Discussion in 'Enlarging' started by stradibarrius, Nov 22, 2010.
what is the typical print size I can expect to get from 35mm film?
That's up to you.
I used to do 20"x16" prints off 35mm but these days won't go higher than around 10"x8". It's down to what you consider you want in terms of print quality, particualrly grain size and tonality (smoothness of tones).
I had 20" X 30" optical prints made from each film type I used to know visually how each would come out. Of course each would vary based on how good the exposure is as well as content/subject matter. Depending on film type, I can routinely make 20" X 30" prints that stand up to close-up scrutiny.
Standing up to close scrutiny is relative.
I've blown a 35mm negative up to about 18ft wide for a client, he (or rather the company) complained about the grain and lack of sharpness (the grain was sharp), to which I said well I asked for a Large format original. I was told the photographer was the best around and very professional I queried teh 35mm neg and was told it very high quality
So putting a print from a 35mm negative alongside an image shot on 5"x4" or 10"x8" at the same enlargement wouldn't need much scrutiny to see there's an enormous difference.
Close scrutiny means nothing.
For me, usually 6x9 or a 7x7 crop looks really good on 8x10 paper. I routinely make 9x12 or slightly larger on 11x14 paper as well. Grain shows up at that size (400 TX) depending on the image and exposure but it is not intrusive.
Don't underestimate the effect camera shake has on sharpness, and your ability to enlarge past 8x10.
Shots that I swore looked fine in a contact sheet or smaller print really betrayed the difference once blown up past that size. And of course, your lens quality as well as film/developer choice will factor in, too.
Everything else being equal, larger film produces more detail - this is no secret. When I visited the Air and Space Museum, they had on display a room size print from the very high res and very large film used in the spy plane. It is awesome.
My former company provides billboards in Las Vegas and those are very low res by comparison. However, those are clearly intended for considerable distance viewing.
Two completely different applications using completely different film sizes, subject matter and yes . . . viewing distance.
I have made 24"x36" prints from 35mm negatives, but the composition has to be worth it, the subject has to be interesting, and the photograph has to be technically good enough.
Of course, a well-executed 35mm image can go very far. There is no firm answer how far you could or should go with 35mm. Push your limits and see for yourself! It's usually moot, in my book; sometimes 35mm is the only way to get a particular image. And those of us who do LF or ULF typically do it not for detail at massive enlargement but because of the joys of contact printing.
Should it interest you how grain enters the picture, l have short blog entry on this topic. It addresses the issue of grain (and therefore also tonality, I would say) as a function of format size, in very simple terms. Too simply really, but it gives some ballpark numbers.
Many of us have fond memories of 35mm slides projected to mural sizes. I don't remember anybody ever complaining.
i think it is all personal preference ..
i have enlarged 35mm film way-bigger than 16x20
I'm a bit backwards compared to the rest of the world. I love 35mm for the gritty, big grained look you can get out of it.......Tri-X and Rodinal then lith printed. I shoot larger formats I shoot Acros to get fine grain and wonderful mid-tones. Either one can look great printed big, although I don't go past about 12x18 on 16x20 paper simply because my my trays aren't any bigger!
I love Delta 100 35mm printed on 11x14" and if I had a bigger easel and trays I bet 16x20" would look good too, maybe more. It is very sharp and the grain is quite small so there is lots of detail and good tonality as well.
It's about viewing distance too, Delta 3200 on 8x10 has obvious grain when held up to your face but on a wall or a desk the grain melts into the background. At the same time I find grain pleasing in the right shots so sometimes a nice big gritty enlargement is just what you need.
I should have mentioned in my previous post that I love grain...
I consider 5x7.5 inches to be my maximum. These are miniature negatives, after all. My normal is 2x to 4x magnifications, with only 35mm exceeding that. By that standard nothing smaller than 4x5 negatives may be used for 16x20 inch prints. But then, I love the look of 8x10 contact prints.
You need to name your evaluation criteria for a print in order to get a meaningful answer. Any piece of film can be blown up as large as is physically possible with ones darkroom equipment.
My standard sizes for prints from 35mm (in inches) are 6x9 and 8x12. I also do 10x15, 12x18, and 4x6 sometimes. (2x3 is fun too, but a P.I.T.A. I really like the cute 2x3 speed easels. ) However, my standard print sizes have nothing to do with "image quality." They have to do with the size of prints that I want for the picture at hand. If "image quality" is really an important part of what I am after with a picture, I don't even consider using 35mm.
I've always heard that you can't enlarge a 35mm negative more than 5x7" and you need at least a 8x10" camera to do anything decent. So I've felt a bit adventurous going over 5x7" in size whenever I printed my own things. Until I saw a friends' 30x40 cm prints (that's 12x16") and saw that the images didn't fall apart or make a good image a less good. It made it different. So basically, I think that the process and the subject has to somehow "fit" the size. And it is up to you to find the process that fits a subject in a certain size.
Seems to me to be entirely subjective. The bigger the print, the further away you must stand.
The big issue here is really the tendency to judge under circumstances that are often ridiculous. High magnification loupes, 100% enlargements on computer screens, even microscopes as I read in a thread here recently. Imagine how ludicrous it would be for me to judge a Picasso using a 12x loupe. Perhaps I should record my wife playing piano and then use software to examine each note for clarity. Examined under a microscope, that Shakespeare sonnet shows signs of softness that indicate his quill was not of the best quality, in future he should use an arm rest to maximise stability.
I agree completely on both the viewing distance and the use of AutoTune Plastic people with plastic voices, analog photography and analog music OK, I admit I like electronic music but not the AutoTune...
My typical size for 35mm is around 4x6" on an 8x10 sheet. I actually stopped 35mm after getting into 8x10 because the 10x to 20x images were so inferior in side-by-side comparision to 8x10 negatives enlarged 1.4x to 2x. However, after 'discovering' small printing, I'm doing more 35mm.
I often wonder if we could capture all the energy people use to focus upon technical aspects of photography: sharpness, grain, tonality. If we captured this energy and diverted into artistic aspects such as mood, feeling, perhaps even the central message of the picture. I wonder what type of photography would be the outcome.
This is why it's important to master the craft, that then gives you the freedom to explore the artistic and creative aspects.
Without craft there's no art.
I agree that it is very easy to OVER examine the image for technical perfection at the loss of the reason for taking the photograph.
Ian your point is exactly why I am exploring this subject. As I grow my knowledge base about photography I will be able to create MY vision.
I appreciate the type of responses that I typically get at APUG.
I was afraid that asking this question was going to draw a lot of negative comments but it is obvious from the responses that everyone understood the the question.
Part of growing for me is knowing when to use which camera. I have some professional grade 35mm gear as well as 645 and 6x7.
Ralph Gibson says that he exclusively uses a Leica and Tri-X. At this particular moment I love his grainy high contrast results.
For more than 40 years the Kodak Coloramas were displayed in New York's Grand Central Terminal. They were usually shot with equipment from an 8x20 Deardorff down to 120 size. At least one was shot with a 35mm SLR. These transilluminated images measured 18x60 FEET, not inches. However, viewing distance was also great.
So far the largest print I made from 35mm was 20x30". The details: neg shot with a 20mm manual Nikkor on an overcast day at f5.6-8, Agfa APX100 developed in XTOL 1:1 with minimal agitation in a stainless steel tank, diffusion enlarger, Rodagon-G 105mm at f5.6, EMAKS grade 2 developed in Ilford PQ. Turned out gorgeous.
It depends on the negative, the subject, the display environment, and the use. I think that 35mm print generally look best as 5x7s. You can almost always get a good 8X10 (or 8X12) from a 35mm negative if you have a decent negative. Fairly often, but not very often, you can go larger. Use of a tripod is generally required for anything over 8X10 (and often for 8X10). Some subjects tolerate grain and some unsharpness better than others, so you can print those bigger. If the print is to be viewed from a sizable distance or if it is used simply to set the mood and is not viewed critically, you can also go larger.
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