Where Do I Get a High Quality Photo Print?
January 21, 2006 7:16 AM   Subscribe

Where can I get an archival, museum quality photographic print from a 35mm transparency in the Raleigh-Durham-Chapel Hill, NC area? Also, what kind of print should I have made (Cibachrome or digital/ink jet)?

I need to figure out part 2 of my question first: 1) would a Cibachrome print be best, or 2) a high quality digital scan that is properly tweaked with Photoshop (I don't have the equipment or Photoshop chops to do this myself yet) and printed via inkjet, or 3) something I haven't considered? The original original is Fujichrome Velvia (asa 50). I'm thinking about a 20 x 24 or 30 x 40 print size. Then of course, where do I get the print made?
posted by philmas to Media & Arts (7 answers total)
A chrome print is the best bet for archival quality, however if you can find a lab that does Vibrachrome instead of Cibachrome, it's more environmentally friendly.

Another option is to get a super-high quality drum scan of the transparency, and have a digital c-print made up. This option will allow you to have an archival digital copy, and a good quality print, but may be more expensive.

The photoshop tweaks can be handled by any good digital lab, just tell them that you'd like their help with color correction, and levels, they should let you watch over their shoulders.
posted by splatta at 7:42 AM on January 21, 2006

If you don't mind shipping (they'll make sure your print is protected, obviously), I used a couple of developers in the Boston area that were very, very good and very affordable for the services they provided. The first is Black and White, which did a number of 16x20 prints for me. They custom dodge/burn to your specifications. Also Zona Photo Labs, now in Waltham (used to be in Cambridge), will do Ciba's and custom dodging/burning up to 20x24 for under $100. If you want their "professional" services where you basically get to "sit over their shoulder," so-to-speak, it's $25 more.

Sorry I can't help with things in the NC area specifically.
posted by Civil_Disobedient at 8:23 AM on January 21, 2006

Cibachrome is good; very, very good. However, there are some digital printing processes that are very nearly as good and you likely won't be able to tell the difference. They usually involve exposing normal photo paper with coloured lasers and then processing that paper.

Do not get an inkjet print. They don't last anywhere near as well and they often have other faults, such as varying sheen of the different ink colours - an effect which has a specific name that I can't recall. There's no need to go for inkjet on large format anyway since you should be able to find a pro lab that can do a proper print to at least 20x30" for under $20 plus scanning costs.

Since you say it's Velvia I'm gonna assume it's a nature photo with lots of saturation. If so and there is no subtle shading in the highlights or shadows and no skin tones, you might want to have a look at getting a metallic print. This is a normal gloss digital/chemical print but on paper that has been coated with fine silver spheres in an emulsion. In nice lighting, the whole image glows very nicely.

No idea on shops in your area - I'm not even in your country - but there have been quite a few "find me a Pro Lab in area X" questions here. Do ye not have a yellow pages?
posted by polyglot at 9:25 PM on January 21, 2006

I'm a dumbass, only just noticed the link to flickr. That could look very good on metallic with very little tweaking. You'd lose all detail in the shadows though, assuming there is any detail there at all.
posted by polyglot at 9:29 PM on January 21, 2006

I'd just like to add, if you're not tied to Cibas or the "traditional school," metallic prints can really be the way to go. I saw a sample print of a parrot in my developer's office, and the damned thing looked like it was really there. Just incredible. And it can really add spice to IR or UV shots (as well as run-of-the-mill b&w).
posted by Civil_Disobedient at 7:27 PM on January 22, 2006

Best answer: JW Photo Labs, Raleigh: Cibachrome prints up to 24x30. Museum quality, no internegative.
posted by Dean King at 1:37 PM on January 23, 2006

Response by poster: Thanks for the rec Dean King. I'm going to check out JW Labs and probably go with a Ciba. However, I do want to look into metallic prints recommended by a couple of other posters, which I've not heard of before.
posted by philmas at 6:53 AM on January 29, 2006

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