Producing large prints that can hold up to the closest scrutiny requires not only the best equipment, but also the most careful technique.

The lens is the most important component of any camera. It must be able to project an image onto the sensor with high resolution and low distortion and aberration. This is difficult to achieve with most mass-produced lenses. For this reason, Photographica uses premium lenses on all its cameras, whenever possible. 

Here, for instance, you can see our Canon digital camera surrounded by specially made wide-angle Zeiss lenses.  Each one of these lenses is rigorously tested for resolution and aberration by Photographica before use. If it is not up to our standards, the lens is returned and the process  repeated until we have a lens that meets our standards.

At 85mm and above, however, Canon prime lenses are without peer, and so all of our telephoto lenses are Canon primes.

In some cases, the manufacturer’s lenses are legendary in their own right. Such is the case with the Mamiya 7ii rangefinder. Its lenses are consistently rated the highest quality of all lenses tested.  Combined with a large film size of 6 x 7 cm, this camera produces stunning prints

The Hasselblad camera system has been at the apex of medium format photography for more than half a century. The combination of the 6 x 6 cm film size and stunning Zeiss lenses produces prints that have great depth and resolution.

For panoramics you want to have a film or sensor size that is at least three times wider than it is high. One of  the foremost camera and lens system in this category is the Fuji GX617. It produces a transparency that is 2” wide and 6” long.  The camera and film are fully capable of producing stunning prints 40” wide and 120” long.

The premier image quality for many years was obtained only by large format cameras. One of the best of these is the Linhof Master Technika.  Among the sharpest lenses for this camera are the legendary Nikkor’s.  Here is our Linhof with its array of Nikkor lenses and a special reflex viewer that enables us to use the camera without resorting to a dark cloth. 

Fine lenses and quality sensors are only half the equation when it comes to large prints.  The other half is the supporting equipment.

Quick release plates and L-brackets are securely mounted to an RRS BH55 ball head

tripod head on a Gitzo carbon fiber tripod.

All photos are shot with a remote release cable so that there is absolutely no movement of the camera at all during the exposure. In addition, on our reflex cameras, the mirror is locked up before the shutter is released to further insure that your prints will crystal sharp and clear.

Accurate meters are required for optimum exposure of each photograph at the time it is taken. We use a Sekonic incident meter, a Pentax spot meter and a Gossen color temperature meter for all exposures.

Photographica will produce several fine-art high definition landscape cinematography DVD's this year with footage shot with our Canon high-definition XLH1 camcorder. This camcorder has three separate sensors, one for each primary color. This ensures rich, vivid colors and, at the same time, high resolution and sharpness.

Taking the Photograph

Before any photograph is taken, the color temperature of the ambient light is measured with our Gossen color temperature meter.  Filters are added to the front of the lens to bring the color temperature to the one for which that film is optimized.  If a digital camera is used, the color temperature of the camera is set to match the reading of the Gossen at the time of exposure.

Medium and large format film is used to take the photograph, and then carefully scanned on a dedicated Imacon film scanner. The resulting file size ranges from 300Mb to 1000Mb.

If a 35mm digital camera is used, up to seven individual frames are taken of the scene and then stitched together in Photoshop. In this way, the resolution of the photograph is increased by 500% to obtain the finest detail in every part of the resulting print.

Making the Photograph

Once the resulting RAW camera file or scan is completed, the file is imported into Lightroom for adjustments in exposure, local contrast, tonality, saturation, luminance, hue, and sharpening. If necessary, the image is cropped and converted to a TIFF file and exported to Photoshop where local corrections such as dodging and burning, local sharpening, and local contrast.

The file is up-rezzed and sharpened for printing, first as a 16-inch long proof on the Epson 4800.  The proof is carefully examined under different lighting conditions for several days.  If necessary, further corrections are made and then a larger, 16-inch wide proof print is made on the 4800.

This larger proof is also carefully examined for several days. It is wall mounted to see what the final print will look like under standard viewing conditions. If necessary, final corrections are made and the file is up-rezzed and sharpened for printing 44 inches wide on the Epson 9880.  For canvas prints, reflected or stretch edges are made so that the print can be wrapped and stretched around a frame.  By the time the file is ready for printing, the size has grown to 1Gb or more.

The prints are dried for several days and carefully examined again to see if they meet the Photographica quality standards both technically and aesthetically.  If so, the canvas prints are painted with a special clear semi-gloss varnish that protects the face of the canvas from physical damage and ultra-violet light.

Canvas and paper prints are printed and handled to archival standards and are guaranteed to last the lifetime of the purchaser.

For shipping, each print is rolled up with non-acidic tissue paper and inserted into a sturdy cardboard mailing tube. Each print is shipped with a tracking number and insurance. If, for any reason, a print arrives damaged, we will be happy to provide you with a copy of your invoice in order to make a claim with the shipper.