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Thread: 35mm Question

  1. #11

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    This question comes up a lot on APUG, and you can find many good threads about it. How big an enlargement you can make depends on a lot of things - the quality of the negative, the subject, the viewing distance, the printing technique, how steady the camera was, etc. Traditionally, 35mm was printed to 5X7, and that is still an excellent format for it. But you can almost always get a good 8X10 (roughly 8X) enlargement out of a decent negative. If the camera was on a tripod, and the exposure and development were correct, you can often get a quite decent 11X14. Going bigger is a very iffy thing. Some subjects do not depend on detail, and a bigger enlargement works well. If the print will only be viewed at a distance, or if it is used to set a mood rather than to be viewed critically, bigger enlargements work. How big? It depends on the subject and the use of the print. I've seen many good 16X20 enlargements from 35mm, but I've seen many more terrible ones. For some mood setting photos enlargements up to 6 by 9 feet are reasonable (but not very often).

  2. #12
    Nicholas Lindan's Avatar
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    It's not size but viewing angle that's important.

    An 11x14 viewed at 3 feet can look fine.
    If the viewing distance is 5 feet then an enlargement of 20x24" has about the same quality to it.
    If the photo is to be mounted high in Grand Central station in New York then a print size of 18x60 feet is about right.

    But all of these will reveal the same level of detail as a hand held 5x7" print.

    I feel 20x24" made from a 35mm TechPan negative is about the limit for a print hung in the home.

    I find a 10x loupe handy when attending a photo showing -- examine an 8x10 contact print and a whole new world of detail springs from the print; examine an 11x14" made from 35mm and not much detail is revealed, mostly grain; examine a giclée (French for 'spit' - ob smiley) print and all the detail vanishes into a confusion of multicolored fly poop.
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  3. #13
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    Quote Originally Posted by Nicholas Lindan View Post
    examine a giclée (French for 'spit' - ob smiley) print and all the detail vanishes into a confusion of multicolored fly poop.
    WYSIWYG - At least that's my goal.

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  4. #14
    kb3lms's Avatar
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    I only shoot 35mm and rarely print anything smaller than 8x10. Film selection is a big part of how big you can enlarge and crop as others have said. Taking two nominally 400 speed films, Tri-X at 8x10 is usually pretty grainy and about as much as I like - but it's a part of the Tri-X look. XP2 OTOH is pretty grainless at the same enlargement. I'm working on printing a roll of XP2 right now and I haven't decided yet if I like it.

    Modern color films (ektar, portra, NPS and so on), and I'll include XP2 and BW400CN here, can print very smoothly and I feel I can get away with more cropping on an 8x10 than with B&W films. Then again, I've been printing mostly color lately so that might have a lot to do with my opinion.

    I've not had any paper larger than 8.5 x 11 so I can't comment on larger sizes.

  5. #15

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    Thanks for all the comments. Very helpful. Yeah, most of my shots are handheld,
    so as a few of you have said camera shake would definitely be a problem at times.

    How would the lens affect this?? I shoot either a 70-210 vivitar, 50 1:1.8 Zuiko. depending on what i'm doing.

    Thanks again, this is very helpful info. LbRt87

  6. #16
    hpulley's Avatar
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    The general rule is 1/focal length but others say anything slower than 1/500th is not sharp hand held while others claim that they can shoot at very slow speeds, 1/8 or 1/4 without problems. As with all things, camera shake is subjective. If you can see the effect of it in your prints then you have a problem you need to fix.

    If you notice your shots are not as sharp as you'd like and you've ruled out focusing issues and lens problems then it is likely due to camera shake. Of course there is a double edged sword as higher shutter speeds require either higher speed film or larger apertures which generally give larger grain and narrower depth of field respectively which will affect how much you can enlarge before seeing parts of the image which are not fine and sharp.
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  7. #17
    polyglot's Avatar
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    The 1/f "rule" is very much a rule of thumb. It will give you a no-camera-shake shot 90% of the time if you have "normal" levels of shake in your hands and use good camera-holding, breathing and release techniques. However, the shakiest people are about 2 stops shakier and the steadiest people are about 2 stops steadier than this "normal", so you need to figure out what sort of shutter speeds *you* can shoot at reliably.

    If shooting people (just standing there, not being particularly active), anything slower than 1/80 is iffy due to subject motion, even if your camera is perfectly still, e.g. on a tripod. 1/125 s kind of a minimum for really good reliability wrt people in a frame (unless the magnification is lower, e.g. a group shot or a person taking up only a small part of the frame); faster still if your lens is longer than 100mm and/or you're a caffeine addict You can get the occasional lucky shot at 1/8 to 1/15 and plenty of people will brag about those shots but it doesn't mean that shooting at those speeds regularly is the route to a high keeper rate.

  8. #18
    hpulley's Avatar
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    Yeah and sports or racecars much higher than 1/125 unless you pan or want blurred effects.
    Harry Pulley - Visit the BLIND PRINT EXCHANGE FORUM

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