What size do you print at?

Discussion in 'Enlarging' started by matti, Nov 5, 2006.

  1. matti

    matti Member

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    It would be interesting to hear what print sizes people use. When I built my darkroom a couple of months ago, I bought a large pile of big papers (up to 50x40 cm) from a photo studio that was remodeling their dark room to a lounge... well, I started enlarging my negatives a lot.

    My 35 mm would be enlarged almost to the edges of a 24x30 cm (9,5x12 in) paper. And I even went to 30x40 cm (12x 16 in) for some prints from my folding Iskra MF-camera. (Then I started complaining about the sharpnes of the Iskra and bought a Mamiya 645...)

    Anyway, Yesterday I tried out some of my smaller paper sizes (5x7 and 8x10) and printed with a large whiter border. And... sharpness!

    So, it seems like I kind of forgot a really basic parameter in the whole workflow and tried to print larger than my hand held snap shots really were up to. With smaller prints I could have sharpness and smooth grainless gradations.

    So what paper sizes do people use at 35mm, MF, 4x5?

    /matti
     
  2. Tony Egan

    Tony Egan Subscriber

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    Mainly 11x14 for most formats because that was the max height my enlarger would got to for MF and was max size I wanted to go for most 35mm. Recently went to LF and have been using some 12x16 for 4x5 in a larger Durst enlarger. I find 11x14 in a 16x20 frame on the walls at home is as large as I really need to go. I think we sometimes stare at prints too close for too long and agonise over things which get lost in the "big picture".

    On 11x14 I usually have at least 1 inch white border all around, often a bit more.
     
  3. Roger Hicks

    Roger Hicks Member

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    Dear Matti,

    As small as possible; maybe 5x7 inch (on 8x10 paper) from 35mm, or 8x12 inch (on 11x14 paper) at the largest. Normally no more than 3x up from larger formats, or 5x at most. Sharpness AND tonality: a whole-plate (6-1/2 x 8-1/2 inches, 168 x 216mm) is 3x off Linhof 56x72mm and can be indistinguishable from a contact print.

    When Barnack designed the Ur-Leica for 'Small Camera -- Big Picture' I am pretty sure that the 'big picture' he had in mind was maybe postcard or 13x18cm/5x7 inch. Improvements in film meant they could go bigger each decade, but there were ALWAYS those who seemed to believe that they would be judged by the size, not the quality, of their prints.

    Cheers,

    R.
     
  4. Jean Noire

    Jean Noire Member

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    Hi Matti,
    It seems like a good idea to have the intended use of the image in mind when taking the photograph. If you want large sharp shots on 35mm (Up to 16 X 12) then a slow film is recommended. Medium format will provide larger images with similar quality on faster film with better gradation and smaller grain. I have no experience of larger format. So horses for courses:smile: .
    Hope this helps.

    John.
     
  5. Les McLean

    Les McLean Subscriber

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    I rarely print larger than 11 x 14 from any format and often print smaller because I feel that it suits the image. Roger makes a very good point when he says........"there were ALWAYS those who seemed to believe that they would be judged by the size, not the quality, of their prints."

    Sadly, in some Colleges in the UK, I notice a current trend to produce huge prints for exhibitions and degree shows regardless of the sharpness and resolution of the final print.
     
  6. Mark Pope

    Mark Pope Member

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    My maximum print sizes are:
    35mm - 9 x 6 on 10x8 paper, up to 12 x 8 on 16 x 12 paper.
    4x5 - 9.5x7.5 on 10x8 paper and 12.5x10 on 16x12 paper.

    I don't use 11x14 very much, although this may change as I think the proportions are nicer with 4x5 images.

    Maximum paper size is limited by my Nova processor and washer.
     
  7. Dave Miller

    Dave Miller Member

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    I think Les was referring to image size?

    For myself I rarely go above 12 x 16 paper, whilst my smallest prints would be 6x4. However when the situation arises I will enlarge from, say a third of a 35mm negative to 10 x 14 or bigger. Images sharpness or tonality isn't always the deciding factor in arriving at a pictures size.
     
  8. Bob F.

    Bob F. Member

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    I usually print "final" prints on 12x16" paper with a wide 1.5 - 2 inch border. This is from 6x6cm or 4x5" negatives. Some of my favourite images however were shot years ago, sans tripod with a telephoto lens on 35mm and will not stand going above 8x10 paper due to sharpness/camera shake and intrusive grain issues.

    Such considerations are of course subjective, so everyone has to decide what is right for them.

    Have fun, Bob.
     
  9. noseoil

    noseoil Member

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    Size matters?

    Typically, in 35mm I print to 5x7, although with Efke 25 and a tripod, the image can stand a bit more if I've done my job properly. With MF 11x14 is big for me. With the 4x5, I have an order for a 16 x 20 image from yesterday, which should be fine.

    The enclosed image is of my son at a cross-country track meet last month. The scan makes the image look worse than it actually is. The print is sharper, but not "tack sharp" because I'm using Efke 25, a 135mm f2.8 lens wide open and no tripod. Paul is in his last 100 yard sprint after doing 3.1 miles. He managed to catch the runner in front of him at the finish line. I printed this one because I like the feel of motion and the kick. He's not touching the ground in this shot and his determination is captured well, so it is a decent shot, but a lousy image in many respects. As a family picture it is ok, but technically there is a lot to be desired. Printed 5x7 in this image, so it is enlarged quite a bit as I'm standing pretty far away. tim
     
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  10. David Brown

    David Brown Subscriber

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    This is an evolving issue for me. For years, (decades?) I used the Ganz Speed Ezels and so printed with a 1/4" border, mostly on 8x10 paper. I then switched to RC paper and discovered I could print borderless (it lays flat). However, in the last year or so, I've gone back to fiber paper for finished prints, so borders are back.

    Currently, I'm liking 6x8 on the 8x10 paper, with some adjustments for cropping when necessary. This is for 35mm, 645 and 6x7, with half-inch variations. And 7x7 for square 120 negs. Yes, the smaller sizes look better overall. It's not just grain, but spots, scratches, etc.; it's all bigger on large prints! :surprised:

    However, contemplating a small group show next year with LF guys making 8x10 and 7x17 contact prints (among other sizes), I am going to experiment with upping the paper to 11x14, and proportional increases in image size. We'll see ... :wink:
     
  11. TheFlyingCamera

    TheFlyingCamera Membership Council Council

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    It all depends of course on my intended purpose for the image...
    I used to print bigger than I do now, but I'm also now doing more contact printing than anything.

    I've found I can get excellent quality prints from 35mm up to 12x18 on 16x20 paper when using the Kodak T400 CN chromogenic neg film. Shoot it at 100, and although your negs are dense enough to stop bullets, they print beautifully. I'll take MF stuff up to 16x20, and same with 4x5 (16x20 is the biggest my darkroom can handle - sink size limits the trays I can use).
     
  12. matti

    matti Member

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    Seems like I am in good company going small sometimes.

    Maybe grain is not my main issue, neither would a tripod really help out whith my favorite 35mm shooting style and subjects. (See enclosed pictures that I printed yesterday.)

    I also found out yesterday that when printing some other really bad exposured shots, going small also helped masking difficult contrast and living with totally black parts of the picture. Those pictures of course would never be called "good" pictures. But sometimes pure content is ennough.

    /matti
     

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  13. naturephoto1

    naturephoto1 Subscriber

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    Perhaps it doesn't belong here and the fact that I print digitally from my transparencies with either a Chromira or a LightJet Printer, but as Scott mentioned it depends on the image and the purpose. But from 35mm if the transparency/scan are sharp enough and of enough interest, I print not infrequently to 20" x 30". I have considered printing to about 25" x37.5" for specific images, but at present have not. For medium format, I have not printed many images at this point, but I have a Rollei TLR (3.5F Planar) image that has been printed to 24" x 24" and it appears that it can be printed to 40" X 40". For 4" x 5" I generally print to 24" x 30", have printed to 30" X 37.5"; most of these images would be sharp enough to print to 40" x 50".

    Rich

    Rich
     
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  15. Roger Hicks

    Roger Hicks Member

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    Yes, this one is intriguing. I have often run 35mm trannies at A3+ (image size maybe 30x40cm/12x16 inches) but I rarely find that B+W works the same way. As I said earlier, I think tonality limits mono print size for me, not sharpness.

    Cheers,

    R
     
  16. photomc

    photomc Member

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    Dave, I hope you are right about Les...:surprised:

    Seriously, while some work is contact printed from 4x5, 5x7 and 8x10 negatives, enlarged prints come from mostly 645 and 4x5 negatives. Paper is never larger than 11x14, though print size does based on image and how much white space is added around the print.

    Attempted some 16x20 prints, but for the size of my sink and darkroom in general they were just to large for the process to be fun. If I had the space and the need that would still be the max I think I would want. Not sure how many people have a room that can handle the really large prints. Personaly choice would be to view a large print from a distance, while a smaller print pull the viewer in (but hopefully not nose on the glass close).

    As with most things...it is about personal choice.
     
  17. Valerie

    Valerie Subscriber

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    As a student I printed on 16x20 paper (image about a 14 inch square). Since then I have gone to 8x10 (about a 6 inch sq. image) and find myself feeling clausterphobic (sp?). So the bigger prints will be coming in the future. Got the trays, got the sink.....
     
  18. jp80874

    jp80874 Subscriber

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    The university courses I've been taking the last three years require ten 11x14 or larger prints every other Wednesday for class critique. Though I am retired, taking this for the pleasure it brings, I am motivated by the assigned pressure to produce.

    For a year and a half I've been printing 16x20" from 8x10" negatives. I've just finished my first box of 20x24". The larger prints have shown me where I need to work on camera focus a bit more carefully with 67 year old eyes. I also print 7x17" on half 16x20" sheets. Kentmere Fineprint VC FB.

    John Powers
     
  19. eric

    eric Member

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    I was just thinking about this last night. In the past year and last year, I've been printing mostly 9x9's on 11x14 paper or as much of the entire 35mm frame I can get on 11x14 paper. I have lots of 5x7 images on 16x20 matted frame at home and I like the look of it. Last night, I printed some Halloween pix for my wife and kids and I used RC 8x10 paper. I printed 4.3" square on 8x10 paper and I forgot how nice and intimate little images are. I'm also falling in love again with warmtone paper. (Unfortunately, these are of special needs children so for privacy issues, I cannot post them on the web) I thought after Portriga, I can't have similar images but for some reason, my Forte Poly Warm tone and Ansco 130 procduces olive colored pictures.
    I'm going to go back with smaller images for a while and pick a few during the year to print big.
     
  20. reellis67

    reellis67 Subscriber

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    I like the intimacy of an 8x10 or 11x14 print. I've never had any real desire to print larger, although I find the general trend is to go bigger and bigger with your prints. I find that when I go to a showing of photography, I spend time with the 8x10 and 11x14 prints and move past the larger print fairly quickly. As others have stated, personal taste/preference and intended display have a lot to do with it.

    - Randy
     
  21. MurrayMinchin

    MurrayMinchin Membership Council Council

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    My first show was all 8x10's that were printed while I was taking a photography course, and the experience is pretty much a blur. The second show was all 11x14's, and I didn't like the way a close-up of shells felt next to a wide-angle seascape full of sky. I also didn't like the way the people in the gallery all stood the same comfortable viewing distance from the prints, and moved around the gallery as if on a conveyor belt.

    My last show ranged from 5x7 close-ups, to 11x14 wide-angle landscapes full of sky. They weren't hung on a single line, but were 'jumbled about' on the wall. I liked the way the images sat next to each other, where big scenes were big prints and close-ups were small prints. What surprised me was how people in the gallery experienced the show as they would move in real close to look at a close-up, look at the fine details of a large landscape beside it, then move back out to look at the larger print. It was a double win. Visually it made sense to me, and people had a fuller experience of my work.

    My next show will range from 8x10 to 16x20...I think...because I've since become accustomed to making all my early work prints at 5x7.

    Murray
     
  22. Ranger Bob

    Ranger Bob Member

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    I print two sizes, on 8X10 paper, 7X7 and on 11X14, 10X10. Print washer and easel are at the limit on 11X14. My D2V can make bigger prints, I have a MF 6X6 with Zeiss lenses, but I don't want to. My photographs look really nice at these sizes.
     
  23. Claire Senft

    Claire Senft Member

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    61/2x93/4 mounted on 11x14 boards is by far the most common size for me to print.
     
  24. davetravis

    davetravis Member

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    I limit the 35mm stuff to 11x14, with most going at 8x10.
    Those are mostly Kodachrome 64 and 25.
    From the 6x7 cm stuff of my Pentax 67, I go up to 20x24.
    Those are mostly Fujichromes.
    For the 20x24's I use the APO Rodagon lens.
    DT
     
  25. roteague

    roteague Member

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    Gee Rich. I guess I am going to have to up my print sizes. I generally do all my first prints these days at 20x24... :surprised: I have printed to 30x40 however.

    Back in the days I did my own printing, I normally printed both B&W and Ilfochrome at 11x14. I always hated, and still do, 8x10 prints.
     
  26. naturephoto1

    naturephoto1 Subscriber

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    Hi Robert,

    I also print my 4 X 5 images to 19" x 24". But in the exhibits, the 24" x 30" prints just have so much more presence. This is particularly true when the color and tonality of the transparency/scan are very good. In an effort to keep printing on the Chromira as much as possible and to avoid a huge increases in price for the buyer, I print to 30" (paper roll length) so we get a 30" x 37.5" from a 4X5. To get a 30" x 40" print you would either have to stretch the image or crop it. If we wished, we could however print a 32" x 40" print off the LightJet, but the buyer would incur a substantial price increase (we are contracted to print on the LightJet with Nancy Scans, while the Bill Nordstrom's [Laser Light Photographics] Chromira is in house). The mix of the exhibit with the two 30" x 37.5" images is quite something. And the larger images even make the 24" X 30" images look relatively small.

    As to those larger 30" x 37.5" images they just have so much impact when sharp with excellent tonality. And when presented behind the horribly expensive Museum Glass (17x the cost of regular picture framing glass) the images are extraordinary.

    Rich