my name is Paul and I am new here but I have been following the forum for a couple of weeks and have learnt lots. This is my first post.
I just wanted to check my experience against those of others in the forum when working on 35mm enlargements up to 10*8. My experience is that I can get really quite sharp and grain free enlargements to this size for most subjects except those that feature people's faces when the face is quite a small part of the enlarged area. Typically I am describing environmental portraits of people that feature one or two individuals that also include their whole body. I guess the face area in these shots is from 1 inch square to even less. It is quite frustrating as the rest of the shot can be sharp and relatively grain free but the face (which of course is the main focal point!) has visible grain and looks far worse in terms of quality than the rest of the picture.
Now I know that smooth, even tones tend to show more grain than detail and texture. But using my same enalrgement technique for full frame faces does not reveal any grain in the same way on a person's skin. My question is, is this experience usual for people and something I will just have to accept as part of the 35mm compromise (because ironically it is when using 35mm cameras that I tend to get these type of shots rather than my more studied medium format shots) or is it the result of other factors such as errors in focus / exposure / my general technique. Any views gladly received!
In terms of materials I tend to use apx100 in rodinal (1+50) which, apart from small faces, I tend to find a remarkably grain free combination and FP4+ and Neopan 400 in Aculux II.