Enlarging Tri-X negatives

Discussion in 'Enlarging' started by david b, Feb 29, 2004.

  1. david b

    david b Member

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    I know this is a loaded question but I will ask it anyway.

    I am shooting Tri-X for the first time and I am wondering how large I can print with these negs. I shoot 6x6 and develope in D76 1:1.


    So, how big can I expect to go without losing sharpness and getting grainy.


    thanks...
     
  2. DrPhil

    DrPhil Member

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    Besides the obvious controls on grain: paper, paper developer, enlarging equipment, etc...

    There's also the personal aspect. One person's grain is another persons grainless. Print a bunch of sizes, with a variety of papers and developers, and pick what you like best. This is what is so much fun about photography.

    My rule of thumb is no more than 4x by area. Thus, my max print size is 16x20. Your preferences will likely be different.
     
  3. KenM

    KenM Member

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    My personal maximum is 16x20, for the same reason as DrPhil. 4x off a 4x5 negative is about as much grain as I can handle. However, I know of one photographer who goes *large* with an occasional 4x5 image, and it looks just fine; exceptional, in fact. Yes, there's grain when you stick your nose in the print, but so what? Step back and view the entire image, and the grain goes away.

    So it is a personal preference.

    Some images are strongest when printed a certain size. For example, a photograph with areas of very little texture, such as bright snow, or very deep shadows will work fine when printed on a smallish paper. However, go larger and these small areas become large areas of nothing-ness that will detract from the overall image.

    Hope that helps!
     
  4. Les McLean

    Les McLean Subscriber

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    Tri X is one of my favourite films because of the grain. I use it in both 120 and 35 mm and process in Rodinal because it accentuates the grain. As has already been said it's what you feel comfortable with.
     
  5. Donald Miller

    Donald Miller Member

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    It seems to me that this is one of the questions that come up from time to time. I know that I have posed it at one time.

    There are other equally important considerations in addition to grain and sharpness. Those are the tonality of the print and the local contrast that the print exhibits.

    Even if one were able to enlarge to 30X with no apparent grain in the print, it would still suffer from loss of local contrast and loss of smooth transitions in tonal scale as the degree of enlargement increases. The reason being that the negative can only contain so much information in a given film area. As we go larger in enlargement we "stretch" those areas over the print surface.

    I personally enlarge most of my 4X5 negs to 11X14 size (maximum). Occasionally I will enlarge to 16X20 but that depends on subject matter etc.

    There are different choices in developers that may enhance your ability to enlarge to a greater degree.
     
  6. david b

    david b Member

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    I am only "hoping" to enlarge to 15x15.
     
  7. dr bob

    dr bob Member

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    Why not just enlarge to various magnifications using, say, 8x10 papers and see the results for yourself? It couldn't require more than a halve dozen prints and one session. Then you could compute the size the total print would be.
     
  8. DrPhil

    DrPhil Member

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    To clarify my above statement. I only elarge by 4x by area. Thus 4x5 negs get enlarged to a max of 8x10. My 8x10 negs get enlarged to a mx of 16x20. However, my 8x10 negs make great 11x14 prints too. There's a noticable difference between an 11x14 from a 4x5 neg vs an 8x10 neg.

    I've noticed that some people consider a 4x enlargement to be the increase in length along one side. e.g. 4x5 at 4x becomes 16x20. This is a 16x enlargement by area, which is too much IMHO.
     
  9. CPorter

    CPorter Member

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    If you go to the critque gallery and view the "Abandoned House photograph, you will see that that I took that photo with Tri-X. My personal experience with Tri-X is with the 35mm format and I find that I must fill the frame with the subject!----to get a tonally pleasing 8x10 enalrgement. The magnification for that photo is rouighly 7.5 to 8x, and that's about as far as I care to go with that film.

    I realize you are shooting 6x6, so just magnify it until it pleases you, and let the viewers decide it they like or not. Istrongly agree the above statement: "one persons's grain is another's graininess"-----
     
  10. Nige

    Nige Subscriber

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    about 6x9 from 35mm (old Tri_X) for me (and the grain is visible at that). Never shot any in MF (645) to know my limits there.

    regardless, I just wish people would stop claiming 'grainless' Tri-X prints, especially in the magnifications quoted... They might be satisfactory, look great, etc, but they sure ain't grainless! I'm still waiting for someone to send me a 'grainless' Tri-X neg... I doubt it will ever turn up!!!
     
  11. jd callow

    jd callow Moderator Staff Member Moderator

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    I shoot film because it has grain (and other properties that are unique to the medium). I like the beautiful tones of tri-X and i love the fact as you get closer the grain emerges, adding another layer to the viewing experience. A couple years ago I shot the same subject with tri-x in 6x6 and 4x5. As I recall I enlarged the 6x6 to 16x16 it was still nice, but getting grainy the 4x5 was still silky @20x24 (or it may have even been larger my memory is not so good).

    From a proper viewing distance a good picture will still look good large. I think a better question to ask is, "What type of picture should be enlarged to X big?"

    Not only am I less bothered by grain than others here, but hold affection for it. Grain is part of the medium. I really am somewhat confused that some feel that a 4x5 is maxing out at 8x10. I am not as well versed in the black and white arts as others here, but I'm pretty sure that the resolving power of paper is still no match for the detail held in a 4x5 neg at an enlargement of 8x10.

    I enlarge colour negs from 6x6 to 20x20 square all the time. It is apparent by what you can see in the grain focus that there is still detail to be had -- detail that is not being picked up by the paper. And yes, grain is visible (not nearly to the degree found in B&W). the nature of colour film (three layers) minimizes grain somewhat.



    jdc
     
  12. jd callow

    jd callow Moderator Staff Member Moderator

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    Well my memory is bad. The 4x5 was 16x20 and as I recall I did a magnification test of 20x24 on 8x10. I have the 16x20 here next to me -- from about 18" away it can be described as silky. From about half that distance you can see grain. I would think proper viewing distance to be no less than 2 or 3 feet.

    I posted it to the gallery section:
    http://www.apug.org/site/main/album_page.php?pic_id=2193
     
  13. Fintan

    Fintan Member

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    I also use tri-x for 6x6 especially for the grain, the grain actually makes tri-x IMHO
     
  14. Donald Miller

    Donald Miller Member

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    If you want to diminish the appearance of grain, a staining developer will help in that regard. Additionally most staining developers enhance apparent sharpness.
     
  15. Ed Sukach

    Ed Sukach Member

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    One can always use a "Softening" lens on the enlarger. Occasionally, I'll forget that I have one on the lens and attempt to use the grain focuser. Not easy when there is very little to *no* grain on the projected image.