8x10 contacting printing recommendations?

Discussion in 'Contact Printing' started by John Wiegerink, Apr 29, 2011.

  1. John Wiegerink

    John Wiegerink Member

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    I searched this site and others, last night for info on contact printing and my head is still spinning this morning. Here's the deal................I've been shooting my 4x5 lately and it's really been rewarding and relaxing. I got to thinking that if 4x5 is this rewarding and relaxing then 8x10 must be twice as beneficial. Right???? So, I dug out my trusty BJ 8x10, blew the dust off, slapped my convertible Zeiss Protar on it and now I'm ready to go. Of course I don't have an enlarger or darkroom big enough for 8x10 enlarging.
    I want to contact print my negs!!!!! Here is what I have. 1.) Light source= my Omega D2V condenser enlarger. 2.) Contact set-up= 20"x24" vacuum easel. 3.) Film= old TRI-X 320 and TMAX 100
    This is the help I need. I think the light source is fine. The vacuum easel should work, but I have to figure out a way to keep the neg in perfect contact with the paper. I'm thinking of a piece of 11x14 1/2" thick plate glass or any other suggestion? Now, for my real question and that is paper and developer. I just want to experiment with this set-up for a while to get the hang of it so I don't want to shell out much dough. I know from the research last night that AZO and Lomida papers deliver the sharpest contact prints. Or so they say! I'd like something close since I'm kind of a sharpness freak. I'm leaning toward Foma Fomalux RC312 (very cheap), Adox Nuance sounds good also. Now, comes the developer? I'm going to do some 8x10 portraits and maybe a couple of landscapes/light house shots and want a neutral or slightly warm tone look with good blacks. I know many use Ansco130, but I don't think it would be warm enough for my liking. So, maybe something on the order of Selectol Soft or Agfa Nuetol.
    So, what I'm after is a cheap starting point, as sharp as possible print with a slightly warm or warm tone look. Anyone have any good advice besides buy a digital P&S. :DJohnW
     
  2. michael_r

    michael_r Subscriber

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    At this point I contact print 8x10 on the same Ilford enlarging papers I prefer for enlargements. Lots of people love Ilford MG Warm Tone although it is not the particular paper I use. Heavy glass works fine, as long as it is good glass - free of flaws significant enough to affect print quality.

    Regarding sharpness, I'm also a sharpness freak but I have a hard time believing anyone can actually see a sharpness difference between a print made on a current top quality MG enlarging paper and a single emulsion contact paper. I suppose you could split the "difference" by using a graded enlarging paper. I'm sure Lodima is an excellent paper, but I would choose it (or not) based on its tonal characteristics, not sharpness. Just my opinion though.
     
  3. RalphLambrecht

    RalphLambrecht Subscriber

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    Why do we think that print sharpness is influenced by paper emulsion? The resolution limit of standard enlarging paper is far beyond human detection.
    I'll also doubt that there is a distinguishable difference between an 8x10 contact print and a 4x5 enlarged to 8x10. As long as the 4x5 lens delivers 34 lp/mm or better, you won't be able to see a difference without optical aids.
     
  4. mark

    mark Member

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    Glass larger than neg and paper being sucked down completing the neg sandwich will be just fine. If you are happy with all of your other stuff for enlarging then use it for the contacts. If you are looking for Darkroom GAS justification then go Alt process. Otherwise what you have will work just fine and dandy. Remeber you are doing this to relax. The less thought the better. When I printed in a regular darkroom I liked the forte WT fiber paper, not even sure it exists anymore. Illford was nice too.
     
  5. michael_r

    michael_r Subscriber

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    I totally agree Ralph. But there are people who claim graded papers and contact papers are actually sharper than variable contrast papers because VC papers have more emulsion layers. That might be what OP was referring to in his research. Whether or not this is even true means little to me since I doubt any difference would be visible.
     
  6. John Wiegerink

    John Wiegerink Member

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    Ralph, The sharpness thing (AZO-Lomida) is what I kept reading last night and I was kind of in disbelief myself. If my regular enlarging paper is giving me good sharp, (when I want them), prints, then why wouldn't the same paper give me excellent contact prints. I always heard,"never believe what you hear and only half what you read". Maybe it's less than half what you read? I did make some contact 8x10 prints about 30 years ago and just used Dektol and Ilford FB Gr.2. I still have the prints and they don't impress me much. I'd like to see if I can do things better in my old age. At least I know I'm a Little more patient now and that might help.
    I'm almost out of 8x10 warm-tone paper and don't want to cut my larger size sheets down so I might just try some of the cheap Foma Fomalux RC 312 to practice with and I have the chemicals to mix up my own warm-tone developer.
     
  7. RalphLambrecht

    RalphLambrecht Subscriber

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    If they are talking about emulsion thickness, acutance may be the issue, which is indeed a variable for sharpness. Also, with test patterns (and high contrast subjects), a paper with a higher Dmax may look 'sharper' due to the increased contrast between tonal extremes. Resolution is definitely not a factor here! But, let's remember:

    sharpness = acutance + contrast + resolution
     
  8. John Wiegerink

    John Wiegerink Member

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    sharpness = acutance + contrast + resolution[/QUOTE]

    Ralph, that's a good summation of sharpness. I think that's why many people tend to pick or choose some prints with slightly more contrast. It just seems to make them appear sharper even if they are not. Thanks for the help and I'm off to the glass shop Monday for a cover glass. JohnW
     
  9. Vaughn

    Vaughn Subscriber

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    Don't quote me on this, but I believe I have heard that VC emulsions are made from mixing two emulsions together that are laid down at the same time -- not two distinct layers. It would certainly simplify and speed up the manufacturing process! But I could easily be wrong about this.

    I thought the whole idea behind a vacuum easel was to do away from the need to use glass, and the two additional surfaces that dust can be on?
     
  10. RalphLambrecht

    RalphLambrecht Subscriber

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    That's my understanding too, two and even three sometimes, also done for film emulsions. Different halides are used to optimize toe and shoulder characteristics at the same time.
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Apr 30, 2011
  11. John Wiegerink

    John Wiegerink Member

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    The vacuum easel works great for keeping large sheets of paper flat, but anything above that paper it has no bearing on. If I were to put a sheet of paper on the easel and turn the pump on the paper goes flat, then I position the 8x10 neg over the paper and there's nothing to force the neg to make close contact with the paper. That's why I'll need a heavy sheet of 11x14 plate glass. The suction from the easel on the overlapping glass will also help put pressure on the neg/paper. I read somewhere where a person used a very large sheet of mylar on a vacuum easel and they said it worked fine.
     
  12. Vaughn

    Vaughn Subscriber

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    The other way I have heard vacuum easels used is to tape the negative all the way round to a hole in a piece of mylar or similar material (larger than the photo paper). Lay that on the paper on the easel and the vacuum will suck the neg to the paper.
     
  13. John Wiegerink

    John Wiegerink Member

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    I think I'm going to try the 11x14 or bigger sheet of 1/2 inch plate glass as I think the weight of that should keep the neg in very close contact with the paper. Plus, I can always use it for proofing over the thin piece of glass I have now.
     
  14. Tony Egan

    Tony Egan Subscriber

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    I use a thin sheet of foam under the paper and glass so there is a little bit of "give" as the glass meets the negative to avoid lack of perfect contact due to less than flat base board.
    I had a glass shop make me a very thick and heavy 16x20" piece with smooth bevelled edges for not much money.
     
  15. aluncrockford

    aluncrockford Member

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  16. John Wiegerink

    John Wiegerink Member

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    Not when I already have a vacuum easel and no money to burn. I like the sounds of the 16x20 heavy(1/2") glass, for not much money, that Tony talks about. I can't see a contact printing frame from Bostick-Sullivan keeping it any flatter, but I could be wrong. If I had a little extra money I might go with the contact print frame or if I were to do a lot of contact printing. I have plans for neither, but that might change. So, for now it's the vacuum easel and heavy glass. John
     
  17. John Kasaian

    John Kasaian Member

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    I've settled on a Printfile Contact printer after having my fun with thick glass (registration and finger print issues) and a split back printing frame (mine was a pita to open and close).