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Digital Studio - equipment

Jeff Rodier

SPFG, Supreme Picture Framing God
Some of the new DSLR's will accept the old lenses but you need to be sure they are fully functional with the DSLR body.
 

DVieau2

PFG, Picture Framing God
How would that Canon AE1 work in a digital studio??
The negatives from your film camera can easily be scanned to make a digital image.

Most photo labs will offer this service at a low price when you order at the time of developing.

We only charge $3.50 to make a CD from your negatives and our Agfa printer/scanner does a very good job of scanning.

Doug
 

Warren Tucker

MGF, Master Grumble Framer
In my experience, there's nothing easy about scanning a color negative unless you have expensive software that deals with color negatives. Not only is the color reversed but there is an orange mask to deal with. Some of the expensive versions of SilverFast have corrections for a few, but nowhere near all, color negative film types. Without the corrections, color is a shot in the dark. Aztek's PhotoLab probably does cover most film types but it's around $8K. My Creo oXYgen software (not cheap, probably $3K; it came with the scanner) has a few corrections but I have never scanned a negative that matched one of it's presets. Color negatives are a nightmare. Why did photographers use negative film in the first place? Maybe it was easier to make prints from it than transparencies. Who knows? Transparencies, of course, are easier to scan because you at least can tell what the colors look like.

[an aside] Expensive scanner software has gone the way of drum scanners. It's no advantage for a a well profiled flat bed scanner, although I use SilverFast Ai on our Epson 1640 XL out of habit.
 

framah

PFG, Picture Framing God
First off... if you are shooting film, then you don't have a digital studio.

A digital studio means that you are using digital cameras to capture the image. Please note the word "digital" in there. It doesn't say "film" studio... (end of sarcasm.)

Scanning film is a piece of cake... getting the color right on is a whole 'nother type of baked good.
Of course, what one person would consider an acceptable scan would be considered by another person as a file to be deleted and done right.
 

DVieau2

PFG, Picture Framing God
On a typical day in the photo lab we make 1500 prints (all digital) and Process 3 – 10 rolls of film. ( down by a factor of 20) :) We make CDs from about half those rolls.

All film is automatically scanned, digitized and digitally printed onto RA4 paper. This is the way virtually every photo lab operates today. Getting a CD from your negatives is just a matter of saving the information to a CD burning program, (two keystrokes) Thats why the cost is so low. Typically you find a Fuji, Noritsu or Agfa photo printing machine in your local lab. All of these machines cost over $100,000 dollars and all have sophisticated and robust scanning software built in. They all do a very good job of scanning negatives. We print 35mm scans up to 24 x 36 with good results. The experts tell us a scanned negative is equal to a 18mp camera.

If you define a digital studio by the way the image is born then yes, you will be excluded from the Digital club with your film camera. I would suggest that a digital studio is more about the workflow and once your film is scanned you are now all digital.

There are still a lot of photographers shooting film (albeit shrinking everyday) and most use film because they have a a big investment in equipment.

In the world of fine art scanning some are using old 4 x 5 or 5 x 7 film view cameras. They shoot transparency film, get high quality drum scans and the results are excellent. The “all digital” equivalent of this set up would cost $20,000.

I've attached a photo of a 24 x 36 canvas giclee made from a scanned 35mm negative. Lots of touchup was done in photoshop. I would suggest it's a moot point to think of this as a film image.

Doug
 

Attachments

Elaine

SGF, Supreme Grumble Framer
No Sh$t Dick Tracey!! An AE1 is not a digital camera. The AE1 came in to discussion when someone mentioned the lenses possibly having a "DIGITAL" body that might fit them.

According to my research today, Canon does not have a digital camera body that is compatible with the AE1 lenses.

;-))


p.s. couldn't resist the wise guy comment ;-)
 

Warren Tucker

MGF, Master Grumble Framer
Jerry, of course scanning negatives is a "piece of cake" if you don't care what the result looks like. Have you ever had to scan a negative and color correct it? Because it's not easy.

Scanning transparencies isn't much of a problem if you scan them in optical fluid to prevent Newton's rings and to fill scratches and to an extent eliminate dust, and believe me, there will be both at 4000ppi. I'm not talking about snap shots but commercial photography where things matter.

Negatives (and I assume you know what a color negative is) aren't much of a problem if you can afford the software, and I can't; transparencies are a lot easier. No two brands of negative color film are alike and within each brand there are many variances. Anyone who has commercial scanning software and who scans commercially knows from where I'm coming. I was the last guy who does drum scanning in eastern NC, but there was a time when people took this stuff seriously. And I don't do drum scanning anymore; my Howtek Scanmaster 4500 needs a $2K overhaul and $2k+ for new software and we've decided the service is not worth it; heck in the last 3 years we've been drum scanning at a loss. But I'm glad to hear you've been easily doing it every day.

You can have the business since you've clearly worked out the problem. And you don't even need commercial equipment. Why couldn't we have done this years ago? Do you know what a drum scanner costs? (you'd be lucky to get the the drum itself for $1K.)Think of the savings, and we never knew that we could have done the same thing with an off the shelf consumer flat bed scanner. How dumb could we have been?

Yes, photo CD machines can quickly process and scan negative file, but at what cost the machine and the software? And no one would suggest that the results were commercial quality. And my guess is that there aren't many of those around. I feel as if I were in Alice's Wonderland here. I just wonder how you know? You can't just look at a color negative and see what the color should be. Well, I guess you could just run it through a flat bed and whatever came out would be ok. Who cares about that orange cast? it must have been one of those orange days.

The same people who claim to adhere to "professional" framing standards have no fear jumping into the commercial waters of commercial imaging and printing with whatever happens to be at hand. Well let me tell you, commercial imaging is a lot more difficult than consumer framing and a lot more demanding.
 

Jerry Ervin

PFG, Picture Framing God
I Googled 'arrogance' and this thread came up.


How do any of you get off thinking that you rock, and everyone else sucks?

I do imaging for three NASCAR teams and one nationally known bank.

I have also done product photography for the company that supplies coffee to Dunkin Doughnuts and McDonald's.

I also print and frame for these folks.

I hope and pray that one day I am half as good as some here think they are.
 

DVieau2

PFG, Picture Framing God
Jerry, of course scanning negatives is a "piece of cake" if you don't care what the result looks like.

Yes, photo CD machines can quickly process and scan negative file,..... And no one would suggest that the results were commercial quality.
Warren,

Your working in the world of high end catalog work and fine art printing using the best scanner money can buy. Your kind of work is really a small piece of the photo reproduction pie. It's ludicrous to think that everything else scanned in the digital world is garbage because the work was done on lesser equipment.

It's like telling people they should ride a bicycle if they can't drive a Rolls Royce.

Millions of prints have been made from scanned negatives by portrait and wedding photographers and the results certainly qualify as commercial quality.

Doug
 

Framing:

In Corner
Thanks all, this is a great thread, the contributions by everyone, is a great education (or at least for me) in the art of digital type processing work that could be added to a framing business.

From those who entered the business area on a limited budget to those who have built this aspect of their business to include the upper end of equipment you are giving a super insight into the direction to follow.

This is an area of business I have had in mind for sometime, however I did not have any great idea how to get started, this thread is giving me some great knowledge into how to get started and what path to follow when the time is right for me.

Again thanks all, it is very helpful to get an overall view of such a wide aspect of this business area.
 

Jay H

PFG, Picture Framing God
In photography circles I commonly run into people who share Warrens affinity for themselves. To me all these things, lighting, camera bodies, lenses, film/digital, computers, scanners and on and on are all just tools.

Elaine, I think it's best to decide what job you want to do first, then pick your tools. You seem to be doing just that. End the end you will be judged by your client, if not your peers, on the finished product and not how you accomplished the task.

Warren has decided to get the best tools and use them on every job. He mentioned here couple of years ago that digital imaging was mostly a hobby time wasn't profitable. I'm not sure if it is now or not. I had paid for all my gear and was profitable about a month after giving about $1500 in cameras an lens. If BMW called and wanted me to shoot a new car, I couldn't do that job with my tools. I would have to turn that work away. That doesn't mean that I can't shoot 10 sports teams for the same amount of money! That's what I did. Both are real photography paying real money.

Now if I started day one with a Hasselblad and a few thousand in backdrops and reflectors and a small fortune in lighting and software, how long would it take me to pay for my gear and make money shooting ball teams? The tools and the job has to match. It wouldn't make sense to start photography like that nor does it make sense buying gear that would go underused.

I think you're on the right track and please don't get sidelined or discourage with talk of tools that you will never ever need.
 

Warren Tucker

MGF, Master Grumble Framer
I hope you guys realize what you’re saying. We’re all concerned about how easily internet businesses can snap up our framing customers so the effort is to move into areas where those competitors can’t reach. And then you consider going into digital imaging (is there any other kind now?) with abilities that any slightly motivated customer can buy off the shelf at a local Best Buy and do it for himself. Kinko’s is installing Epson wide format printers and they’re buying $3k rips to drive them. To prosper in the entry imaging market is not going to be easy in the near future when Kinko’s, Office Depot, et ali, roll out their printing services. I don’t know, but I’d make a modest bet they are currently offering inexpensive scanning services now. What I do, they can’t do because they aren’t going to spend the money to train someone to do commercial work; there isn’t enough mass demand for it

[aside] . What I offer is 9 years continual experience in the field and an array of equipment that will produce results superiors to what mass merchandisers offer. When we opted to get into digital imaging around 10 years ago we seriously studied what we needed to do. We went to Nashville and spent days with Mike Borum and Vicky Moore (a close friend) at Chromatics (one of the largest and best commercial photo labs in the country www.chromatics.com) discussing what we needed to know and what we needed to buy to begin. You can bet I didn’t get the same of the advice I’m hearing here. Interestingly, Mike didn’t think much of inkjet printing at the time; he’d just installed a Durst Lambda light jet that cost hundreds of thousands of dollars. How could an Epson 10 Thousand printer compete with a Lambda? It couldn’t at the time but Toni and I thought it could well enough. As it turned out, the 10K was a transformational machine: it could print on mat board, on canvas and, especially, on mat paper. And it used pigmented inks, not fugitive dyes as did the Lambda. Today Chromatics has thoroughly embraced ink jet printing. Maybe Toni and I offered Mike a fraction of the help he gave us in getting started. I remember a long discussion over lunch about ink jet printers. The latest generation of ink jet printers are capable of out performing that Lambda.

Back to the main topic. Think of what you’re saying about quality in digital imaging? Offer a service that’s “just good enough” as opposed to work that meets industry standards. That’s certainly not what I hear about framing here. Now as an experiment, someone take a color negative, say 35mm, slap it into your consumer or prosumer scanner and scan it at the scanner’s highest optical resolution (know what that means?) and then print out a 30 x36 poster. We do that a lot. Almost everybody who comes to me wants the best I can produce, even the amateur photographers. In fact, they can be the most demanding because they don’t realize the limitations inherent in capturing and printing excellent images. I’m serious, no one has walked into my lab and asked for snapshot quality work. As to art reproduction, I’m not going there except to say that even the amateurs demand top quality work. Commercial clients and advertising agencies are another matter all together.

To whoever wrote that I thought prints made on less than top quality commercial equipment were “junk”; I don’t know where you got that idea. I said they were snapshot quality for which my detractors have been arguing there is a demand. Think about it. Why would clients seek out and pay a commercial lab for work they could easily do themselves with a couple hundred dollars invested? Why would anyone buy Astek’s PhotoLab software if they could just slap a color negative on some scanner and produce good results? There are a lot of idiots out there if that’s the case, throwing away money like drunken sailors on unnecessary equipments or as, one person here has suggested, “gadgets”?

I’m just offering experience I’ve gained the hard and expensive way here; I’m not trying to sell anything. There is a lot to learn about digital imaging and the learning curve is steep. You have to know enough about it to know what it requires to be done well.

Warren and Toni Tucker, Inc., Jay, doesn't have a dime of debt. Everything is paid for, and had been for 25 years, including the buildings and the dirt they sit on. And, yes, Digital Imaging is profitable. And not only is the equipment paid for (we didn't get here by making foolish moves) but we also have the knowledge we acquired developing Digital Imaging which has a certain value. And, Jay, the "affinity I have for myself" is fortunately shared by my close friends. I find that remark somewhat revealing coming from a stranger to whom I extended full hospitality and spent half a day business with answering questions and demonstrating how our business worked.
 

DVieau2

PFG, Picture Framing God
Warren,

You may be the most interesting guy on the Grumble but you do make me crazy.

It strikes me that you have two different business models operating under the same roof.

In your Digital Imaging Operation you have discerning customers and you deliver only the best scans and printing services that are available.

On the framing side you recognize that most of your customers are pleased with your no frills approach, at lower price points, using simple designs, lots of regular glass and a limited selection of moldings that you stock in house.

You seen to ridicule anyone who is seeking out the sizable, viable and sellable markets that exists in between the high end and low end.

Im also thinking of buying one of those Kodak document scanners and selling "shoebox" scanning services. You know 300 prints scanned in five minutes for $49.95. What do you think? It's becoming a big business for the photo lab crowd.

Doug
 

Jay H

PFG, Picture Framing God
And then you consider going into digital imaging (is there any other kind now?) with abilities that any slightly motivated customer can buy off the shelf at a local Best Buy and do it for himself.
Framing has always been that way. Dad started framing with a manual miter saw, shopsmith, and a mat cutter. Yet many won't put together this $200 collection of tools and frame for themselves. Digital imaging is much more expensive to get started but can be done from tools gathered at Best Buy. Yet many won't - ever. A little skill and a few tools and you will be able to offer a service to your customers that even if they could, would never do themselves.

What I offer is 9 years continual experience in the field and an array of equipment that will produce results superiors to what mass merchandisers offer.
That tells me that there is at several different ends of the market. Everybody including yourself knows that. Why is it that the end you operate at the only one you respect?

Back to the main topic. Think of what you’re saying about quality in digital imaging? Offer a service that’s “just good enough” as opposed to work that meets industry standards.
What industry standard? What industry?

You mentioned earlier that you would charge 50k to capture 40 paintings on location. The client will never ever ever ever ever ever ever pay that. It may be worth it but it's not going to happen. What are they left to do? Possibly hire me. I can do it for a tiny fraction of that. The responses so far seem to be more than “just good enough” but I'm ok calling it that. The results are good enough. They may not measure up to your, or some fictitious industry standard but they work and the service has value in the marketplace. That is really what we are talking about here in the business section of a framers forum right?

Now as an experiment, someone take a color negative, say 35mm, slap it into your consumer or prosumer scanner and scan it at the scanner’s highest optical resolution (know what that means?) and then print out a 30 x36 poster. We do that a lot.
But I thought you said the software to do it correctly was cost prohibitive. You don't have the right equipment but you still offer the service? Please explain!

Almost everybody who comes to me wants the best I can produce, even the amateur photographers. In fact, they can be the most demanding because they don’t realize the limitations inherent in capturing and printing excellent images. I’m serious, no one has walked into my lab and asked for snapshot quality work. As to art reproduction, I’m not going there except to say that even the amateurs demand top quality work.
And yet me with an inferior rig sell the service. So what's that mean? Really! One of us is wrong. I'm pretty sure it isn't me. Maybe “top quality” is fluid and hinges on cost?


I’m just offering experience I’ve gained the hard and expensive way here; I’m not trying to sell anything. There is a lot to learn about digital imaging and the learning curve is steep. You have to know enough about it to know what it requires to be done well.
That is to be commended. Photography is an environment I'm somewhat familiar with. The guy I have learned the most from has a warehouse for a studio and three fortunes in gear. Yet he is happy to help me use my $200 speed light to the best of my ability. You would just look at my gear and say it can't be done. You have basically told Elaine that she can't do what she wants to do without a lot of exotic gear that almost nobody owns. It doesn't sound like it takes much experience to offer that type of help.

And, Jay, the "affinity I have for myself" is fortunately shared by my close friends. I find that remark somewhat revealing coming from a stranger to whom I extended full hospitality and spent half a day business with answering questions and demonstrating how our business worked.
You should imagine my surprise. I should offer much more grace. Something is obviously going on personally. This is not the guy I visited 5 years ago. In person maybe but reading your last 100 posts or so, I wouldn't be inspired to drive ½ way across the country to visit. I really miss the guy that was posting back then. What is being shared here has a much different tone to it. Out of respect (to you and the G) I will offer much more grace starting now. I still won't over look bad or discouraging advice.

I do understand where you're coming from seeing it first hand. As I said before there was a time when I would even send clients to you because your expertise in this area is unquestionable. I wasn't joking when I declared you the most knowing individual on this forum on the topic. But others operate at a different realm selling a slightly different service using different gear. Why can't that be respected? If you wish to be helpful do so in the area that people can and already do operate in. I'll bet I could learn a ton about photography and art capture and color correction from you. Yet we will never know. You just say that art can't be captured with my camera end of subject. Ad slicks can't be shot with a 12 mega pixel camera period! Negatives can't be captured and corrected with scanners specifically designed to do just that unless they cost billions subject closed. That sure is an interesting way to share expertise. Why not instead take a look at my product shots, look at my art reproduction, take a look at Jerry's film scans. You may be impressed or even see some areas where mistakes are being made. That would be helpful. That was the type of framing advice you offered when I visited. It's miles from what is offered here.
 

Jay H

PFG, Picture Framing God
Im also thinking of buying one of those Kodak document scanners and selling "shoebox" scanning services. You know 300 prints scanned in five minutes for $49.95. What do you think? It's becoming a big business for the photo lab crowd.
What scanner are you talking about? There was one made by, I think, Epson a while back. It was pricy and only sold to stores that would scan really quick and loaded like a document scanner. So you could drop in a few dozen mix matched photo sizes and it would scan and save each scan completely automated. I can't remember the price but I thought it was over a grand. Is it something like that you're talking about?
 

Warren Tucker

MGF, Master Grumble Framer
No, Doug, there is no discontinuity between our framing and imaging businesses. Both are capable of delivering high quality products. Take a look at the Outlet’s Backroom Gallery where most of our framing equipment. We have the best equipment available for our framing business as we do for our imaging business. I thin I already covred all of this in a previous post to Jay who wondered at what perceived as a contradiction. It isn’t. A customer of the Frame Works or the Frame Outlet gets a top quality product. Our frame maker has 14 years experience making frames; that’s all she does. We work to offer framing customers low prices by aggressive buying, not by offering lower quality material. At to a narrow selection of stocker moulding, we have over 1,000 patterns (I checked yesterday). We also offer about as many chop patterns even though they represent only a small fraction of our sales (<10%).

On the imaging side, we do a lot of raw scans for customers wanting to save money. In fact we do a lot of raw scanning for art Publishers who don’t have our capabilities.

I was in the same position 10 years ago as a lot of current framers who are considering going into digital imaging. (There’s probably a difference between digital imaging and offering printing services.) I’m just sharing what I learned 10 years ago and what I’ve learned since about imaging. And, frankly, none of what I’ve posted would surprise current digital lab owners.

The fact that quality inkjet printing requires at least 150ppi has nothing to do with me or personal arrogance anymore than the fact that offset lithography requires 300ppi. These requirements exist externally and are the same for everyone. The fact that a quality 16x20 image printed on an inkjet printer requires 7.2 mega pixels has nothing to do with me anymore than that an image 20x24 requires 10.8 mega pixels. (Much beyond 20 x 24 and you’re getting out of the range of inexpensive slr digital cameras) Also, the fact that no camera using mosaic color filtering can produce an accurate representation of an original is, really, out of my hands. That’s just the current best thinking. That some of us don’t want to know these facts, again, has nothing to do with me. I learned these requirements when I developed my imaging business and rather than ignore then, I accepted them and went on without attacking the sources or questioning their motives. This is pretty much along the same lines as someone here detailing the requirements of quality framing, none of which I’ve ever disputed. There are customers who demand preservation framing (few in my experience) but we should be able to do it. Strangely, though, clients in digital imaging want everything that can be squeezed out of their originals. And, then, there are the requirements of commercial printers who want images 300ppi at final size. And while I’m at it, I might as well point out that while 150ppi will work for inkjet giclee printing, that resolution isn’t high enough for archival purposes which is 300 ppi at the original size. 300ppi is probably enough (I don’t know; I’ve heard arguments that it’s not, especially for detail in deep shadows where extreme dmax is needed) to capture every detail that an excellent camera with an excellent lens can resolve.
 

j Paul

PFG, Picture Framing God
Framing has always been that way. Dad started framing with a manual miter saw, shopsmith, and a mat cutter. Yet many won't put together this $200 collection of tools and frame for themselves. Digital imaging is much more expensive to get started but can be done from tools gathered at Best Buy. Yet many won't - ever. A little skill and a few tools and you will be able to offer a service to your customers that even if they could, would never do themselves.


That tells me that there is at several different ends of the market. Everybody including yourself knows that. Why is it that the end you operate at the only one you respect?
I won't even pretend that I am playing even in the shallow end of this pool. However I agree with Jay, that many consumers won't enter this market themselves.

I regularly scan and crop photos for people and then have a print made and sell a 4x6 for $2.68 / 5x7 for $4.68 up to a 20x30. Why? Because I am not a pasty faced (ala Marni) clerk behind a
checkout counter at Wallworld. I know how to crop it and do some minor tweaks. My customers don't want to be bothered with self-service machines and are willing to pay me $2.68 for a scanned/cropped print instead of .19c at Wallyworld.

I just did 17 scans/18 prints yesterday and with tax it came in just pennies under $100. I sat behind my counter and scanned them when I had down time. There are all ends of the market and ways to make money.
 

framah

PFG, Picture Framing God
This evening, i will be scanning, cleaning up and printing 6 pieces for an artist plus a CD and I will make almost $400... and that is on the low side as they as easy scans with little clean up needed.

If i shoot with my 4x5, it is $100 per scan plus any cleanup and dancing on the image I might need to do.

Just to show what is possible.

Personally, it's not worth my time to do those simple jobs jpaul is doing.
 

Warren Tucker

MGF, Master Grumble Framer
From the beginning, Jay. I agree about the “a little skill and a few tools” and I applaud that attitude and drive. But let’s not call the result a digital studio or digital lab. Can we agree?

I agree about two ends to the market; see the above. I’ve reread my posts and can’t find an example of disrespect for either end. The closest I think I came was referring to the products at the lower end snapshots and I’m sure most will agree with.

“Fictitious industry standard”? Do you really think I’d lie about it? That’s uncalled for. The industry standards? Well ICC for one, the International Color Consortium as in ICC profiles. Call any 4 color process printing firm and tell them that you want to print 500 16x24 posters of one of one of your color photographs and ask what resolution they want. My guess it’ll be 300ppi but being printers they’ll probably say dpi. A good lithographic reproduction needs a 150 line screen and as a rule of thumb they ask for 300ppi resolution, double the line screen. That should be an emphatic statement of an industry standard. The $50k was if they wouldn’t bring the paintings to my lab for color correction. If I had them at hand, I’d only charge $4k for scanning and color correction which we usually wave if a client orders as many as 20 reproductions of each painting. Or, no charge for scanning an original that we get to make 20 reproductions at original size (they’d have to be bigger than16 x 20 though. Otherwise it would be about $100 each for scanning and correction. I might add that in every similar situation in my experience, the owners wanted faithful records of the originals and at 300ppi for whatever future use they might want to but the files to. And I guess I could agree with you about “good enough” as long as the clients understood they were getting somewhat less than accurate reproductions of the originals. I see problems with just such transactions all the time.

As to the 30 x36 poster, we do it using the limited software we have and a disclaimer about correct colors. That wasn’t my point, though. My point was posterisation from limited resolution and problems with dust and scratches, always present on negatives and transparencies. A scanner with Digital Ice would eliminate a lot of them. I hope that explanation satisfies your demand.

“Inferior rig” is your term, not mine. You are free to call it whatever you want. I’ve never suggested you couldn’t reproduce images with whatever you use to it with. I’m only relating my experience in establishing a digital lab for, originally, reproducing art. We just sort of expanded to photography and currently do little of it. How did I arrive at my conclusions? I started by going to experts and asking what it’d take. And since I started I’ve kept abreast of developments and current thinking in digital imaging. There is quite a large community on the web. Yahoo Groups EpsonWideformat , Wide_Inkjet_Printers, there’s also a ScanHighEnd forum. I sometimes get the feeling we’re talking about two different worlds here. In my world, commercial digital imaging, this stuff isn’t questioned. People, not stupid people, drive hundreds of miles to work with me, year after year. They must do it for very good reasons. I’ve made money in imaging to pay for all this stuff, to way more than pay for it, actually. And you want me to justify what I’ve spent years learning, as if none of this mattered. I’m more than pretty sure I’m not wrong.

I gotta love the way you impute what my actions are going to be in various circumstances. It’s really offensive, but I’ll let it stand. I keep rereading your post and at first I didn’t realize how aggressive it is. I gave Elaine the best advice I could and I guess that’s the advice I’d give you. Pretty much the same advice that Mike Borum gave me 10 years ago. I don’t see any reason to change it as a result of my experience. I’d also tell her it’s going to take years of experience to do it well. Not welcome advice? I only know what I know. Mike certainly didn’t tell me to go out and buy a camera and to forget about the resolution requirements of what I wanted to do or to overlook very real lighting issues. Elaine is under no obligation to take my advice and she’s free to consider it for what it’s worth. You might consider that my intentions aren’t shrouded in malice but are simply to offer the best advice I can. I actually didn’t know what she had in mind for a “digital studio.” I told her what I thought was necessary for a digital lab with no intention of doing her any harm.

And this color negative business is way beyond me. Ask anybody who does it. They’ll tell you it’s difficult. There is no reference for colors in the negative unless you have extensive information about the film. Put a negative on a light table and take a close look at it. You’ll see. It’s a whole world of difference between a color negative and a transparency. With transparency, you can see the colors you’re supposed to scan; not so on a negative; you have to depend on software to interpret the information. I’ll bet (and I really don’t know) printing color negatives has always been difficult, way before the advent of digital imaging and scanning. This is like arguing with someone about whether or not the world is flat.

You couldn’t learn anything from me about photography because I still don’t know anything about it. I’m not saying art can’t be captured accurately with most digital cameras, physics says that. There is the problem, maybe a minor one, of the mosaic filter. It makes up information about various colors. Its color image is a construction of the original, not an exact image of the original. That’s a uniquely digital problem. An analog medium like film actually captures all the color information; a camera depending on a mosaic filter doesn’t. Triple shot cameras that sample an image once for red, once for blue and once for green do. Scanners do. Foveon cameras do. I don’t see how you can infer malice from those statements. Maybe if we work on it hard enough, we can change reality.
 

j Paul

PFG, Picture Framing God
Personally, it's not worth my time to do those simple jobs jpaul is doing.

I understand that Framah.
I mentioned what I do, just
to show there is a market
segment for everyone. I will
make about $90.00 on that
order after I pay for the prints.
My money is made on the labor
and $90.00 is beyond my shop
rate. Usually I do those scans
while sitting behing the counter
watching the lookie-loos that
come in. Easy money in my book.
 

surferbill

SGF, Supreme Grumble Framer
Canon AE1 It's about 30 years old but is still good ;-)
One of my favorite cameras I've owned was an AE-1. It was almost indestructible.
I once left it on my boat in a bucket by mistake, which filled up with water after a rain.
I opened the camera up and let it dry out, and it still worked.

Elaine, you seem to have started a thread where it's more important for people to try to impress each other than to give you advice.
 

KekahaMan

Grumbler in Training
Not another "the earth is flat" proponent!

This is like arguing with someone about whether or not the world is flat.
Well, Johnny Columbus hopped in his rowboat made of recycled pea pods and paddled nothing but West, South and North. After 1492 days of paddling (with his bare hands at the end, because a vicious storm broke his oars in half) he ended up where he started from. So, while it appears that the earth is flat, simple physics tell us it must at least be three dimensional, and probably spherical.

/shakes head
 

Warren Tucker

MGF, Master Grumble Framer
And, finally, Jay. I just looked closely at the topic of this thread (I just do this in bits and snatches during the week waiting for proofs to print); It’s “Digital Studio …what equipment”. After rereading my posts I’ve come to the conclusion that my replies were right on point. After all, there is more purpose to responses in a public forum than simply answering a direct question. Most people read responses because they’re interested in the subject line and probably not really interested what Elaine had in mind when she posted the questioned. I’ve had a response from a reader who thanked me for the information that he found useful, imagine that. You mentioned that there can be all kinds of “Digital Studios” and I outlined mine, a commercial one. You inferred negative connotations about other studios that I never implied and then attacked me for your perception. Of course there are a wide variety of people and shops doing something digital to images and in each instance, there is something one might call a “studio” involved. What of it? I described one that has had 10 years growth. Perhaps there are people here who might be interested in what one like that would look like. At the beginning mine consisted of an Epson 10K printer, an Epson 1640 XL tabloid scanner, Photoshop 5. Of course that shop was limited in what it could do, mostly it was a training platform, an experiment to see if we could master the craft. Things change, evolve, and my posts describe the state of a 10 year evolution. And they certainly fit under the heading “Digital Studio …equipment”. I make this post public because I think you’ve attempted to present my efforts in an unpleasant light when they were honest a response to what is an interesting topic.

I can’t help but think your whole response has been a mean spirited attack motivated by some personal antipathy about whose origin I can only speculate. Of course there are a wide variety of people and shops doing something digital to images.
 

DVieau2

PFG, Picture Framing God
Warren,

How about an estimated price tag to go along with your vision of what a digital studio should be?

Doug
 

Jay H

PFG, Picture Framing God
Warren. I've given you the last word - twice. Live and let live. I'd be thrilled to discuss this or let your further vent your frustrations privately. We disagree and those areas have been throughly covered.
 

nikfrz

SGF, Supreme Grumble Framer
Who cares if it is a studio, or not a studio, or if it's a lab or not a lab, or whether it's dpi or ppi, of if it's big or small. GEEZ!! As long as you are pocketing some profit from whatever you are doing, That's Good, Right???
 

framah

PFG, Picture Framing God
As long as you are pocketing some profit from whatever you are doing, That's Good, Right???


Actually, no. That is one of the problems that professional framers on the G are always complaining about. Someone has a few tools and is able to convince a less than knowledgeable customer that he can do the job. It is a fair to poor job and he gets paid and "makes a profit". It is still a poor framing job and should have never been done that way and will probably, in a few years, cause damage to the art.

He still calls himself a framer, equating himself with the professional framers who do the best job possible.

The same could be considered with this topic. Just because someone has a few tools to shoot and make a print doesn't equate them to the ones who have the best tools and are doing the best possible job for the customer.
So I guess the bottom line here is... whether you want to buy a few tools to just do a "good enough" job for a customer or do you want to have the skills and tools to do the very best job possible. You are free to do whatever you want. No one on here is insisting that you buy what Warren or I have in our efforts to do what we feel is the best job we can give our customers. Do what you feel comfortable putting your name onto when you sell it.
Be aware that you aren't doing the same quality level of work as Warren but if what you do is a good solid job and you and the customer are aware of the level of work you offer and you are both happy with the work then you are filling the nitch.

You all can get an acceptable product from the lower end of the equipment scale, just don't expect that you will be putting out the same level of work as someone with years of experience and the best equipment available.

Where do you want to position yourself in this market?

I do agree with jpaul that he is providing a product that his customers are looking for and he is making a nice profit as well. For me, i have enough work coming in that it just isn't worth my time. Plus, I thoroughly enjoy the tough pieces where it seem impossible to match the colors. I love the challenge in it!

Whew!!:beer:
 

Jeff Rodier

SPFG, Supreme Picture Framing God
We have 2 ends of the spectrum engaged in the argument of where we should reside. Same argument we had over the past 5 plus years about framing. Warren is not suggesting that we all live at his end but is responding to the question of what makes a "Professional Digital Lab". Framah argues that nobody should be allowed to view a photo that is not at Warren's & Framah's level of expertise.

99% of us would starve to death attempting to be at the highest end. In 18 months I have printed thousands of photos for customers on my Epson 9800 and scanned hundreds of items if not over 1000. Each and every time there is a discussion about the level of correction desired and every single time the answer has been "The level that does not cost one dime more than the basic charge". I have offered to send things out for $150 to get perfect match (would be sent to Warren) but Warren has not received one item from me in that time.

Just like conservation framing, most stores would perish in today's economy if that was the only option. Each of us makes choices and my choice has been survival over an attitude of all or nothing. I live in one of the sunniest places on earth and almost never sell a piece of Conservation Clear glass. They just don't care, period. I sell more Museum Glass than CC. They are not buying it for the UV protection but the appearance.

Elaine did state that what she was doing was for industry marketing and other professional images that really matter to the client. These images can generate millions in sales. Warren has given her the industry standards to consider but at the same time Warren had no issues whatsoever with the services that I provide when he visited my store. Warren is very aware of my market and while he would love to show me the promised land he also knows that those that live here are not looking for the promised land or they would have moved to Miami rather than Myrtle Beach.

I currently have over 30 pieces to be scanned and printed. Each and every one of those customers would not have proceeded had I charged them $10 more for better color matches than what they get for no additional charge. Those pieces being scanned and printed have generated 28 frame jobs. Had I charged $100-$150 for the color match I would have zero print jobs and zero frame jobs from that batch.

Furthermore, those jobs sold zero Conservation glass and zero conservation mats. So for me at least "Good Enough" is just fine with me.
 

Warren Tucker

MGF, Master Grumble Framer
Doug, it would be a lot less for an experienced copy photographer than it was for me. A lot of stuff probably can be bought used now. I wouldn’t waste any money on a drum scanner but maybe a good middle of the line tabloid scanner with a transparency top: less tan $3000. That would be a good start for scanning.

I’ve been thinking about a table for just such a scanner that would be something like 36 x 48 inches with a cutout in the center that would allow the scanner’s scanning glass to be flush. The table should have a smooth, cheap laminate would work. The idea is that you could scan larger than the tabloid size of 12 x 17 by scanning in sections and then using mosaic software like Panaview’s Image Assembler to stitch the section together. You could only scan large pieces that are flat but it could work and would be cheap. Someone could do a lot of work with a rig like this one. No pastels, of course.

For a little more money and a little photographic knowledge there is an intriguing device from, I believe, Camera Fusion that consists of a ground glass face and a mount for a 35mm slr camera. The whole thing attaches to a good wide format camera. Once the wide format camera is focused with the image on the ground glass the device allows the 35mm camera to take a series of exposures across the ground glass at its highest resolution which are then stitched together with stitching software. What would a good used large format camera and copy lens cost? The camera fusion kit I think cost something like $700. Not bad. Get a Foveon camera and you avoid the mosaic filter problem (a very small problem, in my estimation, but it’s there. These are two inexpensive solutions to accurate digital capture.

Then there are scan backs for wide format cameras. Cost around $25K, maybe. Lighting. Light meters. A good Windows computer (A Mac wouldn’t be better but it would cost more.)

Cruse scanners probably start at $60K. This would be the easiest solution but the most expensive.

The latest version of PhotoShop. Qimage studio version $150. A new Epson printer, $8K, one with a built in spectrophotometer. A Low end Eizo monitor and calibrator, $1300. You shouldn’t need any color management software beyond a monitor calibrator if you stuck to paper branded by the printer manufacturer.

Heck, I don’t know, the first option with a tabloid scanner would be the least expensive option.

For simple printing you could team up with someone with capture capabilities like me. I work with about 6 art printers and do raw scans for them, stopping everything else while they are at the shop. Others must do the same.

Heck, there’s no way around it. It would be expensive. $35K at least depending on what you already have if you plan on doing capture.

Framah probably has a better idea about entry costs than I do. I think now would be a good time to get into digital imaging, there must be a lot of used equipment out there due to the recession. Recessions always offer great entry opportunities.
 

Warren Tucker

MGF, Master Grumble Framer
I agree whole-heartedly with Jeff. There certainly is a place for just good enough. I even like the phrase and we do it readily. Someone comes in with a fairly low resolution jpeg and want an enlargement that will result in an image of less than 100ppi, I tell them that the result will not be photo quality but from a distance will look perfectly good. Let’s call it consumer imaging. I’ll usually run the image through Digital GEM to remove grain from film or noise from a digital image for free. If it’s a faded photograph, I’ll send it through Digital ROC for free. And, actually, that’s the best I can do with the file or image I’m given. We all know it’s not giclee quality and I print it on either Premium Luster or Enhanced Mat, both Epson papers I have grown to love, on my Canon Printer. I’m even toying around with converting my Epson 7800 to a CIS printer using cheap third party pigmented inks. I can profile them so why not? If they clog the 7800’s heads I’m not really out anything.

Jeff, that’s the digital bonanza! You make the prints and get the framing job. It doesn’t get any better. That was one of the points on which I sold Toni on the digital idea. It’s even better when I get to frame giclees I’ve made.
 

Warren Tucker

MGF, Master Grumble Framer
What does that beating a dead horse symbol mean? It certainly couldn't apply to this thread. Eighty some replies and over 1200 views. Someone must not think this is not a dead issue. Actually it smacks of a little intolerance if you ask me. I think this is an important issue and should get a through airing.
 

Warren Tucker

MGF, Master Grumble Framer
What does that beating a dead horse symbol mean? It certainly couldn't apply to this thread. Eighty some replies and over 1200 views. Someone must not think this is not a dead issue. Actually it smacks of a little intolerance if you ask me. I think this is an important issue and should get a through airing.

With the number of posts I've made compared with the time I've been a member, I'm hardly a verbose poster. I actually don't post a reply unless I have something definite to add to the discussion and I've noticed that the threads I posted to are the usually the longest with the most views. I needed to get that off my chest. All in all, I think I've given pretty good advice here over the years but the rude reception my posts have gotten has made me think I can more profitably spend my time somewhere else. I'm actually amazed that a lot of grumblers have come around to seeing the business they way I do and are profiting by it.

Recently I've been called arrogant and Jerry Ervin "continues to be amazed." Well, I'm not amused.
 

Elaine

SGF, Supreme Grumble Framer
I would actually like to thank everyone for all of the information that has been posted. It has been quite an education and has broadened my thought process in how I want to approach this. When I started the thread, I was sure what the "correct" terminology was for what I wanted to do. With the information that has been posted, I am fine-tuning my ideas and my direction.

I think seeing the gamut of what can be done is an eye-opener!

Thanks, keep the good information coming.

Elaine
 

Kirstie

PFG, Picture Framing God
I won't even pretend that I am playing even in the shallow end of this pool. However I agree with Jay, that many consumers won't enter this market themselves.
.....

I just did 17 scans/18 prints yesterday and with tax it came in just pennies under $100. I sat behind my counter and scanned them when I had down time. There are all ends of the market and ways to make money.
I just poured through this whole thread and was more confused than when I started reading it. It's information like this that makes me shy away from even thinking about digital printing. Having said that, I am still mildly curious about --and I don't want to upset anyone--the lower end. jPaul. What scanner and printer are you using?
Jeff Rodier, What scanner and printer(s)are you using? Cost for your set-ups?

BTW, I have seen work by both Framah in Maine and by Jeff Rodier in SC, and to my eye they were both excellent.
 

framah

PFG, Picture Framing God
"Framah argues that nobody should be allowed to view a photo that is not at Warren's & Framah's level of expertise."


Jeff, I'm sorry if I somehow mislead you to think that only what we do is the only way to go.

In my post just before yours, I even said that if everyone is ok with what one puts out then go for it. Please reread the post.

What I think IS important is for whoever decides to go into this process to realize that there are different levels of the digital business and not to expect that you can do the same level of output with low end equipment as someone with the high end equipment.

I have had many pieces come in where some local business has scanned an old photo and now the customer wants it framed. The piece is horrible and i know that I could do a much better job. I usually ask if they still have the original and if so I offer to make it better for them. If they like it, they pay for it and if not I don't charge and they use the other one. Some say what they have is good enough and that is that. Most let me try and I have never had anyone (so far) prefer the bad one to what I was able to do for them.

What ever you do Elaine... make it the best you can and I'm sure you will be ok and your customers will love it.
 

Jeff Rodier

SPFG, Supreme Picture Framing God
Kitstie, I'm using the Epson 9800 and an Epson V500 scanner. My primary customer is the average artist trying to sell their originals but also offer prints. General printing is on Epson's Enhanced Matte paper. I have not had one customer that is willing to pay even a small amount for a better color match much less pay what it would cost to do an actual color match.

I print the occasional canvas but for the most part they just want the less expensive paper and don't want to pay for any of the fine art papers available.

My set up with printer, ink, paper, scanner and Photoshop ran just under 10k.

Sorry Framah, I will leave the true color matching to those that have the time and experience to do it. My customers won't or in many cases can't afford color matching services.
 

more_so

SGF, Supreme Grumble Framer
Since nobody has mentioned it in this juggernaut, quite often when I do emergency giclees for friends & family they like to step up to the plate and tweak those color and satuation sliders around a bit, and it's NOT to reproduce their colors and tonality so much as to improve them.

Color matching is nice, but color improvement has much to be said for it as well.

Bottom line...you can go into the color improvement business with much less good equipment than is required for the color matching business. Of course one is expected to be discreet. And be careful, you may develop a following.

But as for trying to do prefect art reproductions, oh gee sorry I'm completely booked for the next decade.

PS within the next three posts somebody will jump on Jeff for using Enhanced Matte.
 

Jeff Rodier

SPFG, Supreme Picture Framing God
Enhanced Matte is the best all around non-archival paper out there. I also use Velvet, Fine Art Watercolor, Ultra-Smooth Fine Art and Epson Canvas. These are all Epson products and the profiles are right there so there is no rocket science involved. I have had only a couple willing to pay for better paper than Enhanced Matte.
 

Kirstie

PFG, Picture Framing God
I have had many pieces come in where some local business has scanned an old photo and now the customer wants it framed. The piece is horrible and i know that I could do a much better job. I usually ask if they still have the original and if so I offer to make it better for them.
With my limited consumer equipment, I had just this experience yesterday. I charged the customer $10. for a new scan with a little touch up because she was about to send it to a university to be included in a book and she was miserable with the copy she had. Black/white enlargement was done by Walgreens. Other by me with 3 minutes in Photoshop. Customer was very happy and will be mine for years to come. We sent a more complicated overnight restoration to Dig Custom, and again, today she is delighted.
 

Attachments

surferbill

SGF, Supreme Grumble Framer
Enhanced Matte is the best all around non-archival paper out there. I also use Velvet, Fine Art Watercolor, Ultra-Smooth Fine Art and Epson Canvas. These are all Epson products and the profiles are right there so there is no rocket science involved. .
Your setup of printers, papers, and scanners sounds a lot like mine, and I would think it would satisfy the needs of the vast majority of the consumers that come into our shops.

Out of the thousands of Grumblers, I would be willing to bet only a handful could afford or have the desire to spend 50K to 100K on digital printing equipment. IMO

The rest of us will buy what we can afford and print out hundreds of nice photos and prints on our off the shelf printers, scanners, and cameras.
 

framah

PFG, Picture Framing God
Yeah, Jeff!!! How DARE you use Enhanced Matte!! :shutup:

I really like Enhanced Matte and also use Crane Museo Rag for a more textured look.

Oh, and I swapped spiffing up a friends photo for her book for 8 bottles of extra strong Ginger Ale. Some things are worth doing!!
 

SportShots

CGF II, Certified Grumble Framer Level 2
"Let me help, You do not need 300dpi on a large photo. What make you even think that you do."

In his case, the customer specified it so he needs it.

Different requirements for different customers and different levels of quality.

I shoot a lot of sports. You can do well with Canon 40D and similar from Nikon. The Canon 1D MkIIn and MkIII series is made just for this and the images are 'better' as a result of purpose built gear.

I shoot a lot of field sports with a 400 f/2.8 lens and find it works for me. The newspapers I supply work to have all told me they get more comments on the photos they use of mine than all the other photographers combined. They also pay me more. I could shoot a lot of them with smaller lenses but would lose the 'look' I am after. But my background is NFL, NBA, MLB, F1/IndyCar/Nascar and similar.

300 dpi makes for a better print than smaller files. 400dpi is a bit better... IF you have a good press operation going. One friend has his books printed in Belgium with 600 line screens. Some of the finest printing around. He demands it because his standard camera is 8x20 inches (that is the negative size) and he only makes contact print. His other camera is 18x22 inches. Again, only contact prints.

One could shoot what he does with digital but even at its best the contact print is a bit better. Add in the cost difference.. and the fact he is shooting art rather than for clients and you have personal choice in equipment that does what he wants and demands. You may well be satisfied to follow him around and shoot the 'same stuff' with a Kodak easy share and live with 4x6 inch prints.

A professional uses what does the job. How picky one is dictates choice of gear. If you don't need the Sinar gear often, you rent it when needed. If you try to make one system do everything you will quickly find yourself in trouble.

I don't use the 8x10 Deardorff for my sports photography and I don't use the 1D Canons for my architectural and historical documentation work. No way to I traipse across the praries with a 20x24 Polaroid and I don't shoot wet plate photography outside during the winter at 20 below zero temperatures.

Knowing when to use your gear for the job to be done is part of being a pro. If you don't have the gear, you rent it. This is often much more cost effective and is only smart business. After all, one doesn't buy a computerized mat cutter for a few mats twice a month.

Top technical quality is not what everyone wants... nor what everyone can recognize. "you don't need that" is something I have heard for years about sports photography. Usually from those who don't do it for a full time living and those who don't shoot high level work. When you NEED it, you need it and anything less is a compromise. As you approach the limits, compromises show and they hurt your business.

Anyone very familiar with their gear can get better results most of the time with inexpensive and mid range gear than a fool with the most expensive stuff on the market. Professionalism is knowing what to use, how to use it and actually producing work with the stuff. While 'anything' can work, using professional gear for professional work is usually the way to go.

I enjoy working with the Deardorff, developing the 8x10 negs one at a time in the tray in the dark, reading them as they develop by inspecting the image by the green safelight until I judge it right, finishing and printing on hand coated platinum/palladium papers or silver chloride contact printing papers(and more often now hand poured carbons) a lot more than most of the work with the 8+ frame per second Canons in most sporting events. (though there is a lot to be said about framing a Tom Brady head & shoulders in the EOS as a blitzing linebacker pushes him from the pocket)

Different gear for different types of photography. Overriding concern on my part is top quality images.

300 is not too much.
 

Kirstie

PFG, Picture Framing God
Your setup of printers, papers, and scanners sounds a lot like mine, and I would think it would satisfy the needs of the vast majority of the consumers that come into our shops.

Out of the thousands of Grumblers, I would be willing to bet only a handful could afford or have the desire to spend 50K to 100K on digital printing equipment. IMO

The rest of us will buy what we can afford and print out hundreds of nice photos and prints on our off the shelf printers, scanners, and cameras.
Bump. Bill, what scanner are you using?
 
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