Enlargements from 6x4.5--how big?

Discussion in 'Medium Format Cameras and Accessories' started by PamelaHL, Aug 10, 2006.

  1. PamelaHL

    PamelaHL Member

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    So, I'd like to enlarge some landscape photos that I took on a Pentax 645N. How big can I go, keeping them sharp?
     
  2. Dave Miller

    Dave Miller Member

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    Depends how good your eyesight is, how close you want to get to the finished work, which film you use, and what you think is sharp.
     
  3. Claire Senft

    Claire Senft Member

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    You can enlarge them to about 3x the print area that you would consider acceptable from 35mm.

    For myself, I do not consider a bigger print to be better than a smaller print. If the print can be viewed as it is displayed at a given size that maxiimizes the clarity of the print then I would not wish to make any larger.
     
  4. David Henderson

    David Henderson Member

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    Whilst I don't know what you consider sharp, your viewing distances, your standards etc I can tell you how far I might go from a well exposed, sharp colour slide. And that would be 16" x 12" with high quality conventional printing onto Ilfochrome.

    If it were b&w I might feel I could go one size larger.

    If I were paying for a top quality drum scan, excellent file creation and printing on a LightJet or Chromira, then I'd put my limit at around 24" x 30".
     
  5. Tom Stanworth

    Tom Stanworth Member

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    Depends on whether mono or colour and also the type of image. Detailed landscaped will not tolerate big enlargement factors. Street images will. I have printed street images and environmental portraits at 20x16 from TriX and they look great. Lanscapes I would limit to prob 12x16 from a slow film or smaller still from a 400, perhaps 10x8 or 12x9.5.

    If it looks good, it is good.....

    tom
     
  6. raucousimages

    raucousimages Member

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    A friend of mine has a 30X40 of a steam locomotive from the Ely Nevada train yards and you can see detail right down to the bolts and rust spots. At first I thought it was shot on 4X5. It was shot with a Bronica 645 on a tripod on Ektachrome 64, exposure was dead on and printed by a master printer. It looks great at a viewing distance of about 10 feet any closer and it looses some sharpness and a 20X30 would look sharper but on this shot 30X40 works, the train looks massive, powerfull. The point is 645 will give a very large, sharp print if you do all the right things. On the other hand a very large print can look great full of grain. I shoor 35mm Tri-X dev in rodinol and print at 24X36. the grain looks like dots at 1 ft.
     
  7. Tom Stanworth

    Tom Stanworth Member

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    As has been brought up many times in this context...go see a Salgado exhibition. Many of his prints are very big from 35mm and 645 but becasue of teh subject matter and style it does not seem to matter on bit.
     
  8. PamelaHL

    PamelaHL Member

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    Thanks for all of the responses. I knew that my original post was overly simplistic, but that yielded varied responses, which I find helpful.

    The photos are from Alaska's Glacier Bay, and they will be in my home, so most of them will not be huge. My husband does enjoy some large prints, though, so it's within contemplation, hence the question.

    Again, thank you.
    Pamela
     
  9. Drew B.

    Drew B. Subscriber

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    I used to create images of poster (24x36) size for regulatory agency hearings from the M645 (usually black and white) and they were tack sharp. They were plotted out w/HP ink jet plotter. These photos were, of course, taken using a tripod and metered properly.
     
  10. m_liddell

    m_liddell Member

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    You start to lose sharpness at about 4x and the limit is about 7x, this is all subjective of course.

    There are lots of other factors: How good a tripod did you use, fine grained film, subject matter, mirror -up and cable release etc.
     
  11. nc5p

    nc5p Member

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    Mirror lock up helps a lot with my Mamiya 645. I made some photos down in Carlsbad Caverns and experimented with making posters, they looked pretty good. My handheld shots aren't as sharp, though not too bad if I keep the shutter speed at 1/250 or above.

    Doug
     
  12. donbga

    donbga Member

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    You can easily go 20x24 with 645 negs or trannies. Get a cheap one made and see what you think.
     
  13. naturephoto1

    naturephoto1 Subscriber

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    If you print digitally on a machine like a Chromira or a LightJet, I would expect that you should easily be able to print 24" x 30" from a tripod mounted image, particularly with the mirror locked up. I frequently print 20" x 30" from my Leica 35mm transparencies from these machines.

    Rich
     
  14. Roger Hicks

    Roger Hicks Member

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    Dear Pamela,

    For me, there's an immense difference between colour and black and white, and another immense difference between scanning and wet printing.

    With B+W wet prints (which tend to be 90% of the pictures I care about), I find that up to about 3x I can get 'contact print' sharpness and tonality; up to about 4x - 6x, it's still excellent; and then, because of the half-tone effect, I rarely like the tonality until 7x - 10x, when the half-tone effect disappears again. The reason for giving magnification ranges is that so much depends on the film and developer.

    With scanned colour (the other extreme) I've been perfectly happy with A3+ prints (roughly 12x16 inch) off Leica and indeed Voigtlander trannies. I've never been inclined to go bigger. Like Claire, I don't regard bigger as automatically better and indeed I often prefer smaller prints.

    Cheers,

    Roger (www.rogerandfrances.com)
     
  15. ChrisW

    ChrisW Member

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    Pamela:

    It is with fervent truculence that I attempt to represent the case for large black and white prints. Having lived in Manhattan for twelve years, I can certainly appreciate limited wall space and shorter viewing distances. However, certain landscapes scream for enlargement. I'd say Glacier Bay is one. Try it as big as you can project. As Roger said, the larger the magnification, the more the image is compromised. But are you looking for an exact representation of the negative, or can you extract a little more drama? Personally I avoid grain at all costs, but many people like it. The subject should guide your limit of compromise in grain, tone, and acutance.

    I shoot 6x6 Tech Pan (au revoir) and Efke R25 (props to the boyz and cherubs in Samobar, Croatia) films through Zeiss optics and regularly enlarge to 40 x 40 inches. My subject matter is mostly abstract architectural, which in my definition includes land, sky and sea scapes. Is scape a word? Yes.

    But I digress. The point, and I do have one, is to try it all. 20x24 trays are $70 per set of three. For really big prints, use APUG to find quality master printers for very reasonable prices. Alexis Neel http://www.alexisneel.com/en/is a good example.

    Cheers,
    Chris
     
  16. PamelaHL

    PamelaHL Member

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    This is such a delightful thread, thanks for all of the opinions.

    Most of them are color, all hand-held. We [actually, my husband, but I'm not blaming] forgot our camera bag and tripod at home, so the Hassy SW/C on which we'd splurged was unavailable, as was the tripod; when we realized the error, we quickly found a store and bought a used Pentax 645N before embarking. I didn't think about the tripod until we were leaving, because I usually shoot handheld. So it is. I'm grateful that I at least had a camera and that my husband took care of the kids for an hour while we were in Glacier Bay so that I could snap a few shots.

    I'm still muddling over all this in my mind. We don't have an obvious place to hang a large photo, but Glacier Bay is so beautiful and I do think a large photo of the right caliber would be a sight.