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  1. #31
    clayne's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by jeroldharter View Post
    Contact sheets are an essential point in the path to a fine print. Of course, I gave up on them as well!

    I think they are overrated. Perhaps for 35mm they save some eye strain but I don't like making them.

    They are tedious and time consuming. I have limited darkroom time anyway.
    Are you primarily shooting people or still life/landscapes?
    Stop worrying about grain, resolution, sharpness, and everything else that doesn't have a damn thing to do with substance.

    http://www.flickr.com/kediwah

  2. #32
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    Quote Originally Posted by clayne View Post
    Are you primarily shooting people or still life/landscapes?
    Good point. The latter, in 4x5 and 8x10 with rare 6x7 roll film.

    However, this winter I might start going for humans.
    Jerold Harter MD

  3. #33

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    Good Evening,

    This is relevant to a couple of things in the recent posts on this topic.

    Consistency--I learned sometime decades ago that contact sheets should always be made exactly the same way: same lens, same enlarger height, same paper, same f-stop, same exposure time, same, developer, etc. regardless of the film or format used. That way, the number of variables is reduced, helping to diagnose possible problems, such as a camera shutter or diaphragm which may be slightly malfunctioning. If the exposure of contact sheets is constantly changed based on the appearance of different sets of negatives, that diagnostic function is at least reduced. Consistently-made contact sheets also make it simple to print from different rolls of film (and different types/brands of film) during one session, since one quickly establishes a kind of base printing exposure and can work from that depending on the appearance of the frame on the sheet. After the first or second negative printed in a session, it doesn't take a lot of experience to be hitting subsequent exposures dead-on the first time that way.

    Sharpness--Tedious and time-consuming as it is, I prefer the out-of-sleeve approach. Glass 1/4 inch thick is heavy enough to hold down even slightly curly film so that the image is as sharp as the negative will allow. As others have indicated, it is a real pain, especially with 35mm, but why not do everything as well as possible?

    Konical

  4. #34
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    Quote Originally Posted by Konical View Post
    Good Evening,

    This is relevant to a couple of things in the recent posts on this topic.

    Consistency--I learned sometime decades ago that contact sheets should always be made exactly the same way: same lens, same enlarger height, same paper, same f-stop, same exposure time, same, developer, etc. regardless of the film or format used. That way, the number of variables is reduced, helping to diagnose possible problems, such as a camera shutter or diaphragm which may be slightly malfunctioning. If the exposure of contact sheets is constantly changed based on the appearance of different sets of negatives, that diagnostic function is at least reduced. Consistently-made contact sheets also make it simple to print from different rolls of film (and different types/brands of film) during one session, since one quickly establishes a kind of base printing exposure and can work from that depending on the appearance of the frame on the sheet. After the first or second negative printed in a session, it doesn't take a lot of experience to be hitting subsequent exposures dead-on the first time that way.
    Konical
    Konical, but some rolls are definitely going to have significantly different density from other rolls such that using the same exposure time is going to result in useless contact sheets. I agree that from a consistency standpoint it's good, but from a usability standpoint it's highly dubious - as contacts are useless if one can't evaluate the actual image.

    I find it perfectly acceptable to test-strip/educated-guess a given frame off a roll and then use the adjusted times for other frames in the same roll. Most people will be making test strips more often than not. A hyper-consistent approach to contact sheet exposure settings is not going to save one from this.
    Stop worrying about grain, resolution, sharpness, and everything else that doesn't have a damn thing to do with substance.

    http://www.flickr.com/kediwah

  5. #35
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    My contact sheets are neg-scans on the computer. My rolls are all numbered and the sleeves are filed by this number; I look for the image(s) I want on the computer, dig up the negs by number and go stick them in the enlarger for a session. Then I usually spill something.

  6. #36

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    "Konical, but some rolls are definitely going to have significantly different density from other rolls such that using the same exposure time is going to result in useless contact sheets. I agree that from a consistency standpoint it's good, but from a usability standpoint it's highly dubious - as contacts are useless if one can't evaluate the actual image."

    Good Evening, Clayne,

    I do understand your point of view and would agree that it does contain some truth. It may be a matter of degree. If the variation is within a reasonable range however, that, in itself, indicates the value of making contact sheets as consistently as possible, since it will clearly indicate how much (or less) exposure and what change in contrast filter will be required to produce an acceptable result; the contact sheet would, therefore, not really be useless because it lead to more efficient printing.

    If the contact sheets show extreme density variations (or, similarly, contrast extremes) from frame to frame or from one roll to another, the sheets are probably indicating some very inconsistent or careless camera technique (or mechanical malfunction or processing error) which should be addressed, again proving the value of making contact sheets in as consistent a manner as possible.

    I do not suggest that there is an absolute "right" or "wrong" in this matter, merely that I find value in trying to reduce, when possible, the number and extent of variables; it seems to me that aiming for precision and consistency is the best way to achieve this goal.

    Konical

  7. #37
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    Quote Originally Posted by Konical View Post
    I do not suggest that there is an absolute "right" or "wrong" in this matter, merely that I find value in trying to reduce, when possible, the number and extent of variables; it seems to me that aiming for precision and consistency is the best way to achieve this goal.

    Konical
    I agree that there is no right or wrong but at least I thought your method, and mine as well, was the SOP, to be used as (only) a diagnostic and organizing tool. If the OP and others are making test strips, mini-prints, of their contact sheets I can see how that can be very tedious indeed.

    For me, if the image(s) on the contact sheet passes the sharpness and smell test, I'll investigate further via a 24" iMac.

  8. #38
    clayne's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Iwagoshi View Post
    I agree that there is no right or wrong but at least I thought your method, and mine as well, was the SOP, to be used as (only) a diagnostic and organizing tool. If the OP and others are making test strips, mini-prints, of their contact sheets I can see how that can be very tedious indeed.

    For me, if the image(s) on the contact sheet passes the sharpness and smell test, I'll investigate further via a 24" iMac.
    Sure, but you do realize a lightbox and a loupe is actually faster?
    Stop worrying about grain, resolution, sharpness, and everything else that doesn't have a damn thing to do with substance.

    http://www.flickr.com/kediwah

  9. #39
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    Quote Originally Posted by clayne View Post
    Sure, but you do realize a lightbox and a loupe is actually faster?
    But not as fun, imho.

  10. #40

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    In an era of ever more expensive silver gelatin paper and dwindling availability, there is a far more convenient and less expensive approach to making contact proof sheets. Several years ago I adopted using a digital camera on a copy stand with a light box. The images are inverted in Photoshop and can be increased in size for evaluation if you use a high enough resolution digital camera. I created solid black masks for each size of negative or pages of negatives. You can make multiple exposures to adapt to poorly exposed frames. The "film" is free once you have bought the memory card, and no chemicals, silver gelatin paper, or darkroom time is required. You can all complain in unison, but for me, this is a case of where digital is invaluable as a tool.

    Now that you are all groaning, bear in mind, for final prints, I work only in Pt/Pd, carbon, and silver gelatin (Azo) and haven't had a negative in the enlarger for years. I had to come up with a method of proofing my 12x20 and other negatives without burning through several hundred dollars of Azo paper and endless hours in the darkroom. It became even more necessary when Azo was discontinued and I needed to preserve my stash in the freezer. I have adapted this approach to 6x6, 4x5, 8x10 and 12x20 negatives. I haven't shot 35mm in 15-20 years.

    Quote Originally Posted by waileong View Post
    Does anybody here feel like a contact sheet factory?

    Every time I get in a darkroom, there's always tons of negs waiting to be printed, so more than 3/4 of the session is just printing contacts!

    And if I don't print the contacts, there's a good chance I'll never see the picture-- because it takes so much time to get one good print out of 12 negs (6x6) or one good print out of 36 (35 mm)!

    I really need to retire, so I can do darkroom all day!

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