Difference between C-print and Lambda print?

Discussion in 'Digital Darkroom' started by david_buck|2, Jun 22, 2007.

  1. Can anyone explain the difference between a C-print and a lamda print?

    What does the "C" in C-print mean? Does it mean Chromogenic print?
    Doesn't Choromogenic print refer to the normal colour prints we get from the
    usual labs - but maybe of a higher quality?

  2. C- Print mean Cibachrome Print, very high quality color prints from slides. But actually C-Print means cheap Computer Print :)
  3. With regard to photography, a"C" print refers to C-41 (negative print) process not Cibachrome. Is there even a lab that does Ciba any more? It is toxic as hell. A "C" print is exposed with a negative where a Lamdba (processed from a Durst Lambda printer) is exposed via a computer (hi-res CRT)


    Adobe CTI Photoshop
  4. I have always understood "C print" to refer to a regular color print, i.e., one made on regular color, light-sensitive paper. For currently-made prints, I think C print is synonymous with a print made with the RA-4 process. It has nothing to do with how the paper is exposed to light. It would include anything from color negative film printed on a manual enlarger onto paper processed in trays to a digital minilab that take a digital camera picture and prints it on Fuji Crystal Archive paper.

    Well, third response, third different answer.
  5. jtk


    Professionals and galleries always and only use "C" print to mean printed from negative. Printed from positive (slide) is "R" print (which nobody does anymore, I think) unless it's Ciba or similar, in which case there's no proper abbreviation as far as I know.

    The light source isn't relevant...all of these papers can be printed optically or with laser.
  6. C prints are color prints from color neg film usually.

    Lambda is a type of machine that exposes the photo paper.
  7. Lambda prints are C-prints, and galleries will display them as such.
  8. david_henderson

    david_henderson www.photography001.com

    Prints from reversal film onto papers like Crystal Archive from Lambdas/LightJets/Chromiras are also referred to as C prints. Its the process/type of paper that defines the expression, not the material on which the original image was made nor the precise method by which the print is exposed.

    Ciba/Ilfochromes are not C prints. Prints produced from slides onto black paper were known as R types but I don't think that either the paper or the chemistry is available commercially now. Cibas are the closest available- or sort of available anyway. No form of inkjet/giclee is an C print.

    Having spent most of the last week wandering round summer art exhibitions in London, the impression I get is that the C print term is used pretty generically by artists who want to throw emphasis on whats in the picture, not how it was made.
  9. Thanks all for your help.

    Maybe I should have been more specific in the first place.

    The original images were either captured in digital or scanned from film.

    My printer uses Durst Episollon. They claim that the print can be considered as lambda prints as the manufacturer of both machines is Durst. Difference with the Episllon is that it uses LED lights (if I understood correctly) and there is only a slight difference in the process.

    The print is produced on Fujicolor Professional paper (that's what it says on the back. Not Archival crystal.

    My old understanding of a C-print was the type C paper used to print the image, regardless of whether the image was captured digitally or by film.

    I see alot of galleries using the term C-print for the mega size 40"x40" photos. And as far as I know, there are no machines apart from lightjet, lamda and Episollon that can print these sizes.

    So my question is would an episollon print be considered as a C-print? And if I wish to be techincally correct, the final print produced from Episollon printed on Fuji Professional Paper - could it be called a lamda C-print?

    And wouldn't a print made through an Agfa D-lab also be termed as a C-print?

    I am just trying to give the correct technical term to my prints.

    Thanks for your help.
  10. Call it a "digital C print".
  11. 'I am just trying to give the correct technical term to my prints.'

    All the variants you list are C-prints.

    'And if I wish to be techincally correct, the final print produced from Episollon printed on
    Fuji Professional Paper - could it be called a lamda C-print?'

    Yes, why not.

    'I see alot of galleries using the term C-print for the mega size 40"x40" photos. And as far
    as I know, there are no machines apart from lightjet, lamda and Episollon that can print
    these sizes.'

    No - you can make very large colour prints in a conventional darkroom.
  12. david_henderson

    david_henderson www.photography001.com

    The Durst Lambda and Durst Epsilon are conceptually similar printers that use the same papers to make C type prints from digital or scanned film originals. But they are not the same machine and I must admit to being puzzled that you seem to want to term your prints "Lambda" when they are not made on that machine. The main cause of my puzzlement is that I don't think that the Lambda has a particularly strong following or even a whole lot of understanding of what it is/how it works. I don't think people are going to react to your prints any differently if you use the Lambda term. Just as they wouldn't react differently to "LightJet" or "Chromira" both of which make similar prints on the same media.

    I repeat that in my experience people don't get terribly interested in narrow details of machines or papers. You can use the terms "Type C" or "C-Print" accurately. If you want to be clear that your work is printed digitally then you can equally use the term "Digital C-Print" If you feel the need to qualify it more than that and include the name of the machine or paper then the terms used should presumably be accurate.
  13. I asked a similar question and learned that c-print started out with a very narrow definition by Kodak, but is now being applied liberally to just about any color print:


    Now if someone asks me if my print is a c-print, I would first respond with "What is your definition of a c-print?". Regardless of the answer and after my disclosure (an inkjet print from a scanned transparency, now find a definition for that!), I would follow with a second question, "How does that influence how you view the print?". I have yet to learn anything about my prints from answers to my second question.
  14. Thanks again to all for the clarification.

    I see the light now!
  15. A C-print uses a chemical process during development as opposed to giclee which is inkjet.
  16. A C-print is developed using a chemical process as opposed to Giclee which uses an inkjet.
  17. I worked at a large format print company for a little while and this is how I understand it.
    C-PRINT - was the traditional term for a color, chromogenic print using a color negative to cast light onto chromogenic photo paper.
    LAMBDA PRINT - is the process of using lasers to expose a chromogenic photo material. It can also include transparent photosensitive materials (Duratrans).
    Since you are still exposing onto a chromogenic material some people might still refer to them as a c-print which would still be technically correct whether they meant color or chromogenic, but using Lambda would automatically imply that it came from a digital source.
    DURST - is a company that makes machines that produce Lambda prints. I've seen them and they take up a whole room! You can feed a continuous roll of 40" wide paper into and it will expose the paper, pull it through the developer chemicals, and spit it out the other end. We used to call Lamda prints 'Durst' prints like calling tissue paper 'Kleenex'
    There you go, that's my whole take on it!
  18. back in the day, c print just meant a continuous tone print vs a half tone
  19. Back in the day, 1975 to 1994, a "C" print was a print made from a negative using Kodak, Fuji or Agfa paper. I had a professional photo lab that specialized in positive to positive printing, Cibachrome.
    To me Ciba was and is a far far superior process to any "C" type print. It's color, sharpness and longevity are exceptional. I still have large Ciba prints made 35 years ago that look like the day they were made.

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