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Thread: Billboard size image/Fine Grain Developer for TMax 100 or 400

  1. #1

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    Billboard size image/Fine Grain Developer for TMax 100 or 400

    Hello Everyone-

    I am making a 4x5 B&W image that will be scanned in & printed out very large.
    Appx 14 x 16 feet. (Either on vinyl or canvas, most likely vinyl) I would like to have as little grain as possible, as people will be able to view the image very close.

    Does anyone have any suggestions as to what film/developer will give me the least grain or for working this size?

    Thanks so much,
    Sue

  2. #2

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    Re: Billboard size image/Fine Grain Developer for TMax 100 or 400

    If folks can stick their nose close enough to see grain they can't see the composition.
    Viewing distance matters, not that much for grain, a lot for perception of the image.

  3. #3

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    Re: Billboard size image/Fine Grain Developer for TMax 100 or 400

    A little Gaussian blur after scanning is better than any developer for this sort of job.

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    Re: Billboard size image/Fine Grain Developer for TMax 100 or 400

    Tmx and XTOL, or D76

  5. #5

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    Re: Billboard size image/Fine Grain Developer for TMax 100 or 400

    They print 14 x 44 foot billboards at 9 to 36 dpi. Don't sweat it, I've used a 2mp digital camera for billboards.

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    Re: Billboard size image/Fine Grain Developer for TMax 100 or 400

    Quote Originally Posted by gmuphoto View Post
    I am making a 4x5 B&W image that will be scanned in & printed out very large. Appx 14 x 16 feet. (Either on vinyl or canvas, most likely vinyl) I would like to have as little grain as possible, as people will be able to view the image very close.

    Does anyone have any suggestions as to what film/developer will give me the least grain or for working this size?
    That's a whopping big print. You are talking about around 40x enlargement. You can't make it look like a 50x40 inch print from the same negative. The level of enlargement is just too great.

    To put it in perspective, 40x enlargement is like taking a 35mm frame up to 50x40 inches. Up close the print will be grainy and soft no matter what film and developer combination you choose. But for some images this level of enlargement works.

    One often overlooked problem with an enlargement like this is file size limitation (it's still a 32 bit world because of the OSes and applications). Current technology will limit the file size you can make from your 5x4 film to about 2 GB. Assuming 16 bit grayscale file (I wouldn't use an 8 bit file because of the danger of posterization while you are doing your image editing), that puts your scan resolution right around 7750 spi. There's only a few drum scanners that can give you a real optical resolution in that range (Aztek Premier, ICG 380, and the latest Screen). Your final print will then be around 172 ppi output, best case.

    The thing is, no matter what film you are using a scan at 7750 spi is basically a waste of resources. You stop retrieving meaningful information from the film (a slow, small grained film) around 5000 spi. Many would argue that even this is overkill.

    So what does this mean to you? That you should do the best you can with what you've got to work with and hope for the best.

    I'd opt for 100Tmax in XTOL 1:3 myself. The diluted XTOL is an excellent compromise between graininess and sharpness and gives grain with nice structure. I would also pull development about a stop to limit density (graininess is density related) - in Zone System terms, to around N-1, or a Zone VIII density of around 1.0. This will give you best quality from a drum scan (I'm a drum scanner operator, and this is what I do with my own film). Be sure you get enough exposure for your shadows.

    An excellent negative and an excellent drum scan can work wonders. And with a print that big, even if people can view it from inches away, hardly anyone will come closer than three or four feet. You should be fine.

    Bruce Watson

  7. #7
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    Re: Billboard size image/Fine Grain Developer for TMax 100 or 400

    Grain is most evident in large areas of uniform tonality.

    In Photoshop, you can select those areas and blur them (as has been pointed out) while leaving other areas quite sharp.

    I wonder what kind of computer hardware will allow you to fiddle with such a large file ?

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    Re: Billboard size image/Fine Grain Developer for TMax 100 or 400

    Quote Originally Posted by Ken Lee View Post
    I wonder what kind of computer hardware will allow you to fiddle with such a large file ?
    I've done it (not often, trust me) on a PC with 3GB. Photoshop CS really crawls. File saves in multiple minutes. But it can be done if that's what you want to do. It would be much easier if you had 8 or 10 GB of memory to work in (would help just about everything but the file saves), but we're waiting on microsoft, apple, and adobe for 64 bit support to make that possible. Sigh...

    Bruce Watson

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    Re: Billboard size image/Fine Grain Developer for TMax 100 or 400

    Quote Originally Posted by Frank Petronio View Post
    They print 14 x 44 foot billboards at 9 to 36 dpi. Don't sweat it, I've used a 2mp digital camera for billboards.
    True enough. Printers for the big stuff (like those block long banner ads all over Times Square) are usually way down in resolution. You could print at higher resolutions with some of the big Rolands and such and piece it together, but that's a whole can of worms by itself.

    Bruce Watson

  10. #10

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    Re: Billboard size image/Fine Grain Developer for TMax 100 or 400

    I had a guy ask me about something in this area this week. For 40x60 up to 5x8ft Should you shoot 8x10 or 4x5. Normally I would say 8x10 but if you are going to scan 8x10 lower for a more managable file,(etc... 4x5@2400 vs 8x10 @1200 ) where is the gain? If I am hijacking ,my appologies.

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