big enlargements from 35mm film

Discussion in 'Enlarging' started by Poohblah, Sep 6, 2008.

  1. Poohblah

    Poohblah Member

    Messages:
    433
    Joined:
    Aug 30, 2008
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    i was just wondering what you guys typically consider the limit of enlarging 35mm film. i've noticed softness on my prints starting at 8"x10", but that's what i get for examining my prints with a loupe.
     
  2. Thanasis

    Thanasis Member

    Messages:
    392
    Joined:
    Nov 19, 2006
    Location:
    Sydney, Aust
    Shooter:
    Medium Format
    It really depends on the film type, exposure and the desired effect I am after. A nice grainy image can look fantastic enlarged to even greater than 8" x 10". If you are after sharp images (which it looks like you are, given that you are examining prints with a loupe) then i probably wouldn't enlarge beyond 8"x10" but I would pay more attention to how I am shooting rather than how i am printing. With a hand held Nikon F5 with a manually focused 50mm lens at f2.8 at shutter speeds faster than 1/60 sec I have noticed softness at 8" x 10" also.
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Sep 6, 2008
  3. Frank Szabo

    Frank Szabo Member

    Messages:
    312
    Joined:
    Sep 2, 2007
    Location:
    Broken Arrow
    Shooter:
    8x10 Format

    8 X 10 out of a 35mm neg/slide is about 8X enlargement - more would be ossible but the film's grain typically gets magnified too, sometimes to the point it looks like the print is made up of colored balls if it's taken far enough.

    8X10 is my perrsonal limit for 35mm, 120/220 film (Hassy) can go to 16x20 or so but remember - the film's grain is the same size and perceived grain in the final print is lower. 20X24 might be my max there. 4X5 can easily go 30X40 and 8X10 - well, the first thing you'd have to do is find an enlarger. They're few and far between anymore.

    8X10 on the 8X10 negative - that's measuring the print in feet, by the way.
     
  4. gerryyaum

    gerryyaum Subscriber

    Messages:
    475
    Joined:
    Aug 17, 2008
    Location:
    Canada
    Shooter:
    Med. Format Pan
    I recently made this print

    http://www.gerryyaum.com/P4.html

    into a 20x24 print on Ilford warmtone fiber paper. I was surprised at how good it looks. I guess it depends on the quality of the negative and whether grain bothers you or not. This image was made with a Nikon F5 zoom lens and 3200 asa Tmax exposed at 800asa (I think!)
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Sep 6, 2008
  5. dances_w_clouds

    dances_w_clouds Subscriber

    Messages:
    1,410
    Joined:
    Mar 16, 2008
    Location:
    Vancouver B.C.
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    I've done 11 X 14 prints out of 35mm negs and they look great. You have to look for the film you like and the film developer you use. Its all a issue of what YOU want.
     
  6. gerryyaum

    gerryyaum Subscriber

    Messages:
    475
    Joined:
    Aug 17, 2008
    Location:
    Canada
    Shooter:
    Med. Format Pan
    nan goldin has these huge ilfordchromes made out her 35mm transparencies...helmut newton also had huge stuff made from his trix(?) 35mm negs...so it depends on the photographer and what your trying to say.
     
  7. Kevin Kehler

    Kevin Kehler Member

    Messages:
    605
    Joined:
    May 14, 2008
    Location:
    Regina Canad
    Shooter:
    Medium Format
    I will repeat that it depends on the style of the final shot you want and add that it also depends on the film's ISO. Obviously, the lower the ISO the larger the negative you can make without grain becoming a significant factor. That said, other elements (like transitional tones) can become a factor when pushing a negative to such an enlargement.
     
  8. Jeff Kubach

    Jeff Kubach Member

    Messages:
    6,930
    Joined:
    Sep 29, 2007
    Location:
    Richmond VA.
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    That's my experience, for 35 mm you can go to 11x14 and maybe larger sometimes. 120 film of course you could go larger (I don't print much past 11x14).

    Jeff:smile:
     
  9. bdial

    bdial Subscriber

    Messages:
    5,407
    Joined:
    Jan 2, 2005
    Location:
    NE U.S.
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    The other factor in all this is the proper or optimum viewing distance for the size of print. If you blow up a 35 mm frame to 16x20 and look at from say, a normal reading distance, it will look soft and show lots of grain, regardless of the camera, lens, film, exposure, developer or whatever else.
    That's not to say those factors aren't important, they are, and a soft or poorly exposed negative will never look "good", big or small.
     
  10. Pinholemaster

    Pinholemaster Member

    Messages:
    1,504
    Joined:
    Oct 17, 2005
    Location:
    Westminster,
    Shooter:
    8x10 Format
    There are no limits if the enlargement matches your creative vision in the resulting print.
     
  11. AgX

    AgX Member

    Messages:
    11,909
    Joined:
    Apr 5, 2007
    Location:
    Germany
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
  12. tiberiustibz

    tiberiustibz Member

    Messages:
    1,749
    Joined:
    Oct 22, 2007
    Location:
    Tufts Univer
    Shooter:
    35mm
    It depends. B+W is has that grainy look so I sometimes enlarge it to 11x14 but it gets grainy especially with a 400 speed film. If you're shooting a 50 or 25 speed it might pass.
    When I do color enlargements even the slowest speed available (100) looks shaky at 8x10 because you can see the grain.
    I gave up and started using MF.
     
  13. Mick Fagan

    Mick Fagan Subscriber

    Messages:
    3,095
    Joined:
    Sep 13, 2005
    Location:
    Melbourne Au
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    The further up the food chain you go with equipment and technique, the higher you can go with enlargements.

    There does come a point though, where things start to go awry. Artistic vision, as previously mentioned, will often come into the equation as well.

    Most of us go through phases, firstly one wishes to make a successful print, then one wishes to have it bigger. Then one sort of heads to either up or down in the print size situation and usually settles on a compromise between your satisfaction and capabilities.

    I have very successfully enlarged heavily cropped 135 format negatives onto 12x16" paper in both colour and B&W.

    For the home darkroom you really do need to rationalise somewhat and most of us use one or two sizes of paper only, mainly because of cost considerations. Although space considerations, can and do, make the decision for us.

    Possibly stay where you are at the moment, sharpen up your technique until you feel you really could go in another direction, then go there.

    Mick.
     
  14. Sponsored Ad
  15. Chazzy

    Chazzy Member

    Messages:
    2,950
    Joined:
    Jan 17, 2004
    Location:
    South Bend,
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    Personally, I think that 35mm looks best in 5x7 enlargements, or 8x10 as an upper limit. I think that photojournalism has had a deleterious effect on the print quality that we are willing to accept--people have gotten used to the look of 35mm enlarged too far. But, having said all that, I have an 8x10 print from a 35mm Ektar negative which could go a little larger.
     
  16. Mick Fagan

    Mick Fagan Subscriber

    Messages:
    3,095
    Joined:
    Sep 13, 2005
    Location:
    Melbourne Au
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    Charles, when Ektar 25 professional came out, the lab that I worked in was asked by Kodak Australia, to make a same size picture (life size) of a standing model dressed in a striking floral dress.

    This was then printed by the dozen, mounted on 10mm foam core and placed in photo outlets around Australia.

    I know this because I printed some of them using a 10"x10" horizontal mural enlarger with a 135 film negative original, held between glass for optimum results.

    You had to see the lack of grain and the tightness of colour to believe just how good this film was.

    That film was a revelation, although I believe it was a monster of a headache in manufacturing in whichever Kodak plant made it.

    I believe it was pretty much on a par with B&W Tech Pan, also a 25 ASA film.

    On a personal level, I standardised my colour work around Ektar 25 professional for quite a few years. An absolutely outstanding film!

    Mick.
     
  17. ic-racer

    ic-racer Member

    Messages:
    7,470
    Joined:
    Feb 25, 2007
    Location:
    Midwest USA
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    There are practical limits with projection printing using the common 50mm lenses available. These limits have to due with the very small effective aperture that results from huge enlargements.

    If you want to do a 100x enlargement projection print, your effective aperture on an f4 lens would be f400. The diffraction that results from this will severely degrade the image.
     
  18. jgjbowen

    jgjbowen Member

    Messages:
    879
    Joined:
    Oct 13, 2003
    Location:
    Richmond, VA
    Shooter:
    Large Format
    I've had the good fortune of seeing some 8x10 prints from 35mm negatives that had been developed in PMK. It was at a photo workshop with 10-12 other photographers. We were all AMAZED by the lack of grain in these images. If you anticipate large prints from your 35mm negatives, I would strongly suggest you investigate the grain masking properties of the various Pyro developers.

    Personally, I've always shot Tri-X and HC-110 for 35mm and 4x5. I limit 35mm to 5x7 prints, and I can't remember the last time I made an enlargement bigger than 8x10 with a 4x5 negative. I use Pyrocat with 5x7, 8x10 and 7x17 negatives that are destined to be printed on Azo, BUT I've got 6 rolls of Tri-x that need to be developed and I'm tempted to develop them in Pyrocat to see the results. I think it would so convenient to be able to make some larger prints from the smaller negatives.

    As always, YMMV,

    John
     
  19. Mick Fagan

    Mick Fagan Subscriber

    Messages:
    3,095
    Joined:
    Sep 13, 2005
    Location:
    Melbourne Au
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    I was using a 50mm lens.

    One of the more interesting results of doing, or having a go, is that you are often surprised at the results.

    The exposures for the previous mentioned Ektar professional film, life size enlargements, would have only been a few minutes, probably no more than 5 minutes.

    When doing normal mural enlargements it was not uncommon to have 15 to 20 minute exposures. Some of us borrowed large type books for the visually impaired from the library and would sit to one side of the projected beam and read by the scattered side light emanating from the enlarger.

    Mick.
     
  20. Marco B

    Marco B Member

    Messages:
    2,981
    Joined:
    Jan 13, 2005
    Location:
    The Netherla
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    I've recently made some very succesful enlargements of TMax 100 35mm film with an actual image size of about 11x17 inch. Grain is hardly noticeble. It is very nice to see even extremely small details pop-off the paper, like small twigs connecting leaves with branches, that would hardly be visible in a smaller print size.

    Ok, it's not the ultimate sharpness of a 4x5 neg printed on the same size, but still the results are quite stunning.

    I only noticed that, in terms of sharpness, low contrast areas seem to do less well visually, than the high contrast regions of the image. Not so with 4x5, where all parts of photo apear, and are, sharp
     
  21. jmal

    jmal Member

    Messages:
    528
    Joined:
    Oct 13, 2006
    Location:
    Kansas
    Shooter:
    35mm
    For me, the limitin factor is not grain in itself, but the way that the grain begins to "pull apart" beyond 8x10 prints. I have a number of prints that are fairly sharp on 11x14 paper with the image size being around 11 inches on the long side of the frame. Others at this size begin to look mushy in the lighter tones. If the photo has a lot of deep blacks you can go larger than you can with photos heavy in the mid and light tones. Tis has been my limited experience. I also prefer handling 8x10 paper. It's a good size to hold in the hand for viewing.
     
  22. AgX

    AgX Member

    Messages:
    11,909
    Joined:
    Apr 5, 2007
    Location:
    Germany
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    Yes,
    This is something often forgotten in discussions around enlarging, grain and resolution.

    For every lens/film size combination there is a `optimumĀ“ viewing distance. Which means the viewer will get the same perspective impression as the photographer looking at his groundglass.
    Sometimes this viewing distance could not even be achieved by an unaided viewer. Sometimes the proper viewing distance will not show any grain issues. Sometimes the chosen viewing distance will not show an out of focus effect the photographer had mind. Sometimes the viewer is rather forced to obtain a certain viewing distance, as in case of a photo book.

    This whole matter is quite complex...

    (by the way, the
    `optimumĀ“ viewing distance = factor of print enlargement X focal length of taking lens
    [factors the common viewer does not know however])
     
  23. donbga

    donbga Member

    Messages:
    2,084
    Joined:
    Nov 7, 2003
    Shooter:
    Large Format Pan
    I agree with Mick. This film was stunning.

    As far as optical enlargements are concerned, the quality of the final print depends on the quality of the taking lens and the enlarging lens. If you use excellent optics at both ends you can go very large with 35 mm film. Yes you will see grain but the image will still look sharp when viewed from the proper viewing distance.

    Of course making internegs on 70 mm film and using an oil immersion carrier are advanced techniques that allow mural sized prints to be made.

    Helmut Newton's big enlargements shot on Tri-X look great. I know these were made optically since at the time that I viewed those prints digital enlargements were not available or widely available.
     
  24. ic-racer

    ic-racer Member

    Messages:
    7,470
    Joined:
    Feb 25, 2007
    Location:
    Midwest USA
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    Yes you are right Mike, as long as you step back and view from the appropriate scaled distance the 'diffraction-limited resolution' should appear to be the same as a smaller print.

    RP lines/mm = 1500/N (1+M)

    N = F number on lens
    M = Magnification
    RP = resolving power

    So,
    10x print at f8 = 17 lines/mm
    100x print at f8 = 1.8 lines/mm

    When viewed from 10 times the distance the resolution (again, just based on diffraction) will be similar. I had made the somewhat common mathematical mistake of assuming constant viewing distance.
     
  25. Chazzy

    Chazzy Member

    Messages:
    2,950
    Joined:
    Jan 17, 2004
    Location:
    South Bend,
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    The print that I was speaking of was also Ektar 25. I agree that it was an amazing film. Now you have me wondering just how large a print could be made from that negative and still look satisfactory to me!
     
  26. frotog

    frotog Member

    Messages:
    751
    Joined:
    Jan 7, 2007
    Location:
    third stone
    Shooter:
    Large Format
    I recently made 45" x 65" b/w rc prints from 35mm negatives and I think the results look fantastic no matter what the viewing distance may be. The film was delta 3200 stand developed in highly dilute rodinal. For the enlargements I used a perfectly aligned durst 138, a glass carrier, and a 50mm rodagon g. The negs are quite thin but proved a perfect match for my roll of ilford digital rc (not a multigrade paper). Exposure times were in the neighborhood of 4' with a 500 watt bulb. This is so much more fun than starting with a 4x5 copy neg! The photographs are startlingly sharp even at this size enlargement. The notion of a limit for enlargement for a 35mm neg strikes me as an arbitrary restraint that moldy old figs proscribed in the photo how-to manuals of decades past.