How big can a 35mm print be blown up...?

Discussion in '35mm Cameras and Accessories' started by melmoth, Nov 10, 2005.

  1. melmoth

    melmoth Member

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    Hallo,


    How big can a print be blown up to without losing too much in the grain?

    Assuming that the camera lens and enlarger lens are of good quality, one has a fast/slow film and that effect wanted is defined by clarity and not grain the size of golf balls.....

    Again, very curious and most grateful for any input.

    M.
     
  2. modafoto

    modafoto Subscriber

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    Slow film is one thing.

    Otherwise the developer should be chosen carefully. Some devs can bring you very small grain and some will bring you evident grain (Rodinal brings grain, but that is nice grain IMHO:smile:).

    Finally the question is very difficult to answer as you and I may have different opinions on how much "too much" is.

    But with a 100 ISO film and Rodinal I produce 18x24 cm prints that has fairly discrete grain. So with a slower film (or lower rating) and a developer suited for fine grain you can make prints up to at least 8x10 without having to worry too much...but then...with 35 mm you have to live with a rather large amount of magnification. If you hunt invisible grain in large prints you have to go at least up to MF.

    I live the grain (and love them :smile:) as I like my 35 mm equipment and don't think that buying MF would make my photos any better at the stage of learning I am at.

    Greetings Morten
     
  3. Pinholemaster

    Pinholemaster Member

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    Blown Up

    All depends on how much explosives you use. HA!

    Now if you want to enlarge an image, depending on the process you use, the size can be very large.

    The key is your viewing distance. Too many people get too close to very large prints, and then complain about grain. Very large prints are meant to be viewed at a normal, comfortable distance that you'd experience from visiting a museum or gallery or someone's home.

    To judge a 20x24 print like a 5x7 by inspecting it from only inches away is not that way you'd enjoy the image once it is on your wall.

    I have a friend whose commercial work enlarged from a 35 mm image to a billboard was display in London, and it look wonderful from street level, but don't get within 5 feet of it because you'd see the halftone process.
     
  4. Monophoto

    Monophoto Member

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    I've seen 16x20" prints made from 35mm negatives - they were grainy, but the grain was an inherent part of the image and didn't detract from anything.

    But the extreme was that years ago when Kodak had the large backlit billboard display in Grand Central Station in New York, there were a couple of notable instances in which the enlargement originated from a 35mm Kodachrome slide.
     
  5. Nicole

    Nicole Member

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    M. I've enlarged 35mm (portrait) prints (photographed with Nikon gear on Agfa APX400 and dev'd in Xtol) to 20"x30" + toning, and have been very happy with the results. Even close up the grain is very acceptable although as already mentioned, larger prints are made for viewing from further away. Personally I prefer smaller, more intimate prints.
     
  6. Lee Shively

    Lee Shively Member

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    It depends on a lot of things. The grain of the film is only one limitation. Most of the time, the inherent sharpness of the negative limits more than the grain of the film. I've pulled tiny sections of 35mm Tri-X negatives shot at an EI of 1600 and made very sharp prints. I've had 35mm Kodachrome slides done by a custom lab and printed to 16x20 that were too soft. As mentioned previously, billboard size prints and wall murals have been made from 35mm original negatives and slides.

    I also like smaller photographs as opposed to big prints. But if I were planning to make huge prints from 35mm I would plan ahead. Use a fine grain, sharp film--I like Ilford PanF+. Use a heavy or rocksolid tripod when shooting. Use a sharp lens stopped down to a medium aperture. Focus carefully. Try to avoid flat lighting or backlighting of the subject--sidelighting will make the subject appear more sharp. Process the film in a high actuance developer. Use shorter developing times to get a slightly thinner negative. Be sure to dry in as dust-free an area as possible. And, as previously stated, when viewing the print don't stand too close. Following this procedure helps to stack the deck in your favor.
     
  7. SuzanneR

    SuzanneR Moderator Staff Member Moderator

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    I've seen some very striking 16"x20" prints by Salgado made from 35mm negatives. (shot, of course, with M mount lenses, I believe!). They were grainy, I think he shoots Tri-X, but from far away looked great. The most important question, I think, does the size suit the subject matter? Salgado is dealing with very big issues...

    Personally, I make portraits of small children at their homes. For my own work, I find the intimacy of say, a 6"x9" image size from 35mm just perfect. Depending on the image, though, I'll go up to 10"x12".

    Somehow, the image always dictates the size for me.
     
  8. Mark H

    Mark H Member

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    Aside from slow speed films, I've often used Ilford XP2 Super (a chromogenic B+W film) and find 16" x 20" prints to be easily attainable.
     
  9. melmoth

    melmoth Member

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    This is great stuff.
    Thanks to all. M.
     
  10. MattCarey

    MattCarey Member

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    Calypso imaging in Santa Clara has an image of a lizard on a beach behind the counter--it is about 6 feet across. Looks awesome. It was done on 35mm--or so I was told.

    Matt
     
  11. Jersey Vic

    Jersey Vic Member

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    I was taking a printing class and the instructor showed us some 20x24's he printed for a famous war photographer using TriX and they were sharp and stunning. At that size you miss the photo if you stand close enough to look at the grain. I've printed some already 'misty' images I shot on 35mm TriX at 20x24 (the opening shot on my website) and it worked great, although tmax 100 at 16x20 might better suit a grainophobes tastes.

    .
     
  12. Bill Mitchell

    Bill Mitchell Member

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    I've printed from 35mm for over 50 years. The problem isn't the grain, it's the slight degradation of image edges when they're blown up too big. I think that 13X is the maximum enlargment which will still look good up close. That's presuming a high-acutance film/developer (Kodak TechPan/Technidol) and excellent prime optics (Leica, Zeiss, or Pentax), and a precision enlarger such as the Leica V35 with glass negative carrier.
     
  13. inthedark

    inthedark Member

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    I blow up to 36x48 inches but I have highly calibrated process cameras. This would be from 35mm Kodak ASA400, pentax point and shoot camera.
     
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  15. Donald Miller

    Donald Miller Member

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    Depends on a lot of things...most important is what is acceptable to you.

    I typically will not go larger then 16X20 from 4X5 negatives...more usually my prints are 11X14 from 4X5. I would not be happy with an 8X10 from 35 mm no matter what film was used. For me there is not only grain, there is acceptable sharpness, and tonality. So it really is a matter of personal satisfaction.
     
  16. roteague

    roteague Member

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    As Donald and others have pointed out ... what is acceptable to you and what your interests are. I notice that everyone responding to this post assumed B&W negatives, but consider color transparencies - like Fuji Velvia 50, probably the sharpest color transparency film available right now. Don't limit yourself to strictly B&W, there is a whole world of excellent color images being made right now.

    FWIW, I used to find 20x30 Cibachrome prints from Ektachrome transparencies to be quite stunning. I primarily shoot 4x5 now, and regulary print to 30x40, with many of my prints being 20x24. With Fuji Velvia, my 30x40 prints show no grain, and are sharp as a tack.
     
  17. Robert Budding

    Robert Budding Member

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    I mostly shoot medium format because I can better control grain. But there are times when a small camera with a fast lens is the best tool.

    I've printed Neopan 1600 (EI 1000) to 8x10, but it's quite grainy (5x7 is better). HP5 yields very nice 8x10's and even 11x14's (though grain is more apparent).

    My new carry-anywhere camera is a Bronica RF645. Still testing the limits for acceptable enlargements with fast films such as Delta 3200 (only had the camera a few weeks). But I've printed very nice 16x20's with HP5 shot with my Mamiya 645, so I'm hopeful.

    Robert
     
  18. Guillaume Zuili

    Guillaume Zuili Subscriber

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    I use Trix, print on a regular basis on 16x20, sometime 20x24.
    A printer does 32x48 (for 135) or 40x48 (120 and larger) for exhibitions and it's stunning.
    Grain can be beautifull, it's not the issue, nor the film fast or slow. The issue is the printer...
     
  19. Chuckiesinluv

    Chuckiesinluv Member

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    How Big a print??


    I HAVE HAD GREAT PHOTOS FROM PLUSX b&w FILM , FROM FUJI 100 & 200 FILM. aLSO, kODACHROME. uP TO 20 X30 AND 16X20. USE TRIPOD!! rEMEMBBER THEM???
    cHUCK
     
  20. avandesande

    avandesande Member

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    This first B+W shot I had framed was a tub shot of my oldest. It was taken with a rollei point and shoot, tmax film. We liked it so much we had it enlarged to 16x20. To this day when I look at it there is little or no impression of grain and appears sharp. (this was before i got into photography, my expectations have grown!)
    The film was sent off to a kodak lab for development, so I would assume it was done in TMAX developer.
     
  21. gnashings

    gnashings Inactive

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    Along with all the great and very objective comments alreadyon record - I have a thught:

    paper is (relatively) cheap - go nuts! Then look for yourself, see how you like it.

    A little off topic... I wonder how much effect the enlarger lens has on this?

    Peter.
     
  22. donbga

    donbga Member

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    I;ve made 16x20 enlargements from Ilford 400 Delta and the grain wasn't objectionable. However these were images with a lot of detail and little con tone areas like sky areas.

    Don Bryant
     
  23. Mark Layne

    Mark Layne Member

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    My favoured print size is 11x14. The handful I have from 35mm are on APX 25 but then again my photographs often contain sky.
    Mark
     
  24. gnashings

    gnashings Inactive

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    and apparently I can not spell... sorry about that - just noticed.
     
  25. Gabe Racz

    Gabe Racz Member

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    I've been happy with 16x20 prints from 35mm, when I've shot TMax 100. That takes care of the grain problem (skies still have noticeable grain but not distracting IMO). I had one print that at least one person couldn't believe was from 35mm, doing the following:

    use a tripod
    use a sharp lens (my Minolta MF primes are sharp at 16x20; my cheap Vivitar zoom is mushy at 8x10)
    shoot moderately stopped down (e.g. f8 on my 28mm f/2.8 is sharp as a tack)
    shoot at night and underdevelop (black skies don't show as much grain, underdeveloping seems to minimize grain also)

    That basically echos some previous posts I guess. All of that maximizes sharpness and minimizes grain, but still doesn't address the tonality issue (I wouldn't compare 16x20s from 35mm to those made from 4x5).
     
  26. Will S

    Will S Member

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