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Thread: Paper sharpness

  1. #21

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    As has been pointed out, there are a lot of variables to check before worrying about the paper. Quality of lens and coverage for the format, enlarger alignment and possible vibrations in the enlarger or table, the flatness of the negative during printing, the easel being used and is it holding the paper flat. After all those variables are controlled you could evaluate various papers keeping in mind that apparent sharpness is more important than LPM and needs to be evaluated with regard to the size of the print and the viewing distance.

    Finally, you may find that your favorite paper may resolve less then other papers, but those papers produce inferior tonality or range for your application. If you are working with 4x5 and larger, you may want to explore unsharp masking techniques which do not actually produce a sharper image but do produce more apparent sharpness through control of local "micro"
    contrast.

    And of course one can eliminate several of the variables by contact printing.

  2. #22
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    I have found that condenser enlargers make prints that appear sharper then diffusion enlargers. I also find that high accutance negative developers enhance the appearance of sharpness - As fas as paper goes - The sharpest looking images usually seem to be on contrasty ferrotyped FB or glossy RC papers although I find un-ferrotyped glossy FB and mat FB to be more desireable overall. It think the appearance of sharpness has less to do with lpm and more to do with grain and accutance. Tri-x has a gritty grain that looks very sharp although when developed in D76 doess't break any records for resolution. Tech pan may have the greatest resolution but may not always look sharp.
    My photos are always without all that distracting color ...

  3. #23
    Ole
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    Quote Originally Posted by fhovie
    The sharpest looking images usually seem to be on contrasty ferrotyped FB or glossy RC papers although I find un-ferrotyped glossy FB and mat FB to be more desireable overall.
    That's what I thought too, until I got out the microscope to check my first impression. Ilfospeed G3 RC mat really is sharper than anything else I've tried!
    -- Ole Tjugen, Luddite Elitist
    Norway

  4. #24

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    The main factor I see in apparent sharpness of paper is related to the grain of the substrate (not the silver halide grain but the actual formation of the paper base, the "pores" for lack of a better term).

    I was nattering about this with Lee over coffee the other day, specifically in relation to the Eliot Porter show earlier this year at the Amon Carter (which received the bulk of his estate).

    What struck me about Porter's 8x10s (from 4x5 negs) wasn't a matter of extreme sharpness. It was the color - and I don't mean "bowl you over and assault your eyeballs" color. Just the natural, subtle and faithful color.

    As for apparent sharpness, I didn't see anything that couldn't have been duplicated with medium format and possibly even 35mm.

    WHAT! Heresy!!

    Hear me out...

    Below a certain size the grain of the paper interferes with fine resolution. For example, we were looking at a print in the 5x7 range from one of Don Miller's 4x5 negs. I was certain that if I'd had a loupe handy I could have read the name on the mailbox. I was also certain that name would appear to dip and rise with the grain of the paper. However, in an 8x10 or even larger print the name on that mailbox would actually *appear* sharper because with enlargement the paper grain becomes less a factor - it doesn't increase in proportion to the print size. Paper grain remains of a relatively fixed size, tho' this varies of course.

    So up to a point we should be printing at a certain ideal (yet undetermined by me) size that would overcome the grain pores of the paper, yet would not exceed the limits of the negative.

    Make sense? If not, feel free to dig in. This is just my pet theory backed up by nothing more than personal observations.
    Three degrees of separation from Kevin Bacon.

  5. #25
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    I think you hit the nail on the head Lex - Apparent sharpness requires some grain. There are ideal formats/film-types/developers that will have a favorite print size for sharpness. I find that for what I do in 35mm looks great in a 5x7 and good in a 8x10 and then after that it is too grainy for my taste for most of the images I make - for 6x6 it is great in a 8x10 - good in a 11x14 and often acceptable at 16x20. But this is all considering the film and developer choice. Pyro makes bigger grain than Microdol no matter how masking the stain is and that sets up the enlargability of the negative -
    Of course 4x5 negatives always print good! g



    Quote Originally Posted by Lex Jenkins
    So up to a point we should be printing at a certain ideal (yet undetermined by me) size that would overcome the grain pores of the paper, yet would not exceed the limits of the negative.

    Make sense? If not, feel free to dig in. This is just my pet theory backed up by nothing more than personal observations.
    My photos are always without all that distracting color ...

  6. #26
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  7. #27
    Ole
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    Thanks Aggie, but I've got a stack of various papers almost half a meter yall.
    I'm trying to cut down on the number of different emulsions - with a remarkable lack of success so far.

    I'm planning to settle on Fortezo, Oriental Seagull and Ilford Multigrade for the quick stuff. And some MACO, Kentmere makes some really nice papers, and the pepper-fogging of Varycon is amazing so I need some of that, and then there's the Ilfospeed...

    You can see where it's all heading, and why I will decline any offer of Kodak or Agfa paper...

    EDIT: Forgot Bergger. Can't do without it, I'm afraid.
    -- Ole Tjugen, Luddite Elitist
    Norway

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