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Thread: Do you enlarge 8x10 negs or only contact print?

  1. #1

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    Do you enlarge 8x10 negs or only contact print?

    So I thought maybe I could get a little advice here on this dilemma of mine.

    I've been itching for quite a while to move up to an 8x10 - shooting 4x5 now mostly, sprinkled in with a little 6x6 when I can't get the 'big' camera out. I have a darkroom at home with a 4x5 enlarger and my "workflow" is 100% analog. With 8x10 negs I would only be able to do contact prints unless I want to buy a scanner and a printer and get into all that (I don't really want to), and I'm afraid I'll start feeling pretty limited in a short time, being able to do no larger than 8x10 prints. Moving up to the bigger camera seems like kind of a big commitment in that regard - not to mention the investment - for not a really huge return (or is it?) in quality and clarity of the print.

    Currently, I enlarge and print up to 16x20 with my 4x5 negatives and they look pretty good to me when they're done right. 8x10 and 11x14 prints look even better and it's hard to imagine a contact print from an 8x10 negative would be vastly better than 4x5 enlarged to 8x10. I know there is no equal to an 8x10 contact print and I am also keen to try some Pt/pd and other alternative processes, which to me is one of the big selling points of moving to the larger format.

    I guess my question is, is the slight uptick in quality, sharpness and 'tonality' and the ability to do alt. process contact prints really worth moving up to the larger format and then be limited to no larger than 8x10 prints?

    Thanks for your input and advice on this issue...

    BTW - One of the arguments I make to myself is that Edward Weston was "limited" in this way and we all know how that turned out!

    Phil aka "Cletus"

  2. #2

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    Re: Do you enlarge 8x10 negs or only contact print?

    Look for an Elwood enlarger.
    They're out there---waiting
    (fade in theme from JAWS: duh duh duh duh....duh duh duh duh....)
    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.
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  3. #3

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    Re: Do you enlarge 8x10 negs or only contact print?

    If you are asking the question you are precisely the person who would appreciate the difference.

    I think I can make a fine print, 11x14 - 16x20 from a 4x5 negative. But the same size print from an 8x10 negative is a different, better animal. The problem is that it is difficult, slower, and more expensive to expose/enlarge 8x10 negatives.

  4. #4
    8x10, 5x7, 4x5, et al Leigh's Avatar
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    Re: Do you enlarge 8x10 negs or only contact print?

    I contact print in the darkroom. I can do moderate digital enlargements (~1.5x) using the V750 and Canon printer.

    For larger prints or either type I have to send it out.
    That's one reason most of my shooting is done in 4x5, which I can enlarge in the darkroom.

    - Leigh
    If you believe you can, or you believe you can't... you're right.

  5. #5

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    Re: Do you enlarge 8x10 negs or only contact print?

    The people who contact print 8x10 say it's awesome. Some people say an 8x10 enlargement from a 4x5 is just as good. I really don't know. I think it is something that you just have to see for yourself and then make a decision.

  6. #6
    ic-racer's Avatar
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    Re: Do you enlarge 8x10 negs or only contact print?

    You can get an 8x10 enlarger for less than the cost of a high-end contact printing frame. The enlarger will allow prints from 4x5" to 40" and everywhere in between.

  7. #7
    8x10, 5x7, 4x5, et al Leigh's Avatar
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    Re: Do you enlarge 8x10 negs or only contact print?

    Of course you can get one, but you need a place to put it.

    My 9'x12' darkroom iwa designed for 4x5 work, and there's not enough space for an 8x10 enlarger.



    The darkroom ceiling is only about 7 feet. I could cut a hole in it for a taller column and gain another 8" or so.
    The table for an 8x10 is wide and deep, and I don't have significant extra room in either direction.

    I would sure like to have one. Probably have to get a horizontal (Durst?).

    - Leigh
    Last edited by Leigh; 20-Jul-2012 at 22:53.
    If you believe you can, or you believe you can't... you're right.

  8. #8
    Format Omnivore Brian C. Miller's Avatar
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    Re: Do you enlarge 8x10 negs or only contact print?

    Old thread, with poll: Enlarging from 8x10.
    "It's the way to educate your eyes. Stare. Pry, listen, eavesdrop. Die knowing something. You are not here long." - Walker Evans

  9. #9
    8x10, 5x7, 4x5, et al Leigh's Avatar
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    Re: Do you enlarge 8x10 negs or only contact print?

    Quote Originally Posted by Brian C. Miller View Post
    Old thread, with poll:
    That was then... This is now.

    The industry has changed a lot in the last couple of years, and in the preceding decade.

    - Leigh
    If you believe you can, or you believe you can't... you're right.

  10. #10
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    Re: Do you enlarge 8x10 negs or only contact print?

    I contact print.

    But...

    Quote Originally Posted by Alan Gales View Post
    I think it is something that you just have to see for yourself and then make a decision.

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