Film recorders - are the results really that bad and are they actually obsolete/discontinued due to inkjet printers?

Discussion in 'Film and Processing' started by a._valerio, Oct 31, 2009.

  1. I've been googling for people's experiences on film recorder output, and I've heard 2 common themes:
    1. CRT film recorder output is no good as far as quality when compared to even a duplicate slide, even when using 4x5 film as the output medium. "LVT" is apparently the only type of recorder that can produce results that are practically equal to film quality. (I want negatives that would be as close as possible to a negative captured in a camera.)
    Here is one of the threads that states that image quality from CRT models is terrible: http://www.photo.net/medium-format-photography-forum/0003M6
    2. Film recorders (for still photography / non-cinematic use) are no longer made and thus parts for them are no longer available. As such, the technology will cease to be available after all the existing machines wear out over the next decade or so. The only options will then be digital printing onto RA-4 or inkjet/dye sub printers.
    A thread that states that recorders are obsolete now: http://www.photo.net/digital-darkroom-forum/00Sj4z
    Are these actually true statements? (That the quality is terrible and the machines are no longer made and are obsolete now due to inkjet printers)?
    If so, it would seem that there could be a market for a company to make film recorders once again.
     
  2. Film recorders are obsolete because nobody does presentations on slides anymore, it's all digital projectors.
     
  3. It would seem that there would still be a demand for such services though, because of alternative / hybrid photographic processes.
    Are practitioners of hybrid processes doomed in the future as existing recorders fail? I ask because I'm just now getting into hybrid processes. There are still people who want film images from digital files for various reasons.
    A similar thing appears to be happening with quality film scanners (Nikon Coolscans have been out of stock at B&H for many months now). But there are still people who shoot film and want to digitize it, not to mention many, many existing libraries of images on slides and negatives.
     
  4. The better film recorders have 4000 to 8000 scan lines. If the CRT spot size is small, these film recorders produce plenty of resolution. Some devices have limited bit depth. In the mid 80's, a $250,000 graphics workstation including computer, monitor, stylus tablet input (the mouse was not yet common) and an 8000 line film recorder could only handle 256 colors.
    High quality film recorders are still around, but most are used for motion picture work. This industry still originates and displays on film, but they know the value of a digital intermediate. There are just a handful of labs with this equipment. I'm not aware of any of them that do anything with still film.
     
  5. I had one that recorded on 6x7 film and 35mm. It was about 20,000 new and I ended up using it for target practice as the company went out of business and there was no software available to run it.
    I actually created very high quality film and most of the work that I had sent off to stock were created by it. I also used to send film created with it on jobs when the people weren't comfortable receiving a digital file yet--ironic isn't it, they will take the film created by it, but not the file itself--go figure!
     
  6. When a web site shows last update 2002, you can be pretty sure that the product line has died. However, MedGraphix is only a distributor, so, to be 100% sure, I did a little poking around and ended up at the manufacturer's site.
    http://www.ccg-germany.com/
    They still show the same lineup in 2009 that Medgrafix showed in 2002, a handful of AGFA recorders with new labels. With zero new product development in 7 years in a digital technology field, yes, I think we can call it "dead". Their only new product, "Definity", is a cine recorder. Their non-cine recorders are apparently built for the sort of high volume work you won't really see these days, they're 80 pound monolights that I wouldn't want to have to move around...
    Management Graphics (MGI) was the last producer of compact, easy to handle recorders.
     
  7. Just for grins, check Professor John Hart's "Shoot Your Monitor" comparison CRT based 4k and 8k MGI film recorders, a scanning laser Lightjet 2000, and shooting a 2048x1556 CRT.
    http://cumulus.colorado.edu/Pages/TechNotes/ShootYourMonitor.shtm
    Based on his results, I could expect shooting my 30 inch Dell (2560x1600) to slightly exceed the resolution of the 4k MGI Solitaire recorders used at Replicolor or iPrintFromHome.com (where I normally send my slides). I may have to try this.
     
  8. I am working on a personal project to duplicate MF chromes. I scanned at 2400DPI on my Epson 4990 and sent the files in to dr5.com to be output on their 8K CRT film recorder. The results weren't perfect but I believe all of the error was in my scanning and processing of the file. I could see no evidence of any kind of artifact of the film recording process.
    dr5.com maintains a quality line of CRT and LVT recorders. Give them a try.
     
  9. I am working on a personal project to duplicate MF chromes. I scanned at 2400DPI on my Epson 4990 and sent the files in to dr5.com to be output on their 8K CRT film recorder. The results weren't perfect but I believe all of the error was in my scanning and processing of the file. I could see no evidence of any kind of artifact of the film recording process.
    dr5.com maintains a quality line of CRT and LVT recorders. Give them a try.​
    Thank you. I actually do intend to use Dr5, and I've already talked with David Wood. He recommended I try the CRT recorder on 6x7 film.
    I appreciate you sharing your experience. Good to know I'm not the only one interested.
    If you can be more specific about what worked for you and what didn't, I'd be grateful.
    Thanks.
     
  10. I uses to run film recorders for a living, use Solitar mostly had an Agfa one that the repairer cost was more than buying a used Solitar.
     
  11. We've been running film recorders of various types in our lab since 1984 so I feel more than qualified to answer this question. Assuming we're talking about the technology and not the operator, there is no CRT film recorder that can come close to the quality of an LVT, the latter being the equal of original large format film and arguably better in some ways.
    The LVT is a precision device and is exactly like a drum scanner in reverse in that it is a "pixel for pixel" device with minimum flare. That fact and it's software give it a very high degree of precision and the calibration software allows for much greater detail and flexibility as well.
    CRT machines are best for what they were designed for, presentation slides. For that purpose, they are preferred over the LVT.
    As for inkjet printers, I don't understand how they play into this question at all other than that they've made film itself obsolete in many cases, but there's still a case for both large format archiving to film and portfolio slides in my estimation. Also, the ability to make a large format silver negative from a digital file still has great importance, and for that, the LVT is the only tool I would think of using here.
     
  12. John C: I just sent you an email.
     

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