Here's a topic for 35mm shooters

Discussion in 'Ethics and Philosophy' started by Stephen J. Collier, Mar 5, 2005.

  1. Stephen J. Collier

    Stephen J. Collier Member

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    I shot 35mm exclusively (for economic reasons alone) with a Canon "new" F-1. Over the last 6 months I have set-up a working darkroom and I am now doing all my own work. In all the photo classes that I have ever taken (beg. and inter.) we printed 8x10's, so naturally when I began my own darkroom I continued with 8x10's. But having studied much more photography on my own than I ever did in any of my photo classes, I have become accustomed to looking at a certain level of print quality that my 35mm 8x10’s don’t come close to (they are not even in the same city, let alone the same ball park). I have tried different films and different developers and although there is some difference in the grain and tonality my resulting prints still lack the overall quality that I want. So the only answer that I can come up with is that 8x10 is too large to blow up 35mm negatives (of course I don’t pretend that this is at all a revelation, I knew that a 35mm print will never be as nice as MF or LF, but I never minded before). Although an adequate 8x10 print can be had from a well processed 35mm neg, I feel that in my case 5x7 might be much more pleasing, so I am going to get a box and see what happens. Sorry. This is really just a rant, but I would like to know how other 35mm shooters feel about the issue and how they might have gotten around it.

    Thanks,
    Stephen
     
  2. David Brown

    David Brown Member

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    Don't throw out the 8x10. You get two 5x7 sheets and two test strips out of each. :wink:

    Actually, I think 5x7 from your 35mm might be closer to what you're looking for.

    Good luck!

    David
     
  3. gchpaco

    gchpaco Member

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    I find I can usually get clean 8x10s out of even 400 speed B&W film. Assuming you're using good lenses on the F-1 (which as far as I know is almost all of the FD line) you should be able to manage it. What might be an issue is that your enlarging lens might not be up to the task--8x enlargements are almost always doable from the film but stress crappy enlarging lenses to their limits. Accordingly, what's your enlarging lens?

    I should note I've gotten clean 11x14s from 35mm before. It's not always possible but I find I can do it from time to time.
     
  4. Mongo

    Mongo Member

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    Although I can sympathize with your thoughts, there are things that an 8x10 enlargement from a 35mm negative is good for. I've been happy with a lot of the architectural shots I've done in 35mm as 8x10 prints. Also, sometimes you want to accentuate grain (for example, early morning low contrast pictures, especially with fog, can have a lot of character when shot with fast film and enlarged to 8x10).

    If you haven't read it yet, you'd be well served by reading Les McLean's "Creative Black & White Photography". I've been shooting MF and LF for quite a while, but this book really got me thinking about 35mm again (as well as creative ways to use the larger negatives), and I've done some of my best 35mm work since I read it (almost all printed at 8x10).

    5x7, by the way, is a great "standard enlargement" size for 35mm.
     
  5. BruceN

    BruceN Member

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    I notice that my 8x10 prints from 35mm negatives have improved vastly since I got better lenses for both my camera and my enlarger. Amazing how that works. :smile:
     
  6. jnanian

    jnanian Advertiser Advertiser

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    i've shot 35mm off and on with a k1000 since way back when (30+ years?). i used to shoot a ton of tri-x exposed @ 300 and processed in sprint film developer ( like d76 but metol-free ) for more than 10 years --- i never had any trouble enlarging to 11x14.

    maybe it was my subjectmatter or maybe i just never noticed i should have enlarged to a smaller size ? :smile:

    i'm not a landscape-er ( except industrial landscape ), and shoot mostly portraits of run-down buldings and people...

    while i have never really been a one film one developer kind of person --- i guess sometimes it helps to just concentrate on the bare essentials. :smile:

    good luck!

    -john
     
  7. Tom Duffy

    Tom Duffy Member

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    Yeah, 35mm B&W won't make a good 8x10 if you're shooting landscapes or architecture. With people pictures the grain seems much less relevant. The standard size for 35mm on 8x10 paper is a 6x9 image. Slight underexposure and underdevelopment (so that you can print on a grade 3 paper as normal) will help with grain and apparent sharpness. You shouldn't try to get the same amount of shadow detail with 35mm as you might with larger formats. Unless you shoot subject matter that requires 35mm (action or low light) you might be better off buying a used medium format camera (they're pretty cheap right now) for the quality you're coming to expect.
    As an experiment, shoot some delta, acros or tmax 100 using a tripod and lens set to f8. At least then you'll know what the upper limit of 35mm quality can be. I generally enlarge 35mm to 5x7 and only rarely to 6x9.

    I think your realization about print quality is part of a natural evolution.

    After shooting a variety of formats up to 8x10, I find myself shooting 35mm about half the time, because the subject matter requires it.
     
  8. rogueish

    rogueish Member

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    When printing on 8x10 paper I generally enlarge at 6x9 to preserve the ratio unless I intend to crop. I have also had no problems going to 11x14.
    Having said that, I should also mention that I have moved up to MF and now shoot 6x7.
    I have also found this. Books,(Les McLean and Tim Rudman) experimentation, and APUG have been the biggest help to me. Although nothing beats hands on
     
  9. David H. Bebbington

    David H. Bebbington Inactive

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    Do you see better sharpness in pictures taken at higher shutter speeds? There are plenty of photographers still going around with cherished Nikon Fs and F2s, Pentax Spotmatics,etc. but in general SLRs don't get better as they get older, since component wear can lead to higher vibration levels which wreck sharpness. Even so, any good 35 mm SLR should deliver good results with slow film and a stopped-down lens when mounted on a heavy tripod (a flimsy tripod will make matters worse).
    On the other hand, it could be that your personal standards have been raised to the point where you just don't like 35 mm any more!
     
  10. WesC.Addle

    WesC.Addle Member

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    Wish Elijah a happy birthday from his father for me...

    Kind of ironic this is in the Ethics and Philosophy heading...
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Mar 7, 2005
  11. Bruce Appel

    Bruce Appel Member

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    I won't say that 35mm can't produce a good 8X10, or even 11X14, but you sure are going to have to work harder to get it. All aspects of technique have be on the money. Learning to get a really good print from 35 will go a long way towards improving your craft, simply because it is so unforgiving.
    I shoot a lot of 35, but try to limit it to those situations where I really need 35mm advantages. Long lenses come to mind, as do small, light and fast travel cameras.Whenever feasible I use a larger format because it is so much easier to get nicer prints with better detail and tonality.
    That said, there are many photographers much better than I who have made wonderful 35mm images.
     
  12. Claire Senft

    Claire Senft Member

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    Worth the weight

    There is nothing that helps a 35mm negative more than a very heavy and stable tripod. There is no reason why that 100Tmax...and other modern films.. and careful workmanship & technique can not produce very effective 8x10 prints. I am thinking about tripods in the 15 pound or greater weight class and the use of mirror lock up.

    I am reminded of an article on the Carl Zeiss website in recommending a tripod for high resolution photography...around 200lpm. Their recommendation was for A Sactler Carbon Fiber TV tripod legs, weighing 7 1/2 pounds and a Sachtler fluid tripod head weighing 18 pounds. The load capacity of this equipment was 202 pounds. I could contemplate carrying
    25+pounds of tripod but the B&H price for this equipment was in the area pf $6500.00 That was that as far as I was concerned.

    A very stable tripod, in my opinion, is at least as important for 35mm work as it is for 11x14 cameras.
     
  13. SuzanneR

    SuzanneR Moderator Staff Member Moderator

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    I recently saw some Salgado 16"x20" prints from 35mm negs. Yes, they are grainy, and a little soft up close, but boy, are they expressive when you take a step or two back! They have real presence. Clearly, he's using good lenses, but I think you need to consider what you want your prints to convey. I think the grain, and the slightly soft look of his prints really added some visual impact to the subjects. The advantages to 35mm are its immediacy, and quickness, and with modern films, and a little technical know how, it is possible to make bigger prints, but they are going to have a very different feel than large prints from MF or LF negs.

    Don't get me wrong, I love the look of a carefully composed LF image, whether contact printed or enlarged, but I have a real soft spot for the well seen and exposed 35mm image that's been printed big, 11"x14" or larger. It pushes the medium, whether in landscape or documentary, and can be very satisfying, and as I've said, very expressive.
     
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  15. David A. Goldfarb

    David A. Goldfarb Moderator Staff Member Moderator

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    You can get presentable and interesting results from 35mm, but that might just not be your taste. If you like a smoother look, and the DOF effects and lens qualities of a larger format, and if there's no practical reason that keeps you from shooting a larger format like a need for long lenses or a motor drive or the mobility of 35mm, then shoot a larger format. It's not necessarily more costly to go bigger, if that is a concern.

    I find that I tend to enlarge 35mm negs to about 6x9" on an 8x10" sheet.
     
  16. eric

    eric Member

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    Salgado uses Leica M and R lenses.

    I've enlarged 11x14's from 35mm. And they were from Tri-X. You just have to do more dodging/burning.

    Did you see that documentary on the war photographer Natchway? He uses Canon. He was working with a printer who was printing one of his shots on huge 20x24. Nothing really particular with what film/developer he uses. I'm sure he sends it back to the states if he's not using digital. But this print, was from a neg. Anyway, it was 20x24 and you really need to do a lot of work with them to get it nice.

    I've been to the Witken and routinely see large 16x20 prints from 35mm.
     
  17. RAP

    RAP Member

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    Print size is purely personal choice. If you feel 5x7 will enhance your images, by all means do so. Just remember, it is the content of the image and not the size of the print that ultamitly matters. Michael Kenna, probably the most successful fine art photographer today, makes his prints no larger then 8x10, most much smaller and they sell for $1500 in galleries! He shoots mostly 6x6 now, up from 35mm.

    If you are looking for finer grain, try some slower films. Pick just one combination and go take pictures. You can only learn so much standing in a dark room.
     
  18. djkloss

    djkloss Subscriber

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    I'm curious, what type of enlarger are you using? Diffuser or Condenser? I've thought about setting up two enlargers for this very reason (one of each). Each produces a different result. If you can get it, try kodak techpan. You'll be amazed at what can be done with it. If not, what about 'pull processing' Tmax 100? say to 50ASA? I haven't tried doing that yet, but I've heard it works. there's also microdol-x. Isn't that for fine grain film developing? but seriously, it is truly a great loss about techpan being discontinued.

    good luck......and never stop wondering

    Dorothy
     
  19. Andy K

    Andy K Member

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    Very true. If you have a lightweight tripod a couple of neat tricks:

    The first is to hang your equipment bag underneath the tripod, between the legs. This helps weigh the tripod down and to stabilise it.

    The second is to use a couple of old camera straps fixed to the neck of the tripod to create a 'stirrup' in which you can place one foot to exert some weight, again this steadies the tripod.

    See attachment, borrowed from 'The 35mmm Photographer's Handbook' by Julian Calder and John Garrett. (the first photography book I ever bought way back in 1979)
     
  20. bjorke

    bjorke Member

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    I have been going through your gallery and have a few thoughts on this.

    While replies have talked repeatedly about landscape, I don't see that as an issue here.

    In what's posted here, you say you are using Tri-X and Rodinal. But to my eye, the scanned prints aren't looking like the snappy Rodinal I'm used to. Are the scans soft? The prints? Do you have a good enlarger lens? For less grain, I recommend Xtol 1+1 highly for the current Tri-X. (Cameras & More didn't have it -- might require a drive up to Keeble's)

    Another issue is f/stop. If you look at your own posts, you'll see that the shots exposed around f/8 and f/11 are pretty snappy -- f/16 and f/2 significantly less so. If you can lock-off the camera and use an appropriate exposure, I think you'd be well-served to do so. For formally-set-up stuff like your portraits, exteriors, and figure photos, this is all easily achieveable. The lenses will always be sharper in the middle range of f/stops.

    This is a matter of taste of course, but it seems to me that your skin tones are underexposed?

    (I was going to refer to my gallery for comparison, but alas it's all 6×6 right now :smile: so I'll point at an offsite collection over on Contax G -- this one for comparison. It's shot with Contax but brands are not the issue (I shot with a large Canon FD system for many years. Still have an AE-1 I couldn't part with, used it only two or three weeks ago because it's light and perfectly capable). The point is that all of that stuff was 35mm, most handheld, and it all prints well to 8×10 and larger. I have a houseful of it)

    For a fine 6x6 you could always get a TLR -- I've seen Autocords and YashicaMats go for less than $100 regularly. There's a used camera show in San Jose on the 2nd of April if you don't like e-pay: http://www.photofair.com/
     
  21. rbarker

    rbarker Member

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    While I think everyone agrees that print quality objectives are highly subjective, I also agree with the suggestions that boil down to print quality being a sum of the parts thing. Excellent lenses on the camera, used at optimal apertures; the use of a solid, reasonably heavy, tripod; proper film/developer selection; and a superb enlarging lens (e.g. a Schneider APO Componon HM) on a properly aligned enlarger all contribute to great prints.

    And, while there's nothing like an 8x10 contact print, I consistently get excellent (IMHO :wink: ) 11x14s out of my 35mm negs . . . when I use the above combination of elements in the process. Your smilage may vary, of course.
     
  22. Flotsam

    Flotsam Member

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    Stephen, I'm not not sure what aspects of your 8x10 prints you are unhappy with. Every format has it's has it's own unique characteristics but I love 35mm SLR photography. Other formats make me feel like I am working a camera while I find shooting 35mm is as natural seeing or speaking. It is a wonderful expressive tool that is unashamed to display the attributes that are inherently photographic. The Grain, the contrast, the compression and razor thin DoF of the long, fast, lenses, the wild perspectives of the wides the spontaneity of working hand held. This is beginning to sound like a "why i love SF photography..." thread.

    You're the boss. Print smaller or shoot larger. When it looks good to your eye, that's it.

    This shot was taken on 100 speed film and printed 8x10, I wouldn't hesitate to go 11x14. If you get close enough, you can see grain in the smooth areas but nothing that would distract from the photograph even if you were looking for it.
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Mar 6, 2005
  23. BWGirl

    BWGirl Member

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    I guess everyone has pretty much run the gamut between '8x10 is fine' and '5x7 is max'. I enlarge until the width is 10 (the long side of the negative is enlarged until it reaches 10"). I find that I get pretty sharp images with less grain. I shoot a lot of landscape-y things.
    BTW...I really like that shot of the shadows on the street! Cool stuff! :wink:
     
  24. eagleowl

    eagleowl Member

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    I recently...

    ...got back from a holiday visiting my in~laws(Chile-AMAZING country!),and my wife and I wanted to give them something which showed them something about my home town.
    We decided that I'd do some photos of some of the more attractive local buildings.
    I shot on 35mm format foma 100 and printed at 8x10 on Ilford MGIV.
    The result was beautiful!
     
  25. SLNestler

    SLNestler Member

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    Stephen,
    Are you printing with a condenser enlarger? The collimated light, while it gives apparent sharpness, highlights grain and chops up tonality; a cold light would make a big difference. And there is certainly nothing wrong with smaller prints. I would recommend using an easel that crops on 4 sides, and make larger margins; that will help you to better see the tonality; especially in highlights near the edge.
    Finally, if you are still unsatisfied, but committed to 35mm, you might try a Pyro developer. That masks grain and gives amazing tonality, as well as "edge effects" that give better sharpness. Of course, there are drawbacks to Pyro, but it is one possibility.
     
  26. Stephen J. Collier

    Stephen J. Collier Member

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    Thank you all for your suggestions. For those who asked, I am using a Vivitar VI condensing enlarger (not a great enlarger by any standard, but it was had for the right price) with a Rodenstock 50mm f3.5 lens.

    Looking back at my prints I can see that the ones that I didn't like were most often either incorrectly exposed or they were shot in very low light situation where I had to open the aperture past f/2 and slow the shutter speed down to 1/30 or 1/60. I have an aversion to using a flash (I hate the harsh shadows) so during the winter when I am shooting indoors there is little more I can do than shoot slow and wide... Oh well, I’ll just have to wait for better weather and better light.