View Full Version : Instant Film resolution is good enough for ...?

1-Jan-2012, 23:26
Hi all,

Based on the inspirational images posted on this forum, I'd like to get into LF, if only as an amateur having some fun.

My noob question is... how far can I enlarge scans of Instant Film before the result is obviously inferior to 4x5 sheet film, 6x7 or even 35mm? Here's my imagined setup... Fuji instant film in a 4x5, scanned on a flatbed (e.g. Epson 750 or 10000xl), and either viewed on a big color-corrected monitor, printed on a good inkjet or if I go crazy, carbon-transferred.

Results good enough for 8x10s would be ok, given that perspective control is its own draw; good enough for 11x14 or 16x20 would be fabulous. Can this be done? Is there a better way?

(oops--I forgot to look through similar postings before repeating them... I see some pretty decent results here: http://www.largeformatphotography.info/forum/showthread.php?t=60536&page=2&highlight=instant+film+resolution but wonder if there are updates to what's available/possible).

Frank Petronio
1-Jan-2012, 23:39
The instant film images, especially with the current Fuji made film, simply look different no matter how you scan or edit them. To my thinking it makes more sense to use them as a medium unto themselves rather trying to make them look like traditional film. Using instant film as final art, either the prints or some scanned and enlarged version, has a long tradition and is just as viable as anything else. But there aren't Tri-X or Portra film either - it's not worth trying to fake it.

Most people who don't have darkrooms send their film to labs, and then scan, edit in Photoshop and make inkjets - or make conventional prints. How novel! That also has a long track record. Try http://4photolab.com.

Brian C. Miller
2-Jan-2012, 01:10
My noob question is... how far can I enlarge scans of Instant Film before the result is obviously inferior to 4x5 sheet film, 6x7 or even 35mm?

Ah, no. What you can do is use bleach to remove the backing on the film, and then you have a negative. The instructions are over at the New55 blog, and it's fairly easy, just messy.

The resulting instant print is OK, but it's a print, with print resolution, not negative resolution. How far can you enlarge a print before it looks awful? You really can't reasonably do it. If you are determined to do that, then use the Fuji holder, not the Polaroid, as the film plane is just slightly different, and you'll have a sharper image using the Fuji holder.

Noah A
2-Jan-2012, 10:02
Only you can be the judge of standards for your own work. But I would say that you can't enlarge them at all. The instant film is obviously inferior to 4x5 film that is either contact printed or scanned and printed on an inkjet even at 4x5-inch size.

Frankly for prints around 8x10 inches a DSLR or Sony NEX and a PC lens or shift converter would look mighty nice. But in my opinion the 'better way' you're looking for is to shoot 4x5 film.

The fuji instant stuff is nice, the prints have a certain look that may appeal to some people, but I agree with Frank that they're a different medium and I think they work best when you use the instant print as your final product.

Noah A
2-Jan-2012, 10:08
For a real-world example, after writing my post I turned around and saw one of my reject prints pinned up to the wall of my studio. It is a 20x24-inch epson print made from drum-scanned Portra 160. Next to it is the fuji instant print that I shot as a proof. The 20x24 from scanned film is much sharper than the fuji 4x5 instant print. It's actually not even close.

2-Jan-2012, 16:18
Hi all,
Thanks for the insight! It's too bad I can't get instant-ish gratification, but finding a reliable processing shop is a big step forward, as is avoiding waste and disappointment.

Now, how to spend the $...

Andy Eads
2-Jan-2012, 19:31
Instant photos are small gems. Learn the attributes of the medium and compose for its native size and make little gems for yourself and your friends. If you want big prints, shoot film.

2-Jan-2012, 20:14
Is the Fuji stuff unsharp by definition? The few I've shot are pretty soft. I haven't shot them side by side with film yet though. I just read somewhere that the Fuji holder is superior to the Polaroid holder (this is for the small stuff) but I'm not going to lay out more money, I don't think.

Brian C. Miller
2-Jan-2012, 21:52
The Fuji instant print is just as sharp as the Polaroid instant print. However, the print is made by contact development, which is not a razor-sharp process. If you recover the negative from the Fuji materials, it is a reasonably sharp negative. I haven't made a print from it, but it does work.

Attached is a sample from my testing of a Busch Rapid Aplanat f/8 No. 4 13in lens on my 8x10, using the Polaroid holder. The house is across the street from one of my apartment windows. You can barely pick out the window trim on the Fuji print. Is that sharp enough for enlargement? Not for me, but it's a great little print. I also did the same shot with a Fuji holder, and the image was a tad sharper.

Robert Jonathan
2-Jan-2012, 22:53
My personal opinion: the fuji instant prints are soft. I wouldn't think of scanning one, or use one to judge sharpness of a lens, or see if you nailed focus, etc.

If you look at it with a loupe, you can see details that you can't see with your eyes on the print, like the thread pattern on a person's shirt or sweater. Yes, it can pick up details, but it just won't be "sharp" like what you're used to seeing on a slide or negative.

3-Jan-2012, 02:12
How does recovery of the negs work out in the field?
These are pack films and must be developed before you get the next shot, right?

Tom J McDonald
3-Jan-2012, 02:16
Correct, but you don't need to peel the film apart when the package says full development has been reached.
I had one at home I forgot to pull apart for 3 weeks and it still looked as I expect it would have if I'd done at 90 seconds or whatever.

Frank Petronio
3-Jan-2012, 05:21
Really, I never tried - that's a great idea for dust free finals. Thanks!

Fred L
3-Jan-2012, 06:19
Thanks for the info on that Tom. I can't recall where I read it online but it seems Fuji instant does self terminate and some photographers will shoot a bunch then peel later. Makes for less mess if you're out of doors. I'll have to experiment with a few sheets for myself at some point.

3-Jan-2012, 13:06
In the instructions on the new55 blog I think it says you can just put the negs away and clean them whenever, there's no time limit. They can get exposed to light. Don't quote me. It looks pretty fun though.