Digital negatives - The best it yet to come
I'm sure most, if not all of you, are aware of Mark Nelson's ground breaking
product, Precision Digital Negatives. For those of us creating digitally
enlarged negatives the release of PDN in 2004 was a major boon, enabling us
to create digital negatives more confidently and systematically.
Since the initial release of PDN Mark has continued to work on his system to
provide PDN users more options, greater flexibility, and more advanced
methods to build digital negatives. He has done this by creating an
extension the original PDN software, Curve Calculator II.
Last Monday I received permission from Mark to make some public comments
about CCII since I have been beta testing the Windows version of the product
over the summer months.
It is probably impossible to describe the software accurately without
actually performing a demo of the product so I'll try to highlight some of
the features of CCII.
1) CCII will help you accurately identify your SPT (Standard Printing Time.)
The Standard Printing is the minimum exposure time required to achieve an
2) Because the SPT has been determined more accurately with CCII, the SCD
(Standard Color Density) for a process is more accurately identified. SCD is
an optimized ink color selected to create a colorized negative, which avoids
the use of black ink. (This applies to negatives made with an inkjet
printer, PDN can be used to make negatives created with an image setter
too.) Digital negatives made with black ink require a more extreme PAC
(Process Adjustment Curve) which can result in tonal loss or posteriztion of
the printed image.
3) All digital negatives require a PAC and curve generation has been
simplified with CCII, so even the most inept user such as myself can usually
produce a good curve quickly and accurately.
4) Curve Calculator II is tied to a database, which allows easy tracking
and identification of calibration tests with different processes and
materials. This is a very nice feature if you want to test different
papers, printers, inks, etc. What ever floats your boat. Entire projects can
be created and tracked eliminating end user confusion and mistakes.
5) All of the features of CCII dove tails nicely with ones previous
experience with PDN. The concepts are the same.
As a result of using CCII, this week I was able to make the two best
palladium prints I have ever made with inkjet negatives. Open
shadows, graduated highlights and luminous midtones. My screen image
matched the print (actually I had a little more shadow detail than I
could see on the screen, and my monitor is calibrated and profiled.)
Mark is still polishing CCII and getting feed back from other beta
testers so it will be a while yet before we can expect to receive the
final version, but just be patient, I think all of you will enjoy and
Frankly I've been blown away with CCII's power. And I've not described
all of the features; so the best is yet to come for all of us using PDN.
For those of you that contend that a PAC isn't needed for printing digital
negatives, especially those of you making gum prints, you just don't know
what you are missing, I encourage you to give PDN and CCII a try.
Standard Disclaimer: I have no financial interest in Precision Digital
Negatives or Curve Calculator II except for the $5000 Mark paid me to write
this e-mail, hehehehe!