What size do you print at?
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?
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.
Originally Posted by 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.
Originally Posted by 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 .
Hope this helps.
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.
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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.
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.
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.
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
Last edited by noseoil; 09-16-2007 at 09:38 AM. Click to view previous post history.
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! :o
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 ...