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Thread: Post 20 x 24 Contact Prints

  1. #1

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    Sep 2006
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    Post 20 x 24 Contact Prints

    I am interested in purchasing a 20 x 24 camera. I think that there is at least one Ritter, Ebony, and Chimonix tearing it up out there somewhere. I also think that some of the owners had a good deal of experience digitally enlarging negatives before they purchased their 20 x 24's. Now, you won't have to post or say much to convince me to dodge the underworld of making digital negatives. But I am forcing myself to inquire if any of you are kicking yourselves where your wallets used to be after comparing your silver 20 x 24 contact prints to prints made with digitally enlarged negatives or instead actually realized the sort of PhotoZen experience that you were after.

    I frankly don't have any idea how you can actually post a faithful 20 x 24 film contact print, but I am hoping that someone will have some sort of solution.

    Thank You! --Joe

  2. #2
    Scott Davis
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    Re: Post 20 x 24 Contact Prints

    Joe-

    While I don't have a 20x24, I do have a 14x17, which is plenty big enough for comparison. No scan or digital re-photograph of a print from a neg this big is going to be an adequate comparison test. Your best bet is to see some comparison prints in person. Also, bear in mind that a digitally enlarged negative of that size will vary radically in quality based upon A: the size of the original negative/digital file, B: the skill of the outputter, C: the type of original negative (film, collodion, dry plate, etc), and D: the type of print being made from the file. A final print in silver gelatin will show a very different quality than a final print in gum bichromate, where very little difference between the in-camera original and a digitally enlarged negative will show.

    Personally speaking, I've done some digitally enlarged negatives for platinum printing and I never really liked the quality of the digitally enlarged negative. To me, it has a plasticky feel to it. Despite the challenges and perils of working with in-camera original film, I'd rather do that than digitally enlarge. It is a zen thing I guess... makes the process feel whole.

    I know a few folks who are even using these monsters for wet plate, and there is NO way to convey that quality in a digital file viewed on your monitor.

  3. #3
    Michael Jones's Avatar
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    Re: Post 20 x 24 Contact Prints

    I'm not sure there is a 20x24 scanner available, so what you'll see are photographs of images. I don't shoot 20x24 (14x17 is my limit), but I have a pair of Douglas Adams' 20x24 prints on my wall. I'll see what I can do, I mayhave some images I can post, but the concept of a 72 dpi image of a 20"x24" image is quite humorous, IMHO. BTW, he used a Wisner, of which there are several in use, includingat least one using Polaroid. Ty Guilllory made a wet plate 20x24 this year, so there are more than a few 20x24 in use. (You can also go to John Coffer's site to see his mammoth wet plate images.)

    I doubt anyone undertaking the use of any ULF camera will say " [they]are kicking yourselves where your wallets used to be after comparing your silver 20 x 24 contact prints to prints made with digitally enlarged negatives " On a practical note, I can't even say this with my 8x10 images, let alone with larger silver, contact prints.

    Part of the image is the fight it took to capture it and that's multiplied with ULF.

    Good luck.

    Mike

  4. #4

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    Re: Post 20 x 24 Contact Prints

    Right. Thank you Scott. Your conclusions after working in both media are important to me and exactly what I am after. I am on the lookout for an opportunity to view some original 20 x 24 contact prints. And sure, the factors that you raise have to be taken into account.

  5. #5

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    Re: Post 20 x 24 Contact Prints

    Great. Thank you Michael. And yes, I suppose that no one will be happily driven to write that a 20 x 24 purchase was a mistake. And its a horrible thing to ask about I guess. But as you might guess from my post, any reasonable justifcation will ease my conscience --I love silver contact prints. Its not very likely that anyone will talk me out of buying the camera. I just want to make sure that there is not a loud chorus out there against the idea in light of convincing experiences.

  6. #6

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    Re: Post 20 x 24 Contact Prints

    Take note that most of the 20x24 cameras you see for sale have been used less than 10 times, and many were never used at all.

  7. #7

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    Re: Post 20 x 24 Contact Prints

    JMB,

    Where are you located? Tri here in southern California has made some incredible 20x24 carbon transfer prints that will take yoru breath away.

    Hugo

  8. #8
    Michael Jones's Avatar
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    Re: Post 20 x 24 Contact Prints

    Quote Originally Posted by Ed Richards View Post
    Take note that most of the 20x24 cameras you see for sale have been used less than 10 times, and many were never used at all.
    Ed's right, most people's stomachs churn after realizing they screwed up one (or 4) $15sheet of film and then realize it would cost $6 a negative to proof it (lord knows how much paper your'll burn getting the print your want at $6 a sheet, but I'n not telling....).

    Try 8x10 and then realize any ULF will be exponentially more difficult to logistically manage in the field.

    The lenses I use for 14x17 weigh 2 plus pounds each and take 100 mm filters. I have tables in my living room smaller than my filmholders. Everything grows with the size of your negative.

    But the images are more carefully selected & composed, and to me, far more rewarding.

    Mike

  9. #9

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    Re: Post 20 x 24 Contact Prints

    A silver contact print is pretty much a contact print at any format. Look at a 4X5 contact print and you'll know what a 20X24 contact looks like. If your issue is how a digital negative compares to a 20 X 24 in camera negative, the format of the in camera original will be the winner. The hangup with the 20X24 format is not the image quality, given top notch optics of course, but actually executing that quality under conditions in the field. Your normal lens will be something like a 750 mm FL with vanishingly small DOF at any reasonable aperture. Keeping the whole rig steady will be a feat.

    If image quality is what you are after (sharpness) then the potential in contact print from 20X24 film will not be matched by any digital negative or lesser format under enlargement. I don't think you have to see examples to know the inherent truth in that.

    As some have stated here, some amazing quality can be achieved in digital negatives generated from medium to large format film originals but such requires great skill in digital procedures and transfer to printed digital negative.

    Nate Potter, Austin TX.

  10. #10
    LF/ULF Carbon Printer Jim Fitzgerald's Avatar
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    Re: Post 20 x 24 Contact Prints

    JMB, Hugo is right our own Tri Tran has made some excellent 20x24 carbon transfers. This is quite a challenge once you understand the difficulties in doing it. No way to post something like that. Yes, these are in camera negatives he has. I've seen them and they are great. He has some wonderful 20x24 platinum's also.

    Jim

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