Anybody tried an Agfa d-lab.2 yet?

Discussion in 'Film and Processing' started by bill_tuthill, Aug 23, 2004.

  1. I'm glad I heard that Chasseur d'Images rated the d-lab.2 higher than the Fuji Frontier: it piqued my interest enough to try one at a local lab that just replaced their MSC. For film shooters, the d-lab.2 provides better scans (3000x2000 vs 1800x1200 for $8 on CDR), smoother skin tones due to 400 dpi instead of 300 dpi, and probably better performance with non-Fuji films (this remains to be verified). On the downside, NPH prints less saturated than on a Frontier. For digicam/DSLR shooters, the d-lab.2 offers a nice kiosk where you can download in-camera media, insert CD/DVD, and personalize print options. Maybe some Frontiers have this, but not my local one. D-lab.2 scans are good enough to make me think about throwing away my scanner. JPEG quality 90 or higher, 1x1x1. They mercifully lack the matte texture (or whatever you want to call it) of Frontier scans. I felt Frontier scans looked fairly bad until downsampled to 900x600. Here's an example of fullframe to be followed by a ~2100 dpi crop.
    009G89-19318184.jpg
     
  2. Here's the upper right corner from the d-lab.2 Large scan.
    009G8h-19318484.jpg
     
  3. The Frontier *sucks* in terms of open loop scanning, and those D-lab scans look impressive, Bill. The scanning hardware on the Frontier is easily it's weakest system, and the quality improvement with my submiited files over Frontier scans is dramatic. Agfa gets a big kudos for this one.

    However:

    I'm sorry, but the change from 300 to 400dpi is petty at best. *Might* be beneficial in a 4x6, but that's it. Still, nothing wrong with bumping up the out-put dpi. Just doesn't solve anything - IMHO.

    I won't touch *any* lab that's running Agfa paper - period. Agfa's papers have questionable archival characteristics, and the color gamut of 1980s Kodak papers. It's the difference between a 800 series HP desktop, and an Epson 2200 in terms of ink quality, and 1992 Kodak Gold 400 vs Portra UC 400 in terms of dye quality. Let's hope our D-lab owners are smart enough to stay with Fuji CA, or at least Kodak Royal. The cheaper Agfa paper is *cheaper* for a reason.
     
  4. Gosh, those scans are a LOT better than Frontier scans. You're right... if I could get a roll of film scanned like that for $8, I don't think I'd want to spend hours feeding film into my film scanner anymore.
     
  5. EricM

    EricM Planet Eric

    I love the d-lab over the fronier. However, there is a paper supply problem from Agfa with consistency. The two labs in Vancouver that run this machine refuse to icc profiile becasue of this. Worse, they run mitsubishi paper becasue of agfa's batch consitency problems. I feel it's a better machi9ne, from scanning to output, but the lack of icc profiles still forces me onto the frontiers in town.
     
  6. Frontier users: when you prepare digital files for printing, do you
    always create 300 dpi density, for instance give them a 2400x3600
    file for an 8x12" photo? So ideally you'd provide 3200x4800 for an
    8x12" on the d-lab.2?

    I'm nearsighted and can detect pixellation and/or a matte pattern on
    Frontier prints with my glasses off. It's much harder to see problems
    on the d-lab.2 prints, although distant tree leaves look kind of
    square-ish rather than being rounded as with optical prints.

    Don't know what to say about Agfa paper. It seems higher quality--
    thicker, more strikingly watermarked-- than the amateur(?) Crystal Archive that Longs Drugs uses. About a year ago I did a test where
    I put Agfa Prestige and Epson Photo paper inkjet prints (Wilhelm
    25 years longevity!) on the dashboard of my car. The Epson print
    faded within a year, the Prestige print did not fade in over a year.
    That doesn't prove much except not to believe anything you read
    about longevity. Sad to hear about batch inconsistency, though.
     
  7. The mesh like pattern on Frontier prints is a problem with scanning, not the printing. My digital files I submit for printing on the Frontier, either directly from my 10D or from film scans I've made myself, are absolutley pristine. They are as good as LightJet prints, and this includes close scrutiny with a loupe. The better Frontier labs I use seem to be able to minimize the mesh effect, but it's still present in prints from faster films.

    I prep *all* my Frontier files at exactly 300dpi. The Frontier can scale higher or lower to achieve 300dpi, but unless I'm dealing with a really smart Frontier crew I simply don't take chances. I'm sure the D-lab has similiar abilities, with the machinery often smarter than the people running it.

    We've been through the paper comparisons before, but I've already posted two comparisons here of Agfa paper vs Fuji CA. Both times the Agfa papers looked like 20yr old Kodak Ektacolor in terms of their color range. If Agfa doesn't want to invest the R&D to keep up with Fuji and Kodak and instead wants to have a garage sale with their film/paper divisions, I'm not going to use labs that buy the products simply because the paper is cheaper. The D-lab is a seperate division anyhow so I don't feel guilty. If I can find a D-lab I'll give it a test, but so far all my local digital labs are sticking with Fuji.
     
  8. Interesting...hope you get to try some other films with it too. I send 300 dpi files to Frontiers, but the Frontier isn't the ultimate in printing, so there might well be improvements in this area. I can see more than 300 dpi of resolution on my better conventional prints, but I don't consider the added resolution of going to 400 dpi to be a big improvement; 300 dpi, when correctly used, is very good.
     
  9. Actually, Agfa?s offer of photo papers has been updated recently. Type 11 and Prestige 2 have been replaced with Type 12 and Prestige 3 respectively. If somebody has experience with these new papers I would appreciate his comment.

    Here is the link:
    http://www.agfa.com/prophoto/products/osp_systems/paper/
     
  10. I have taken over a digital store that has an Agfa d-lab2 after having worked as product specialist for Agfa 11 years in South Africa. Currently I have been profiling the existing Prestige papers
    and will be profiling the new sensatis paper which have much better
    whites. Due to the lab being in South Africa I would like to make the profiles available and will be happy to mail test prints from some of your images. Pricing for an 8 x 10 print would be ZAR 12/US$ 1.85 depending on exchange rate. I will also be testing Fuji and kodak papers. Profiling is done using Gretag Macbeth eyeone Pro.
     
  11. I hope Ignatius follows up soon. Here's my promised followup on Kodak 400UC. This film works very well in the d-Lab.2, finally freeing me from the "tyranny" of NPH in a Frontier, a film that Vuescans poorly. Macbeth charts on 400UC look fine, both sunny and in-shade. The ~2100 dpi scans are excellent, with colors maybe a bit more pleasing than from NPH. Here's a sample; I'd be happy to post full-res skin grain (nose area?) upon request.
    009mfZ-20035284.jpg
     

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