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  1. #11
    Thomas Bertilsson's Avatar
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    Or just print big from 35mm or 120.

    The thing is, most people that view photographs (other than photographers of course) probably don't care too much about sharpness and grain. They look at photographs and continue to look at them because the subject matter holds their interest.
    And as a photographer, tonality will attract me from across a room, while fine grain and sharpness will not.

    This is a hugely subjective topic, and you will get as many replies as there are opinions in the matter.

    I personally think 20x24" prints from 35mm can look absolutely stunning. Even larger. From Tri-X or other fairly coarsely grained films... Somebody else might thing I'm crazy for thinking so.

    - Thomas
    "Often moments come looking for us". - Robert Frank

    "Make good art!" - Neil Gaiman

    "...the heart and mind are the true lens of the camera". - Yousuf Karsh

  2. #12

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    I shoot in several different formats, and have tried to answer a slightly modified version of this question. First, I define perfectly sharp as sharp when held at the end of my nose, without a magnifier. The questions I tried to answer were what were the smallest negative to give me sharp 20"x24" prints, or sharp 30"x40" prints. For 20x24 inch sharp prints I have found I need a negative that is 3 1/4 x 4 1/4 or bigger. For 30"x40" sharp prints I've found that a negative that is 8"x10"will give me good prints. 4x5 negatives won't give me 30x40 inch prints in my current darkroom setup. This leaves sort of unresloved whether 5x7 will give me sharp 30x40 prints. I haven't answered that yet. This answer is somewhat hardware dependent. I can't get my handmade 30x40 easel on the baseboards of my Omega D2V and Beseler 45M enlargers, while I can do 20x24 on them. I can get my 30x40 easel on the baseboard of my Elwood 8x10, but I can't collapse the bellows of the 8x10 Elwood enough to use a 150mm lens, like I would like to use for 4x5's. I use a 180mm Repromaster lens for all negatives on the Elwood. Using that lens I can't get 30x40 inch prints from 4x5 with the available head heights. Wall projection might give different answers, but I'm not set up to do that in my darkroom.

  3. #13
    A49
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    Quote Originally Posted by 23mjm View Post
    A49 you are overly obsessed with sharpness. Subject, Composition, & Light make a good photograph sharpness doesn't.
    This is off topic two times in two sentences. At first since we are not psychologist and don´t discuss personal obsessions. And at second since I explicitly did not ask what makes a good photograph or print, but "How far would you go with the enlarging of different negative formats, if you want it sharp."

    Lets say it a little more precisely: Sharpness alone does not make a good photograph. Why don´t you admit that Subject, Composition, & Light without enough sharpness or resolution do not make a good photograph either. What is "enough sharpness" depends on your personal taste and on the issue that you photograph.

    So if I had written: "I want to shoot architecture and sceneries with much, very fine details (what I often do) or maybe even reproduction or scientific issues that I would like to capture most perfectly.", would you still tell me that in these subjects of photography sharpness and resolution are secondary? The craftmanship of making the most beautiful "unsharp" or grainy pictures is another, surely interesting story...

    Why is it, that if I´m asking something about sharpness, resolution or grain, there is always somebody questioning my question and tells me that sharpness, high resolution and fine (or not visible) grain are not necessary for a good picture. I thought a forum with the topics darkroom and enlarging is mainly about perfecting technique and craftsmanship...If not, what are they for? And what is the difference of this forum here in comparison with the "Photographic Aesthetics and Composition" forum?

    Yes, you are right. I´m at this point obsessed with sharpness and resolution and I have been about grain, about the most exact colour rendering (I have to reproduce paintings from time to time.), lenses and so on... But I´m the one and only person that can decide if my obsessions are "over" or not. From all these private obsessions I have learned something about the potential and the limits of photography. Sometime it is good for me to go deep into one subject. If I dug through it, I look from a farther distance on it and take the things that are useful for me to make good photographs. That´s what in my opinion APUG is about: An exchange of useful things for making good photographs.


    Sorry, but I had to write this clearly.

    Kind regards,
    Andreas

  4. #14
    holmburgers's Avatar
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    Andreas,

    I think your interest in sharpess is fully justified but that generally the people who ask such questions on APUG are maybe asking it for the wrong reasons. I'm not saying you are by any means, but just giving you an idea of what other people are thinking and why they are responding as such. Architecture certainly seems like an area where sharpness is very imortant.

    What size prints are you desiring? I would have to think that shooting on 4x5" would leave very little to be desired, assuming you have any of the modern, APO, lenses and a correspondingly good enlarging setup.

    Many people here have excellent technical info, like Ralph, who can assist you better than I, but the key to sharpness is low magnification upon enlargment, therefore you need the largest format to begin with, and 4x5" is the most practical and affordable for that. 8x10" is of course going to be even better, but I don't think the costs will justify it unless you are making extremely large prints.

    My 2¢
    If you are the big tree, we are the small axe

  5. #15
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    Personally? 8x10 from 8x10.
    Last edited by JBrunner; 02-07-2011 at 01:16 PM. Click to view previous post history.

  6. #16

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    Now quite a number of years ago, i had some 6x6s printed on translucent film to be displayed on light boxes in a local hotel.
    The prints were 210 cm high. Not square though (cropped), and i forget the width.

    They looked perfectly fine (though i didn't like the way the colours had shifted. But the hotel owner did. So i didn't make a fuzz about it), certainly from the distance they would have been seen normally.
    What surprised me (for lack of a better word) was that some people went up really close to look for detail. That wasn't what made me remember this though.
    What was, was that they did see detail they hadn't, couldn't, from a 'reasonable' viewing distance.
    From that moment on, i stopped worrying about print sizes.

    I do like a sharp negative though.

  7. #17

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    Quote Originally Posted by RalphLambrecht View Post
    Andreas

    A more reasonable assumption is that a print is viewed from a minimum distance, which is equal to the print's diagonal. That means, if an 8x10 print is sharp beyond human detection, any other size print is equally sharp as long as it is viewed from that minimum viewing distance. Anything else is bit obsessive!
    Ralph,

    I think it is a reasonable assumption that most viewers will only look at the print from near the "minimum viewing distance," which is equal to the diagonal of the print. But, let's be clear, the "minimum" distance is not really the minimum, it is more an "average" viewing distance. You can accept this assumption or reject it. Personally, I accept it as "average." I reject it as the standard to which to print. I do not print "average."

    Next time you are at a museum, stand back from the artwork and observe the other patrons. While most will stand near the "minimum" viewing distance, a significant number will get as close to the work as possible to examine the brush strokes or fine detail or chisel marks. I have had viewers (not photography judges) get inches away from prints to examine fine detail.


    A great authority on photography stated, "a most critical viewer may be as close as his or her eyes will focus, investigating all areas of the photograph." Way Beyond Monochrome, 2nd ed., 2011, p. 132. So the issue is, do you want to print to average or to the most critical viewer. I opt to please myself, a critical viewer, and others who view work critically. If I print to that standard, I know the average viewer will be pleased.

    Obsessive? Perhaps. I call it having high standards for my work. I do very few things in life to a standard of "average." (Okay, my golf game is average and I enjoy golf, but that is about it).

  8. #18
    Perry Way's Avatar
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    I find for sharpness sake, it begins with the film, not the format per se.

    If you want high contrast sharp, start with PanX and develop in Ilfotech DD-X. If you want faster than 50 ASA then use FP4+.

    If you want regular contrast and incredible gray tone and delineation between shades with zero or next to zero grain, start with Adox CHS Art 25 or Efke 25 and develop in Adolux ATM 49.

    I suppose Rollei fans will balk at me not mentioning Rollei Pan 25 but then I haven't used it. Likely it rates somewhere between PanF and CHS 25.

    Starting with these films provides the greatest degree of sharpness capacity (my opinion of course). From there all the other things people have stated so far come into play.
    I love the wilderness and I love my trail cameras, all Fuji's! :) GA645, GW690 III, and the X100 which I think is the best trail camera ever invented (to date).

  9. #19

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    A49,

    I recommend the book The Edge of Darkness, by Barry Thorton. The book deals with many of the issues raised in this and your other post. He examines in detail the relationship between sharpness and perceived sharpness. He tests a number of factors which influence our perception of sharpness in a print, including format/negative size, enlargement size, film speed, developers, lenses and enlarging light sources.

    The problem in answering your questions specifically is that each of these factors influences the way we perceive sharpness in a print. It is very difficult to discuss this many factors in a forum setting in any kind of detail. This subject obviously interests you greatly, so find the book and read a comprehensive discussion of the subject.

  10. #20
    Thomas Bertilsson's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Allen Friday View Post
    Ralph,

    I think it is a reasonable assumption that most viewers will only look at the print from near the "minimum viewing distance," which is equal to the diagonal of the print. But, let's be clear, the "minimum" distance is not really the minimum, it is more an "average" viewing distance. You can accept this assumption or reject it. Personally, I accept it as "average." I reject it as the standard to which to print. I do not print "average."

    Next time you are at a museum, stand back from the artwork and observe the other patrons. While most will stand near the "minimum" viewing distance, a significant number will get as close to the work as possible to examine the brush strokes or fine detail or chisel marks. I have had viewers (not photography judges) get inches away from prints to examine fine detail.


    A great authority on photography stated, "a most critical viewer may be as close as his or her eyes will focus, investigating all areas of the photograph." Way Beyond Monochrome, 2nd ed., 2011, p. 132. So the issue is, do you want to print to average or to the most critical viewer. I opt to please myself, a critical viewer, and others who view work critically. If I print to that standard, I know the average viewer will be pleased.

    Obsessive? Perhaps. I call it having high standards for my work. I do very few things in life to a standard of "average." (Okay, my golf game is average and I enjoy golf, but that is about it).
    I'm not Ralph, but when people examine photographic prints up close, what makes you so sure they are studying sharpness and grain?

    - Thomas
    "Often moments come looking for us". - Robert Frank

    "Make good art!" - Neil Gaiman

    "...the heart and mind are the true lens of the camera". - Yousuf Karsh

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