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  1. #1
    hoffy's Avatar
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    Would you enlarge and sell an image to 16x20 from a 35mm neg?

    Howdy,

    Out of the blue on the weekend, I got an enquiry about an image that I took a few years ago, which has been on my website for quite a while. Its an action shot from a classic rally and was shot on 35mm hp5+. The person wanted to know if they could get a 16x20 enlargement of the image.

    While it is an action shot and the grain most certainly adds to the charm, I am a bit apprehensive about enlarging it that big (I'm also apprehensive, as this is the first time anyone has shown any interest with on of my film images! How much do I charge, what if they are not happy, ect, ect).

    I'm curious. Would I be pushing the boundaries going to that size? I have it as an 8x10 and its OK, but as a 16x20, I'm not so sure. My preference is to sell it as an optical print, but at a pinch would go the dreaded hybrid work flow if needed.

    Any advice would be welcome.

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    You could set the enlarger to the height for a 16x20 print & expose onto an 8x10 sheet under one of the important parts of the neg. That should give you a sense of how it would look as a large print. Make a decision based on that.

  3. #3
    hoffy's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Michael W View Post
    You could set the enlarger to the height for a 16x20 print & expose onto an 8x10 sheet under one of the important parts of the neg. That should give you a sense of how it would look as a large print. Make a decision based on that.
    Yes, I was actually thinking that would probably be a very good idea!

    I really want the person to say yes, simply because I have never done anything bigger then an 8x10 in the past. My biggest fear is that I will screw up 9 of the 10 sheets in a box just getting it right!

  4. #4
    MDR
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    Why not plenty of photographers sell 16x20 pictures made from 35mm negative. Grain in an action shot usually adds something especially in rallye shots were a bit grittyness is to be expected.

    Good luck
    Dominik

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    A friend recently wanted a 35mm low-key image of mine enlarged to 11x14. I started optically printing it but ended up scanning it at 2400 dpi and having it lab printed onto real photographic paper. When I got it back, I compared it to my last optical workprint. There wasn't much difference, and my workprint actually held more detail in the highlights.

  6. #6
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    Give it a go... I've seen some excellent prints at that size made from 35mm. That said... you'll need the supporting infrastructure, easel, trays, large enough washer, drying rack, etc. Not sure if there are any labs near you, but I tend to get help from a local custom lab for bigger prints. 16x20's and 20x24's, though I could do the 16x20, I tend to make an 8x10 or 11x14 guide print, then have a professional printer make the bigger prints for me.

  7. #7
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    If the subject is sharp, then you'll be fine. If you haven't printed that size before it might be fun, but if you don't consider yourself a good printer, just send it to a custom black and white lab.

    As for cost, I sell my 16x20's (which are really more like 12x20's if full frame 35mm) on fibrebase paper, matted and framed for $600. It's hard to ask money for a picture that isn't matted and mounted since they don't lie flat on their own.

    And yes, it might take the whole 10 sheets to make the good print. More likely six sheets, but then what do you do with the other four. LOL

    -Rob
    Rob Skeoch
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    I usually find that quoting anything like a realistic price to an internet inquiry makes this dilemma go away very quickly, but it is worth pursuing to find out.

    Well printed, a 16x20 can look quite good from 35mm, but as Suzanne mentioned, making them is a challenge. Enlarger alignment becomes very critical (especially negative stage to lens); film flatness; lens quality. I've had good results with the 50mm 2.8 El-Nikkor N (the illuminated f/stop model - the older ones weren't as good), but you also have to be careful not to stop down too far since diffraction loss takes a toll sooner at this magnification (to the lens, it is like shooting a closeup of the negative). A glass carrier is a big help (to me a necessity at that magnification).

    If you print yourself and have any interest in making big enlargements, it's a great chance to give it a go on someone else's dime. If farming it out, I'd want to know that the printer is good, but I suppose the few who are left probably are. A non-darkroom solution isn't open to discuss here, but might also be worth pursuing.

    Of course most picture buyers really aren't all that fussy about the minutiae that we photographers obsess about.

  9. #9

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    I have seen plenty of images printed larger than 16x20 from 35mm negatives. Recently, I was at a local museum and it was showing images from 70s. It was obviously from 35mm because some of the images showed film rebates. None of them were grainless images as should NOT be but wonderful images nevertheless. They were subject appropriate, mood appropriate, and image appropriate.

    If your buyer is used to plastic smooth images, he/she might have some objections. Recently, I've been finding out that technical quality of images are largely for photographers, not buyers. Why not make an 8x10 print of an important part of the print at the 16x20 magnification, NOT pointing out the grain-ness but send it to the buyer and see what the buyer says?
    Develop, stop, fix.... wait.... where's my film?

  10. #10
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    I saw a Galen Rowell print that had to be 2 feet by 3 feet. It was made from a 35mm negative. I have to admit, it did not appeal to me but, the man made a decent living shooting 35mm and enlarging to sizes that most would consider "not doable form 35mm".

    I say try it and see...but if you are not comfortable with the result, do not show it to the potential customer. Only show work that you feel good about. Only show your best. I'd also try 11x14 as a possible compromise (it is also closer to full frame for 35mm).

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