Digital Printing Links : LUSENET : Leica Photography : One Thread

I have been using Leica M mostly with slides for four years. I am very happy with the quality if the chromes I achieve. I do not want to go back to colour negatives which often disppointed and were a pain to store, although I have shot some black and white recently, mainly for low light and to avoid colour shift.

I have no darkroom, and honestly, decided that I did not have sufficient time to get into developing and printing myself. So I went digital. My experiences to date are not good. I use Nikon 2000, Epson 1270 and Photoshop. I seem to achieve good scans (50 MB) files but no decent prints, even at the relatively small sizes. Some 150x100 (6x4)prints are more or less OK but even then looking closely I can see the grain. I am surprised that some people are claiming that they achieve good results with this type of equipment up to 300x200 (12x8). I am also lost as to how to proceed with my B&W. Should I scan just like colour and print with B&W ink, or should I desaturate in Photoshop. I tried doing the latter but ended up with a very small file and a bad print. Whatever I try I end up with a worse solution with B&W than with colour (the films I am using are Provia 100F and TMax 400, but I do not expect that this would be an issue here).

Can someone please point me to some useful links /sources to sharpen up on my technique and maybe understand if I am going wrong somewhere? Thanks in advance for your help.

-- Brent Dee (, February 08, 2002


If you have not yet developed the film you may be able to turn them into .dr5 and get black and white chromes (slides) back. I love black and white and always shot velvia to get the chrome. Now I use much less expensive films and still get chromes, black and white chromes at that. Check out the site at:

-- Rob Schopke (, February 08, 2002.

Sorry I meant Scala not Velvia.

-- Rob Schopke (, February 08, 2002.

The whole arena of image scanning and digital printing tends to require a more systems-oriented approach to get consistently good results, I think.

First on the list is monitor calibration (Photoshop has a tool to help with that), then comes the scanning software and the controls it provides. A numbe of folks I've talked to consider the Nikon Scan software to be less than optimal, shall we say. You might look into the SilverFast plug-in for Photoshop (not sure if they support the LS-2000, though) or VueScan from Hamrick (an inexpensive program that gets good comments). To get good printed output, you really need to look into setting up and calibrating color profiles. These will be different than what is used for screen displays for images, so switching back and forth will be necessary. The LS-2000 should be able to scan your B&W negatives by using the filmstrip adapter. It is best to scan in RGB, however, rather than grayscale, and convert/desaturate in Photoshop, but leaving the image as an RGB. Grayscale images have fewer bits, and are limited to a palette of 256 shades, which often results in banding for subtle tonal differences such as on a seamless backdrop.

In general, it is best to scan at the highest resolution possible on the scanner, and then adjust the image size in Photoshop. Always save the original scan as a TIFF or Photoshop image, not JPEG. Even at the highest setting, JPEG will compress the image somewhat, and lose detail. If downsizing, do the downsizing in multiple steps, using Photoshop's unsharp mask tool in between steps.

For good B&W prints off the Epson, you might look into the special ink sets available for that purpose. By default, the Epsons combine colors to create blacks and dark tones, so the B&W prints often leave a lot to be desired. One inkjet supplier that gets recommended frequently is MIS Associates. There are also plenty of resources on digital printing that you'll find by doing a search on Google or your favorite search engine.

-- Ralph Barker (, February 08, 2002.

I agree completely with Ralph. There's a lot to making digital work right. It's no different than in the past, where just buying the right enlarger and lens, a good timer, and a few trays didn't mean you would get great prints for the first year.

There are a lot of good digital resources on the net. There are also some excellent books, although they tend to be aimed at Photoshop usage. Good Photoshop usage is, however, a prerequesite to good results. Most people don't even sharpen correctly.

Here's some websites:

Adobe tutorials

Computer Darkroom

Creative Pro

Digital Dog

Norman Koren

Dan Margulis


And some books:

Adobe Photoshop for Photographs by Martin Evening

Adobe Photoshop Master Class by John Paul Caponigro

Photoshop Retouching and Restoration by Katrin Eismann

All the books should be available from Amazon.

-- Jeff Spirer (, February 08, 2002.

I concur fully with the last couple of posts. I've now been using a Mac w/ PS6, & Epson 1280 w/ a Linotype high end scanner for about 18 mths. I had years of prior darkroom experience & had become a relatively good printer. My first year of being darkroom free was a struggle, to say the least. I was frustrated w/ PS6, my results printing were on & off, etc. I was disappointed.

But in time I became better & better. I bought several books on PS. I calibrated my monitor with my printer. I learned how to scan properly, how to use Genuine Fractals, & how to set the correct dpi when printing. My work now is far better than any darkroom work I did in the past. The control using PS6 & the Epson is amazing. The quality of the images is equivalent to my earlier darkroom work, & to my amazement, far better when the images are marginal. The creative possibilities blow away the old silver process.

But there's a definite learning curve, much like you'd expect w/ any craft worth knowing. I think now that much of the frustration that people encounter initially is from high expectations that there'll be a tiny learning curve. And that isn't the case...

Expect digital printing to be another craft, & not a particularly easy one, if your standards are high at all. Be patient. There's a payoff that makes the time investment more than worthwhile!

-- Patrick (, February 08, 2002.


Black and white is not so simple in digital. Firstly Photoshop can only produce 256 shades of gray compared to 16,777,216 colors for color, so desaturating to convert a color b&w scan to b & w does not necessarily help. Then the conventional Epson inks are very "chalk and coal" (high contrast) due to the way the driver and the single black cartridge works. Most people think you need a different 6 or 4 color set of inks which means the piezography system or MIS or Lyson type inks. These use different shades of black to accomplish the 256 shades, and they are by all accounts much better, but you still have to worry as to whether they are archival, the right tone for you (piezo seem to always sepia or very warm toned), they might clog the nozzles, metameric AND you still only get the 256 tones. Often I have to agree that 8 bit output seems to be fine, but I still think that b & w is not so trivial and I often argue that having a conventional, darkroom might in the long road easier if you can bear to spend your time in the dark.

-- Robin Smith (, February 08, 2002.

I agree with the above posts but would also highly recommend Photoshop 6 Artistry-Mastering the Digital Image which I think is the best book on digital image processing. I agree that the key is in using good scanner software and a calibrated work flow. Get a product like Monaco EZ Color 2 which will allow you to calibrate and profile your monitor, scannner, and create profiles for each ink/paper combination. Remember that "sky blue" is represented by digital devices as a bunch of 1's and 0's. What the scanner means by "sky blue" is different than what the monitor/video card may mean, and each paper/ink will produce the color differently. The profiles act a s "translators" between the devices so that you end up printing what something that is close to what you see on your slide and on your monitor. I think the NikonScan software is pretty bad. If you can afford it get Silverfast ( They now make an inexpensive LE version. It gives you much more control over scanning. Scan at the highest resolution possible and save the scan as a "digital negative" on a CD or something. Then change the resolution and print size in Photoshop for each application.

-- Steve Rosenblum (, February 08, 2002.

I do "fine art" black and white printing with a digital printer. The results are beautiful. I use Lyson Small Gamut inks with an Espon 1160. For black and white, the 1160 and 3000 are generally preferred printers.

You can get far more than 256 tones with the Lyson SG inks. It's important to see what can be done before poo-pooing it.

-- Jeff Spirer (, February 08, 2002.

Thank you all for your comments and suggestions. I will persevere. Just one follow on question: I had up to now not considered the importance of the scanning software. I would just scan at standard maximum settings (16 bit, 2700 pixels) and go straight to Photoshop to make adjustments. What am I missing here and what can the scanner software do that Photoshop can not?

-- Brent Dee (, February 10, 2002.

Moderation questions? read the FAQ