I started this question in another online photo community, but perhaps there are some insights here.
I am printing 35mm and 120 film and curious what sizes people normally print to. I am aware that it is a personal preference and depending what the print is needed for the size will vary. But, when you are just testing out your prints, or don't have a pre-destined end place for your prints, what size do your print? For 35mm? for 120?
As a novice, I am printing 6x9" prints on my 8x10" paper. I have not tried anything smaller, but perhaps 4x6" could work to emulate the photo labs here and have a nice sample of images. I guess, what I am asking, is about process.
Also related to print sizes, I also have been having some trouble with my easel. I have a Diramic BA 4122 easel, and it's tough to get the sizing (specifically an even white border). I assume it is just trial and error, but it all seems a little awkward. Centering my 6x9" prints on the 8x10" paper. The easel is really old and there is not much flexibility to it. I can mark 6" and 9" on with the movable rulers but if I bring the paper flush to the metal hinges on the easels opening it is quite smaller than the white space on the other side of the photo. Also if I lock the paper in with the metal edge on the bottom of the image there is still very little white space on the bottom compared to the top.
For proofs, I print full frame of both 35 and 120 on 5X7 RC paper. No burn, no dodge, 2 1/2 filter. 5X7 RC paper is cheap and quick to process. Is this what you're looking for?
I usually start with 8x10 for 35 and 120. I'll do 5x7 occasionally, but not if I know I'm going to want to do any dodging or burning. I start with a straight print, no dodging or burning, and full frame. Then I can look at it and decide if I want to try adjusting it, scrap it, or go right to 11x14.
As for easels, I have a Saunders 4-bladed one. It works reasonably well for me for centering, so I haven't tried others. It isn't that great for postcard paper, though.
I typically print 8x10 on 9.5x12 paper, regardless of format (mainly 120). I find this works for my images, and my pocket. Fibre based paper (which invariably I use) is expensive, especially in the bigger sizes. I also like fine grain so keeping the print small is a benefit.
I have no familiarity with the easel so cant help there. What I will say is that they are dropping in price, and there is nothing more annoying that skew borders - especially when you manage to print something otherwise nice, and when you are paying for the wasted paper. A well cornered, straight and sturdy easel is an essential, but in the meantime, persevere with what you have! Happy printing.
Depend a lot on what size of film, graininess of film and even developer and of course how much you object to grain. D3200 at 35mm and developed in say ID-11 starts to look pretty grainy at 5x7 but D100 in say Perceptol is quite another kettle of fish. Actually even D3200 is another kettle of fish in Perceptol. Much less grainier. Mind you bigger isn't necessarily better in printing.
If its prints of holiday snaps to show around friends and not to frame as fine prints then 10x8 cut in two makes a reasonably economical way of printing. Often this is cheaper than buying two boxes of 5x7. Ideally print paper should be 5 x 7.5 of course for 35mm but we've been down that road and you could of course cut two 5x7.5s out of 10x8 rather than two 5x8s which is simple straight cut.
It sounds as if your easel suffers from similar problems to my two bladed LPL easel. " Engineering accuracy to less than say 1mm on all four sides is very difficult but I'd have thought it ought to be possible to play with the settings using the back of scrap prints or card of your preferred size and marking round the 4 edges with a soft pencil until you have the size of border you want then use that to make your prints.
With easels you get what you pay for I am afraid and if you want accuracy and versatility then 4 bladed is the way to go but they are expensive even secondhand.
Alternatively you can get fixed border easels quite cheaply for 5x7 and 8 x10. Quicker and easier and accuracy guaranteed but you accept the maker's borders.
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(So far) I typically print full frame, 5x7 (or 5x7.5 on half sheets of 8x10 paper) for 35mm and 5 x 5 (or 5.5x5.5 on quarter sheets of 11x14) for my 120. For finished prints I tend to do whatever I can fit on 11x14; 11x11, less border for my square shots. I did just try an interesting crop in the middle of a sheet using the 4-blade easel I just acquired, sometimes the possibilities seem endless.
All of my prints are made with fixed border easels (Speed-Ez-El brand). Analog prints for sale are enlarged to 11x14, whether printed from 35mm, MF, or 4x5. A set of Speed-Ez-Els may be fairly expensive, but they are nearly foolproof and last forever. They've been around for generations, and are usually available used.
I took the workshop from Dave Vestal and Al Weber. One of the most important things I learned from them is that the size and even the shape of the print should be determined by how it presents the image. Therefore, oddball shapes and sizes are sometimes useful.
Also, bigger is not better.
I ended up printing a flower to about a 5x6 size on an 8x10 sheet and it looked better than any other presentation.
A good way to get even borders on your prints because of uneven marks on the easel: take one of your 8X10 discards, measure and mark with a pen and ruler the size you want on the back of the print. Slip it into the easel and move the arms of the easel until they line up. If you have trouble with placing it in the easel consistantly because of the easel design, put electrical or masking tape as outside guides on the easel surface that you can feel/see in dim light. Place the paper so it butts up against the guide tape and you should be good to go.
I'm with PE on this subject. The picture itself determines the size and the amount of white space, if any.
I run three sizes of paper, 8x10 and 12x16 plus Postcard stock which is quite small and very much like what you get back from a photolab.
Using 135, 120 and 4x5" film, I enlarge onto any of these sizes as I see fit.
You will eventually find a pattern, which fits your pocket and desires.
Regarding easels and centred holes, I have in the past used thick paper with a cut-out of my dimensions, which fits exactly over the paper I'm enlarging onto. This eliminates slight easel errors. Even the most expensive easels will usually be a millimetre out, and that is before user error comes into play.