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Re: Scanners, sharpness of Epson vs. darkroom prints

Gerald Olson writes:

>Russell: the 2450 DPI scanner certainly IS adequate for 11x14 prints, IF you
>have used a fine grained, sharp film to begin with.  (Technical Pan, Pan F,
>Agfapan 25, Kodak Royal Gold 100, Velvia, Kodachrome, etc). I have Many 13x19
>prints made from a 2700 DPI Scanner that are noticeably sharper than I can get
>them from an enlarger in the darkroom.

>If you are using the faster films and don't use a tripod, then you
>are probably right.

Actually, it's the other way around. Faster films and shooting without a
tripod will generally result in less detail on the film, so it doesn't help
to scan at higher resolutions. I generally don't bother to print those
shots at 11X14, though I have a couple shot on 400 speed Fuji print film
that look quite good (no matter how you print it, 400 speed slide film
looks very grainy and unsharp at 11X14 in comparison -- at that speed,
print film is *way* better).

I have compared both Velvia and Reala 100 (shot on tripod) scanned at 2450
vs. 4000 DPI and printed at 11X14 or 11X16 on the EX, and the higher
resolution scans produce visibly sharper prints. As others have noted, if
you figure 240 dpi as the effective resolution for the printer, you need
more than a 2450 dpi scan for an 11X14. I find that if I have at least 240
dpi at the final print size, I can indeed match or exceed the apparent
sharpness of a darkroom print, but if it's significantly less than that
(e.g. a 2450 dpi scan blown up to 11X4), the darkroom print generally looks
sharper. YMMV (and obviously does).

Viewed by itself, an 11X14 from a 2450 scan looks pretty good, but side by
side with a print from a 4000 dpi scan of the same image, the difference in
visible detail is dramatic.

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