Digital Negatives?

 Michael Dyer Associates are offering a unique service for providing black and white negatives from digital files, which is possibly the one of the only lab to be providing this sort of service. The technique involves using hi-res files provided by the client which is then outputed by LED exposure to film using Kodak LVT film recorders – like drum scanners in reverse. High quality black and white negs are created using ILFORD FP4 Plus 10 x 8 inch sheet film. This then allows for printing on real silver gelatin black and white fibre base paper, making better print control than can be expected from other types of digital exposure systems. This technique has been used for a while but it has been very limited to its use due to how expensive these machines can be.

Professional photographers, and printers, as well as museums, artists and galleries, are taking their work to the lab, as clients are demanding the quality that only real silver gelatin black and white papers give to the finished image.
Michael Dyer Director, Steve Vallis, says, “Our clients require the quality and look that only real black and white paper gives. Much origination is now done using digital cameras and many labs will output on to colour papers that don’t give the real look of black and white. Even with digital exposure systems such as the Lambda that can output to black and white papers the printer does not have any control. With our method we can even take original negs and make digital files for retouching, and then output back to a sheet film negative.”

Robin Bell, one of Britain’s well known and highly respected black and white printers,  is just one client that frequently uses the service, says, “My business has always been to provide black and white hand prints of the highest quality. Until recently everything was done from the original neg. Nowadays more clients are going over to digital. Working close with Michael Dyer they now know my style. The digital neg service they provide gives me the type of negative that I need allowing me some control in the printing. Because of this I have been able to keep working with existing clients, as well as gaining new business from people who have only ever shot digitally. I have found other systems can give a negative that is far too saturated.”

Steven Brierley, Director of Marketing at HARMAN technology Limited the company who make ILFORD black and white products, says, “ Our business is in making traditional silver gelatin black and white papers. We are delighted that Michael Dyer can provide printers what they need in quality black and white negatives. It is another way of helping to keep traditional printing papers and techniques alive. We know that for the final print, both Michael Dyer Associates and Robin Bell, use ILFORD MULTIGRADE fibre base black and white papers.”

Does this mean that there is now an easier way for digital photographers to get the same effect as a film photographer? Or does it prove that digital needs to incorporate traditional methods to be able to provide the same authentic effect and high quality images that real photographic paper produces.

 In a way it shows that analogue photographer’s don’t need digital, but digital needs analogue photography. In conclusion, Film’s not Dead.

To find out where Michael Dyer Associates is based visit our darkroom page, click here.