The Daylight Darkroom
Speaking of hybrid techniques, as I was in the previous post, I'm starting to think Epson's Perfection 4990 Photo Scanner may well be the #1 photographic accessory for film photographers. (And digital photographers who used to shoot film, too.) According to all the reviews I can find (the best seem to be Vincent Oliver's—you'll have to follow the links yourself—and Ken Rockwell's), it seems to be one of those quiet landmark products that serve a genuine need and really do work better than any of us has a right to expect.
The trick seems to be that Epson has made this scanner focus just a wee skosh above the top surface of the scanner glass—not enough to degrade paper scans, but enough to improve critical focus on negatives and transparencies. As a result, the scanner comes very close to the quality of much more expensive dedicated film scanners. From all reports, the thing is good enough to scan even 35mm negatives well enough to make good-looking prints, as long as you don't expect miracles. For proofing film and making very large digital files out of bigger negs and trannies, it seems to be the uber-scanner. Check out the user comments on Amazon (first link, above) for some insight on usability and ease of operation. Prepare to be impressed.
I've always thought the common term "digital darkroom" was maybe a bit addled. Strictly speaking, what would you do with a digital file in a real darkroom? But when you can replace the whole darkroom with a device the size of a baking pan to print big negatives and proof small ones, you've got something that does deserve a name, all right. "Daylight darkroom," maybe? I think I'm going to have to save my pfennigs.
Posted by: MIKE JOHNSTON
Featured Comment: T.O.P. blog contributor David Emerick says: "I certainly love mine!"