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Thursday, May 11, 2006

Conclusions Become Superstitions

George comments, “Mike, Carl and Paul have expressed concerns about the quality of inkjet black-and-white, feeling that while color may well have caught up to wet chemistry, B&W hasn't.” I’m a little uneasy having my views summed up this way. It’s true that I can look at inkjet prints and see weaknesses, just as it’s true that I can look at gelatin silver B&W prints and see weaknesses. But I’ve been doing all of my B&W printing on an inkjet printer for more than two years now, and I’m doing that not because it’s cheap or easy but because I can make better prints that way. (Anyone who’s interested in how my views on inkjet printing have evolved can read about it ad nauseum on my website—look on the articles page, under the heading "Digital Printing").

And, while I worry about highlight clipping when I make photographs with my EOS-5D, I worry about it the same way I worry about loss of shadow detail when I use TMX in my view camera—I’m careful about exposure, but it’s part of the drill. The EOS-5D gives me 8 stops of easily usable range, and 2/3rds of a stop more if I dig for shadow detail, and so far that’s been plenty.

Further clouding these issues is the fact that the technology is advancing rapidly. My printer, purchased in 2004, still makes beautiful prints, but some of the weaknesses of the prints it makes have been eliminated in the printer models that replaced it in the market. That’s one of the reasons why I just don’t see much point is arguing about the relative merits of digital capture versus film, or gelatin silver versus inkjet. By the time we’ve reached some conclusion, the technology has moved on, and whatever conclusions we reached just became superstition.

Posted by PAUL BUTZI


3 Comments:

Blogger hugo solo said...

A lot of people must be read this article.

1:19 PM  
Blogger eolake said...

Well said, Paul.

7:53 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"Further clouding these issues is the fact that the technology is advancing rapidly. My printer, purchased in 2004, still makes beautiful prints, but some of the weaknesses of the prints it makes have been eliminated in the printer models that replaced it in the market. That’s one of the reasons why I just don’t see much point is arguing about the relative merits of digital capture versus film, or gelatin silver versus inkjet. By the time we’ve reached some conclusion, the technology has moved on, and whatever conclusions we reached just became superstition."

But film capture and digital capture are going in opposite directions technologically (with the rare exception of Kodak's new 24000 ISO film, if it comes out). You have to replace your printer (and digitial capture) every so often to "stay up," and I have to replace my place of purchase for film as options continue to go out of business. So technologically they are quite different.

12:56 PM  

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