Why prints from film sometimes doesn’t live up to your expectations

Have you ever tried to print directly from film in photo lab and got yourself bad results, image was very pixelated, colors were off, etc? I have, and i  will write here why asking to print from film will usually result in bad prints.

Firstly scanners in photolabs (Fuji Frontier, Noritsu…) are not made for high quality scanning, they are made for high output. For example, even chepest possible scanning attachment for Noritsu HD 3701 can scan 600 35mm frames  per hour, that is 10 frames per minute, while best version can scan almost at speed of frame per second.  While highest quality scan with dedicated film scanner likie Nikon CoolScan 9000 including ICE, will take more than  10 minutes for single 35mm slide. Of course  to achieve such speeds, scan quality must suffer and images are scanned with resolution of about 1000 x 1500 pixels, which means their resolution is maxed out at 1.5 MPix. It could be OK if you only print at 10x15cm (4″x6″), but if you try to print at 21x30cm or 8″x10″ then prints will look terrible. Images are also usually printed uncorrected from film, at least from slides, but as these scanners are calibrated each differently odds of getting colors you want are quite low. While of course these scanners can scan at high resolution, but in many cases lab operator doesn`t know how to properly operater machine, so he doesn’t know how to change to higher resolution, or is too lazy to do it an can make exsues like “that happens when you print from film” to unsuspecting film users.


Of course this doesn’t include pro labs or labs that specialize in film developing and printing like oldschoolphotolab.com, you can trust these. Also don`t forget that your negative or slide must be perfectly sharp to get sharp enlargments or prints, as even slighest unsharpness will show when enlargeged.


So the best way to get prints from your slides/negatives is to scan them first on dedicated film scanner and then print digital files, or better do it proper way using enlarger.


Here are link for specifications of Noritsu HD3701-3705:  http://pfsny.com/M/Noritsu/Noritsu-QSS-Wet-Labs/QSS-37HD-Series_.html


Here you can see possiblr resolutions for best scanner attachment: http://pfsny.com/M/Noritsu/Noritsu-Film-Scanner/HS-1800-Film-Scanner_.html


As you can see it can at 4492 x 6774 resolution, so pixelated images shouldn’t be problem if operator will change resolution when scanning.



2 thoughts on “Why prints from film sometimes doesn’t live up to your expectations

  1. Meh, you’re sort of correct. Minilab scanners are actually quite capable, it’s the settings that the operators use (for speed). My Nori minilab scanner can make 40MB TIFF files just fine, and it is still pretty darn fast, scanning a whole 24 roll in about 5 minutes.

    • agreed, sadly most of labs if not all here operates them on auto settings. If you are into quality then results are quite unacceptable.

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