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  1. #1

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    Are contact prints of 35mm negs. "a must do"?

    Now that I have a light box and no longer have to use the Rusco porch door to view my negs. should I start making contact sheets? I did it while taking darkroom classes at night school but have been told by a few printers that they were not necessary.
    If this step is a "must do" can anyone point me to a site with plans for a home made unit. Love to get a new contact frame {BUT} my bank account is registering "TILT" after the holiday blowout.

    Thank You,
    Mike

  2. #2

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    Quote Originally Posted by Mike Kennedy
    Now that I have a light box and no longer have to use the Rusco porch door to view my negs. should I start making contact sheets? I did it while taking darkroom classes at night school but have been told by a few printers that they were not necessary.
    If this step is a "must do" can anyone point me to a site with plans for a home made unit. Love to get a new contact frame {BUT} my bank account is registering "TILT" after the holiday blowout.

    Thank You,
    Mike
    It's up to you. I do neg scanning instead.

    But generally, it's quicker to make contact prints to check photos.

  3. #3
    digiconvert's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Mike Kennedy
    ..... Love to get a new contact frame {BUT} my bank account is registering "TILT" after the holiday blowout.

    Thank You,
    Mike
    Hi Mike, I have been using a light box and it does the job. However I am going to get a contact frame for 35mm (I use a sheet of glass for 6x6) for the simple reason that it helps with filing and I don't have to get my negs out (just realised that sounds like a double-entendre !) every time I want to choose a print.
    A second hand dealer I use has one for £15 (C$ 30 ?) and they are on e-bay
    see http://cgi.ebay.ca/PATERSON-35mm-CON...QQcmdZViewItem

    I don't have ANY connection with that sale btw.

    Hope it helps; Chris

  4. #4
    Dan Henderson's Avatar
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    Making contact sheets has always been a natural next step in the process after developing the negatives. It gives me a better idea of which images I want to spend more time on in the printing stage, tells me about exposure and contrast, and serves as a reference in the future if I want to go back and look at images I have made in the past. As far as a contact printer, I use a 1/4" sheet of plate glass purchased from a local glass shop. They beveled the sharp edges so i don't cut myself. Simple, elegant, and cost only a few bucks.


    web site: Dan Henderson, Photographer.com

    blog: https://danhendersonphotographer.wordpress.com/

    I am not anti-digital. I am pro-film.

  5. #5
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    Contact sheets may not be "necessary" if you can read a negative and tell from looking at it how it will print (I confess that I can't), but it is certainly useful when it comes to filing. As Chris said, it makes finding a shot you want much easier if you can just look at a contact sheet rather than have to remove a sheet of negs from a folder and put them on a light box one by one.

    It also helps you narrow down your personal exposure index (EI) and development time if you do not want to do detailed testing (see attached PDF article by Barry Thornton who is, sadly, no longer with us).

    Cheers, Bob.
    Attached Files

  6. #6
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    When I did a lot of 35mm I found no use for contact sheets. Then I read Fred Picker's Zone VI Workshop and learned that I needed to be making proper proofs. I got a lot of useful informatioin from the proper proofs - and avoided wasting a lot of time on unprintable negatives.

    Basically, through testing, you determine the proper time to expose a print so that the film edge just prints maximum black (after you've worked out proper negative exposure and development time). You print your contact sheet at that time invariably. The good ones - and the bad ones - become obvious.
    juan

  7. #7
    rbarker's Avatar
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    I use contact sheets for filing/indexing and as a crutch for negative selection. But, my "contact sheets" are now mostly printouts of full-page scans of the entire roll in its PrintFile sheet.

    For some folks (inlcuding me in the past), however, a real contact print is/was an important element in their overall processing regimen.
    [COLOR=SlateGray]"You can't depend on your eyes if your imagination is out of focus." -Mark Twain[/COLOR]

    Ralph Barker
    Rio Rancho, NM

  8. #8
    esanford's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by juan
    When I did a lot of 35mm I found no use for contact sheets. Then I read Fred Picker's Zone VI Workshop and learned that I needed to be making proper proofs. I got a lot of useful informatioin from the proper proofs - and avoided wasting a lot of time on unprintable negatives.

    Basically, through testing, you determine the proper time to expose a print so that the film edge just prints maximum black (after you've worked out proper negative exposure and development time). You print your contact sheet at that time invariably. The good ones - and the bad ones - become obvious.
    juan
    I'd like to underscore this comment. A proper contact proof tells you if the negative is printable. The other thing that Fred Picker emphasized is that you should make contract prints on the same paper that you normally print on. Again this let's you know whether or not you should be spending your time trying to make a fine print of a negative. Another thing that is helpful with 35mm negatives is a nice magnifyng glass. Because 35mm negs are so small (especially to old eyes like mine) it will enable you to fully analyze the contact sheet. When I used to do a lot of 35mm, I was often fooled by what appeared to be a good proof. Then upon enlarging it would be out of focus due to camera shake or poor focusing.

    Looking at negatives on a light box really does not provide sufficient information as to whether the negative is printable in the wet darkroom.

    Also, negative scans really show you nothing, if you plan to make a wet print in the darkroom. Computers can do a good job of producing pictures from really bad negatives that are unprintable in the darkroom (I will concede that a negative scan will tell you how well you used the camera). The other risk of negative scanning is causing scratches or other damage to your negatives. Therefore, I try to avoid the short term gratification of 'seeing-the-picture-now' that is afforded by negative scanning. If you are going to negative scan, I say stop the charade and just use a digital camera !
    Often wrong, but never in doubt!

  9. #9

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    I make contact sheets primarily for filing purposes and deciding on printability from a composition/ content standpoint.

    With a lightbox and loupe I pretty much know how a neg is going to print, and since some negatives lend themselves to different printing papers I simply contact on RC paper. RC makes filing simpler since it lays flat in folders.
    "Fundamentally I think we need to rediscover a non-ironic world"
    Robert Adams

  10. #10

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    Good Morning, Mike,

    I agree with those who advocate the use of contact sheets. For consistency, always use the same kind of paper, the same lens, the same enlarger height and condenser adjustment, and the same exposure time. This will make it easier to hit correct enlargement times when going from one roll of film to another. Since I scanned rapidly through the responses above, I don't recall if any mentioned that the back of a contact sheet is also a good place to write printing data. A Sharpie pen works well on RC paper.

    Konical

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