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Film to Digital Darkroom General Workflow


Hello All!

As this is a somewhat general question about "film to digital" darkrooms, I thought it may be worth its own thread.

I'm wondering if anyone has a similar setup, or similar experiences, especially about profiling of the scanner, the CRT/LCD, and the printer, and the printed results, in a film to digital 'lightroom'. Perhaps we can share some notes in this forum.

I am a digital darkroom novice, so in theory at least, I'm sure I'm making a lot of 'greenhorn' errors.

BACKGROUND: My 'lightroom' major players are:

Epson V750M Flatbed SCANNER with Silverfast, Apple 24" iMac Intel 2.33GHz Core 2 Duo COMPUTER OS X 10.4.8, 2GB SDRAM, and an Epson R2400 PRINTER. Also a 500GB HD external, etc.

I am really happy with my hardware.

The software is PS CS2, with Bridge, Aperture, or Lightzone available. As early as this is in my learning curve, I am not fully 'into' the Bridge, Aperture or Lightzone (although LZ is very intriguing...)

I still shoot film for my 'real' fine art work - either Fuji chromes or Ilford Delta 100 Pro. (I do use a Leica for RAW digital at times, but I am more interested in the entire workflow from pos/neg to print.) My scanned files are enormous, but I have the computer firepower to handle it.

FIRST QUESTION: Am I on the right track with Profiles.

I use the latest Epson profiles for the scanner. I profile/calibrate the LCD with my Macbeth Eye-One D2. And as I have only used various Epson papers so far, I use Epson downloaded .icc printer profiles.

SECOND QUESTION: When I calibrate the LCD (weekly), it gives me a (current dated) 'profile'. When I scan using Silverfast 6Ai inside the PS CS2, the scanned file is in the LCD's 'dated' profile, but not the 'working space' (which I use as RGB). Am I supposed to change the file to the 'working space' at this first 'save' opportunity? If I do, do I lose the LCD profile 'correct viewing'? Do I work all through my Levels, Adjustments, Crop etc, and then finally go to RGB? Or what? :) I seem to have the color-management print instructions working OK.

That's enough to start a thread, perhaps. I might add that I have been getting some pretty good (beginner's luck) results by trial and error, up to 12x12 and 12x16, using 13x19 paper (Epson Gloss and Semi Gloss). I did a 10 picture portolio B&W exhibition in December in 18x24 frames which went OK.

I am just not getting the CONSISTENCY I want - which I need before I invest in Hahnemuhle William Turner papers, or similar.)

I look forward to some forum correspondence !



I would recommend you also check the Nikon info forum and look at some of Larry Bloch's posts. His website is listed at the bottom of his posts. He is very knowledgeable professional photographer, very creative, and good teacher. He can also be contacted through his website. He was very active on the Nikon forum, but for some reason the Nikon site slowed considerable and I have not seen a post from Larry for awhile.

Franky, I recommend everyone visit his site.


Thanks, Gilbert.

I found a Larry Bolch - not Bloch - was that a typo or is there a Bloch too? A kinda funky website with lots of essays and links etc.

Thanks for the tip.


(Not game to use German anymore)

Does someone agrees or disagrees with me here ?

This is my workflow to produce consistent results.


I am no good in calibration softwares. Can I live without these softwares ?

I start with good lenses and cameras like Hasselblad and Contax.

For scanners, I use Imacon 646. For 645 film, I get a 200Mb+ tiff file 16bits.

I use a 2006 iMac. Monitor set at Adobe RGB 1998 D65 WP 2.2. by using System Preference, hardware, display. I don't calibrate the monitor.

For printer, I use HP8750. I print with Adobe RGB, printer determines colour.

The last bit is the most difficult part that I had been using lots of time to get it right. I MANUALLY calibrate the printer to MATCH the monitor.

I do the colour balance in the monitor first, followed by calibrating the printer to match the monitor.

Calibration of the printer was a hard time. It involves the changing of the printer RGB settings, followed by printing to see the results. It involved lots of time and wasted lots of paper and ink. In the end I was simply training my eyes and brain to see the smallest change in colour tone. In the end, you get an understanding between the colour change with the change in RGB values of the printer.

In the end, I can see that my printer sees colour differently from the monitor. Basically, when the image is transferred to the printer, there is a +11 yellow shift, so I have to compensate by reducing the yellow in the printer.

In the end I am much happier with my printing results, in the past I had a severe yellow cast.

I also discovered that different papers affects the colour balance of the final results. For ex&le, if I use Museo Silver Rag paper, I have to add 2 to the blue.

Different Ink levels also affect the colours. Make sure the ink levels are correct.

Is there anyone using my way ? Or do you people all use high tech stuff ?
Hello Joseph:

Thank you for your comments. You have some very nice hardware !

I am not concerned about my film ... the 6x6 and 6x7 neg/pos are very good by any standards - a joint product of excellent lenses and just on 50 years spent in 'getting in right'. (Almost there now :) )

And of course, the basic workflow of scanner - monitor - printer is the previous develop film - expose negative - develop print of my 'lightroom'. I started this thread to get some correspondence about the more detailed issues in each step - such as your comments about the monitor - printer steps. I was especially interested in your "calibration of the printer was a hard time", and "lots of time and ...lots of paper and ink". In my wet darkroom, I had become the alpha-dog ... it didn't matter the negative density, the paper type, the output desired - if I didn't get it right with the test print, it was pretty much a given the second time around!

I was also interested in your findings regarding the +11 shift in printer-monitor compensation. Although that does not match my results, I find a yellow shift also. Have you considered monitor calibration? I do think it helped me when I started a weekly calibration of the Apple LCD, as long as I use that calibration in the viewing of the scanned image. And when I muted the lighting in my room to very low ambient.

And with the paper, although I "let Photoshop manage", I have only worked with specific .icc profiles for each paper. Nevertheless, I still seek better <<consistency>> and less time waiting for a new 13x19 sheet of paper to run through the printer. I know I am being "picky" but that is the way I play the game. I presented a portfolio exhibition recently and nobody would have known it was digitally printed, so I know I am on the right track ... some of the time.

I probably don't have another 50 years to get this new-fangled system totally right!!!


Cheers, Colin
Hi Colin,

We had similar discussion in I was not able to understand what other people was using so I have to do it in my own way.

It was frustrating whenever I was printing, the print did not look right in colour even though I had spent ages in doing the colour balance in the monitor. So I have to find a way to make sure that the colour of the prints matches the colour of what I see in the monitor. Once I finish doing the colour balance, colour curves, and etc. on the monitor, I should be able to print it exactly the way I see in the monitor. This is what I mean by making the printer to match the colour of the monitor.

At the moment, the calibration on my printer HP 8750 is

Saturation 0

brightness +3

colour tone +3

Cyan +15 ( red -15 )

Magenta +10 ( green -10 )

yellow -11 (blue +11)

black +8

If you are a beginner, the calibration could take ages and be frustrating. Once you get used to it when you are more competent in detecting colour difference in the prints, the calibration will be easy. You started with RGB 0,0,0. After doing colour balance,etc in Photoshop CS2, you make a print. The first print will have a bad yellow cast which is very different from what you see in the monitor. You change the RGB to 0,0, +3. The second print improved slightly but still has a yellow cast, so you change the value to 0,0,+6...

Basically, you made the print with colour difference to the monitor, you made the correction by changing the RGB values.

Right now my printer is automatically +15 red, +10 green, -11 blue to the prints. In order to nullify this, I have to -15 R, -10 G, +11B.

Once you get the magic combination, you will be pleased. If you don't, you feel frustrated.

Do you people do this as well ?

Thank you for the comments on my gears. I looked at what people say in contax-info and and decide which to get. The most expensive item is my scanner but it is the most useful. It revived many of my other film gears, others might find film gears less useful without this scanner. Thank people like Marc Williams for helping me to decide what to get.

Recently, I brought Hasselblad 180mm f4 CFi and 50mm f2.8 the big one. 180 is breathtaking. I haven't had chance to use the 50 2.8 yet but I have great expectations on this one.
Hi Joseph:

Thank you for the clear explanation how you have set up your own printer to match monitor. I will do some work on this to see if I can get my R2400 a little more 'matched' to my Apple LCD. I think I will not need so much correction. (You should have seen my 'first ever' digital print ... great on screen and a yellow muddy mess on paper. But I have overcome that. I get <good> results but I am seeking 'perfection', everytime.)

Do you have to also do this 'calibration' everytime you change to a different paper, or are you close enough and experienced enough that you can 'guess' any small changes in values!

Your Imacon scanner is on my 'wish' list but it is 'high dollar'. So far, I am happy with my V750M especially using the fluid to mount 6x6 or 6x7 for 'flat' scanning. They are sharp and good color I think. And my monochromes are really nice. I'll see if I can attach an image !!

I saw how Marc W did a wonderful job on Simon's chromes, and I did see that wonderful difference. One day ... . Of course, 'rubbish in = rubbish out' so I do concentrate as much as ever on creating the perfect neg or pos image. I am dismayed how many now have the 'I'll fix it in Photoshop' attitude.

I agree that I can now revisit old neg/pos images and more easily bring them to life (no more spotting, dodging, burning, etc) , or make use of old but good camera/lens combos. I love the scanned and digitised results from my Hasselblad (50/80/150), my wonderful "old" Rollieflex TLR, and my Plaubel Makina 67 'chromes. (You are right about the 180 - that is one sharp lens. I rented a 180 and then settled on the 150. It seemed to be better for me and what I do. The 180 almost needs a softar !! And good luck with your big 50.)

I remember that Ansel Adams said <something> like ... the negative is the sheet music and the darkroom/printing is the conductor and orchestra. :)

Practice makes perfect, right.

Ciao, Colin

P.S. Perhaps I compressed this picture a little too much - 500x500 @72dpi. (My file for printing at 12x12 is 7200x7200 @600 (148M).) Hope it gives some idea, though. Colin
Hi Colin,
I'm just reading your posts and have just finished the calibrations for my setup, and I have a HP AMDX2 running Win XP & CS2, a Samsung LCD monitor, a Spyder2Pro by colorvision, an Epson V700 with vuescan software and a Epson 4800 printer. I also send out bigger prints via FTP to a lab. I've had several problems with colour unitl now. I tried everything from printer calibrations by eye to printer calibration software. Finally having enlisted some help I just got it right (after almost a year). The following are the steps I followed to put me on the right track.

1)disable Adobe's Gamma or other basic software so that your eye-one or similar monitor calibrator is not fighting with the default adobe or default driver.

2)Calibrate your monitor at 55D and not 65D with 2.2 gamma. I've been told that 65D is an old standard and most labs now use 55D or 5500K. even if you do not use a lab this seems to work best alround. Now that your monitor is calibrated you can use the Abobe proofing option in photoshop to see what the print is supposed to look like. If you need help setting that up let me know.

I found out the hard way that these first 2 steps are critical and should not be messed with. I guess that most people forget to disable or remove this basic software and/or forget to return the monitor ot it's factory default settings before using a monitor calibration device.

3)I have my default color space set to sRGB as that is the default standard for most cameras, scanners and labs. Although you can do your edits in any colour space you want, you must convert it to the color space of the output device before you print and most often it's sRGB.

4)Scans from your scanner should be set to whatever colour space you want to work in but remember to convert the colour space to the output devices colour space (this was my biggest mistake). I have never used silverfast although it came with my scanner, there must be a way to run it on it's own and configure it to use the new monitor profile. Now that I have my printing under control I'm going to profile my scanner and my favorite films.

As for your printer icc in photoshop use the icc supplied by the paper manufacturer. Having discussed this with several people in the know, they all recommend that the paper manufacturer has put a lot of research into the profiles and it would be hard to find anything better.

Colin you'll notice that there is NO fiddling with the output profiles as I use all default profiles as supplied by the paper manufacturers. I use ilford, fujifilm and epson papers and there recommended profiles. Printing from photoshop is always done via "Print with preview" with the following settings.

Color handling: Let Phoroshop determine Colors
Printer profile: ***use the one recommended for the paper you use***
Rendering intent: Relative Colorimetric
Black point compensation "enabled"
I also go to page setup and click through to printer to set the printer settings as well.

I hope this help you with your quest and I'd be happy to answer any more questions or explain this further.

Regards, Franc
Hi Franc:

Just read your post. Excellent reply and I thank you very much for it. I will go through it closely in the next day or two and see how I can do the same and test the result on my printer. Interesting that you use sRGB, although I understand your logic. Everything I read says RGB 1998.

I always expected that I would have a 'trial and error' period. I remember many years ago moving from one country to another and finding that the water supply (it had more or less mineral content I suppose) changed my results in the wet darkroom. So I know 'trial and error' !!! Simple things can mean so much ....

I agree about using the paper manufacturer .icc profiles. And I use your suggested workflow/color management when printing. I have read and re-read George DeWolfe's excellent book "Fine Print Workshop" and I try to follow his recommendations where possible.

I will get the hang of it I am sure. I have been using PC/MAC for many years for business, and in recent years, plenty of digital advertising illustration design and copy work, so I am happy with my skill level in general terms. It is just the transition to a 'lightroom' that has me feeling like "a duck out of water".

You know how hard it is to teach on old dog new tricks !!!! :)


Hi Colin,

I know what you mean, I also came from a wet darkroom. Adobe RGB1998 is a great profile and will give you awesome prints, if you don't have to print outside your system it's the way to go. You'll just need to keep all the profiles the same. As for the darkroom I'm finding that the new adobe lightroom is as close to a wet darkroom as it gets with a whole lot more control. I process the camera file or scan in lightroom for colour, density, saturation then export it to a finished file (keeping the original untouched)and use CS2 to do croping, dodging, burning, sharpening and finally printing.

Regards, Franc
Hi Franc:

I get it now about the sRGB for external use especially. Thanks.

Do you do much in monochrome?

I have about a "gazillion negs" which I am picking through for 'digitising' (should that be a z) and that is where Silverfast6 Ai Negafix is really helping (it came bundled with the V750M). I would say that I am about a 70/30 BW to Color user, and even though I will now use a lot more Fuji chromes for new work (because I can much more easily desaturate etc via channels etc.) I still want to develop (no pun) my <new> skills in black and white or toned work.

I like the "Advanced Black and White" options a lot. Do you do much from BW negs?

I have just started to look at Lightzone 2.0.2 - it shows a lot of promise for mono I think.

Anyway, onwards and upwards.



P.S. I really appreciate the fact that this thread - although 'young' - is about the 'how to' and not about 'my hardware is better than your hardware' which I have always thought to be the same as a contemporary of Shakespeare telling William that 'my quill pen is longer than your quill pen'. Heh heh.
I have been laboring to get my two inkjets calibrated so that the printed images are as close as possible. There are a few quirks in my setup:
1. I use HP970C for standard photographic (8x10) and HP1700C printers for super B (13x19).
2. The printers are shared from a PC server running W2000. I do photoshop either on my Toshiba laptop (XP) or on a custom PC with XP.
3. I calibrated the laptop monitor and PC monitor using Gregtagmacbeth I1.
4. Using the Toshiba I printed a target using each printer using the Colorvision Printfix Pro, and then used their "color mouse" to read all the target colors. This created for each printer an .icc file on the Toshiba.
5. My first prints look very reasonable.
NOW THE $64.95 question: can I copy the .icc files from the laptop to the PC? If so, where...? Or do I have to repeat the targeting process again on the PC? Should I put these .icc files somewhere on the server (where...?)?

Dave Klemp