I won't say that 35mm can't produce a good 8X10, or even 11X14, but you sure are going to have to work harder to get it. All aspects of technique have be on the money. Learning to get a really good print from 35 will go a long way towards improving your craft, simply because it is so unforgiving.
I shoot a lot of 35, but try to limit it to those situations where I really need 35mm advantages. Long lenses come to mind, as do small, light and fast travel cameras.Whenever feasible I use a larger format because it is so much easier to get nicer prints with better detail and tonality.
That said, there are many photographers much better than I who have made wonderful 35mm images.
Worth the weight
There is nothing that helps a 35mm negative more than a very heavy and stable tripod. There is no reason why that 100Tmax...and other modern films.. and careful workmanship & technique can not produce very effective 8x10 prints. I am thinking about tripods in the 15 pound or greater weight class and the use of mirror lock up.
I am reminded of an article on the Carl Zeiss website in recommending a tripod for high resolution photography...around 200lpm. Their recommendation was for A Sactler Carbon Fiber TV tripod legs, weighing 7 1/2 pounds and a Sachtler fluid tripod head weighing 18 pounds. The load capacity of this equipment was 202 pounds. I could contemplate carrying
25+pounds of tripod but the B&H price for this equipment was in the area pf $6500.00 That was that as far as I was concerned.
A very stable tripod, in my opinion, is at least as important for 35mm work as it is for 11x14 cameras.
I recently saw some Salgado 16"x20" prints from 35mm negs. Yes, they are grainy, and a little soft up close, but boy, are they expressive when you take a step or two back! They have real presence. Clearly, he's using good lenses, but I think you need to consider what you want your prints to convey. I think the grain, and the slightly soft look of his prints really added some visual impact to the subjects. The advantages to 35mm are its immediacy, and quickness, and with modern films, and a little technical know how, it is possible to make bigger prints, but they are going to have a very different feel than large prints from MF or LF negs.
Don't get me wrong, I love the look of a carefully composed LF image, whether contact printed or enlarged, but I have a real soft spot for the well seen and exposed 35mm image that's been printed big, 11"x14" or larger. It pushes the medium, whether in landscape or documentary, and can be very satisfying, and as I've said, very expressive.
You can get presentable and interesting results from 35mm, but that might just not be your taste. If you like a smoother look, and the DOF effects and lens qualities of a larger format, and if there's no practical reason that keeps you from shooting a larger format like a need for long lenses or a motor drive or the mobility of 35mm, then shoot a larger format. It's not necessarily more costly to go bigger, if that is a concern.
I find that I tend to enlarge 35mm negs to about 6x9" on an 8x10" sheet.
Salgado uses Leica M and R lenses.
Originally Posted by Suzanne Revy
I've enlarged 11x14's from 35mm. And they were from Tri-X. You just have to do more dodging/burning.
Did you see that documentary on the war photographer Natchway? He uses Canon. He was working with a printer who was printing one of his shots on huge 20x24. Nothing really particular with what film/developer he uses. I'm sure he sends it back to the states if he's not using digital. But this print, was from a neg. Anyway, it was 20x24 and you really need to do a lot of work with them to get it nice.
I've been to the Witken and routinely see large 16x20 prints from 35mm.
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Print size is purely personal choice. If you feel 5x7 will enhance your images, by all means do so. Just remember, it is the content of the image and not the size of the print that ultamitly matters. Michael Kenna, probably the most successful fine art photographer today, makes his prints no larger then 8x10, most much smaller and they sell for $1500 in galleries! He shoots mostly 6x6 now, up from 35mm.
If you are looking for finer grain, try some slower films. Pick just one combination and go take pictures. You can only learn so much standing in a dark room.
Time & tides wait for no one, especially photographers.
I'm curious, what type of enlarger are you using? Diffuser or Condenser? I've thought about setting up two enlargers for this very reason (one of each). Each produces a different result. If you can get it, try kodak techpan. You'll be amazed at what can be done with it. If not, what about 'pull processing' Tmax 100? say to 50ASA? I haven't tried doing that yet, but I've heard it works. there's also microdol-x. Isn't that for fine grain film developing? but seriously, it is truly a great loss about techpan being discontinued.
good luck......and never stop wondering
Very true. If you have a lightweight tripod a couple of neat tricks:
Originally Posted by Claire Senft
The first is to hang your equipment bag underneath the tripod, between the legs. This helps weigh the tripod down and to stabilise it.
The second is to use a couple of old camera straps fixed to the neck of the tripod to create a 'stirrup' in which you can place one foot to exert some weight, again this steadies the tripod.
See attachment, borrowed from 'The 35mmm Photographer's Handbook' by Julian Calder and John Garrett. (the first photography book I ever bought way back in 1979)
Anáil nathrach, ortha bháis is beatha, do chéal déanaimh.
I have been going through your gallery and have a few thoughts on this.
While replies have talked repeatedly about landscape, I don't see that as an issue here.
In what's posted here, you say you are using Tri-X and Rodinal. But to my eye, the scanned prints aren't looking like the snappy Rodinal I'm used to. Are the scans soft? The prints? Do you have a good enlarger lens? For less grain, I recommend Xtol 1+1 highly for the current Tri-X. (Cameras & More didn't have it -- might require a drive up to Keeble's)
Another issue is f/stop. If you look at your own posts, you'll see that the shots exposed around f/8 and f/11 are pretty snappy -- f/16 and f/2 significantly less so. If you can lock-off the camera and use an appropriate exposure, I think you'd be well-served to do so. For formally-set-up stuff like your portraits, exteriors, and figure photos, this is all easily achieveable. The lenses will always be sharper in the middle range of f/stops.
This is a matter of taste of course, but it seems to me that your skin tones are underexposed?
(I was going to refer to my gallery for comparison, but alas it's all 6×6 right now so I'll point at an offsite collection over on Contax G -- this one for comparison. It's shot with Contax but brands are not the issue (I shot with a large Canon FD system for many years. Still have an AE-1 I couldn't part with, used it only two or three weeks ago because it's light and perfectly capable). The point is that all of that stuff was 35mm, most handheld, and it all prints well to 8×10 and larger. I have a houseful of it)
For a fine 6x6 you could always get a TLR -- I've seen Autocords and YashicaMats go for less than $100 regularly. There's a used camera show in San Jose on the 2nd of April if you don't like e-pay: http://www.photofair.com/
While I think everyone agrees that print quality objectives are highly subjective, I also agree with the suggestions that boil down to print quality being a sum of the parts thing. Excellent lenses on the camera, used at optimal apertures; the use of a solid, reasonably heavy, tripod; proper film/developer selection; and a superb enlarging lens (e.g. a Schneider APO Componon HM) on a properly aligned enlarger all contribute to great prints.
And, while there's nothing like an 8x10 contact print, I consistently get excellent (IMHO ) 11x14s out of my 35mm negs . . . when I use the above combination of elements in the process. Your smilage may vary, of course.
[COLOR=SlateGray]"You can't depend on your eyes if your imagination is out of focus." -Mark Twain[/COLOR]
Rio Rancho, NM