Enlarged contact sheets

Discussion in 'B&W: Film, Paper, Chemistry' started by valdez, Jun 4, 2005.

  1. valdez

    valdez Member

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    When I shoot 120 film, I have contact sheets made on 8.5x11" paper. The frames are in most cases large enough to be "readable". However, I find that it is a different story with 35mm negatives. The frames on the standard contact sheets are usually too small for me to make an accurate assessment of the negative. Unfortunately, making 4x6" proof prints of all frames is both costly and a waste of materials. I recently heard about "enlarged contact sheets" (either 11x14 or 16x20). I wonder how many of you resort to such enlarged contact sheets. Do you find that these offer any significant advantage over standard sized contacts? Lastly, how do you store these larger sheets? Thanks very much.
     
  2. jjstafford

    jjstafford Inactive

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    Enlarged contacts are unnecessary. Put a loupe right on the negative.
     
  3. Bill Mobbs

    Bill Mobbs Member

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    I use the loupe too. My eyes are not that good anymore. I use the loupe on 6X6 negs as well. I use a small hand held microscope at times.
     
  4. aj-images

    aj-images Member

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    I used to make tons of these for a wedding photographer. The advantage was that the images were big enough to view without a loupe, but small enough that they could not be scanned and copied. I think I fit 3 strips of 4 images on an 8x10. - Jim
     
  5. fschifano

    fschifano Member

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    I've thought about doing this from time to time and never really came up with a satisfactory answer. To get an "enlarged" contact sheet means that, well, you will have to enlarge the negatives. That means you need to find a way to get strips of 35mm negatives lined up in an oversize carrier and project the image onto a 16x20 sheet of paper. It takes at least an 8x10 negative carrier to fit a full 36 exposure roll of 35mm film for such a task and then all you wind up with is a 2x enlargement of each negative. You could, of course, work with smaller and fewer strips in a 4x5 carrier and enlarge each set onto an 8x10 sheet of paper and you still end up with only a 2x enlargement. It goes without saying that this is only marginally practical if you have a glass carrier. Without a glass carrier you will be spilling negatives all over the place and will quickly become frustrated with the idea. As we say around here, fugetaboutit!

    The most economical way to make a contact sheet is to carefully line up your negatives on an 8x10 (a tight squeeze but do-able, and most economical) or 8 1/2 x11 (plenty of room, but slightly more expensive) sheet of paper. Then use a magnifying glass on the prints. A 2x magnifier is cheap.
     
  6. TPPhotog

    TPPhotog Member

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    As I soup my own negs and print them I've always thought of contact sheets as a waste of processing time be it 35mm or 120 film. My vote is for using a decent loupe with the negs either on a light box or against the window using natural light. Looking at the negs I get an idea of what I want to print and how to print it.
     
  7. kwmullet

    kwmullet Subscriber

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    Not the best alternative for customers, and if you're
    wanting to keep costs down on jobs that have many rolls of
    film, enlarged contacts could be an attractive alternative
    to a huge stack of 4x6 machine prints. Also, if your
    customer has the enlarged contacts from which to evaluate
    the work, chances are they might order more enlargements
    than if they could "make do" with the 4x6 prints.

    Even if customers aren't part of the equation, I'd sure be
    a lot happier leafing through years of enlarged contacts
    than manhandling my sheets of negs, even in photofiles
    (or however you spell it) unnecessarily. Contact prints
    still convey a lot more information about an image than
    a scan, and are likely to last a heck of a lot longer, too.

    -KwM-

    <edit a few minutes later...>

    Having said the above, I looked over the course of a few
    months a while back for somewhere to give me enlarged
    contacts, and the one lab in town that USED to do it now
    scans the engs and gives 35mm-sized photoshop "contact
    sheets" instead. If you ask for a larger print, they
    just increase the whitespace between the 35mm-size frame.
    IMO, a complete waste of time and money and of MUCH lower
    quality than analog enlarged contacts. Basically, I'd
    need to find someone with a 10x10 enlarger and the time
    and inclination to do the work.

    Maybe someday in the distant future, someone could build a
    single-purpose, fixed-focus contraption that had an
    upside-down 8.5x11 or slightly larger contract printing
    frame, a light source above it (or a strobe?),
    a difusing box below it, a lens and a box with a paper carrier
    into which you could slide an 11x14 or 16x20 piece of
    paper and produce an enlarged contact sheet.

    -KwM-
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Jun 4, 2005
  8. geraldatwork

    geraldatwork Member

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    I have a film scanner. The Minolta Dimage III. While not the highest level scanner it is good to evaluate the negatives. It even gives me an idea of what has to be dodged and burned before I make my first work print.
     
  9. David A. Goldfarb

    David A. Goldfarb Moderator Staff Member Moderator

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    This is usually done with an 8x10" enlarger and a glass carrier. Some people like them to impress clients, if the client can afford such things and it's a sufficiently high priced job.
     
  10. rbarker

    rbarker Member

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    Another option is to use a scanner capable of scanning 8x10 negs. Put your 35mm or 120 film in your PrintFile page, and scan the whole page at the input DPI needed to print whatever size "contact" sheet you need. I use my old Epson Expression 800 Pro for this, and it turns out to be quite handy. Not the same as putting a good loupe to the negative on a light box, but useful for general reference.
     
  11. Donald Qualls

    Donald Qualls Member

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    Maybe I'm missing something here, but what about this option?

    The enlarged proofs at 2x are about 2x3 inches from 35 mm, right? Why can't you just get 2x3 prints (whether from film scans or optical, at that size it hardly matters as long as they're unmanipulated and scanned at 600 ppi or finer to allow printing at 300 ppi)? I haven't seen the option for prints this size at Costco, but I'd be amazed if a lab that has a 3" wide printer couldn't produce 2x3 prints.

    They'd be the same size as "enlarged contacts"; if machine printed they'd have the frame number and exposure/filter settings on the back just as 4x6 proofs do, and they'd likely save a few cents over 4x6 proofs (OTOH, if you get machine proofs with the roll, they can't be costing as much as fifteen cents a frame, unless you're paying pro-lab prices for simple machine prints).

    Or do what a number of wedding and semi-pro photographers do in the Seattle area -- just take the film to Costco in the first place. I get 24 exposures processed, single glossy 4x6 prints, and a CD (their scan resolution isn't up to large prints, but works fine for web and computer screen viewing) for about seven dollars, and my negatives are as good as any I've seen (catch is, they only do 35 mm, but this is only an issue with 35 mm anyway, right?). They do enough volume to keep the machine tuned up, and if they don't have a bunch of work stacked up, can sometimes turn around a single roll in as little as 40 minutes even with the scanning.
     
  12. aj-images

    aj-images Member

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