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Thread: "Maximum" Print Size?

  1. #1

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    "Maximum" Print Size?

    This is another generic question with many possible answers, so please forgive me a head of time.

    Given it probably depends on film/developer choice, subject matter and "quality" of light, but what is the experience of the group for maximum "reasonable" enlargement for black and white prints for the given formats if using Ilford HP5 and HC110b, or similar combination(s):

    6x7
    4x5
    5x7
    8x10
    11x14

    When I have something worth while printing, I would like to know what I could expect to look great (provided I did my part) at the largest print size for 5x7. Though I can accept grain in an editorial or "street" image, I probably want it minimized in a gorgeous land or cityscape. Portraits could go either way.

    In addition, I am contemplating 4x5 or 6x7 for portraits, probably 6x7 for convenience and that it would yeild a 20" print just fine. I am just curious what an 8x10 and 11x14 can do - thinking about Avedon's "In The American West" and Clyde Butcher's current work in the Everglades with I think his 8x10's and 11x14's.

    Thanks guys..
    Portraits, Weddings, Landscapes
    http://roboresteen.com

  2. #2

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    Re: "Maximum" Print Size?

    I find that with an 8x10 the limitation isn't grain, its dealing with the big ass honkin' wet prints that I find problematic. Assuming you'll be using mural paper you'll be limited to 40" on your short dimension anyway.
    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.

  3. #3

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    Re: "Maximum" Print Size?

    You can get b/w mural paper in 52" wide rolls. With the right enlarging lens there is no limit no matter the size neg.

  4. #4

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    Re: "Maximum" Print Size?

    Where are you buy 52" stuff? Does Freestyle stock it?
    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.

  5. #5
    Peter De Smidt's Avatar
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    Re: "Maximum" Print Size?

    I stick to 4x and under with large format.
    "Why can't we all just get along?" President Dale, Mars Attacks

  6. #6

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    Re: "Maximum" Print Size?

    Quote Originally Posted by John Kasaian View Post
    Where are you buy 52" stuff? Does Freestyle stock it?
    Hi, John,

    I meant 56". Any ilford distributor should be able to special order it. It seems like just yesterday you could get it for under $400 per 98' roll but I guess yesterday was actually ten years ago.

  7. #7
    ROL's Avatar
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    Re: "Maximum" Print Size?

    Quote Originally Posted by roresteen View Post
    When I have something worth while printing, I would like to know what I could expect to look great (provided I did my part) at the largest print size for 5x7. Though I can accept grain in an editorial or "street" image, I probably want it minimized in a gorgeous land or cityscape. Portraits could go either way.
    I don't quite get what you're after here. Your above quoted statement pretty much says it all. If you're looking for absolutes, you're wasting time. In terms of enlargement, it's almost never solely about "grain", though it can be.

    Given at least a 6X7cm MF negative (if indeed that's the 6X7 you refer to) of fine grained film, I find 30"X40" is quite do–able, depending on the image. With LF up to 5X7 of medium speed films (my personal limit) of around 400 ISO, I can't print any larger than 30X40 anyway, for the very reasons John has already given. Larger negatives, fine or medium grianed, IMO, have no practical value for me unless contact printed. I simply can't print them large enough to justify the increased hassle of larger camera systems. Going the other direction, there's always cropping.

    My maxim is that every negative (image) finds its own best size range, dependent almost solely on content and tonality. Truthfully, some MF images want to print big, while other LF want to print small. That's an artistic/aesthetic decision, not the subject of inforumed opinion.

  8. #8

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    Re: "Maximum" Print Size?

    Thank you.

    Obviously I speak from zero printing experience...the only way is to do it by trial and error and learn for myself. I was hoping to get input from the group and the benefit of the member's collective experience.

    I appreciate your input.
    Portraits, Weddings, Landscapes
    http://roboresteen.com

  9. #9
    Kirk Gittings's Avatar
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    Re: "Maximum" Print Size?

    Quote Originally Posted by Peter J. De Smidt View Post
    I stick to 4x and under with large format.
    ditto.....
    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"

  10. #10

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    Re: "Maximum" Print Size?

    Well, you got some input, aesthetic and technical. I think that ROL is right that with MF and larger the limit isn't grain. You can print any high quality LF negative as large as paper and equipment allows. Keep in mind that a larger print means that the (reasonable) spectator will view it from a larger distance, so the effects of minute detail and grain somewhat cancels. So, it's really more the question which size would be appropriate for the image itself.

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