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  1. #1

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    8x10 contacting printing recommendations?

    I searched this site and others, last night for info on contact printing and my head is still spinning this morning. Here's the deal................I've been shooting my 4x5 lately and it's really been rewarding and relaxing. I got to thinking that if 4x5 is this rewarding and relaxing then 8x10 must be twice as beneficial. Right???? So, I dug out my trusty BJ 8x10, blew the dust off, slapped my convertible Zeiss Protar on it and now I'm ready to go. Of course I don't have an enlarger or darkroom big enough for 8x10 enlarging.
    I want to contact print my negs!!!!! Here is what I have. 1.) Light source= my Omega D2V condenser enlarger. 2.) Contact set-up= 20"x24" vacuum easel. 3.) Film= old TRI-X 320 and TMAX 100
    This is the help I need. I think the light source is fine. The vacuum easel should work, but I have to figure out a way to keep the neg in perfect contact with the paper. I'm thinking of a piece of 11x14 1/2" thick plate glass or any other suggestion? Now, for my real question and that is paper and developer. I just want to experiment with this set-up for a while to get the hang of it so I don't want to shell out much dough. I know from the research last night that AZO and Lomida papers deliver the sharpest contact prints. Or so they say! I'd like something close since I'm kind of a sharpness freak. I'm leaning toward Foma Fomalux RC312 (very cheap), Adox Nuance sounds good also. Now, comes the developer? I'm going to do some 8x10 portraits and maybe a couple of landscapes/light house shots and want a neutral or slightly warm tone look with good blacks. I know many use Ansco130, but I don't think it would be warm enough for my liking. So, maybe something on the order of Selectol Soft or Agfa Nuetol.
    So, what I'm after is a cheap starting point, as sharp as possible print with a slightly warm or warm tone look. Anyone have any good advice besides buy a digital P&S. JohnW

  2. #2

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    At this point I contact print 8x10 on the same Ilford enlarging papers I prefer for enlargements. Lots of people love Ilford MG Warm Tone although it is not the particular paper I use. Heavy glass works fine, as long as it is good glass - free of flaws significant enough to affect print quality.

    Regarding sharpness, I'm also a sharpness freak but I have a hard time believing anyone can actually see a sharpness difference between a print made on a current top quality MG enlarging paper and a single emulsion contact paper. I suppose you could split the "difference" by using a graded enlarging paper. I'm sure Lodima is an excellent paper, but I would choose it (or not) based on its tonal characteristics, not sharpness. Just my opinion though.

  3. #3
    RalphLambrecht's Avatar
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    Why do we think that print sharpness is influenced by paper emulsion? The resolution limit of standard enlarging paper is far beyond human detection.
    I'll also doubt that there is a distinguishable difference between an 8x10 contact print and a 4x5 enlarged to 8x10. As long as the 4x5 lens delivers 34 lp/mm or better, you won't be able to see a difference without optical aids.
    Regards

    Ralph W. Lambrecht
    www.darkroomagic.comrorrlambrec@ymail.com[/URL]
    www.waybeyondmonochrome.com

  4. #4

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    Glass larger than neg and paper being sucked down completing the neg sandwich will be just fine. If you are happy with all of your other stuff for enlarging then use it for the contacts. If you are looking for Darkroom GAS justification then go Alt process. Otherwise what you have will work just fine and dandy. Remeber you are doing this to relax. The less thought the better. When I printed in a regular darkroom I liked the forte WT fiber paper, not even sure it exists anymore. Illford was nice too.
    Technological society has succeeded in multiplying the opportunities for pleasure, but it has great difficulty in generating joy. Pope Paul VI

    So, I think the "greats" were true to their visions, once their visions no longer sucked. Ralph Barker 12/2004

  5. #5

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    I totally agree Ralph. But there are people who claim graded papers and contact papers are actually sharper than variable contrast papers because VC papers have more emulsion layers. That might be what OP was referring to in his research. Whether or not this is even true means little to me since I doubt any difference would be visible.

  6. #6

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    Quote Originally Posted by RalphLambrecht View Post
    Why do we think that print sharpness is influenced by paper emulsion? The resolution limit of standard enlarging paper is far beyond human detection.
    I'll also doubt that there is a distinguishable difference between an 8x10 contact print and a 4x5 enlarged to 8x10. As long as the 4x5 lens delivers 34 lp/mm or better, you won't be able to see a difference without optical aids.
    Ralph, The sharpness thing (AZO-Lomida) is what I kept reading last night and I was kind of in disbelief myself. If my regular enlarging paper is giving me good sharp, (when I want them), prints, then why wouldn't the same paper give me excellent contact prints. I always heard,"never believe what you hear and only half what you read". Maybe it's less than half what you read? I did make some contact 8x10 prints about 30 years ago and just used Dektol and Ilford FB Gr.2. I still have the prints and they don't impress me much. I'd like to see if I can do things better in my old age. At least I know I'm a Little more patient now and that might help.
    I'm almost out of 8x10 warm-tone paper and don't want to cut my larger size sheets down so I might just try some of the cheap Foma Fomalux RC 312 to practice with and I have the chemicals to mix up my own warm-tone developer.

  7. #7
    RalphLambrecht's Avatar
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    If they are talking about emulsion thickness, acutance may be the issue, which is indeed a variable for sharpness. Also, with test patterns (and high contrast subjects), a paper with a higher Dmax may look 'sharper' due to the increased contrast between tonal extremes. Resolution is definitely not a factor here! But, let's remember:

    sharpness = acutance + contrast + resolution
    Regards

    Ralph W. Lambrecht
    www.darkroomagic.comrorrlambrec@ymail.com[/URL]
    www.waybeyondmonochrome.com

  8. #8

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    sharpness = acutance + contrast + resolution[/QUOTE]

    Ralph, that's a good summation of sharpness. I think that's why many people tend to pick or choose some prints with slightly more contrast. It just seems to make them appear sharper even if they are not. Thanks for the help and I'm off to the glass shop Monday for a cover glass. JohnW

  9. #9
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    Don't quote me on this, but I believe I have heard that VC emulsions are made from mixing two emulsions together that are laid down at the same time -- not two distinct layers. It would certainly simplify and speed up the manufacturing process! But I could easily be wrong about this.

    I thought the whole idea behind a vacuum easel was to do away from the need to use glass, and the two additional surfaces that dust can be on?
    At least with LF landscape, a bad day of photography can still be a good day of exercise.

  10. #10
    RalphLambrecht's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Vaughn View Post
    Don't quote me on this, but I believe I have heard that VC emulsions are made from mixing two emulsions together that are laid down at the same time -- not two distinct layers. ...
    That's my understanding too, two and even three sometimes, also done for film emulsions. Different halides are used to optimize toe and shoulder characteristics at the same time.
    Last edited by RalphLambrecht; 04-30-2011 at 12:41 PM. Click to view previous post history.
    Regards

    Ralph W. Lambrecht
    www.darkroomagic.comrorrlambrec@ymail.com[/URL]
    www.waybeyondmonochrome.com

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