see is what you got. Better for the learning curve, and you can make fine prints with them.

Good luck and hope this helps a bit.

-- Jim Galli (, November 14, 2001.

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