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  1. #1

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    35mm Print Quality, Etc.

    Hello all,

    I just finished printing and while in the darkroom came across an old negative that I had never printed. I enlarged it to roughly 8X12 (a little larger actually) on 11x14 paper. I was stunned with the tonality and the composition in general. It was one of just a few negatives I've made that have a LF kind of feel, rather than my usual street/documentary 35mm feel. It really got me thinking about how much can be done with 35mm. I am usually fairly cavalier about my exposure and development with the 35mm because I am usually after a grittier look and I know that I can manage with the latitude of BW film. However, I feel like I should begin working to see how fine a print I can consistently obtain with my 35mm camera. Anyone else here work really hard at fine prints from 35mm? Any tips? Any published photographers out there that have worked with this? Ulimately, I guess I am referring to prints that have a longer tonal scale and a delicacy not usually associated with 35mm negatives. Of course, we have all seen people like Salgado obtain very dramatic results with 35mm, but they stil have a "heaviness" that seems different from what I experienced tonight. Let's hear your thoughts.

    Jmal

  2. #2
    Ian Grant's Avatar
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    Jmal, with optimum exposure and good processing 35mm is capable of superb tonality, fine grain & sharpness particularly with films like APX100 & Tmax100. Some of the best 35mm images I've seen were shot on APX100 and processed in Rodinal, and I used this combination or Tmax100 + Rodinal myself for many years.

    It is particularly important to pay attention to the temperatures of all the processing stages as there is a phenomenon called micro-reticulation which causes clumping of the silver grains causing negatives to be grainier than they should be.

    Also remember that for tonality many photographers will have done Zone System or BTZ film/developer tests and have found their own ideal ISO setting for the film/dev, in my case that is 50 ISO for Tmax100 and 100 ISO for APX100.

    Ian

  3. #3

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    Quote Originally Posted by jmal View Post
    Hello all,

    I just finished printing and while in the darkroom came across an old negative that I had never printed. I enlarged it to roughly 8X12 (a little larger actually) on 11x14 paper. I was stunned with the tonality and the composition in general. It was one of just a few negatives I've made that have a LF kind of feel, rather than my usual street/documentary 35mm feel. It really got me thinking about how much can be done with 35mm. I am usually fairly cavalier about my exposure and development with the 35mm because I am usually after a grittier look and I know that I can manage with the latitude of BW film. However, I feel like I should begin working to see how fine a print I can consistently obtain with my 35mm camera. Anyone else here work really hard at fine prints from 35mm? Any tips? Any published photographers out there that have worked with this? Ulimately, I guess I am referring to prints that have a longer tonal scale and a delicacy not usually associated with 35mm negatives. Of course, we have all seen people like Salgado obtain very dramatic results with 35mm, but they stil have a "heaviness" that seems different from what I experienced tonight. Let's hear your thoughts.

    Jmal
    I'm just getting into b/w printing and was also pondering the same question a couple months ago until I started to experiment. I found that a 16X20 is definitely more than possible with 400ISO 35mm that is exposed and developed correctly. This print below is an example. Yes, a tad grainy up close but gorgeous 2 feet away with excellent midtones. T-max 400 (400) HC-110 (B) Ilford warmtone developer +paper (pearl finish)
    Attached Thumbnails Attached Thumbnails 1620.jpg  

  4. #4
    PhotoJim's Avatar
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    I've made several beautiful 11x14s from 35mm. Of course, you can get even better tonality from larger formats, but good technique, decent optics, good film and proper processing will do a lot to carry you far.
    Jim MacKenzie - Regina, Saskatchewan, Canada

    A bunch of Nikons; Feds, Zorkis and a Kiev; Pentax 67-II (inherited from my deceased father-in-law); Bronica SQ-A; and a nice Shen Hao 4x5 field camera with 3 decent lenses that needs to be taken outside more. Oh, and as of mid-2012, one of those bodies we don't talk about here.

    Favourite film: do I need to pick only one?

  5. #5

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    Quote Originally Posted by PhotoJim View Post
    ... good technique, decent optics, good film and proper processing will do a lot to carry you far.
    Regardless of format.

    There's nothing wrong with 35mm, it's just small. Use that to your advantage in shooting, and don't try to print "too" big, and there you are.

    Not to mention that you can get a nearly indestructable body, decent metering, and 2 or 3 top quality lenses for very few dollars.

  6. #6
    CPorter's Avatar
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    I have some pretty nice prints from 35mm using T-Max 100 and HC-110 dil (h) between enlargements of 8x10 and 11x14 in dektol; pretty basic materials.

    Just an aside:
    This reminds me of the documentary I saw about war photographer James Nachtway (used a 35mm canon). He had a printer doing all of his prints and there was a brief segment in the documentary of his printer working in the darkroom. Some of the prints were very large, but the enlargement, as best I can describe was by projection like you would see from slide projector, at least that's what it looked like. Imagine placing one of your negatives in a slide projector and exposing a very large piece of paper mounted to the wall, the film sprocket of the film looked like as big as a baseball. That's what it looked like. I was blown away as to how those very large prints from 35mm film looked, amazing. I know that's not what you inquired about, but interesting nontheless.

    Chuck

  7. #7

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    With APX100 I was able to make a stunning 18x24 print. So you can go pretty far with 35mm, a good lens, good film, excellent enlarger and great paper.

  8. #8

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    j4425--Nice looking print from what I can see.

    As for the Nachtwey documentary, I completely agree. Those projecton prints look great. However, the print I made last night had a different quality to it. As crazy as this may sound, it looks very close in tonality to some Atget prints I have seen. The question is how to replicate the look. The Atget prints I have seen in person, not in a book. I learned that there is a huge difference with Atget. Some photos look just as good in books, but Atget, who I had never thought much about, blew my mind when I saw his prints in front of me. Anyhow, I plan to start working toward getting the most out of 35mm. I usually think in terms of subject matter and quality prints, but I want to see just how far I can push the quality. I used to shoot people on the street primarily, so there was always a little compromise with the finer details. In that kind of situation you simply cannot concentrate on the details all the time. I no longer live near any densely populated areas, so I now have to shoot other things. This allows me more time to really LOOK, and, subsequently, plan my photos.

  9. #9
    Jadedoto's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Ian Grant View Post
    Jmal, with optimum exposure and good processing 35mm is capable of superb tonality, fine grain & sharpness particularly with films like APX100 & Tmax100. Some of the best 35mm images I've seen were shot on APX100 and processed in Rodinal, and I used this combination or Tmax100 + Rodinal myself for many years.

    It is particularly important to pay attention to the temperatures of all the processing stages as there is a phenomenon called micro-reticulation which causes clumping of the silver grains causing negatives to be grainier than they should be.

    Also remember that for tonality many photographers will have done Zone System or BTZ film/developer tests and have found their own ideal ISO setting for the film/dev, in my case that is 50 ISO for Tmax100 and 100 ISO for APX100.

    Ian
    Reminds me, when I first started developing myself about three years ago, I bought two 100' rolls of APX100. After buying Ilfosol S, learning how to shoot and process it... I've never produced images like that again.

    I would almost kill to have APX again. I enlarged those negatives to 11x14 with just an inkling of nice, smooth grain!
    Vincent Purcell
    Lexington KY Photographer + Media Artist
    http://vincenttpurcell.com

  10. #10
    Anscojohn's Avatar
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    IIRC, Ansel Adams averred that a totally acceptable (to him) 8x10 print could be made from a fine grained 35mm film like Panatomic X, develped in a soft-working developer like D23. A lot of things have improved since then--but as others have stated, 35 mm is capable of exceptional image quality--but it does not suffer sloppy technique gladly.
    John, Mount Vernon, Virginia USA

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