Q. Recently I took some negatives to an outlet of a nationally known company to have enlargements made. When the prints came back, they were excessively reddish, with the sky a definite pink in tone. When I said the prints were unacceptable and asked that they be redone, the two young men in the shop were quite surprised and assured me that "this is the best the lab can do."

They were reluctant to send everything back, but they did after telling me that it wouldn't do any good since "you always lose color from the original negative when you get enlargements."

When the prints came back a second time, two were perfect and two were now too blue. They refused to do anything further, saying I was "lucky" to get two prints so close to the original.

To add to the confusion, I took a print to another shop to get a negative and several prints made. When they came back, the prints were bleached out and the color very bad.

The man behind the counter told me that "you always lose color saturation when you make a new negative," and this was the best they could do.

I don't know what is true! What can one expect in terms of color reproduction from an original negative or from a negative made from a print?

A. This is a very sad situation. It absolutely should not happen. What should you expect from color reproduction? You should expect accuracy, topnotch quality and all the assistance your dealer can provide.

Technically, you do lose something every time you go through a photographic process. This means that making a copy negative from a print can bring a slight loss of quality, but not necessarily a very great loss. Certainly you shouldn't lose color saturation! Your copy should be very close to your original.

As to this business of losing quality when you make an enlargement, that's ridiculous! You might pick up some graininess depending on how great the enlargement, but the color should be accurate.

Most important, I really think it's terrible that you were told these things. Generally it costs the store nothing for a reprint and gains a satisfied customer. It's time for you to take your business elsewhere.


Q. I have a Pentax camera and have been using 640 speed film overseas. I transported the film in a lead-lined packet to protect it from airport X-rays.

Most of my pictures were taken in bright sunlight; in some cases my subjects were in partial shade. My camera is set for 640 and usually reads about f16. Many, most of the pictures are hazy. Even the closeups.

I have now purchased a polarizing filter. Do you think this will correct my problems, or is it something else?

A. Your problem is that the 640 film you are using is balanced for tungsten (artificial) light, not daylight. If you want to use it outside, you must use an 85-A filter. These cost from $10 up, but if you have a lot of this film it might be worth your while. Talk to your camera sales person and be sure you follow directions carefully for use of this deep orange filter.

As for your polarizing filter, you haven't wasted any money. This is a valuable tool (I use one to kill reflections), and the more you use it the better you'll like it.


Q. I have a Nikon F3 that I like very much. I use it when I travel in both the United States and abroad.

Especially when I'm outside the U.S., I am afraid the F3 will malfunction so I would like to buy a second body.

I'm thinking in terms of the FA, the new 2000 and also an F2A (the last so-called mechanical body). What would you advise?

A. One answer would seem to be the Nikon FM2. Although I have not tested it, I'm told by people who have used it that this camera will keep on working even if the batteries go dead. It becomes an all- mechanical camera, and the only function you lose without batteries is metering.

Several photographers I spoken to have one for just this reason.

Carl Kramer, former director of photography for The Washington Post, will try to answer your photography questions in his column, but cannot reply individually. Send your questions to: Carl Kramer, c/o Weekend, The Washington Post, 1150 15th Street NW, Washington DC 20071.