Thanks for the comment. Your thoughts on the subject are much like mine. I rarely make 16x20 prints from any negative and even 11x14s are getting to be less and less. There's something precious and...singular?...about a perfectly done 8x10, especially when the particular subject matter is suited to a smaller print. Even more, when matted out to 11x14 or even 16x20 I think a print like this can hold up quite well against a larger print in some cases.
That fact alone is one of my biggest 'pro' arguments to myself when considering moving up to the larger format. I even thought about skipping 8x10 altogether and just going for the 11x14 camera, but for me that would be getting carried away I think. When it gets right down to it, I think the ability to make contact prints, in Pt/pd too if I want - and I really do - is probably alone worth the price of admission for the bigger camera. My whole reason for asking this question in the first place was really whether the investment of time and money into the larger format generally left one feeling limited later, when 8x10 contact prints were the max you could do yourself, without having to scan or farm your work out. That, and were they really THAT much better than an 8x10 enlargement from a 4x5 neg to be worth the trouble.
Yeah, and it never occurred to me there was even such thing as a "Benchtop" 8x10 enlarger. I thought they were all the big machine shop looking, huge stands with the height adjustable easels? My darkroom has really high ceilings and my enlarger bench is REALLY heavy and solid and could probably support upwards of 500 pounds. My big enlarger is an Omega D5XL with a 22"W x 36"L baseboard. Do you think there are 8x10 bench-top enlargers out there that would fit into this footprint? That would really be something and if I could get my hands on an enlarger like that (for less than $3 grand) that'd be all she wrote!