It depends. B+W is has that grainy look so I sometimes enlarge it to 11x14 but it gets grainy especially with a 400 speed film. If you're shooting a 50 or 25 speed it might pass.
Originally Posted by Poohblah
When I do color enlargements even the slowest speed available (100) looks shaky at 8x10 because you can see the grain.
I gave up and started using MF.
The further up the food chain you go with equipment and technique, the higher you can go with enlargements.
There does come a point though, where things start to go awry. Artistic vision, as previously mentioned, will often come into the equation as well.
Most of us go through phases, firstly one wishes to make a successful print, then one wishes to have it bigger. Then one sort of heads to either up or down in the print size situation and usually settles on a compromise between your satisfaction and capabilities.
I have very successfully enlarged heavily cropped 135 format negatives onto 12x16" paper in both colour and B&W.
For the home darkroom you really do need to rationalise somewhat and most of us use one or two sizes of paper only, mainly because of cost considerations. Although space considerations, can and do, make the decision for us.
Possibly stay where you are at the moment, sharpen up your technique until you feel you really could go in another direction, then go there.
Personally, I think that 35mm looks best in 5x7 enlargements, or 8x10 as an upper limit. I think that photojournalism has had a deleterious effect on the print quality that we are willing to accept--people have gotten used to the look of 35mm enlarged too far. But, having said all that, I have an 8x10 print from a 35mm Ektar negative which could go a little larger.
Charles, when Ektar 25 professional came out, the lab that I worked in was asked by Kodak Australia, to make a same size picture (life size) of a standing model dressed in a striking floral dress.
This was then printed by the dozen, mounted on 10mm foam core and placed in photo outlets around Australia.
I know this because I printed some of them using a 10"x10" horizontal mural enlarger with a 135 film negative original, held between glass for optimum results.
You had to see the lack of grain and the tightness of colour to believe just how good this film was.
That film was a revelation, although I believe it was a monster of a headache in manufacturing in whichever Kodak plant made it.
I believe it was pretty much on a par with B&W Tech Pan, also a 25 ASA film.
On a personal level, I standardised my colour work around Ektar 25 professional for quite a few years. An absolutely outstanding film!
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There are practical limits with projection printing using the common 50mm lenses available. These limits have to due with the very small effective aperture that results from huge enlargements.
If you want to do a 100x enlargement projection print, your effective aperture on an f4 lens would be f400. The diffraction that results from this will severely degrade the image.
I've had the good fortune of seeing some 8x10 prints from 35mm negatives that had been developed in PMK. It was at a photo workshop with 10-12 other photographers. We were all AMAZED by the lack of grain in these images. If you anticipate large prints from your 35mm negatives, I would strongly suggest you investigate the grain masking properties of the various Pyro developers.
Personally, I've always shot Tri-X and HC-110 for 35mm and 4x5. I limit 35mm to 5x7 prints, and I can't remember the last time I made an enlargement bigger than 8x10 with a 4x5 negative. I use Pyrocat with 5x7, 8x10 and 7x17 negatives that are destined to be printed on Azo, BUT I've got 6 rolls of Tri-x that need to be developed and I'm tempted to develop them in Pyrocat to see the results. I think it would so convenient to be able to make some larger prints from the smaller negatives.
As always, YMMV,
I was using a 50mm lens.
One of the more interesting results of doing, or having a go, is that you are often surprised at the results.
The exposures for the previous mentioned Ektar professional film, life size enlargements, would have only been a few minutes, probably no more than 5 minutes.
When doing normal mural enlargements it was not uncommon to have 15 to 20 minute exposures. Some of us borrowed large type books for the visually impaired from the library and would sit to one side of the projected beam and read by the scattered side light emanating from the enlarger.
I've recently made some very succesful enlargements of TMax 100 35mm film with an actual image size of about 11x17 inch. Grain is hardly noticeble. It is very nice to see even extremely small details pop-off the paper, like small twigs connecting leaves with branches, that would hardly be visible in a smaller print size.
Ok, it's not the ultimate sharpness of a 4x5 neg printed on the same size, but still the results are quite stunning.
I only noticed that, in terms of sharpness, low contrast areas seem to do less well visually, than the high contrast regions of the image. Not so with 4x5, where all parts of photo apear, and are, sharp
"The nineteenth century began by believing that what was reasonable was true, and it wound up by believing that what it saw a photograph of, was true.
" - William M. Ivins Jr.
"I don't know, maybe we should disinvent color, and we could just shoot Black & White.
" - David Burnett in 1978
"Analog is chemistry + physics, digital is physics + math, which ones did you like most?
For me, the limitin factor is not grain in itself, but the way that the grain begins to "pull apart" beyond 8x10 prints. I have a number of prints that are fairly sharp on 11x14 paper with the image size being around 11 inches on the long side of the frame. Others at this size begin to look mushy in the lighter tones. If the photo has a lot of deep blacks you can go larger than you can with photos heavy in the mid and light tones. Tis has been my limited experience. I also prefer handling 8x10 paper. It's a good size to hold in the hand for viewing.