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Thread: 4"x5" black and white negative to 5'x7' print?

  1. #1

    4"x5" black and white negative to 5'x7' print?

    Hello follow forum-ers This is my first post.

    Question: what resolution and size would you recommend scanning a 4 inch by 5 inch black and white negative to be printed as a 5 by 7 foot print? I have made over sized enlargements before, but this is double the size that I have ever done from the negatives in this collection. I am using an offsite printer for this job and they are out of town so I really need to be able to download the scan to them, but the max size they allow is only 16mb jpeg. Is it possible to fit a great HR image within that size file?

    BTW I am not a professional at this although I have been printing from our archival collection for many years and am just now getting more and more requests for really really BIG images. I use an Epson Expression 11000XL scanner with the Epson Scan software in the professional mode, if this is helpful to answer my question.

    Thank you in advance for any input on the project,
    Creekhollowgirl
    Smith County Historical Society, archives

  2. #2
    Corran's Avatar
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    Re: 4"x5" black and white negative to 5'x7' print?

    Assuming a 5 x 6.25 foot print (that would be the same aspect ratio as 4x5, anything larger would crop the image), you'll need an 18,000 x 22,500 pixel image to print @ 300 DPI. That means for a full 4x5 image scan you need a scan resolution of roughly 4600 PPI - round that up to 4800. I honestly don't have any experience with the 11000XL but if it's like the Epson V*** series, you won't get that kind of actual optical resolution (closer to half) - but unless the film was shot with really excellent technique it probably doesn't have that kind of resolution anyway. Regardless, for best results, send it to be scanned by a pro (drum scan preferably) or scan at at least 4800 DPI and use appropriate image finishing (sharpening, etc.) to print that size, but realize the limitations of that system - both at the film and the scanner.
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  3. #3

    Re: 4"x5" black and white negative to 5'x7' print?

    Thank you so much for your response. The image was taken by a fabulous local photographer that just did excellent work it is very crisp. I can scan at that resolution, but then it is a matter of how large the image is...will go to find a pro with a drum scanner, now. Much appreciation for the input!

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    Re: 4"x5" black and white negative to 5'x7' print?

    Given a 16 MB JPG, what's the point of shooting 4x5 film in the first place ?

    This all sounds, as the English say, a bit dodgy.

  5. #5
    Corran's Avatar
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    Re: 4"x5" black and white negative to 5'x7' print?

    Ah yes, I forgot about that part. Surely the printer you use would allow you to send them a larger file for such a big print. If not...well I'd suggest a different printer. I opened one of my scans, resized it to the size needed and added a bit of sharpening, and the resultant file was 60mb.

    I was thinking this was some type of historical image. If the photo was taken by a local photographer, perhaps you should talk to him/her about this.
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    Re: 4"x5" black and white negative to 5'x7' print?

    I don't think this is an unreasonable problem. First, I'd scan at 3000dpi. This would give a file that would render at 200dpi at 5x6.2. feet and for such a size, this should be completely fine. How many of you can tell 200dpi from 300dpi at an appropriate viewing distance of seven feet or so? Don't BS me: not one of you. At a Photoshop jpg scaling of 62 this would give a file well under the limit, I think, though I haven't run something that big through PS. 62 is pretty good, though--it's what I use for casual archiving, after careful testing, and the loss is really minimal. It will turn 7400x10,500 into a really decent 4.9Mb, for instance.

    The dodgy parts of this are first, the scanner. Normal flatbeds seem to top out at around 2200 in real life, so there's a shortage there, and that's real. Getting a drum scan would be an answer for that part

    Next, some of you are going to say "Yes but *I* (can I make that "I" more important, somehow?) am going to look at that print from six inches away because I'm a pixel peeping jerk who's going to ruin everyone's day by commenting on how bad the printing job is. Yes, maybe you are, but what is the intended use for this photo? Is it going to be hung in an inaccessible place? Is it going to be a passing thing in an exhibition? I'm betting it's not going to be sold in an art gallery for $20,000, so the pixel peeping thing is perhaps irrelevant. What's relevant is how will it fit the intended use, and we really don't know what that is. We have some gigantic blow ups in our shop, over nine feet, I think. They were made from 35mm and they're not that good, by my standards, but they were made for temporary exhibition in a large hall. You really can see from ten feet away that they're crap, but everyone who sees them is massively impressed, because all they're seeing is the subject, and the subject was very important..

    The fact is that most exhibition photos are not made for LF photographers' pleasure. So, Creekhollowgirl, what's the audience? Is this for a museum show, or is it to be hung on some rich donor's wall, or what? We kind of really need to know that.

    Anyway, I think the point here is possibly (we don't know yet) to make something useful and appropriate, not to try to make the highest quality thing possible, pulling out all the possible stops.

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    Re: 4"x5" black and white negative to 5'x7' print?

    Reading the original post, we find "the max size they allow is only 16mb jpeg. Is it possible to fit a great HR image within that size file?"

    Perhaps this thread should be closed.

  8. #8

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    Re: 4"x5" black and white negative to 5'x7' print?

    The answer is "yes". But there's still the question of what's appropriate for the intended use, which it OP may not have considered.

    However,
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Perfec..._enemy_of_good

  9. #9

    Re: 4"x5" black and white negative to 5'x7' print?

    I really appreciate all your input--although a few comments are a bit obnoxious, but understandable since I really know nothing and am just trying to the best with what I have.

    I am mailing the printer the high res scan today. They accept other sizes and formats; they just have to be mailed in (which I was trying to avoid). Ended up scanning at 300 to 60"x84" and the jpeg is 46.9mb.

    This is for a print on a large wall in a local business' waiting room. So, it will not be scrutinized like in a gallery setting--but I do hope that it will gather interest for more orders at our organization. We do not get any money from the state and only 3000 a year from our county, so any income and donations we get are precious as we run a very large archives (500,000+ just in our historical negative collection) and museum that are open to the public. Also, to address the comment about going back to the photographer--he has been dead for about 20 years As, all but one of the photographers in our collection.

    I have only been a member of this forum for a couple of days and hope to learn more as everything I know is pretty much self taught. Started out here (in the archives) as a volunteer and I did have a local photographer that is a life member and would give me free advice when needed, but she is retired now and traveling extensively--so out of pocket at the moment. So, I was thrilled to find this forum!

    Thank you for all your patience and input on my inquiry,
    Creekhollowgirl
    Smith County Historical Society

  10. #10
    Kirk Gittings's Avatar
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    Re: 4"x5" black and white negative to 5'x7' print?

    I really appreciate all your input--although a few comments are a bit obnoxious, but understandable since I really know nothing and am just trying to the best with what I have.
    To rip an American movie classic.........Forget it Jake. It's the web.............
    Thanks,
    Kirk

    at age 67
    "The woods are lovely, dark and deep,
    But I have promises to keep,
    And miles to go before I sleep,
    And miles to go before I sleep"

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