I'd suggest starting with subjects/imagery that doesn't require crisp crisp crisp lines and detail. A photo that is emotional/expressive/abstracted more than detail oriented would be acceptable with big mushy grain. Film stills and old tri-x are big grain and people love it and the love has endured because of reasons other than technical perfection.
If it's a subject that requires detail, then I prefer the MF or LF options. 35mm can do it with acros/tmx/delta100, but the lenses have to be acting sweet, high shutter speeds or tripod used, etc... More constraints than MF or LF might throw at you, depending on the situation.
I remember a had a photo professor made a 16x20 print from a neg shot on Porter's H&W control film. It looked like it was photographed on LF. Wonderful tonality.
I had a gallery show a couple years back of work I did in China. It was all shot on 35mm and printed to 16X24 on Multigrade FB 20x24. I thought the film held up well, but with the prints back in the studio I don't hang them in the same room as work done on 8x10 film.
I use Delta 100, it seems to work fine.
Making FB prints larger than 20x24 is much more work and hassle. Once you get past 20x24 you usually have to buy paper in rolls and cut it, it's harder to handle and you need more space.
Of course if it's done well, it will look great.
That is the important thing. Occasionally you also have to please someone else, but it is still your photograph.
Originally Posted by ROL
I used to routinely print 35 mm to 20 x 24. And when I worked for a lab we occasionally get orders for even larger prints. My experience, the enlarger must be perfectly aligned. I would realign prior to making the print, using a level and so forth. A good lens is necessary, we used Scheider Componons. I found them to deliver more contrast than Rodenstock. APO lenses are best if you can afford one, but the Componons worked fine. And I *always* used a glass negative carrier. Our trays were smaller than the 40 inch prints we making and I would have to roll, or scroll, the print. I would use a 3.5 minute developing time to help achieve evenness. We projected onto the floor, but I at Pratt Institute where I taught for a while they had an enlarger that projected onto the wall. We'd just tack the paper to the wall. It doable.
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This question needs an answer like "42", as it seems to be eternally asked. I have seen 4'x6' prints that are sharp, crisp with great detail. The same size print right next to looks terrible - muddy, blurry, distracting grain. It's all a matter of the original film, camera, lens, focus, aperture, shutter speed, etc.
But if you really want to see how far 35mm can be enlarged, go to the movie theater. That's 35mm projected at 30'x50' or larger.
In High School I set up a darkroom in my parents' basement. For large prints I would tilt the head of my Bogen 22A Special 45b degrees and tape the paper to the freezer. To prevent vibration I had to turn off the freezer while I did this. When doing this I had to stretch my arm all the way out to focus so I could get as close as possible to the freezer. The two enlarger lenses I used most then were 50/4 and 80/5.6 EL Nikkors. Making 11X14s took a lot of chemistry.
I watched the entire "War Photographer" video again and concentrated on those scenes with some stop-action.
Originally Posted by ic-racer
I have changed my mind on that. I think he is actually enlarging from the 35mm negative in a glass carrier.
Reason: It looks like the Durst L184 is using a recessed Lapla lensboard and a small lens (like much less than 300mm). I had mistaken the shiny 70mm rim of the Lapla lensboard for the shiny rim of an older 300mm Componon and thus concluded he was projecting a large format internegative. Now I suspect he is using something like an 80mm or 100mm lens and therefore NOT projecting a large format negative. I don't think a 50mm lens will focus on a recessed Lapla lensboard on that enlarger, the big 8" Hotub lensboard is needed for that. The film clearly does NOT show a Hotub lensboard.
I had also mistaken the black bars used to hold the paper on the wall for abnormalities on the edges of the internegative. Frame-by-frame analysis cleared that up for me. Now I see a simple 35mm frame being projected from a glass large format negative holder masked with rubylith.
Bob Carnie at elevator labs printed a slew of Guillaume Zuili work that large
even bigger ... some where pinhole 35mm as well, and from what i have been told
they were absolutely beautiful.
it is a matter of knowing your materials, and equipment and pushing yourself to your limits
Good darkroom technique, with a perfectly aligned enlarger, glass carrier and a decent lens.
There is nothing difficult about making a 20x24 from 35mm if you have the above nailed down.
The look is the look and it is best not confused with what a good or bad enlargement is. Of course a 20x24 from TriX is generally grainy, but that can look an awful lot better than a 10x8 neg print if it is what you are after.
I regularly make prints from 35mm to 20x16 and 20x24 and for my documentary work, 20x16 is my portfolio and standard display size. As long as I check enlarger alignment, use a glass carrier and a good lens, I get beautifully crisp grain across the entire print. The rest is then down to me.
I do not presently make silver prints larger than 20x24, but as long as I have the ability to process larger paper, I do not see the projection part being an issue. Once again, it is just about alignment.
FWIW, I cannot use 50mm lenses on my 10x8 enlarger due to recessed lens boards and vignetting, but I can use a 60mm, so have a 63mm Nikkor and 60mm Rodagon. At 20x24 I don't think I could be asking more from my lenses, but if I were to go larger, maybe an APO lens would be better, or a G-series.