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  1. #1
    ted_smith's Avatar
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    Small print looks focused - enlarged one doesn't. What am I doing wrong?

    Hi

    Have taken a photo using Fuji Acros 100. Was developed by a lab, and 6x4 prints produced.

    The 6x4 print looks (to my eye) sharp and focused.

    When I attempt a 10 x 8 print myself, I can't get the faces to look pin sharp, even when using a focus finder. I adjust the focus until the grain pops into view (hard with Acros), and then develop. In the examples below I used 30 seconds exposure, normal contrast, and then developed for 1 minute.

    I don't know if it's because the 6x4 is small and therefore you don't notice the slight out of focus whereas, when enlarged, you do, or if it's my printing technique.

    I can't remember what f stop I used, but I think it was around 5.6 using a Nikon 50mm lens and yellow Lee polyester filter. I seem to remember focusing off the face, but I may have used her hand, which might explain the slight focus issue if I used a wider f stop.

    OK, so below we have the 6x4 from the lab, followed by my 10x8 attempt. If you zoom into the face area, you'll see what I mean. Remember these are scans from prints, not negatives.

    http://www.tedsmithphotography.com/temp/6x4.jpg

    http://www.tedsmithphotography.com/temp/10x8.jpg
    Ted Smith Photography
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  2. #2

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    Quote Originally Posted by ted_smith View Post
    I don't know if it's because the 6x4 is small and therefore you don't notice the slight out of focus whereas, when enlarged, you do, [...]
    I think it will be exactly that.

  3. #3
    holmburgers's Avatar
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    Yes, for sure, a small print will look sharp when an enlargement of the same picture won't, as QG says.

    However, it's really strange that the 6x4 scan would be sharper when indeed that scan is actually bigger. Hmmm.... that blows my mind at the present moment....

    Does the 8x10 print result in a significantly longer exposure time?? Perhaps more vibration with the enlarger or something like that.

    But as far as I can reason, a 2"x3" print and a 20'x30' print (ridiculous/stupid dimensions, just an example) should look the same if scanned and reduced to the same size. Right?

  4. #4

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    Quote Originally Posted by ted_smith View Post
    I don't know if it's because the 6x4 is small and therefore you don't notice the slight out of focus whereas, when enlarged, you do...
    Now you do!
    2F/2F

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  5. #5

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    It could be a lot of things.... For one, with small prints, things such as out-of-focus negatives, misaligned enlargers, and not-so-great lenses don't show as much as it would larger prints would. Looking at your 8x10 prints, it appears forward part of the bench and even concrete is in better focus than the subject's face.

    It could mean you front focused a bit when taking the photo, or your enlarger is misaligned so that even when middle part is focused (where you put your grain focuser), top part wouldn't be in focus.

    I think, you might want to look at your negatives under magnification and make sure it's ok.

    By the way, I mention enlarger misalignment because I'm having heck of time correcting mine that I just refurbished.... it's pain!
    Develop, stop, fix.... wait.... where's my film?

  6. #6
    eddym's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Q.G. View Post
    I think it will be exactly that.
    Me too. The scans you posted look identical to me. Neither is super-sharp. What was your shutter speed?
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  7. #7
    fotch's Avatar
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    Question. Where was the "yellow Lee polyester filter" in relation to the lens. above or below it?
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    could be a lot of things. If you focussed on face then it won't be enlarger alignment because the face should be the only bit in focus if alignment is out.
    So it then comes down to enlarger lens, focus finder or the neg which is out of focus.

    Check that focus finder is set properly. If its the cheap paterson one, then adjust it so that the copper wire is sharp. Also enlarger lens aperture can make a big difference. Make the same print at different apertures and find the aperture which gives sharpest print. This is something you should test at least once if you want really sharp prints. Stick with sharpest aperture for all prints. If neither of the above two solve problem, then its your negative which is out of focus.
    Oh, it could also be that the focus finder is missing its base so is set to wrong height but if it looks Ok then it probably is but if somebody has stuck anything to its base then take it off.

  9. #9

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    Could also be because the bellows of your enlarger remains in the "contracted" position.

  10. #10

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    I do see a noticeable difference between those two prints. For those who don't, check the bride's hairpiece. There are bits in it that show substantially more detail in the scan from the 4x6 print than from the 8x10 print. Of course, there could be some weird scanning artifact going on, but if Ted says the scans reflect what he sees with prints in hand, I tend to believe it.

    Some of my thoughts on the issue:

    • Find out how your lab-made prints were done. They might have been done optically using a higher-quality lens than you've got, or they might have been done digitally with some digital sharpening step.
    • Try another lens on your enlarger. Yours could be bad (an element knocked out of alignment, defective from the manufacturer, etc.).
    • Try making prints with a variety of f-stops. With some lenses, results are noticeably worse with some apertures than with others.
    • Try focusing with white light (no filtration) or green light (green filter). Patrick Gainer published some research in Photo Techniques a few years ago in which he found that white (unfiltered) and green light produced the most accurate focus. Red and blue filtration tended to produce noticeably poorer results. I don't recall his testing yellow filtration, which you mentioned you used, so I don't know what effect it would have.
    • Check for sources of vibration and try to control them.
    • Try adjusting your grain focuser. Yours might have gone out of alignment, in which case it would be giving you incorrect focus.

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