I have been using digital negatives for quite some time now and have decided that this is my default workflow. It makes so much sense to be able to marry the digital and darkroom technologies, which allow me not only considerably greater control over the image, but also allow me to continue working in a traditional manner.
A major advantage of the digital negative is that the same image can be used in so many ways. Once the image works on my monitor, I can create a negative to be used with silver gelatin paper, then turn around and create another negative for use with the Van Dyke process. Interestingly, four 4×5″ negatives can be created at a much lower cost than using 4×5″ film, and since I employ the Bromoil process where fine detail is not an issue, I can even project the negative up to 11×14″ paper, negating the requirement to contact print.
The only drawback is that getting started is somewhat of a pain. Then again, once the initial work is out of the way, prints can then be made in the darkroom without test strips, burning and dodging, contrast considerations, etc. – just set things up and expose the paper on the first try.
I’ve put together a small booklet that describes this initial process and placed a PDF of it at GLSmyth.com/MiscArticles/Creating_The_Digital_Negative.pdf. Initially it might appear to be overwhelming, but once one has gone through the process, one will see that it really is easier than it first appears.
If you have problems or questions, then please do not hesitate to give me a shout via George.Smyth@gmail.com and I will help however I can.