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Thread: To enlarge or not to enlarge, that's the question.

  1. #1

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    To enlarge or not to enlarge, that's the question.

    I will be using an 8 x 10-inch camera.

    I like the look of an 11 x 14-inch print for some landscapes, but prefer contact printing 8 x 10-inch film.

    The tonal quality of contact prints is wonderful, but carefully enlarged negatives up to two times the linear dimensions of the film is acceptable.

    So, should I buy an 8 x 10-inch enlarger to make my 8 x 10-inch images somewhat larger, up to 11 x 14 inches, or should I consider an 11 x 14-inch camera and do contact prints?

    What are your views and experiences in regards to this matter? Thanks.

    Best regards,

    Greg

  2. #2
    Photo Dilettante Donald Brewster's Avatar
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    To enlarge or not to enlarge, that's the question.

    Contact printing is contact printing -- and you can't have too much gear -- so get the camera. Probably cheaper too, and it will certainly take up less room.

  3. #3

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    To enlarge or not to enlarge, that's the question.

    Get an 11x14 camera and an 8x10 reducing back. One camera is enough: you can use all the same lens boards, tripod, etc. If you want a big print, shoot big. Save your money for film and holders.

    That much being said, if you still want to enlarge, then get an 8x10 camera with a 5x7 back, and a 5x7 enlarger. A little easier to find than an 8x10 enlarger.

    That much being said, if you can allow yourself an enlargement factor of 3x, you can get a 4x5 back , and a 4x5 enlarger. In that size, film will be available in a wider variety, an enlarger will be more affordable and easier to find, and cost per sheet will be even lower.

    However, once you appreciate the look and simplicity of making contact prints, you may decide to skip the enlarger altogether. Then, you're back to the first suggestion: an 11x14 camera with an 8x10 reducing back.

  4. #4
    Mark Sawyer's Avatar
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    To enlarge or not to enlarge, that's the question.

    The tonal quality of contact prints is wonderful, but carefully enlarged negatives... is acceptable."

    I guess the short question is: are you going for "wonderful" or "acceptable."

    Yes, to a fine craftsman, acceptable can mean very, very good, even to where only "wonderful" is "acceptable." But hey, a contact print is a contact print, and a really nice one has a quality that comes no other way. But I can tell by by your question you already knew this. You just want us to suffer along with you in your decision. That's okay, a lot of us have been suffering through this for years...
    "I love my Verito lens, but I always have to sharpen everything in Photoshop..."

  5. #5
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    To enlarge or not to enlarge, that's the question.

    Lugging an 11x14 kit will restrict the range of subjects you can photograph successfully compared to an 8x10, just as 8x10 does compared to smaller formats. I own an 11x14 camera, and can tell you from experience that the equipment is disproportionately more unwieldy compared to 8x10 than the nominal increase in dimensions would suggest. Just as one aspect of it, I can backpack an 8x10 kit, but I have to work out of the car or off a cart with the 11x14. (Actually, it's worse than that - if I'm at all under the weather, I don't have the strength to manage the 11x14 at all.) The longer focal lengths needed to cover a given field of view pose depth-of-field challenges, too.

    So to get 11x14 negatives, you have to be willing to throw away some subjects entirely.

  6. #6
    Jon Wilson's Avatar
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    To enlarge or not to enlarge, that's the question.

    Just being the "devil's advocate," the Flipside goes.....Although I agree with all of the above, you can take your 8x10s and on the extra special ones, get a drum scan of the 8x10 to a CD and have larger prints made, e.g., professionally or with your ink jet printer.

  7. #7

    To enlarge or not to enlarge, that's the question.

    Doing a 2x to 4x enlargement with todays films, professionally scanned, and output to Lightjet, Chromira, or inkjet will provide as much resolution as the paper can handle. Most of these printers are capable of laying down , continuous tone, 360dpi or better. Imperfections in surface quality of most paper does not allow for much better to be put down. I think that having in between 8 and 12 lines per mm rez on a 16x20, should be adequate as papers don't allow for much more. Try before you buy and see what you think.

    YOUR eyes are all that matter.

    Regards,

  8. #8

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    To enlarge or not to enlarge, that's the question.

    Buy two enlargers and print it in stereo.
    Wilhelm (Sarasota)

  9. #9

    To enlarge or not to enlarge, that's the question.

    Or maybe 4 and we can relive Quad from the 70's.

  10. #10

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    To enlarge or not to enlarge, that's the question.

    You can get an 8x10 Elwood enlarger for peanuts. An 11x14 is quite an investment when you consider what 11x14 film holders are going for( 5 used 8x10 film holders might run you $90-$125 if you shop around while 5 old 11x14 holders will cost you well over $1000!---kind of took the fun out of it for me!)If you've got the $$ go for it, if not I'd look for a trusty, rusty old Elwood.
    OTOH an 11x14 'dorff would be a blast to work with!

    Cheers!
    I steal time at 1/125th of a second, so I don't consider my photography to be Fine Art as much as it is petty larceny.
    I'm not OCD. I'm CDO which is alphabetically correct.

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